31st Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 10.30 a.m.
– Honourable senators, I have to inform you that the President, Senator the Honourable Sir Condor Laucke, is unable to attend the sitting of the Senate today. In accordance with Standing Order 29, the Chairman of Committees, Senator Scott, will take the Chair as Deputy President.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator D. B. Scott) thereupon took the chair and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 33 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled- The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That whereas the Fraser Government was elected in December 1975 after promising that pensions would be adjusted instantly and automatically in relation to quarterly Consumer Price Index figures; and whereas that Government subsequently announced that pension adjustments should properly be made half yearly each May and November; it is the current intention of the same Government to legislate for pensions to be adjusted only once a year, and this constitutes a serious breach of generally accepted ethics of democratic government and also deprives many needy pensioners of increases that are essential to their subsistence.
The foregoing facts impel the undersigned Petitioners to request the Australian Government to uphold the principle that the trustworthiness of governments should at all times be above question, and to appeal to the Parliament to prevent the imposition of further economic hardship upon Australian pensioners by rejecting any Bill which has for its aim the introduction of annual adjustments of pension rates.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 1 1 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled: Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should:
Initiate necessary action for a referendum to be held to amend the Constitution to provide for Citizen’s Initiative, on the following conditions:
If a specified percentage of the voters (for example 2%) sign a petition asking that a referendum be held on a certain question, then the Federal Government would be obliged to hold that referendum, and the result would becomelaw.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 402 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned electors respectfully showeth:
That compensation benefits payable to injured Australian Government employees and Defence Forces personnel under the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees ) Act 1 97 1 should be increased as a matter of urgency in view of the financial plight of recipients, particularly those suffering long term incapacity and because of the significant increase in the cost of living which has occurred since compensation payments were last adjusted; and
That statutory provision should be made for the automatic adjustment of compensation benefits.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That restoration of provisions of the Social Security Act that applied prior to the 1978-79 Budget is of vital concern to offset the rising cost of goods and services.
The reason advanced by the Government for yearly payments “that the lower level of inflation made twice-yearly payments inappropriate “ is not valid.
Great injury will be caused to 920,000 aged, invalid, widows and supporting parents, who rely solely on the pension or whose income, other than the pension, is $6 or less per week. Once-a-year payments strike a cruel blow to their expectation and make a mockery of a solemn election pledge.
Accordingly, your petitioners call upon their legislators to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray by Senator Hamer.
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 induced 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 payments of any benefit for induced abortion, except one performed when a mother’s life is endangered.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Rae.
-I refer the Minister representing the Minister for National Development to the recent decision by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries to impose a surcharge of $4 a barrel for Saudi Arabian light crude oil which will bring the price of that grade of oil up to $18.84 a barrel. Does the Government propose that this increase will be included as part of its import parity pricing arrangements for Australian crude oil?
– I will refer that question to the Minister for National Development. The honourable senator has raised a very important policy question and I think it is appropriate that the Minister for National Development should answer it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. I draw attention to Press reports this morning which relate to ministerial reaction to the latest report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts. Is the Minister aware that there are recommendations in the Committee’s report on children and television which relate specifically to his portfolio? Will he examine these recommendations in relation to the whole concept, and not part, of the report which relates to the impact of television on the development and learning behaviour of children?
-I would acknowledge that the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts is a very valuable contribution to public understanding of what is a very important problem. I am aware that within that report there are matters related to education. I am keenly interested that they be thoroughly perused and studied. I have arranged to put them under study within my Department. I certainly will look to take them in the understanding of the whole spectrum of the report. I commend the Committee for the work that it has done.
-I ask the Minister for Education: Did the number of unemployed benefit recipients increase by 18,000 between last November and February of this year compared with the corresponding period last year? Is this increase in part attributed to a greater number of school leavers deciding not to continue with their education this year? What proposals from the Williams Committee report does the Government see as being capable of urgent implementation to ensure that these students either receive work or are attracted back to appropriate post-secondary education?
– I am not aware of the accuracy or otherwise of the figures regarding recipients of unemployment benefit that Senator Button puts forward, but there is and must be an anxiety within the community, and therefore equally within the Government, regarding the unduly early leaving of school by students. This is something which, before the presentation of the Williams report, I on behalf of my Government had apprehended and taken up with State governments. It is true that the Williams report demonstrates the necessity for what we have done. I think it shows that of those who leave school at15 years of age some 28 per cent can expect to be unemployed, that at 16 years of age the figure is 13 per cent and that at 17 years of age it drops to the national average. This does not necessarily mean that if we force people to stay at school unwillingly we would improve that situation. It indicates that it is vital to improve the skills of the young.
The Williams report also indicates that 60 per cent of the whole cohort of the population in Australia between 15 and 19 years of age are in the work force compared with, I think, 24 per cent in Japan and 28 per cent in America. We need to look at these figures. I have asked the State Ministers for Education whether they would look towards ways in which they could identify these people in the schools and give them special care, pastoral care, special guidance, special counselling and special instruction to see whether we can hold them and upgrade their skills or, failing that, whether we can transfer them to technical education. This is a complicated matter which is too wide for a simple answer, but I acknowledge it to be a very important one.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Science and the Environment. Regarding the use of 2,4,5-T in controlling many of our noxious weeds, particularly in open pasture conditions, but more importantly its exclusive ability to control brigalow regrowth, which of course is of great significance in central Qld, has our National Health and Medical Research Council been able to justify reports from the United States America on the supposed deleterious effect of this weedicide on human life?
-The matter of 2,4,5-T has been raised in the Senate on several occasions and I can understand the interest of the honourable senator from Queensland. It is of immense importance to have some chemical to control some of the weed pests that we have in our community. As councils decide to take action in banning chemicals perhaps without any proven basis upon which they act, the spread of some noxious weed or weeds may be particularly rapid. For instance no practical or economic alternative to 2,4,5-T is available for a number of its currently registered uses. Mr Deputy President, I know that you will note that the United States at no time banned use of 2,4,5-T, for instance, in open range country. It was only the more confined areas from which it was precluded.
I mentioned last week that a working party of the National Health and Medical Research Council would be looking at the United States report, and my advice is that the ad hoc committee of the Council on the use and safety of 2,4,5-T met in Adelaide on 23 March to formulate a report to the Council on the current position with regard to this herbicide. Besides reviewing its past conclusions and the scientific reports which had since become available, this meeting specifically examined the documents from the United States of America which contained details of the action taken by the environmental protection agency in that country to suspend registration of the herbicide for certain applications. At its previous meeting the working party had examined the extensive scientific literature on 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, and the dioxin contaminant 2,C,D,D, and had found no substantiated scientific evidence of a causal link between the use of 2,4,5-T and human birth defects. The working party discussed further scientific reports which had become available since June 1978, the date of its last meeting. In particular it noted the latest follow-up work on the effects of the discharge of products containing 2,C,D,D over an area of approximately 700 acres in Italy in July 1976. It also noted evidence and a number of specific documents which had been received from the United States of America and which formed the basis of several emergency suspensions of the distribution, sale and use of 2,4,5-T for forestry areas, right-of-ways and pastures. It was agreed that the review of previous information and the examination of new material did not provide any new scientific evidence of a causal link between the use of 2,4,5-T and excessive occurrences of spontaneous abortion and human birth defects.
– What does Lusher think about this?
– I advise the honourable senator that this is an important matter for many people. Perhaps after Question Time I could add to this answer.
- Mr President, I seek leave to move that the Senate take note of that answer. I am serious about this matter. A statement has been made by way of an answer to a question and it should be debated in this place. I am seeking leave to move that the Senate take note of that answer.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I advise Senator Georges that the more appropriate time to take such action would be at the conclusion of Question Time.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs: Is it correct that the Industries Assistance Commission report on the domestic price of Australian sugar and related matters will be released at the end of this week? Is it also correct that the IAC has recommended that the domestic price of Australian sugar rise by $50 a tonne? Will the Minister assure the Parliament that the complete report will be published as soon as possible after it has been received by the Government?
– I do not have any information about the progress being made on the preparation of this report or when it is likely to be submitted to the Government. I imagine that the Government will deal with the report in the ordinary way. However, for good measure I will refer the question to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. It concerns the Williams Committee report and its discussion of changes in access to post-secondary education that may have followed the abolition of fees and the establishment of the current system of tertiary student allowances. The Williams Committee referred to two important surveys carried out on this matter- one by Dr Anderson, suggesting that the access was improved by 25 per cent and another by Professor Blandy, who came to the conclusion that, ‘educational opportunities have not been widened’. What consistency is there between these two surveys? What is the Government’s own assessment of the extent of widening access to education and of the improved quality of student performance as a result of the abolition of fees and the now highly developed Tertiary Education Assistance scheme?
– The simple answer to the question is that when those two surveys were made far too little time had elapsed for any trends to have fully emerged. Therefore, without reflecting upon the persons mentioned or their reports, I suggest that one should not take those reports as being definitive in any way. I think that the Anderson Committee survey was carried out on the basis of two or three years of experience of fee abolition. If one were to examine a socio-economic trend over 20 years one could assess what was emerging. Anderson indicated that some 20 per cent or more of students said that they would not be undertaking tertiary education today if fees had been imposed. I would suggest that it is too early to try either to rely upon these two reports or to attempt to reconcile them. They are worthy of note, but I think they are no more than that.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security, and refers to the fact that with increasing youth unemployment it has been found that there is an increased need for the establishment of youth shelters, youth refuges or youth crisis centres. Has the Government considered increasing the assistance to organisations which run such shelters, particularly assistance so that they may be supervised more closely and so that problems such as the arrest of a priest because of an incident at such a refuge in Hobart, about which the Minister may know, may be avoided in the future?
– For some time my Department has been in consultation with State governments on the introduction of a three-year program to assist youth centres or youth refuges which provide emergency accommodation. The working parties of the Commonwealth and State governments have now reached agreement on a proposal, which is to be put to State Ministers at a meeting which I expect to hold this week in Canberra. If there is agreement on the sharing of expenditure and the general outline of the proposal that has been developed by Commonwealth and State departments, I would hope that such a program could commence in the next financial year.
It would be one that would give recognition to services already established by the State governments and other bodies within the States. In addition, it would look to what could be done to assist in the development of such centres. We have in mind a program of three years duration so that we are able to assess experience with assistance of this kind and determine what the needs are. I will take note of what Senator Grimes has mentioned in his question as being one of the areas which should be canvassed when we are discussing the proposed program.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In order to safeguard members of private superannuation funds against misuse of funds or bad investments by inexperienced and untrained trustees, will the Treasurer consider the introduction of a system of licensing trustees and managers of funds the assets of which exceed, say, Sim, perhaps with the additional sanction that taxation deductions for contributions to funds not so licensed would be reduced or denied.
-I think Senator Messner ‘s question deserves close scrutiny. It is vital that the members of private superannuation funds should be fully protected. I will refer the question to the Treasurer and ask him to scrutinise it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whether the Government is aware that one of the American investor owned chains of private hospitals seeking to take the place of public hospitals in Australia is in a list of 53 companies which made disclosures to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission indicating that they had either made foreign pay-offs or were investigating to determine whether they had made foreign pay-offs. Have the Government’s advisers made an adequate study of this matter? If so, does the Government welcome as desirable foreign investors both American companies seeking to enter the public hospital field in Australia? Finally, is there any reason for the reluctance of the Minister for Health to answer the questions I have previously asked relating to these foreign owned companies taking over Australian hospitals?
– I am not aware of what information has been brought to the attention of the Minister for Health in this regard. On a couple of occasions I have heard the honourable senator make speeches in the Senate on either this matter or a related one. I will draw them to the attention of the Minister for Health. As far as the unanswered questions are concerned, I will seek early advice from the Minister for Health on this matter and see that Senator O ‘Byrne is advised of his response to the questions that have been raised.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs seen reports that the United States Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee has supported the sending of a United States observer team to Rhodesia for the elections of 20 April? Has he also seen reports that Sir Harold Wilson, the former British Prime Minister, stated in an international television interview that Britain and the United States should recognise the new government in Rhodesia following the elections, provided they are satisfied that the result reflects the wishes of the majority of black and white Rhodesians, and that Britain and the United States should send official observers to the elections? What is Australia’s attitude to these suggestions and comments?
-I have seen the American reports. The Government is aware of reported statements by the former British Prime Minister, Sir Harold Wilson, that, provided they were satisfied that the results of the forthcoming election in Rhodesia reflect the wishes of the majority of black and white Rhodesians, Britain and the United States should recognise the postelection government and that Britain, the United States and independent black African states should send observers to the elections in April. At this stage no Western governments, including Britain and the United States, have advocated sending official observers to monitor the Rhodesian elections.
In explaining the British position in a statement on 1 7 March, Dr Owen said that the British Government would be prepared to send official observers to internationally supervised elections following negotiations but could not send official observers to Rhodesia since to do so could imply official recognition of elections which the British
Government does not believe can provide a solution to the conflict. The United States Secretary of State, Mr Vance, issued a similar statement the same day. It is likely, however, that a number of British members of parliament and members of the United States Congress will observe the elections.
The Australian Government will not be sending an official delegation to monitor the Rhodesian elections. There is nothing, however, to prevent individual Australian members of parliament from going to Rhodesia to observe the elections at first hand. To be acceptable to the international community at large, including Australia and our Western allies, and to bring about recognition and a lifting of sanctions, any settlement in Rhodesia must fulfil two fundamental conditions: It must guarantee genuine majority rule and it must be subject to a free and fair test of the opinions of Rhodesians as a whole. The Government therefore supports the continuing efforts of the United Kingdom and United States governments to bring all parties together to discuss a settlement within the framework of the Anglo-American proposals.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. By way of preface, I refer to an extremely magnanimous gesture that I made three weeks ago in which I withdrew from the Notice Paper a motion which called for justice, to be shown for interpreters and translators who are Commonwealth Bank employees. The basis of my withdrawal was that the Treasurer would make a favourable decision. Will the Minister ascertain why, in the interim, I have not been informed of the decision? If one has been made is it in favour of the interpreters?
– Acknowledging Senator Mulvihill ‘s magnanimous action, I will seek the information he desires.
– I am not sure whether my question should be directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Resources or the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I refer to the recent spate of petrol shortages that have occurred in southern Tasmania over the past 6 months or so, which have created difficulties for motorists, petrol retailers and the like. As the shortages are due to the scheduling of tankers to Tasmania, will the appropriate Minister request that the oil companies pay more attention to sensible ship scheduling to help to keep Tasmania supplied with fuel?
-The Attorney-General and I are also a bit unsure as to whom this question should be directed. I suspect it is a matter which is within the competence of the Minister for Transport. I will send it to him and seek a reply. I am sure that he will send it on to the Minister for National Development if he thinks it is in that Minister’s bailiwick.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs aware of claims by soft drink manufacturers that the price of soft drink in Australia could be reduced if CSR Ltd or the Australian Sugar Board made brewers’ liquid sugar available to them at the same price as it is sold to brewers generally throughout the country? As there is a difference of $45 per tonne in the prices paid for the two forms of sugar, will it not be in the interests of the fight against inflation for soft drink manufacturers to have access to the cheaper sugar, ingredient and not be discriminated against as they have suggested is the case in submissions to the Government.
– I will refer the question to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs.
– I ask the Minister for Science and the Environment: When is the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory to be gazetted? Are the pastoral leases of Goodparla and Gimbat stations to be included in the national park and if so, by what authority? Has there been adequate consultation between the Federal Government and the Northern Territory Government in regard to these proposed acquisitions? Is it the intention to include other nearby areas in the Kakadu National Park?
-The Government intends to declare Kakadu National Park in stages. This has been announced previously. The technical description of the boundaries of Stage 1 is currently being prepared for proclamation of the park. I would expect gazettal of the proclamation to be made in the near future. The Kakadu National Park is to be proclaimed under the provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act. That Act vests responsibility for management of the park in the Director of National Parks and Wildlife. The detailed management proposals are being considered now by the Government. These proposals include the participation by the Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission and the training programs for Aboriginal staff.
The Senate may recall that the Ranger uranium environmental inquiry made several recommendations, one recommendation being that if possible the national park should include at least one large total river catchment. The South Alligator catchment is probably the most suitable. It further recommended that consideration be given to the resumption of Goodparla and all or part of Gimbat with a view to their incorporation in the park. Both of those stations encompass the headwaters of the South Alligator catchment. To date the Government has not completed its consideration of the inclusion of the Gimbat and Goodparla in the second stage of the park. I am not aware of any intention by the Government to increase the size of Kakadu National Park beyond that recommended by the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry.
– Has the Minister for Science and the Environment read the report from the United States authorities on the use of 2,4,5-T in Oregon? Is the Government concerned that despite the actions of authorities in the United States of America, the National Health and Medical Research Committee in Australia has advised the Government that there is insufficient evidence to warrant withdrawal of the herbicide 2,4,5-T even if only as a precaution until Australian authorities can carry out their own research? Is the Government concerned that whilst in America since 1970 precautions have been taken to prevent pregnant women and women of childbearing age from making contact with this material, here in Australia pregnant housewives can purchase the herbicide from supermarket shelves with no warning of the physical damage that can be done by excessive use of the chemical involved?
– I recognise the honourable senator’s interest in that question. If she is interested she might put the question on the Notice Paper.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services aware that policemen in New York are now using bicycles rather than motor vehicles as part of an oil conservation program in that state? Has the Government given consideration to extending the ‘Life. Be in It.’ theme to include the use of bicycles by police in the Australian Capital Territory?
– I was not aware that the police in New York are using bicycles as part of the energy conservation campaign. I am not aware whether my colleague has considered putting the policemen of the Australian Capital Territory on bicycles. I am not sure that the extension of the ‘Life. Be in It.’ campaign falls within the province of Mr McLeay, the Minister for Administrative Services. In fact, I think it is the responsibility of Mr Groom. I am sure that if Mr Groom and Mr McLeay can get together they will be able to give a very short, sharp answer to that question.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Finance, concerns the Government’s purchase of two Boeing 707 aircraft for VIP use, on which I asked a question earlier this week. Does the money to be recouped in the forthcoming Appropriation Bills represent the whole of the expenditure that so far has been authorised from the Advance to the Minister for Finance in relation to the purchase, equipping and operations of the two aircraft, or is there any expenditure of this kind which will remain buried in the Advance and which will not be so recouped in Appropriation Bills (No. 3) and (No. 4)? Is it proposed to authorise any further expenditure from the Advance for these purposes in the period after Appropriation Bills (No. 3) and (No. 4) are brought down but before the end of the financial year?
– I may need to get some precise information on this matter from the Minister for Finance. As I advised earlier, payments amounting to $ 10.201m are included in Appropriation Bill (No. 3). No further payments over and above that amount are contemplated this financial year. It has also been stated that the total amount that is expected to be paid is $ 14.575m, which was mentioned in the Press statement of the Minister for Defence on 13 December 1978. 1 am advised that the balance of the $ 14.575m is largely made up of the cost of initial spares and government furnished equipment, facilities and contingency items which it is expected will also need to be provided for in 1979-80 and later years. These expenditures will be met through separately identified appropriations of the Department of Defence but will be additional to the funds that the Department would have received. If any further information is required I will see that the Senate is advised.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. It appears from Press reports that at least one of these aircraft has commenced operations or will be operating before the end of this financial year. From what appropriation or advance account, or from where else, will that operational cost be recouped? If the Minister does need to check with the Minister for Finance on the detailed matters I have asked in my questions- I hope she will do so- when will she communicate to me or to the Senate the result of that check?
– I will need to check those matters now raised by Senator Evans. I will see that an early reply is given to him through the Senate.
– My question is more or less a supplementary question to that asked by Senator Young of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I welcome the Government’s ameliorated attitude towards Rhodesia in the light of its forthcoming elections. I therefore ask: What arrangements have been made for the people of Australia, particularly parliamentarians, to obtain visas in order to enter Rhodesia? As I understand it, such visas are unobtainable in Australia right now, and it should be remembered that many countries will not accept a person who has a passport stamped Rhodesia’.
-I do not have the information at hand. I will seek it out and let both the honourable senator and the Senate know.
-Does the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs not agree that the treaty signed this week by the President of Egypt and the Prime Minister of Israel is one of the most encouraging events in international relations for the past 30 years and that any efforts taken by any powers or parties to destroy this settlement, however many problems may remain unresolved, ought to be resisted vigorously? Will the Australian Government not confine itself to issuing statements of a general nature, supporting the treaty that has been signed, but in fact engage in an energetic campaign with those countries and in those international forums in which it has some influence to see that other countries also are made aware of Australia’s strong support for the principles of the treaty? Does the Minister not agree that if countries such as Australia do not take strong action on this matter the fragile peace that has been achieved could be destroyed, thus involving considerable danger not only for the countries of the Middle East but also for other countries, including Australia?
-I think that that is a significant question. The Government, and I should think all members of both Houses of this Parliament, would agree with Senator Wheeldon that the treaty that has been signed is of very great importance. As he said, it is one of the most encouraging events in -the world scene in many years. I think that particular credit must go to the three persons involved- Prime Minister Begin, President Sadat and President Carter. A very considerable amount of courage is necessary to put one’s reputation on the line in order to bring about such a treaty. I think that the Government would acknowledge that. I believe that the Government would want to do more than simply articulate its support for the Treaty. I have no doubt that through its diplomatic representatives throughout the world it is seeking to do that. I am not aware of what further steps are to be taken. I will invite the Minister for Foreign Affairs to look at that aspect, to give it consideration and, if he feels so disposed, to comment on it.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Science and the Environment, follows the question asked earlier by Senator Melzer. If the Minister has not done so already, will he read the findings of the United States Environmental Protection Agency that led to the bans on 2,4,5-T in March 1979? I ask the Minister to direct his attention particularly to one sentence on page 1 1, which states:
Statistical analyses of these data indicate that there is a significant correlation between the amounts of 2,4,5- T used in the study area during the spraying season and the subsequent increase in the spontaneous abortion index in the study area.
Having read the report, will the Minister consider the desirability of holding a public national inquiry into the whole question of the importation, use and manufacture of 2,4,5- T?
-This matter relates to the interests of the Department of Health and the Minister for Health as well as to my own interests in science and the environment. I have read the United States report and noted what it said. Indeed, the Government has acted in a proper way to obtain the information from the United States and to have the best of our brains in Australia evaluate that and other reports that have come through in relation to 2,4,5-T. The information which I gave the Senate earlier indicated that a working party of the National Health and Medical Research Council devoted its time to this issue on 23 March and made an evaluation of all the information which had come forward, including the United States report.
– How long did that take?
-The conclusion reached by that working party took into account all the matters which were of particular concern, perhaps to people such as Senator Georges. I think that the statement which came from the working party is particularly significant and that it may to some extent answer the question which Senator Mason has raised. If it is the Senate ‘s wish, at the end of Question Time I shall read the statement which was made by that working party in order to set the record straight.
-I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer Will the Government give consideration to relieving confusion about the extent and trend of unemployment in Australia by selecting one appropriate and consistently accurate monthly indicator of the level of unemployment in this country?
– Because there has been confusion, the Government has indicated and has displayed two measures of the level of unemployment. The first, which has been used over the years, is based on the payment of unemployment benefit. That one has the defect that it continues to record as unemployed those who are receiving an unemployment benefit payment but who have just started a job. That is a very significant factor. Accordingly, the Government has arranged for the Australian Bureau of Statistics also to do sampling. If one puts the measures of unemployment side by side one will find, of course, that there is a disparity of upwards of 100,000 people. The Government would like to find a more accurate method of measuring the level of unemployment and it is searching for such a method, but it believes that if the public has a proper understanding of the two methods and, indeed, an understanding of the reasons behind them, the public will come to the conclusion that the ABS statistics are probably the more accurate reflection of the true level of unemployment.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security and refers to studies undertaken by the Government in relation to the introduction of a national superannuation scheme. Has the Minister noticed the growing interest in superannuation policies, particularly among trade union organisations which see the need for early retirement schemes because of the challenge of technological change, and also, most recently, the growing interest in other industrial matters, questions about which have been directed to the Minister? Have these factors been considered by the Minister or by the committee which, I understand, is presently engaged in studying proposals concerning the introduction of a national superannuation scheme? Can the Minister indicate to the Senate what special interest in society might be occasioned by those current ventures?
– As honourable senators will recall, the Government did receive a report on a proposed national superannuation scheme from the Hancock committee. That report was received some time ago and was referred to the Income Security Review Committee for examination. Subsequently, the reports were referred to the Social Welfare Policy Committee secretariat, which has prepared a report for the Government’s consideration. Consideration of the introduction of a national superannuation scheme encompasses a very wide area. It is a matter which ought to be the subject of some public comment and discussion. I will ensure that the matters raised by Senator Bishop are seen alongside any other reports which the Government might have under review. There is interest in the introduction of a national superannuation scheme. I think that there is also concern at the growing number of people who are eligible to receive an age pension without there being a contributory scheme, which may be of benefit to such people and of assistance in the funding of such age pensions. So all those matters can receive active consideration. I will see that the points raised by Senator Bishop are included in the discussion on the matter.
– My question also is directed to the Minister for Social Security. Is it correct that in February the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated the number of males looking for full time work as 229,100 and that at the same time the Department of Social Security reported that it was paying unemployment benefit to 242,727 males? Is it true that several tens of thousands of genuinely unemployed people are for various reasons not eligible for the unemployment benefit? If it is, how does the situation arise in which the Department of Social Security appears to be paying unemployment benefit to more people than there are unemployed?
– The matter raised by the honourable senator also relates to a question that was answered by the Leader of the Government a little earlier. The Leader of the Government has asked me simply to say that when he mentioned in the early part of his answer those who are receiving unemployment benefit he really should have stated ‘those who are registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service’. If that correction is made to his answer, what he said then follows with accuracy.
As far as Senator Puplick ‘s question is concerned, two sets of figures are produced. The Australian Bureau of Statistics releases figures which estimate the number of unemployed males and the Department of Social Security releases figures which, of course, show the number of males who receive unemployment benefit. These figures are not comparable for a number of reasons. A survey conducted by the Bureau of Statistics can contain sampling errors and as a result the Bureau’s figures cannot necessarily be sustained as an accurate indication of those who actually receive unemployment benefit. The Bureau’s survey excludes anyone who worked for one hour during the survey week. By contrast, only those who received enough income to reduce their unemployment benefit to zero are excluded from the unemployment benefit figures. In other words, those who receive part unemployment benefit would be included differently in a survey conducted by the Bureau of Statistics. Many married unemployed men would be ineligible for unemployment benefit because of their wives ‘ incomes.
It would probably be more meaningful to compare the recent Department of Social Security figure of 242,000 with the Commonwealth Employment Service figure of 307,000 males registered. This gives a comparison between those who are registered for employment and those who are actually receiving unemployment benefit. So there are reasons why comparisons between the figures of the Bureau of Statistics and those of the Department of Social Security may give rise to some of the conclusions drawn by Senator Puplick, but the sets of figures being compared do not have the same base.
– The Minister for Social Security in reply to a question recently stated that unemployment benefit should not act as a subsidy for those who choose to have parttime employment. Does she regard supporting parents, widow and invalid pensioners working part time and being paid pensions as receiving a subsidy?
– I think I missed the last few words of the honourable senator’s question. If I have stated that unemployment benefit should not act as a subsidy for those who have part time employment, I was stating the provisions of the Act which specify that the unemployment benefit is available to those people who have very limited other income to the extent that $6 is the allowable income that may be received before the unemployment benefit is diminished. This is in contrast to the free area of income of $20 for a single pensioner.
An unemployment benefit in the terms of the Social Services Act is a benefit for those who are unemployed and who are willing to and capable of taking other work. As to what I have been saying in terms of calling this a subsidy, perhaps some exception may be taken to the word itself. I simply state that the unemployment benefit is a benefit for those who are unemployed and who are seeking work. Suggestions are made from time to time that the Act ought to be revised so that there is a greater allowable income before the unemployment benefit is diminished. But this is not the way in which the Act has been operated since the introduction of unemployment benefit and any statements comparing unemployment benefit with pensions overlook the fact that the unemployment benefit is a temporary benefit while people are unemployed.
– I ask a supplementary question. The Minister said that she did not quite catch the latter part of my question. I asked whether the Minister regards supporting parents, widows and invalid pensioners working part time as being paid pensions as a subsidy.
– I think that that part of the question has been covered in the answer I gave. In the case of supporting parents and others, a greater area of free income is allowed before the pension diminishes. In the case of unemployment benefit there is this limited amount that I have mentioned because of the nature of the unemployment benefit itself.
-Has the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications seen an article which appeared on page 107 of the Sun Herald dated 25 March 1979 and which details step by step a number of ways in which marihuana can be used and is being used currently by children? Is the Minister aware that the article is being passed around primary schools in Sydney and that it has raised considerable concern amongst many parents and teachers? Whilst acknowledging that the Fairfax chain is known generally as one which is socially concerned and responsible, and on the basis that the use of marihuana, even if decriminalised, will remain illegal, will the Minister indicate whether the publication of this kind of article is properly a matter to be deplored? Will he further indicate under what circumstances the Government would relate the appearance of such articles to the responsibilities of a group such as the Fairfax group which is a licensee in the electronic communications media.
– I have not seen the article in the Sun Herald to which Senator Baume refers. It is not a newspaper which I customarily read. I am not aware also that the article has been passed around among school children. I suppose that if the article gives children the idea of how they can get access to marihuana and how they can use it, it is to be deplored, although I hesitate to make a judgment without having seen the article. It is often very difficult to draw the line between proper dissemination of information and the provision of information which is going to damage those who receive it. I am not aware of any attempt to link the publications of newspaper proprietors to their responsibilities under the Broadcasting and Television Act. I will refer that aspect of the matter and the question generally to my colleague, Mr Staley, for a more detailed comment for Senator Baume.
-The Minister for Social Security will be aware that present Government arrangements allow reduced rates of telephone rental for pensioners living alone. I draw her attention to the fact that the initial cost is a $200 connection fee where no service previously existed whilst the connection fee where a service has previously existed is only $34. Will the Minister review present Government policy in this regard with a view to introducing concessional rates for connection fees for pensioners eligible for telephone rent concessions so that any coincidental inequities will be eliminated?
– I thank Senator Sibraa for raising this matter with me. I have not previously given consideration to the disparity between the fee for a reconnection and that for the installation of a new service. Now that the matter has been brought to my attention in this way I will see that it is given consideration for future arrangements.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and follows from a question by Senator Gietzelt on brewers ‘ liquid sugar as supplied to some breweries in Australia. Will the Minister agree that the sole use of this product is not as a sweetenerwhoever heard of sweet beer- but to provide a fermentable source of carbohydrate for the production of alcohol, the volume of sugar added in this form being proportional to the final alcohol content required? Is it not a fact, that, unless soft drink manufacturers are eager to pay excise duty in order to produce an alcoholic lemonade, their requests for brewers’ liquid sugar to be supplied to them are technically meaningless?
– This series of questions about the manufacture of products such as soft drinks and beer is far too technical for me to answer. Perhaps it comes within the realm of questions which ought to be answered by my colleague, the Minister for Science and the Environment. I will take note of the question and refer it to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs to see whether he has more competence in this matter than I have.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications a question which refers to the economy rates for subscriber trunk dialling telephone calls which are made between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. I point out that, when Queensland telephone subscribers wish to call telephone subscribers in southern States at times when daylight saving operates, the earliest a connection can be made at economy rates in the evening is 10 o’clock eastern summer time. This occurs because Queensland does not adhere to a system of daylight saving. Will the Minister ask Telecom Australia to investigate whether it will be possible to vary appropriately the times for economy STD rates in Queensland when daylight saving time next operates in the southern States?
– As I listened to Senator Colston’s question, I felt the satisfaction of a shared misfortune. We have no daylight saving in Western Australia either. That causes great difficulties with respect to time changes and making telephone calls to the eastern States. The decision on when these lower cost or economy telephone calls can be made is geared very strongly to when telephone lines are being used. I think that practical considerations will dictate whether Telecom Australia will be able to go along with the proposition put by the honourable senator. I will ask the Minister for Post and Telecommunications to pass that inquiry on to Telecom to see whether some relief can be granted to Queensland subscribers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer Is it a fact that the Savings Bank of Tasmania has recently been advised by the Reserve Bank of Australia that its call rate of 8.5 per cent on solicitors’ trust accounts is outside the guidelines of arrangements between the banks generally and the Reserve Bank, and that the Bank has been requested to cease to offer accounts on call at a rate of interest in excess of 6.25 per cent for amounts over $4,000? Is this action discriminatory against the Savings Bank of Tasmania and is it a restraint against reasonable competition; or is it a part of some overall policy to force down interest rates? If it is discriminatory, will the Minister take steps to have the discrimination removed?
– I do not have the specific information sought by Senator Rae. The Treasurer must have that information. I will refer the question to him and ask him to respond to it.
– The Minister representing the Prime Minister will recall that on 22 February I asked him question on notice No. 1325, seeking information on whether the immediately past Governor-General had a free telephone service between England and Australia. If so I wanted to know what was the cost of calls made during the compilation of his book entitled Matters for Judgment. I now ask the Minister: When can I be provided with the answer to that question, in view of the fact that it is five weeks since I asked it?
– I will pass the question to the responsible Minister for a response.
-My question, which is directed to the Minister for Science and the Environment, follows from a question that I asked earlier this week about the importation of aquarium fish. Is the Minister aware that the importers of aquarium fish have their own very specific and sound proposals for improvements in quarantine facilities which would reduce the species of fish to be imported to about half their present number but on a rational and well ordered basis? Is the Minister aware that this argument has not been formally received by the Government because there has been no channel for those importers to put their case to the Government? Has the Minister become informally aware of these representations from importers? Will he allow the importers to put their arguments to Ministers considering this question?
– I am aware of quite a deal of correspondence from individuals who are involved by way of both business and pleasure in the aquarium fish industry. The honourable senator mentioned that a committee of importers and people who keep aquarium fish had drafted a statement which I take it proposes a reduction in the number of dangerous species of fish that people may bring into Australia. From the paperwork that has come to me, I am not aware of any list of such species. Industry representatives may have written to other Ministers. The Minister in charge of customs is one Minister who has some responsibility in the matter.
The matter, as honourable senators know, was originally raised at the Australian Fisheries Council, and I think many letters have gone to the Minister for Primary Industry. However, there is a channel by which people may put any argument to Ministers. I would suggest that they put their arguments to me as a basis for discussion of their interests together with the interests of the fresh water fisheries people in Australia. I am sure that I can bring that about. I offer that solution to the honourable senator. If anybody writes to me on the matter, I will reply in that way.
– On Tuesday Senator Robertson asked me a question about Northern Territory radio programs. I undertook to seek a reply from the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. I now have an answer. I seek leave of the Senate to incorporate it in Hansard.
The answer read as follows-
NORTHERN TERRITORY RADIO PROGRAMS
On 27 March Senator Robertson asked me a question without notice about Government plans for improved radio services in the Northern Territory.
The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has informed me that his recent visit to the Northern Territory enabled him to see at first hand the difficulties Territorians face over a range of communications facilities.
He had informative discussions with Territory leaders, officials, Aboriginal communities and rural dwellers generally on these matters and is fully aware of the need for improvements in many areas.
The Minister has mentioned that the need to improve the Territory radio service is clearly recognised.
A new Northern Territory Inland HF (shortwave) facility was to be sited on Cox Peninsula along with the Radio Australia transmitters. However, plans were suspended following Cyclone Tracy.
Subsequent research into the possibility of using an alternative site has confirmed that the only practical proposition is to utilise the Cox Peninsula site. Consequently, provision of the Inland Service hinges on restoration of the Radio Australia facilities. Initial funds for this latter project have been allocated in the current financial year to allow the restoration work to commence, but it is not possible at this stage to provide a definitive date for the completion of the rehabilitation work. The honourable senator will appreciate that the project is one of considerable magnitude.
While it is not possible to indicate precisely when plans for introduction of the Inland Service will proceed, the Government has embarked this financial year upon a continuous three-year Capital Works Program for the extension of the national broadcasting and television services and funding for the Inland Service is tentatively scheduled at this stage for 1981-82. The plans for the Inland Service will be kept under active review to ensure the earliest possible commencement of the project.
The honourable senator may be assured of the Minister’s support for the provision of satisfactory radio reception for the people of the Northern Territory.
-A question was asked of me recently relating to the situation of the Supervising Scientist. I seek permission to incorporate in Hansard an answer to that question.
The answer read as follows-
The following information is provided in response to questions asked in the Senate on 22 February and 20 March by Senator Robertson, and on 7 March by Senator Keeffe. The information is supplementary to the answer provided to Senator Keeffe ‘s question of 7 March.
The Acting Supervising Scientist appointed under the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978, is Mr R. M. Fry a distinguished Scientist, who is one of Australia’s most experienced health physicists. For further information on Mr Fry’s background I refer the honourable senators to the answer to Question on Notice No. 835, in Hansard of 21 November 1978. Mr Fry presently resides in
Sydney and the Government had agreed that he may continue to do so while he occupies the position of Supervising Scientist.
It will be appreciated that the functions of the Supervising Scientist, as set out in the Act, require that a sizeable organisation be established, to undertake research, supervision, and regulatory tasks, including monitoring of the environment in the Alligator Rivers Region. A field laboratory with a resident manager has been established by the Supervising Scientist at the Ranger project area, where baseline research and monitoring projects are already well in hand. In addition, the Supervising Scientist undertakes a co-ordinating role, having regard to the many Government agencies that are operating in the Alligator Rivers Region. Staff and consultants working for the Supervising Scientist spend a considerable amount of time in the Region.
For the most pan the direct supervision and regulation of uranium mining developments in the Region is being undertaken by officials of the Northern Territory Government. This is occurring at the present time at Ranger, and I am informed that Ranger Uranium Mines is co-operating with the Territory and Commonwealth authorities in meeting the environmental requirements imposed on the company. The Supervising Scientist exercises a general oversight, both through his own staffing resources and through the Coordinating Committee appointed to advise him in these matters.
It should be understood that the environmental controls under which uranium mining is permitted to proceed in the Region are extremely comprehensive and detailed. They are conditions of the Authority for Ranger to mine, and most of the controls are implemented through the administration of Territory laws. The Northern Territory Government has enacted legislation dealing with water, soil, radiation and general aspects of uranium mining, in order to implement the strict environmental controls that that Commonwealth has imposed on mining in the Region. I understand that some 70 or more officers of the. Northern Territory Government will eventually be involved in the regulation of uranium mining. This, of course, is additional to the resources that the Commonwealth is allocating to the Region, through the Office of the Supervising Scientist, and, more generally, through the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. The Service will be responsible for the implementation of land use and land management policies consistent with the Plan of Management for the Kakadu National Park.
The Northern Territory legislation provides generally for the supervising authorities to, issue permits, licences and authorisations, on the application of the uranium mining companies, for the variety of separate activities which the mining companies will be engaged in in the mining and milling processes. In many of these authorisations, there will be standards specified which will have to be met by the miners. The establishment of these standards will follow the results of research and monitoring activities which are at present going on in the Region, under the direction of both the Supervising Scientist and the Northern Territory Government. The legislation provides for severe penalties should the environmental requirements and the standards not be observed by the mining companies.
1 think the honourable senators will agree that the question of where the Supervising Scientist resides is somewhat irrelevant in the light of the arrangements that the Government has made, with the co-operation of the Northern Territory, for the supervision of uranium mining. In fact, the Supervising Scientist is represented at a senior level in the Alligator Rivers Region. However, the important thing is that there is in existence a comprehensive body of law to control mining, and appropriate administrative resources to ensure that these laws are enforced.
-Today a question was raised relating to 2,4,5-T. I seek permission of the Senate to incorporate in Hansard the statement that was made by the National Health and Medical Research Council in relation to this matter.
The statement read as follows-
At its Eighty-fifth Session, in June 1978, Council, having examined all the available scientific evidence, stated that it could find no substantiated scientific evidence of a causal link between the use of 2,4,5-T and human birth defects.
The recent action of the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States of America in restricting the use of 2,4,5-T had led to the matter of the use and safety of 2,4,5-T being again referred to Council for advice.
Since its 1978 statement Council had maintained these substances under review; all scientific evidence subsequently becoming available had been examined.
In particular a special working party of Council had investigated in detail the material on which the actions of the United States Environmental Protection Agency were based.
Council noted the acknowledgement in the documentation from the United States of deficiencies and difficulties in the investigations performed, and the conclusion of the report that ‘For all its complexity, however, this analysis is a correlational analysis, and correlation does not necessarily mean causation’.
Council expressed regret that the original data used in the compilation were not available as in its view some of these data had not received the statistical treatment considered essential to arrive at any valid conclusions.
It considered that the report did not substantiate the conclusions contained therein, nor did it provide a basis for concluding whether 2,4,5-T causes or does not cause an increase in spontaneous abortion.
Council concluded that its review of past evidence and the examination of new material did not provide any scientific evidence of a causal link between the use of 2,4,5-T and excess occurrence of spontaneous abortion and human birth defects. It therefore did not recommend any additional restrictions on the use of 2,4,5-T.
Council noted the community’s concern over possible effects on the foetus of infectious agents, therapeutic substances and industrial and agricultural chemicals and the lack of detailed perinatal information in Australia. It therefore commended the recent initiatives to extend collection of statistics to cover the whole country and for the establishment of a national perinatal statistical unit, and strongly recommended that these initiatives be given the highest priority.
In addition, the Council will take steps in association with the various States and Territories to aim for the expansion of the current hospital morbidity statistics system in order to monitor the incidence of spontaneous abortion.
-by leave- I move:
I take it that included in the resumed debate on the statement will be the answer given on this matter earlier. I have moved this motion because it is necessary for the Parliament to debate this very important statement on 2,4,5-T, and the answer in particular. The action of the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster) in incorporating this statement vindicates my point that such information should be given subsequent to Question Time rather than during Question Time. We can then move that the Senate take note of such information. It is essential that the Senate be given the opportunity to debate what is considered an important question and an important answer. Ministers should feel less inclined to make lengthy statements at Question Time. If they appreciate what I am saying they will appreciate the necessity for making those statements after Question Time.
If the Minister concerned said that the question raised an important issue and asked the questioner to place the question on the Notice Paper, at the end of Question Time he could then make a full statement, which would enable any honourable senator to take advantage of the opportunity to move that the Senate take note of the statement, thereby placing it on the Notice Paper and having it debated subsequently, or for that matter to say something on the subject at the time that the statement is brought down. That is the basis of my continual objection during Question Time to Ministers making what are virtually important statements on very important matters.
The Minister tried to deride me by saying that I was not interested in this matter. The contrary is the case. I am very interested in this matter, as are Senator Mason and Senator Melzer. The Senate as a whole is interested in what the Minister has to say. It is certainly interested in what honourable senators have to say on the matter. I am certain that the community as a whole has a very vital interest in the subject. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I inform the Senate that Mr President has received the following letter dated 28 March 1979 from Senator Ryan:
Dear Mr President,
In accordance with Standing Order 64, I give notice that tomorrow, 29 March, I shall move:
That in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:
The misuse by the Fraser Government of taxpayers’ money and public appointments to create a LiberalCountry Party propaganda machine. ‘
Yours sincerely, SUSAN RYAN
Is the motion supported?
More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
That in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:
The misuse by the Fraser Government of taxpayers’ money and public appointments to create a LiberalCountry Party propaganda machine.
I have moved this motion today because of a feeling of disgust- disgust felt by me and my colleagues in the Federal Opposition and disgust that I believe is shared by an ever increasing majority of the electorate- with the hypocrisy of the Fraser Government. I have used the word hypocrisy, let honourable senators note, because while the Fraser Government preaches wage restraint and belt tightening for ordinary citizens, while it deprives pensioners of the ability to keep up with inflation, while it slashes public expenditure and allows a rundown to occur in the services in such crucial areas as health, Aboriginal affairs and legal aid and while it continues to justify nearly half a million people being unemployed with hidebound ineffectual theories about inflation, it is engaged in an extravagant, selfindulgent irresponsible squandering of the taxpayers ‘ money on its own image building. It is doing so at a time when about one million Australians have been described by Professor Henderson as living in very serious poverty and at a time when nearly half a million Australians have no job. The Fraser Government’s so-called tax reforms have imposed increased taxes on 55 per cent of the income earners. But who are they? Those at the bottom end of the income scale. On what is the taxpayers’ money being spent? An increasing amount of it is being spent not on services to the community or legitimate public projects but on propaganda- blatant political propaganda of the Liberal-National Country Party coalition.
This misuse of the taxpayers ‘ money for political propaganda would be improper at the best of times, but we are not in the best of times. This improper exercise of public expenditure by the
Fraser Government at the time of a major economic crisis and an unemployment crisis is a scandal. Since the Fraser Government came to power in 1975 we have witnessed an unparalleled abuse of government resources that is designed to boost the image of the Liberal-National Country Party Government and keep it in power.
– What about your ministry when you were in office? You created a great propaganda machine out of all proportion.
– I will get on to that. These abuses are becoming increasingly evident as the Government, understandably, becomes more and more unpopular. Whilst the Fraser Governmen ‘s popularity has plummeted, its expenditure on propaganda has soared. One of the most serious and most obvious abuses of the taxpayers’ money is the establishment of what has been called a Government information unit. It is a media unit which has been described by the Government as ‘an information co-ordination unit’. What interesting euphemisms the Government uses to disguise this blatant propaganda exercise. This media unit will have a director, the journalist Mr Vince Mathews, whose salary will be $30,000. There will be an assistant to him, another journalist, with a salary of $26,000 a year, and a secretarial staff. The Government has appointed four $26,000 a year journalists to act as what it calls ‘information watchdogs’ in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.
The Opposition does not wonder that the Government is so desperate to propagate its own views that it is engaging in this exercise. What I draw to the attention of the Senate today is the impropriety of the Government in appointing these people at huge salaries to do the work that those politicians are so blatantly ineffectual in doing. This Fraser initiative- I am still referring to the information unit or co-ordination unit or whatever it is called; anything but its real name, the propaganda unit- is particularly ironic because of the criticism made by the Liberal Party Opposition in 1975 of the Australian Government Liaison Service. I have heard echoes of this criticism in this chamber today. Indeed, Senator Chaney seems to be about to make an echo similar to that made by his colleague who has just left the chamber. ‘What about the Australian Government Liaison Service?’, they are suggesting.
Let us look at the Australian Government Liaison Service. It was described by the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) as a propaganda outfit. On coming to office he disbanded it with a great show of righteousness and propriety. But the Fraser information unit is a far more expensive exercise than the Australian Government Liaison Service ever was. It is set up in a totally different way. It is to work under a committee of Ministers headed by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Mr Phillip Lynch. Its only purpose is to develop a favourable image of the Fraser Government. That is a nigh impossible task, I agree; nonetheless, it is one on which the Government sees fit to expend such a huge amount of public money. Not only is the new unit more expensive than the Australian Government Liaison Service but it is also quite clearly a misappropriation of public resources for party political purposes. Because the Australian Government Liaison Service, for which the Labor Party was so severely criticised, was set up within a government department- the Department of the Media- it was subject to audit and to parliamentary scrutiny. There was nothing underhand, nothing secretive, nothing evasive about its operation.
– The appropriation for it was passed by the Parliament.
– As my colleague the former Minister for the Media, Senator Douglas McClelland, has pointed out, the appropriation for this unit was passed by the Parliament. It was a properly accounted for area of public activity. In contrast, the new information unit is not. It is to work in ministerial areas and its expenditure can be hidden easily from public view. I also ask senators on the Government benches how this new unit is to be accommodated within the staff ceilings which have been imposed upon the Public Service since the beginning of the period of the Fraser Government. I would like to know how the Fraser Government reconciles its frequently announced objective of reducing the number of public servants with so many new public appointments at high levels in this euphemistically named information unit. The Prime Minister has claimed consistently that his Government does not waste money on publicity and public relations, but already he has three journalists on his own staff, each one of whom earns more than $30,000 a year. I have mentioned this figure of $30,000 a year several times already in this debate because this seems to be about the average salary level for appointments to do this propaganda work. It is worth pausing at this point of the debate to consider what a salary of $30,000 or thereabouts means in the current economic situation. I expect that honourable senators know that half of the male workers in this country earn less than $ 1 90 a week and that half of the women workers in this country earn less than $137 a week. So half of all workers in Australia today earn less than $169 a week. By contrast, the appointments about which I am complaining today average in the vicinity of $450 a week. There is this sort of activity by the Government, which consistently and continually tells wage and salary earners that they should accept wage reductions and wage cuts, and that it is because of the level of wages in the community that Australia has an economic crisis.
The Prime Minister, not content with the public image his personal staff has so far createdindeed, they have insuperable difficulties- has taken to hiring private public relations consultants to spruce up his deteriorating image. This years Budget provided $10,000 for a private company to take over from the Australian Broadcasting Commission the responsibility of producing the Prime Minister’s speeches to the nation. The Governments attitudes and performance in regard to the ABC are well known. The ABC has had its staff and budget slashed; it has been accused of inefficiency and wasting the taxpayers money. Of course, by refusing to use the ABC to do the work it is set up to do, which includes prime ministerial addresses, the Government actually is creating areas of inefficiency and under-utilisation within the ABC, which it then uses to justify its on-going attacks on the Commission. It is a total waste of taxpayers money to ignore the ABC, which is properly set up and responsible for work of this kind, and go and spend the money on an outside company which perhaps might spend a little more time dealing with the television make-up problems of the Prime Minister.
The Government does not even choose efficient outside agencies to do this work. I presume Government senators are hoping that people will have forgotten- I do not think the general public will have forgotten- the exquisite embarrassment of watching not only this year’s prime ministerial address to the nation but also last year’s address because the private company, Enterprise Colour Video Productions Pty Ltd, delivered the wrong film to the television station. It is interesting to look at this firm that is performing this task for the Prime Minister at cost to the taxpayer. Enterprise Colour Video Productions Pty Ltd has been the beneficiary of more than contracts to produce Mr Fraser ‘s speeches. It is worth noting that in June last year the Australian Film Commission lent $250,000 to the Enterprise Colour Video Production company.
– How much was that, senator?
– A quarter of a million dollars- a significant figure- was lent by the Australian Film Commission to Enterprise Colour Video Production Pty Ltd to help that company escape receivership. Interestingly, that is the same commercial production house which now has the benefit of contracts from the Prime Minister to produce his address to the nation.
– Are you suggesting that the Commission improperly lent that money?
- Senator Chaney asks whether I am suggesting impropriety. The impropriety I am suggesting is in respect of the Government using an outside body to do the work that the ABC is properly set up to do.
– I think that if you are not suggesting impropriety by the Film Commission and the company in respect of that loan you should make that clear. It sounded as though you were alleging impropriety.
– I am not suggesting impropriety on the part of the Film Commission. The loan by the Australian Film Commission to this company and the use of the company by the Prime Minister is a conjunction that is worth noting. The Budget also provides for $40,000 for an independent public relations consultant and producer, Mr Geoff Stone, who is to help the Prime Minister achieve a more acceptable image. The Government also has allocated $ 1 50,000 for a review of each of the Federal departments public relations units. We can identify at least $500,000 of public money which is being used by the Prime Minister simply for one reason, that is, to improve his Government’s chances of being re-elected.
There are other ways in which this Government is using public resources for party political purposes. In November last year I asked the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle), as Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs whether the translation sub-section of the citizenship branch of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs had been instructed to translate the Prime Minister’s weekly electorate talks for release to ethnic affairs groups. I was told that that was the case; that, indeed, officers of the Department had been assigned to the task of bringing the words of the Prime Minister to his constituents in Wannon to all the ethnic communities via a fairly expensive and complex task of translation. According to the Minister, the exercise was justified in that it was claimed, it was an implementation of the
Galbally report in providing an information service to migrants.
I was prompted to ask the question in the first place when I received a complaint about this instruction to officers of the Department from a constituent of mine who objected to what that constituent saw as the Government’s misuse of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. After I had asked the question, an officer of the Department telephoned my electorate office to find out the name of the person who had complained. Of course, my electorate secretary did not divulge that name. It is worth asking why the Department was so keen to know who had made the complaint, if in fact the translation of the Prime Minister’s electorate talks is merely a matter of providing information. There seemed to be undue concern and embarrassment about the matter, if that is all it was. It would be interesting to know what punitive action was intended towards my constituent had I divulged that constituent’s name.
I started by talking about the hypocrisy of the Fraser Government in these matters. I remind the Senate of a statement made by Malcolm Fraser to the National Press Club on 8 December 1975, before the election that made him Prime Minister. He said:
One of the first concerns will be to secure the integrity and professional character of the Public Service, free from political appointments. Our system of government can only work effectively and efficiently with a politically neutral Public Service.
I now ask: How does that fine claim square with the establishment of a Government propaganda machine and the misuse of Federal departments to gain political advantage?
The Government has not just provided itself with publicly funded public relations machinery. It is also determined to do what it can to ensure that the Opposition does not threaten its security. The Government had departed, for its political safety, from fundamental principles of the Westminster system. It refuses to recognise the proper rights and the proper roles of an Opposition in the Westminster system. For example, last year the Remuneration Tribunal recommended that the Opposition front bench have 1 9 extra staff. The Prime Minister refused, perhaps illegally, to accept the Tribunal’s recommendation. For reasons best known to himself, he would consent to only an additional 10 staff, thus contravening the recommendation of a Tribunal established for the purpose of determining staff and conditions of members of parliament. He would not abide by the Tribunal’s recommendation. He gave only 10 extra staff, instead of 19.
However, at the same time the Prime Minister found himself able to give five new staff to the Liberal-National Country Party back benchersthe so-called Government parties support secretariat, whose main function seems to be to help Government back benchers face up to the hostility they encounter, understandably, from all those groups and individuals in the community who are totally disenchanted with Fraser policies. The Government front bench has 230 ministerial staff, as well as the vast resources of the Commonwealth Public Service. On the other hand, the Opposition has 44 staff.
The Fraser Government habitually uses public resources to further public acceptance of its own parties’ policies. For example, in 1977 the Government’s controversial and, I think, totally unsatisfactory uranium policy was published by the Australian Government Publishing Service in the form of an information kit. That kit was distributed to schools round Australia. Liberal and National Country Party members of parliament were told that they could have as many of the so-called kits as they wanted to supply to schools in their electorates. I sought to discover the exact number of kits that were printed and the exact cost to the taxpayer of that propaganda exercise, but accurate information was never forthcoming. So we can only speculate on what that propaganda exercise cost.
It is not that the Government is always as generous as that in providing money for the printing of information of interest to the public. By way of contrast, when the report of the task force inquiring into the use of a communications satellite was presented- a matter of vast significance to the entire public; a matter about which there is supposed to be, in the words of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, Mr Tony Staley, public debate- initially only 500 copies were printed and later another 750 copies were printed. However, it seems that the Government is still intent on spending large amounts of money to popularise, to explain or perhaps to justify its policies. In the Australian Financial Review of Tuesday of this week we learned that the Government intends to spend $ 17m on advertising its new energy policy. I do not question the need for governments to explain their policies to the electorate, but it would seem to me that with the vast machinery of the Commonwealth bureaucracy, with the vast back up of ministerial staff and advisers and with all the journalists in the famous Information Unit, for the Government to need to spend yet another $ 1 7m on a specific advertising campaign so that it can explain to the community what its energy policy is all about is simply disgraceful.
The Australian Government Publishing Service has also had to foot the bill for prime ministerial ego. In 1976 Malcolm Fraser was presented with the 1973-74 annual report of the Australian Film and Television School, the presentation of which had been delayed because of administrative difficulties within the school. The report designated Mr Whitlam as Prime Minister, as he was in the period covered by the report. Prime Minister Fraser, miffed by this acknowledgment of reality, ordered all copies of the report to be destroyed and had the report reprinted with his name appearing in it. The cost was $2,000- not a great deal, honourable senators might say, but certainly a great deal when one considers that it was a completely wasteful and self-indulgent exercise. We are all aware that the Prime Minister’s continual calls for belttightening in the community are not matched by his own pretensions. The purchase of two Boeing aircraft to transport him and his ministerial colleagues to and fro will cost the taxpayer $30m over three years. It will be necessary to spend another $200,000 on improvements to the Canberra Airport in order to accommodate the new jets. It is worth remembering what Mr Fraser said in Parliament on 25 March 1975. He said:
On my own visits overseas, commercial aircraft will be used as far as possible. The argument that Qantas cannot provide adequate security for a Prime Minister is a specious argument and false.
The falsity and the speciousness of the argument seem to have disappeared. Now we find that the Prime Minister cannot use the normal commercial services for his jaunting around and that $30m of the taxpayers money is to be spent on propping up this new ego-boosting exercise.
– What has that to do with the motion?
-What it has to do with the motion is that I and my colleagues can find no reason for the use of these Boeing aircraft other than that they constitute image building for the Prime Minister and an attempt to establish in the minds of the electorate that the Prime Minister is such an important and outstanding person, flying around in Boeing aircraft as he does, that he must continue to be voted in as Prime Minister of Australia. I suppose that the $30m will be paid for pardy by the $2 7m which will be taken away from age pensioners this year because of the refusal of the Government to honour its promise to continue quarterly indexation of age pensions. An amount of $27m will be saved from that exercise this year and $30m will be committed to the purchase of the two Boeing aircraft. Of course, no enabling legislation for the purchase of those aircraft has been introduced.
When one looks at public opinion polls, it is easy to see why the Prime Minister is so keen to improve his image. In January of last year, 57 per cent of the people approved of the way in which he was handling his job. The Morgan gallup poll for February showed that approval for him had dropped to 39 per cent. Mr Vince Mathews, the head of the Government’s new Information Unit, said on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Four Corners program that the object of establishing the Unit was to supply information. But the Government departments already have their own public relations units. At the same time as the Government is increasing expenditure on its image, protecting itself from criticism, it is cutting back on essential expenditure as far as the public is concerned. Jobs are disappearing from the health, education and welfare areas. Since 1975 there has been a decline of 9,8 10 in the number of full time jobs in the Commonwealth Public Service and the intention is to remove another 8,127 jobs from the Commonwealth Public Service.
The Government has made its priorities crystal clear. Staying in power is far and away more important to it than is responsible government. When one remembers Malcolm Fraser ‘s constant criticism of the Labor Government for alleged extravagances- overseas trips, the misuse of public funds- one is amazed at this effrontery. Malcolm Fraser employs at public expense, directly and indirectly, 10 people to try to convince the Australian public that he is a good Prime Minister. He is in effect using the taxpayers money to protect himself and his Government from legitimate criticism and to create an Orwellian propaganda system which feeds socalled information about Liberal-National Country Party policy to the public and to the media. I urge the Senate to join me in condemning the Fraser Government for its scandalous misuse of public money.
– The Senate has just been treated to a quite extraordinary speech by Senator Ryan in support of the motion which she has moved. She started out by saying that she was disgusted at the hypocrisy of the Government. I suggest to the Senate, and indeed to Senator Ryan, that any analysis of the speech which she has just made would almost invariably throw up the word ‘hypocrisy’ as being what is brought to mind. I sat here trying to think of what would be a comparable speech from any other person. I think that Senator Ryan’s speech might be likened to a speech by Stalin complaining about the treatment by the British of the gypsies. The speech just seemed to me to be totally distorted and totally out of kilter with the facts. If there is anything that the Australian Labor Party Government taught this Government during the period from 1972 to 1975, it was that to establish a propaganda machine would be disastrous. The previous Government went a long way towards creating a propaganda machine. I think that the whole of Australia learned that that sort of activity achieves very little indeed. In fact, the disastrous performance of the Whitlam Government could not be disguised from the Australian public, no matter how many journalists it employed and how many departments it created. This Government is aware of the fact that the only way it will maintain its position with the Australian community and guarantee its re-election is to govern well. That happens to be the priority of this Government.
There were many issues in Senator Ryan’s speech with which one might join issue. We heard the extraordinary statement that the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, had promised a Public Service free from political interference. Senator Ryan referred to examples of the Public Service performing what she regarded as political tasks. She made some passing reference to the establishment of the Department of the Media under the Labor Government. She omitted to mention that the person who was appointed to head that Department came from Mr Whitlam ‘s personal staff. How extraordinary! Can honourable senators not imagine the outrage in the honourable senator’s voice if a member of the present Prime Minister’s personal staff were appointed to head a department of the media? It would be regarded as an absolute disgrace. We heard Senator Ryan daring to criticise the present Government for politicising the Public Service when a member of Mr Whitlam ‘s personal staff was appointed to head the Department of the Media. If Senator Ryan is disgusted at what she sees as the hypocrisy of the present Government, I find that I experience some disgust at what I see as the hypocrisy of the motion before us and of the speech which supported it. Any sort of measure can be adapted.
I think that references were made in the honourable senator’s speech to ministerial staff numbers. Was Senator Ryan seriously suggesting that there are more ministerial staff under the present Government than under the previous
Government? I assume she was not because this is not the case. Yet she made some reference to the number of ministerial staff. What message was supposed to be drawn from that reference? There is no message to be drawn at all. If we look at the staff of the previous Government we find that all 27 Ministers of that Government had a Press secretary. When we look at the position under the present Government we find that there are seven Press secretary positions for Government Ministers and that not one Senate Minister has a Press secretary. Yet every Minister in the previous Government at public cost had a Press secretary. There is one Press secretary position for a Government Minister in the Senate. Senator Carrick, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, is entitled to a Press secretary but he has chosen at this stage not to fill it. That is the emphasis which this Government places on propaganda. As I have said, not one Government Minister in the Senate has a Press secretary even though the Leader of the Government in the Senate is entitled to appoint one to his staff. Compare that position with the 27 Press secretaries employed by the Whitlam Government. Look at the results that were achieved by employing 27 Press secretaries. This Government is perhaps showing a simple prudence as a result of lessons learned from the failures of the previous Government.
Senator Ryan made another extraordinary statement when she said that the Boeing 707 aircraft were bought to improve the image of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). If that is not self-evidently ridiculous nothing is. To suggest that the purchase of these planes could be aimed at building the Prime Minister’s image is, in my view, so clearly nonsense that it deserves to be emphasised as being a significant point in Senator Ryan’s speech. Clearly there has been public interest in the purchase of those aircraft. It is interesting that the Government Information Unit has put out a paper setting out the basic facts about that purchase. I seek leave of the Senate to incorporate that basic paper in Hansard. It is quite short, it is a factual sort of paper and it illustrates the sort of work performed by the unit about which the honourable senator complained. It also illustrates how far from the truth is her suggestion that these planes were purchased as something of an image building exercise for the Prime Minister.
The document read as follows-
Government Information Paper 27 March 1979
SPECIAL PURPOSE AIRCRAFT
Why Australia Needs Them
Australia cannot escape its international commitments. It is a major trading nation and a middle-sized power with vital interests to protect.
Thus it is essential that Australia’s national leaders should travel overseas when the need arises. The presence of our leaders is indispensable if we are to be successful in our efforts to have Australia’s voice heard and our endeavours taken seriously in world counsels.
Conferences of Commonwealth Heads of Government, meetings with other world leaders, the projection of Australia’s viewpoint in international forums.
These are examples of where the full weight and stature of a national leader are necessary.
So once it is accepted that in this age of air-travel diplomacy, Australia ‘s leaders must be where they are needed, in the national interest, anywhere in the world, the immediate question is:
How should a national leader travel overseas?
Security experts have warned the Government that the risk of travel by a national leader in either commercial or privately chartered aircraft is unacceptably high.
In a world which now knows the recklessness of international terrorism, a nation cannot fail to provide its leaders with a means of travel across the world in safety.
Security advice to the Government was that it would be too late to make decisions on the acquisition of Special Purpose Aircraft after the sabotage or hi-jacking of a commercial aircraft which a national leader might be using with the consequent threat to as many as 300 lives.
A report from Sir Robert Mark, former Chief of Scotland Yard, said: ‘In a country so dependent on air travel as Australia, the use of VIP aircraft which subtracted attractive targets from the main stream of passengers has much to commendit as a counter-terrorist measure ‘.
With increasing urgency the Government was advised that the practice of Australia’s Prime Ministers travelling overseas on commercial aircraft was a grave risk not only to the Prime Minister but to the passengers who had to share the commercial flights.
Each time a Head of Government flies by commercial aircraft he becomes a potential target of terrorist sabotage or hi-jacking. Thus, the most elaborate security arrangements have to be made.
These security precautions are a serious inconvenience to other passengers.
The advice on security was a paramount factor in the Government’s decision to acquire Special Purpose Aircraft.
The purchase of two Boeing 707s from Qantas was made for cogent reasons.
There had been suggestions that it might be possible to charter aircraft from Qantas for overseas visits. But Qantas was in fact phasing out the last of its Boeing 707s which meant they would no longer be available should a charter be sought. Against this background it was decided to purchase two aircraft.
A further major consideration was the use of Special Purpose Aircraft for the defence force.
Although the decision was taken to purchase Boeing 707 aircraft primarily to satisfy the need for security on inter-continental flights by Government leaders the actual usage of the aircraft in this role will be small.
The Boeing 707 aircraft are to be based at Richmondthe home’ of the RAAF transport force. About 80 per cent of the hours flown by the aircraft are expected to be devoted to routine RAAF transport commitments.
The Defence tasks will include 24 return flights a year to Butterworth in Malaysia. These flights, for the moving of personnel to and from the Australian base there, will replace all Defence force charters which have been costing $lm a year. The Boeing 707s also have the capacity to replace about one third of the present C-130 scheduled cargo courier flights to Butterworth.
The aircraft will also be used to transport troops on overseas exercises- for example, the annual exercise in Canada and for other exercises in Britain, New Zealand and the United States.
So there are these sound grounds for the Government’s decision to purchase the Boeing 707s: the crucial need for security; a valuable defence asset.
This fact must be stressed as well:
The Government’s decision was taken after the most exhaustive investigations by senior officials over many months.
It was on the basis of that official and expert advice that the decision was made to buy the two aircraft.
– I would have thought that there has been an extraordinary lack of emphasis placed on propaganda by this Government. There has been an extraordinary preparedness to take on the difficult issues that face this country. The Government is prepared to keep talking about these matters. It does not divert people with beer and circuses and a plethora of Press secretaries which was the position under the previous Government. I can understand the Opposition’s attitude of suspicion to anything that is done by this Government. The record of members of the Opposition is such that it would sow suspicion in their own minds. The Opposition’s attitude to the media is clear. Senior Labor spokesmen are talking still of the need for a government newspaper. We have seen further reports during the last couple of months of senior Labor spokesmen saying that until we have a government newspaper in this country we will not get the story straight. What a marvellous concept from a party that is complaining about the Government being involved in propaganda.
Members of the Opposition, many of whom want a government newspaper, are complaining about what this Government is doing in the field of communications and so-called propaganda. But the Opposition’s record is quite clear. The Labor Government set up the Department of the Media. One of the honourable senators opposite, was, of course, the Minister for that department.
Incidentally, the budget of that department was $ 17.5m a year. The Labor Government also established a liaison service which as Senator Ryan pointed out was abolished when this Government came to office. As I have said, every Minister of the Labor Government had a Press secretary. The Labor Government had 27 positions compared with our seven positions, only six of which have been filled, under this Government. Under Labor there was a boom in the public relations sections of every government department. Would honourable senators opposite deny that under the Labor Government the propaganda activities of departments were considerably expanded? Mr Spigelman was also appointed during this period. All of these things come together to show what arrant nonsense are this resolution and the speech which supported it.
In 1975 the liaison service supported by the Whitlam Government cost $315,000 more than the cost of the Government Information Unit and the present public relations ministerial staff of the present Government. That one element of the Labor propaganda machine cost more in 1975 dollars than the Government’s activities are costing at present in 1978 dollars. The Labor Government liaison service had a staff of 27 all over the country and it put out a great deal of propaganda. Those honourable senators who are familiar with rural papers would know that many people had trouble in keeping up with the avalanche of paper that was poured out by the previous Government in an attempt to cover up its defects. The 1975 election results showed how unsuccessful was that avalanche of paper. Ministerial Press secretaries in 1975 cost $380,000. Therefore the cost of Labor Press secretaries was way in excess of the figure for the present Government which in the last full calendar year was $185,000.
– A false comparison.
– A false comparison in numbers and money? Both show an enormous increase under Labor as compared with the position under the present Government. It is not only here in Canberra that we have learned who are the propaganda merchants in Australian politics. Mr Wran does not have a bad public image making organisation established in his Government. Of course, the whole field was pioneered in South Australia by Premier Dunstan who established a most sophisticated monitoring and Press system which became notorious right around Australia. Complaints by the Labor Party about this Government’s propaganda activity border on being a sick joke. I accept the suspicious minds of members of the Opposition. They have demonstrated that they have an attitude towards media manipulation which is bad for democracy. This Government, in comparison with the Opposition, is sainted. One could not say that the matter before the Senate is a case of the pot calling the kettle black; it is a case of a very dirty old pot calling a shiny electric jug black. It is as bad as that.
This Government is doing no more than make a genuine effort to keep the Australian people informed on what it is doing. The Government has an information unit which is very small in number and which is extremely modest by the very immodest standards established by the previous Government. There is only one professional journalist employed in the Government Information Unit although there is a place for a second. But at the moment there is only one professional journalist who is employed in Canberra.
– What about the State liaison officers?
– I will get on to the State officers. It is so typical of the Labor Party that a senator from Canberra who would have little understanding of the conditions in the States should lead the attack on the appointment of four people in the States outside of that golden triangle of New South Wales and Victoria. This is one of the reasons why the Labor Party holds no seats, or very few seats, in these outlying States. Four people have been appointed as State co-ordination officers in Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia. In fact only one has been appointed in South Australia. Those people will enable the information -
– And Tasmania.
– Yes, and Tasmania.
– You raped the ABC for them.
– If the inference from the honourable senator’s comment is that someone has left the Australian Broadcasting Commission to take a job in this organisation, I assume that is his professional choice and good for him. In any event, there is a real need, as anyone who comes from the outlying States would know, for some attention to be given to explaining what Canberra and the Federal Government are doing in those States. That is something which I believe needs attention.
– That is what you should be doing. You come from Western Australia and you are a Minister.
-I may be a Western Australian Minister, Senator. It will be at least three weeks in the current period before I am back in my home State.
– Where are you going?
– I am visiting the rest of Australia and working in Canberra. But the fact of the matter is that there is a very real need both for the Federal Government to have an outlet in those States and to be in a position to record what needs attention in the information field in those States. As a Western Australian I am delighted that the Government has taken the step that it has taken and I support it without embarrassment and in fact with considerable enthusiasm. I believe that the total cost of the Government Information Unit and the State co-ordination services will be $233,000 per year, which is well under the cost of more than $300,000 for the liaison service established by the Labor Party in 1 975.
– What was the cost of the Department of the Media?
-The Department of the Media was a very modest effort! That cost only $17.5m! It barely warrants any mention at all! I do not know whether the Opposition is really serious in putting forward this motion. It appears to me to be a case of looking at an area where the Labor Party is itself extremely vulnerable on the record and of its thinking that perhaps if it makes a fuss about the present Government it will dull the public’s recollection of the Labor Party’s approach to propaganda in the media. On behalf of the Government I reject the motion which has been put forward by Senator Ryan. I ask the Senate to join me in that rejection. I move:
That the question be now put. (Quorum formed).
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President- Senator D. B. Scott)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put-
That the motion (Senator Ryan’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President- Senator D. B. Scot
Question so resolved in the negative.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Jurisdiction of Courts (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 1979.
Repatriation Acts Amendment Bill 1979.
– On behalf of the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and pursuant to section 32 of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Power Act 1949 I present the annual report of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority for the year ended 30 June 1978.
– by leave- In tabling the report of the Australian delegation to the InterParliamentary Union meetings for 1978, 1 would like to say first of all that the delegation is grateful to the respective national groups of the InterParliamentary Union of Portugal and the Federal Republic of Germany, the host groups for the Spring meetings in March-April and the 65th Conference in Bonn in September. The Australian delegation was well received and appreciates the warmth of the welcome it received by both groups.
This report makes the point that the InterParliamentary Union is the only world-wide organisation for parliaments and is therefore a major forum where parliamentarians can meet and debate world problems.
The work of the Conference reflected such important issues as disarmament, the Middle East situation, international terrorism, the fixing of fair prices for primary commodities, colonialism, and the International Year of the Child, and of special interest to parliamentarians is the report on the ‘Violation of Human Rights of Parliamentarians’. The consideration of all of these matters resulted in resolutions being carried by the Conference which deserve close examination by honourable senators- indeed, by all parliaments and by governments.
I express my thanks to the leader of the delegation, Dr Harry Edwards, the honourable member for Berowra, and the deputy leader of the delegation, the honourable C. K. Jones, the honourable member for Newcastle, and my fellow delegates who vigorously participated in debates and who represented this Parliament with dignity and friendly co-operation to each other and to the fellow delegates from 70 national parliaments. The report concludes, at pages 5 1 and 52, with several suggestions which would enhance the value and effectiveness of Australia’s contribution to this important forum, which the delegation trusts will receive serious consideration. Finally, I draw attention to a supplementary report, at pages 55 to 59, by the Clerk of the Australian Senate, who attended the meeting of the Association of SecretariesGeneral of Parliaments, which was held in Bonn concurrently with the 65th Conference. If my memory serves me correctly, it is the first time such a report has been presented. This report draws attention to two subjects discussed at the Conference which are particularly relevant to the Australian Parliament, namely, the subjects of security in parliaments and the budgets of parliaments- two items which I commend for study by the Australian Parliament.
– by leave- As the other Senate member of the Australian delegation attending the meetings of the InterParliamentary Union in 1978, I totally support everything that Senator Douglas McClelland said about the report of the delegation. The conference was most useful. I would support most what the honourable senator said about members of this chamber and of all parliaments taking the opportunity to read something of the resolutions which were eventually hammered out and which reflect the views of a broad crosssection of parliamentarians of the world. One of the problems is that I do not think that a number of the parliaments represented would qualify as democratic parliaments or democratically elected parliaments. Nevertheless their representatives reflect something of the leadership of the countries from which they are drawn. The InterParliamentary Union provides a major meeting place for parliamentarians of the world. I do not think it is necessary for me to do more than simply emphasise that the resolutions contained in the report are worthy of consideration by all governments, by all parliamentarians and by the people of all countries as representing a world opinion.
I make one brief reference to something which has already been reported to the Senate and to the Parliament. I refer to the Council of Europe Conference held at Strasbourg which was attended by some of the delegates who attended the IPU Conference. Those delegates were able to participate in the proceedings of what is the greatest gathering of democratic parliaments in the world. The attitudes expressed at that Conference, I believe, reflect some of the important world attitudes, and were not markedly different from those formed as a result of the IPU Conference. I take this opportunity to refer to a matter which has been mentioned previously, namely, the importance of selecting delegates to attend both the IPU Conference and the Council of Europe Conference at Strasbourg sufficiently early for them to have adequate briefing and undertake adequate background study of the issues likely to be raised. This would enable better participation by the Australian delegation in conferences which they attend. I totally support what Senator Douglas McClelland has said and welcome the presentation of the report.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the report of the Joint Study of Emergency Relief entitled ‘Emergency Relief- A Study of Agencies and Clients’. I seek leave to make a short statement.
– I met with a delegation from the Australian Council of Social Service on 28 October 1977, following the Victorian power strike, to discuss among other things the effects on the finances of welfare agencies of an apparently increasing provision of emergency relief. One of the outcomes of that meeting was my agreement that my Department and the Australian Council of Social Service would undertake a joint study of emergency relief. The basic objectives of this study were: Firstly, to make the best possible assessment of the extent and total value of emergency relief, both in money and in kind, provided by welfare agencies; secondly, to ascertain who are the major recipients of emergency relief and their social and economic characteristics; and, thirdly, to establish the reasons for which emergency relief is sought. Two subsidiary objectives were subsequently added. They were: To ascertain the operating characteristics of welfare agencies and to ascertain the number of recipients of emergency relief who have applied for, or are receiving, each type of pension and benefit payment.
The study was undertaken in the States of Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, and information was obtained from one large private agency in New South Wales. The study found that in April 1978 the annual number of applications to welfare agencies for emergency relief was conservatively estimated to have been between 400,000 and 450,000. These applications were made by between 130,000 and 145,000 clients, who represented, conservatively, between 78,000 and 87,000 families. The annual value of emergency relief provided by welfare agencies was estimated at between $ 12.5m and $ 14.5m. A summary of findings is included in the report in paragraph 1.4. Consultations will be held with State welfare Ministers and representatives of the voluntary sector regarding the policy implications of the findings of the joint study. In tabling this report, I would like to thank personally all those associated with the study for their assistance, and especially the staff and clients of the many welfare agencies in four States who provided the data on which the report is based.
– by leave- I move:
The report of the Joint Study of Emergency Relief is an important document. The problem of emergency relief and how it should be handled in a country such as Australia, with its wide geographical differences, its wide differences in the various economic zones and the small populations in many of its towns and cities, has vexed government for a long time. But the problem is an urgent one and is becoming more and more urgent. As with many welfare and health areas in this country, we have been bedevilled by a lack of ideas as to the size of the problem with which we have been presented and the nature of that problem.
It would seem from the short reading that I have had of the report that the joint study has done a good job in presenting to us a picture of the situation that existed until April 1 978, which seems to be about the time when many of the statistical studies ended. I note that the Government received the report, according to the date given by the chairman of the study, on 7 December last. It is now March and we are at last able to view the report and examine the findings of the study. The study made no recommendations; it was not asked to make any recommendations. But it has given to the Government and the Parliament the information on which to base a judgment on how best to handle the problem in the future. I am disappointed that the Government, having had the report since December 1978, cannot give us by March 1979 some sort of considered view on what it thinks may be the situation in the future so that we can discuss the matter in this Parliament.
A crisis situation has in fact arisen with emergency relief in recent times. The claims on state agencies and the various voluntary groups for emergency relief are increasing. If recent reports from Victoria can be taken as being accurate, they have been increasing considerably since the time that this joint study was able to look at the situation. This has resulted, of course, from the increasing levels of unemployment in the country and the decreasing levels of government support for the disadvantaged and for those who are trying to help the disadvantaged. In Victoria it is claimed that this problem of emergency relief has drastically increased in the last six months. Victoria is unique in some ways in that it uses the incredibly archaic poor-box system for supplying a lot of the financial emergency relief. In fact, it is now said that the poor-boxes in Victoria provide half of the financial emergency relief made available in that State. The irony of this is that because of the inequalities in our society, including the system of justice in our society, those who commit offences, those who are caught committing offences and those who are penalised for committing offences are those who contribute to the poor-boxes and who frequently need to seek aid from the poor-boxes. The poor-boxes are contributed to by those in the lower socioeconomic group and the same group receives the relief. It is a situation which I believe can be viewed only with equanimity by the troglodytes on the far right of any political system, certainly of the political spectrum in this country.
The joint study- I believe very wiselyconcentrated on producing the facts of the matter so that we can all face the very real situation that we have. It has given us an overall picture. The decisions and actions are up to us. By us I mean the Government, the Parliament and those in the welfare agencies who have a right to make an input in regard to this decision-making process. This decision must be made soon. We saw with the problem which arose out of the Latrobe Valley industrial disputes in 1 977 that voluntary agencies in this community can be quickly depleted of funds if there is a run on emergency relief for food and clothing, et cetera. I believe that several conclusions and impressions can be gained from even a superficial reading of this report. They are conclusions and impressions that must disturb us all. Obviously, the first is that socalled emergency relief is not necessarily a one-off thing for individuals in the community; it is frequently a normal contribution and requirement for the subsistence of some people. The joint study recognised that when, in the preamble to the report, it defined emergency relief as temporary assistance in cash or kind to assist people over a financial crisis, and being subject to reassessment each time it is sought. One has to recognise that for some people in the community it frequently has to be sought over and over again.
When we combine this definition in the report, which was forced on the study by the realities of the situation, with the picture it gives of the most frequent users of emergency relief in the community, we have a very interesting situation. That picture is of an Australian-born person who is likely to be the recipient of or an applicant for a statutory income security payment, either State or federal, who is living below the poverty line, and who is living in unsatisfactory accommodation. We find that some groups are grossly over-represented in the area of emergency relief compared to other groups in the community. These groups include single parent families, separated persons, social security payment recipients who represent some seven or eight times their normal percentage in the population, the unemployed and those not living in houses. They are the most vulnerable groups. They are the groups which are over-represented in all the surveys of recipients of emergency relief.
The findings in this report not only reflect the breadth of the problem which is facing anybody who tries to introduce a rational system of emergency relief, and indicate the need for a rational program to be developed and to be developed quickly, but also reflect on the abject failure of the social security system in general. It is a failure that I am not laying at the feet of the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) or of this Government in particular. It is a failure which has resulted from the adoption of the wrong approach for many years and from the sort of groove into which we have got ourselves in providing social services in this country. It is interesting to note that the report says that a conservative estimate of the value of emergency relief provided by welfare agencies in this country is some $1 1m and that this estimate was based on data supplied in the agency questionnaire census forms for the last financial year ended on or before April 1978.
We have claims from Victoria that the situation has changed radically since then. We find from the tables shown on page 20 of the report that in Victoria emergency relief from statutory funds amounted to some $447,000 or 23 per cent of the total expenditure on emergency relief in that State, and that of that figure the court poor boxes accounted for some $337,000. Recently it has been alleged in Victoria by people such as the Reverend Kerry Graham of the Broadmeadows Welfare Advisory Committee, and others, that the poor boxes in Victoria now provide almost half of the emergency financial help given in the State. It has been alleged that the emergency relief needs of welfare agencies have at least doubled in the past six months- the six months that have elapsed since the figures were published in this report- and that the court poor boxes in Victoria are in fact becoming drained. This year the payout from the poor boxes may be not only $300,000 odd but $600,000 odd. This presents a drastic situation. It presents a very dangerous position for the welfare agencies, should we have another large industrial dispute or any sort of calamity in a society which would churn people through the welfare agencies looking for emergency relief.
In comparing the figures shown on page 20 of the report it is interesting to note the different attitudes of different State governments. I draw the attention of the Senate to the situation in Queensland particularly, a situation which I am sure will not surprise any honourable senator. The Queensland Government provided for emergency relief some $5,000 out of a total of $1,940,000. That provision represents way below one per cent of the total. At the same time the State Government in Victoria provided 23 per cent of the total, the State Government in South Australia provided 49 per cent and the State Government in New South Wales provided 16 per cent. We have at last a picture of what is happening in the community. We have a picture produced by this study which demonstrates that the most frequent reason for people seeking emergency relief at the welfare agencies was that they were waiting for their first pension or benefit cheque or an overdue social security cheque to arrive, or that they had sudden financial commitments and debt payments becoming due and could not cope with them. This should disturb all of us because we in this country like to believe that we have a social security system which looks after people when they get into strife. We like to think we have a system whereby nobody gets into such trouble that he has to go along and beg for money out of the poor boxes or from welfare agencies which can ill afford to spare that money.
It is not easy to think of a system whereby emergency relief can be supplied by the Federal Government and yet be delivered in an equitable way throughout a country as diverse and different as ours. It is certain that there can be no uniform system administered directly from Canberra which would be justly applicable in every town and city in this country- even every suburb in this country. It is now up to the Government, the Parliament and the voluntary agencies to get their heads together and consider how this problem is to be overcome. One can be sure that the funding will be almost all federal funding, but one cannot be sure of just how the delivery should be made. It is a problem that we must solve because it is getting worse in Victoria at least and is obviously going to get worse in the whole of this country.
One can think of people who are trying to retain youth and women’s refuges in this country, who are desperately short of funds because of the need to provide crisis accommodation. Every member of this Parliament has been in the situation of being approached by people who are absolutely stony broke, desperately in need of funds, food, clothing or accommodation on a Thursday or Friday afternoon and who have no means of coping with that problem. We have all had to ring around State agencies, Federal agencies, voluntary agencies and churches looking for help for people in this situation. It should not happen. I welcome the report, I welcome the picture it gives us of the situation and I will read it with interest. I hope that the Government will respond quickly to the challenges which obviously arise out of the report. I hope that the voluntary agencies will respond quickly and give their ideas to the Government so that we can develop a rational and coherent approach in this country. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Report on Rules of Court
-I present the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on parliamentary scrutiny of rules of court.
Ordered that the report be printed.
-by leave-I move:
This report is the third to be tabled by the Committee of the four matters referred to it in April 1977. The subject is one which, not surprisingly, has elicited very little public interest. The report is entitled ‘Parliamentary Scrutiny of Rules of Court’. Indeed, the very subject of the report will be a mystery to some people. It is about the way in which the business of the courts is conducted, or, to use the familiar legal expression, the ‘practice and procedure’ of the courts. Although practice and procedure is naturally regarded as being less important than substantive matters of law, rules of court can be very important because of the way in which they can effect the exercise of significant rights.
Rules of court have been made traditionally by the judges of the court in the case of superior courts such as the High Court and the Supreme Courts of the States and Territories. The Committee considered suggestions, which have been made from time to time, that these rules should be made by regulation or by Act of Parliament rather than by the judges. As a general rule, the Committee does not regard it as appropriate that either of these methods should be exercised. They embody the potential for undue executive interference in the administration of the courts and for delay in amending rules of court.
The Committee does believe, however, that trends towards opening up the rule-making procedure to include representatives of the practising legal profession should be fostered wherever practicable. It recommends that rules of court of superior Commonwealth courts should, as a general rule, be made by a rules committee comprising the judges of the particular court and representatives of the legal profession regularly practising in that court.
The Committee supports the unanimous expression of views by all who made submissions as to the appropriateness of Parliament’s power to disallow rules of court. However, the Committee believes that Parliament’s role can be a more constructive one. The Committee considered, and rejected, a proposal that the Parliament or one of its committees should be empowered to amend or substitute its own rules for judge-made rules of court. The Committee believes that this would involve an undue interference in the functions of the judiciary. The Committee sees merit however, in parliamentary committees exercising effectively a power which they currently possess to make recommendations for amendment of particular judge-made rules or even for creation of new rules in respect of matters for which adequate provision has not been made. We recommend that the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances devise procedures to enable it to make recommendations to the Senate which, if agreed to by the Senate, would be conveyed to the appropriate Commonwealth court to enable it to consider the creation, amendment or substitution of the rules of that court.
In order to assist the judiciary in the administration of court systems and to provide information and advice which would enable the judges to keep the rules of their court practical, simple and up-to-date, the Committee recommends that the Government give consideration to establishing an institute of judicial administration along the lines of those already operating in the United Kingdom and the United States. Alternatively, we recommend that funds be provided to assist the voluntary body of the same name which was established in 1 978. In addition to the assistance which such an institute could provide to the judiciary, it is envisaged that its advice and assistance would be made available also to the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances in the exercise of its power to recommend the creation, amendment or substitution of rules of court.
– I seek leave to make my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Reports on Annual Reports
– by leave- I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a summary of the Government’s response to the Reports on Annual Reports presented by the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs and the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment.
The document read as follows-
The Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs presented its ‘Report on Annual Reports Referred to the Committee’ on 6 June 1978, while the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment ‘Report on Annual Reports’ was presented on 7 June 1978. The Committees raised a number of points in these two reports. Many of their comments concerned the format and content of the annual reports which the Committees were examining. Comments of this nature have been brought to the attention of the relevant departments and statutory bodies, and will be borne in mind in the preparation of future annual reports.
Two issues which appeared throughout these reports were the need for prompt presentation of annual reports, and public service staff ceilings. The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, Mr Viner, commented on both these matters in his response to the March report of the Standing Committee on Science and the Environment (House of Representatives Hansard 14 November 1978, pages 2729-30) and the Government does not believe that they require further response now.
In one specific case, however, the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee requested that the Public Service Board re-examine the staff ceiling of the Law Reform Commission. The Government understands that the Commission is revising its intended completion dates for report on its references. In a time of staffing constraints the Government believes that this is as it should be and there does not seem to be any real reason to single out this Commission for special treatment. The Government has therefore decided against an increase in the Law Reform Commission’s staff ceiling.
One other issue, which was mentioned by the Committee on Science and the Environment, was the need for a Government response to problems raised in annual reports.
I am sure that honourable Senators will appreciate that Ministers will always be concerned at problems raised in reports from departments and authorities for which they are responsible, and that appropriate action is taken wherever practicable. Responses to specific matters adverted to in the Committees’ reports are contained in a document which I have sought leave to incorporate in Hansard.
I turn now to two other specific recommendations of the reports. The Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee made two recommendations: the first was that the Government consider proposals to publicise the right and means of appeal by the general public against administrative decisions. An Administrative Law Handbook is being prepared by the Attorney-General’s Department, and, when published, will be widely distributed through Government outlets.
The Committee also recommended that legislation to amend the Bankruptcy Act be introduced in the Budget Sittings 1978. The Government will proceed with legislation as soon as practicable.
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Report on Commonwealth’s Role in Water Matters
– by leave- On behalf of the Attorney-General (Senator Durack), who is Minister representing the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman), I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a summary of the recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources into the Commonwealth’s Role in Water Matters, as well as the Government’s response to the report ‘A
Water Policy Statement’ and a document entitled ‘A National Approach to Water Resources Management’.
The document read as follows-
On 8 December 1976, the Senate asked its Standing Committee on National Resources to investigate and report on the role of the Commonwealth in the assessment, planning, development and management of Australia’s water resources. This was to be undertaken having regard to the diverse responsibilities of the Commonwealth and States in these matters and to the Australian Water Resources Council (AWRC) document, ‘A National Approach to Water Resources Management’, which had recently been endorsed by the Commonwealth and the States.
The Senate Committee’s report was tabled on 24 August 1978 and I will now outline the principal aspects of the Government’s response.
The constitutional position is clear. The States have primary responsibility for water resource matters although this is often exercised through local authorities. This is undoubtedly an appropriate arrangement as the tier of government closest to the issue is best able to assess needs and determine how these might be met.
Other than meteorological aspects of water resources, the Commonwealth’s direct responsibility is a secondary onemainly where water matters have implications for defence or interstate trade. It was this latter aspect which brought the Commonwealth into the River Murray Waters Agreement in 19 IS at a time when interstate river-borne traffic was still of considerable importance. Nevertheless, the development of water resources in the States has an important bearing on the Commonwealth’s broad interests in economic management, resource allocation, distribution of income and public health. Consequently the Commonwealth has participated in water resource matters in the States in instances of mutual Commonwealth/States concern or in the national interest.
The Senate Committee noted that the Commonwealth had developed a role in water resource matters in the absence of a clear statement of its policy objectives, it also noted that the AWRC document was not a policy statement itself. It was a statement of general goals and principles relevant to water resource development and management in Australia which could provide the framework for policy formulation by the various governments. The Senate Committee’s first and most important recommendation is that the Commonwealth make a clear statement of its water policy objectives.
Commonwealth water policy
I propose that the Commonwealth’s water policy statement, copies of which have been circulated to all Members, be incorporated in Hansard. In the broadest terms, the Commonwealth’s objective is the long-term beneficial use of Australia’s relatively limited water resources. In this, the Commonwealth is firmly committed to co-operation with the States. The main policy thrusts appropriate to the Commonwealth for this purpose are to: ensure, as far as practicable that water resource difficulties do not constrain national development; minimise losses and disruption caused by floods; encourage management practices which reverse trends in the deterioration of water quality and associated land resources; encourage a comprehensive approach to water/land planning and management; encourage the more efficient use of water resources; encourage the development of financial and cost allocation policies appropriate to changing economic circumstances and community values; and, encourage public awareness and involvement in water resource issues.
Means to further policy objectives
These objectives are designed in the long-term national interest to influence or supplement the programs, operations and policies of water authorities in the States. The means available to the Commonwealth to do so include: consultation with the States individually, or collectively through appropriate channels such as the Australian Water Resources Council; the availability on a national basis of information necessary for the efficient utilisation of Australia ‘s water resources, including quantity and quality assessments, research and demonstration;
River Murray Waters Agreement; specific programs of assistance, including water supplies, floodplain management and salinity control; and, fiscal powers, mainly taxation policy.
The Government believes thai these objectives can be pursued without impinging on State responsibilities and duplication of effort, and I repeat our firm commitment to cooperation with the States in these matters.
The Senate Committee recommended a number of changes to Commonwealth administrative arrangements. They include:
The Department of National Development to have responsibility for all the Commonwealth’s water policy interests. Commonwealth responsibilities for water resource policy matters have tended to be dispersed over recent years. This recommendation has already been implemented with the recent re-arrangement of departmental responsibilities.
A Bureau of Water Resources to be established to deal with the Commonwealth’s non-policy interests, including the provision of secretariat and technical back-up support for the Australian Water Resources Council, the administration of a proposed national water research program and involvement in other technical water matters. This would signify a considerable broadening of the Commonwealth’s role in water resource matters but the Government does not believe such a step is justified at this time. The States appear to be able to handle current and emerging water issues with increased Commonwealth support. Nevertheless, my Department will consult with the Public Service Board on staff requirements to carry out its water resource responsibilities effectively, and to provide whatever additional support is necessary to the States through the Australian Water Resources Council consistent with the Commonwealth’s water policy objectives to which I have already referred. This recommendation will be reviewed if warranted by changed circumstances at some later stage.
An independent statutory Australian Institute of Meteorology to be established to replace the Bureau of Meteorology. It is only recently that the Committee of Inquiry into the Bureau of Meteorology (CIBM) examined the role and activities of the Bureau. Having regard to the wider range of the Bureau ‘s interests, it recommended that the Bureau continue as an integral part of a Department of State. The Government has accepted this recommendation and no new matter has come to light to warrant its reconsideration. In addition, the Senate Committee has drawn attention to a number of problems which have developed between the Bureau and State water authorities and these will be examined and assessed when action on the CIBM recommendations is being determined.
A Water Resources Division to be established in CSIRO. The Senate Committee noted the wide dispersion of water research effort within CSIRO and the problems of co-ordinating water research within the organisation. The recent inquiry of the Birch Committee into CSIRO took account of these matters in its recommendations on the restructuring of CSIRO; it did not recommend an aggregation of water research activities into one division. Planning is now in progress to implement the recommendations of the Birch Committee, and I have been assured that there will bc appropriate arrangements for much improved co-ordination within and between the proposed institutes on water research matters. To improve communications with the water industry, CSIRO now intends to publish a directory of water research which will draw together its total research effort and describe the programs in progress in the various divisions.
Special areas of assistance
The Committee noted the importance of a number of water management areas and recommended that assistance for flood mitigation and salinity control be provided outside the National Water Resources Program. The Government accepts the substance of these recommendations, and will establish separate sub-programs for these purposes, but within and subject to current arrangements for the administration of the National Water Resources Program. This will ensure that proposals for these important areas are considered concurrently with other major water resource development proposals.
The Committee also recommended that financial assistance be continued for the national water resources assessment program and that, where necessary, it be re-oriented to changing information requirements. The program will continue as a sub-program of the National Water Resources Program, and a working group of the Australian Water Resources Council is now examining the scope and direction of future assessment activities.
The Committee’s recommendation that the Commonwealth provide part of the cost of sewage treatment works has not been accepted by the Government. It is of the view that this is a normal component of urban development and should remain the responsibility of the authorities concerned.
The Committee has recommended a national water research policy and program. These are not feasible in the sense of stated objectives towards which the overall Australian research effort should be oriented. The Commonwealth and the States each determine its own priorities having regard to the nature and importance of current and emerging problems in its own areas of responsibility. For its part, as indicated earlier, the Commonwealth will encourage research relevant to its broad policy objectives. To this end, it will continue to use its influence within the Australian Water Resources Council to co-ordinate the overall national research effort, and it will continue its own Water Research Fundto support gap- filling research where necessary.
At the same time the Commonwealth intends to support private water research bodies such as the Water Research Foundation of Australia. Support will be given to the Foundation on a triennial basis and a grant-in-aid of $25,000 for 1 979-80 is being considered.
It has been recommended that a study be undertaken of the relevance and effectiveness of taxation concessions as a means of achieving the aims and objectives of the Commonwealth’s water policy. Some of the objectives are relevant to action in the private sector, and taxation concessions for specified purposes have potential for influencing the extent and rate of the desired action. I will be discussing with my colleague, the Treasurer, how such a study might best be undertaken.
National Water Resources Program
It is recommended that the program be developed as the principal means of providing assistance to the States and that the current upper limit of $200m be revised annually. This will be done at a stage when the bulk of funds has been spent or committed. Other related recommendations include: the areas, terms and conditions for assistance should be spelled out; the areas are identified in the water policy statement but, because of the wide range of water projects eligible for assistance, their costs and the distribution of benefits, terms and conditions will continue to be applied on a project-by-project basis; the principle of allocating costs to beneficiaries should be a general requirement of Commonwealth water resource development; this will be implemented on a project-by-project basis; the Commonwealth should participate in projects on an agreed percentage basis rather than on a fixed amount basis; this would lead to open-ended commitments which the Government does not favour, but consideration will be given to continuity of funds to meet unavoidable cost increases for projects in progress under the National Water Resources Program.
Other main recommendations long-term floodplain management practices and procedures should be formulated and implemented; guidelines for this purpose are currently being prepared by the Australian Water Resources Council; comprehensive planning techniques appropriate to Australian conditions should be developed and their adoption by the States should be encouraged; a workshop, organised by the Australian Water Resources Council last year on this matter, has set in train the preparation of appropriate guidelines.
Australian Water Resources Council
The Senate Committee recommends that the Australian Water Resources Council should continue with an upgraded and extended secretariat. This recommendation is supported, subject to normal consultations between my Department and the Public Service Board. The Council has made a very valuable contribution to Commonwealth/States cooperation in water resource matters, but there is need for the greater involvement of the metropolitan water authorities in the AWRC, its committees and activities if a truly national approach to water resource issues is to be developed and become effective. The limited participation of these authorities in the AWRC has been one of the shortcomings of the Council in its fifteen years of noteworthy achievements. I will be raising this matter in the Council at the earliest opportunity.
The Government acknowledges the valuable contribution made by the Senate Committee to the identification of a role for the Commonwealth in water resource matters. Its recommendations will play an important part in ensuring the long-term beneficial management of the nation’s water resources, making it possible for future generations to enjoy living standards and pursue new opportunities from a secure and undiminished water resource base.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE
National Development to have primary water policy responsibility- Accepted; already implemented.
Bureau of Water Resources to be established to handle non-policy matters- Not accepted; the establishment of a
Commonwealth Bureau of Water Resources is not justified at this stage, but the recommendation will be reviewed at some future date if necessary.
Motion (by Senator Georges)- by leave -proposed:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
– I would like to make a few brief comments in regard to the Government’s response to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources, of which I am Chairman, into the Commonwealth’s role in the assessment, planning, development and management of Australia ‘s water resources. In all, the report contained some 33 recommendations. With about three exceptions the Government has accepted those recommendations and has put their implementation in train. The first recommendation was that the Government make a clear statement of Commonwealth water policy. This already has been presented to the Senate. The second recommendation was to adopt specific activities mentioned in the document ‘A National Approach to Water Resources Management’. This has been accepted with regard to matters pertaining to the Commonwealth. The third recommendation was to leave maximum responsibility for water resource matters with the States. This was accepted.
The fourth proposal was to separate policy and non-policy water functions. That was divided into two parts. It was suggested that the Department of National Development would have primary water policy responsibility. This was accepted. The Government claims it already has been implemented. I point out that in the report the Committee drew attention to the fact that at the time of writing the report there were some 20 Commonwealth departments and agencies that had some responsibility for water matters. I look forward with interest to the Government’s response to that recommendation. The second part of that fourth recommendation was that a bureau of water resources be established to handle non-policy matters. This is one of the recommendations that was not accepted by the Government, although it has given a promise that it will be reviewed at some future date. The next recommendation was that a statutory institute of meteorology be established. This also was not accepted. Unfortunately, this recommendation was pre-empted by a committee of inquiry into the Bureau of Meteorology. That inquiry came down quite strongly against the recommendation of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources. I wish to refer to page 1 9 of the Committee ‘s report where it states:
While recognising that the Bureau performs functions other than those strictly concerned with water resources it is appropriate to ask whether the Bureau should continue to be located within the Department of Science, or moved to the Department of National Development which has a major water resource role, or be given an independent status.
The Committee finally came down with the recommendation for the Bureau to be given independent status. However, the Committee accepts the recommendations of the committee of inquiry into the Bureau of Meteorology and personally I do not feel very strongly about that matter. Recommendation No. 6 relates to assisting the financing of sewage treatment works as separate programs, and this recommendation has not been accepted. The Government has responded by saying that sewage treatment is a normal component of urban housing development. Recommendations Nos 7 and 8 suggest that there be a clear national water research policy and that a national water research program be funded. This recommendation has been accepted in principle. It was further recommended that flood mitigation be funded as a separate program, and that recommendation has been accepted. The Committee also recommended that a comprehensive water planning technique be adopted and that the States be encouraged to adopt such techniques. That recommendation has been accepted, and guidelines have already been drawn up by the Australian Water Resources Council. Further, it was recommended that responsibility for sewerage and waste water be transferred to the Department of National Development, and that recommendation has been accepted. There are many other recommendations, but I think that I have covered most of the important ones.
The only major recommendation which I have not yet covered and which has not been accepted relates to water research matters carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The Committee recommended that a separate division of water resources be created within the CSIRO. Again our report was pre-empted by a quite comprehensive inquiry into the whole operation of the CSIRO. I do not feel very strongly about the fact that the Government has accepted the recommendations of that inquiry and not ours. The Government has pointed out that very shortly the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster) will be making a statement in regard to the CSIRO ‘s role in water resources.
I should like to say how interesting the inquiry was. Many submissions were put to the Committee and we did a great deal of travelling around the countryside. We saw many interesting things and many alarming things. In particular, I draw the Senate’s attention to the state of salinity of the River Murray. Although the Commonwealth has very limited power to do anything about the matter, we were quite distressed to see the hardship that is being created by the problem in the Deniliquin area in particular.
– And Wakool too.
-That is right; in the Deniliquin area. It is quite alarming. In my State of Western Australia there are quite substantial areas of saline encroachment. The Commonwealth and the States, in conjunction with the Australian Water Resources Council, will have to come to grips with these problems. Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
- Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to make a short statement.
– You do not need leave.
– There is a motion before the Chair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Thomas has sought leave to continue his remarks later. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. I now call Senator McLaren.
– As a member of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources, which conducted the inquiry into Commonwealth involvement in Australia’s water resources, I am very pleased that the Government has honoured a promise it made some time ago that within six months of the tabling of a Senate standing committee’s report a Minister would put down a statement on it. As the Opposition’s shadow Minister said yesterday in the other place, the statement came very hastily and the Opposition was not given time to analyse the Government’s intentions in respect of this report.
I should like to say briefly that as a South Australian- I think I said this when the report was tabled- I was very disappointed that no organisation or individual in the Riverland of South Australia made a submission to the inquiry. Over the years we have heard many complaints from people in the Riverland about the quality of the River Murray water and about the salinity problem. There has been quite a lot of publicity in the Murray Pioneer, which is printed at Renmark, about individuals and even Liberal members of Parliament criticising the South Australian Government for not doing enough to secure better quality water in the State. However, when this inquiry got under way it was unfortunate that none of these individuals or organisations saw fit to make a submission.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy President. I do not seek to deny Senator McLaren his right to speak, but I understood that Senator Thomas sought leave to continue his remarks later and that leave was granted. A similar situation occurred last night. A motion was moved. Senator Mason was on his feet and sought leave to continue his remarks later. When I got up to speak to the motion I was not able to do so. I would like Senator McLaren to be able to continue, but I wish to have this matter clarified.
– Speaking to the point of order: I understand that Senator Thomas did seek leave to continue his remarks later, but that question was never put. I therefore take it that Senator McLaren is completely in order. Nevertheless, even if Senator McLaren is out of order, he sought leave and leave was granted. This is an entirely different situation from that which occurred last night. I am somewhat concerned that Senator McLaren sought leave, because I think that this is an issue on which there should be an adjournment at some time to permit the Senate to study the report and see what the Government is doing about the Committee’s recommendations. After Senator McLaren has spoken to the motion that the Senate take note of the paper, if no one else rises to speak I shall rise and seek leave to continue my remarks later, so that I may study the paper. I believe that if Senator McLaren is speaking as a result of seeking leave, which does not limit him only to this paper, there is no substance in the point of order.
– Speaking to the point of order: I did not notice that Senator McLaren was in the chamber when I made my address. It certainly would not have been my intention to close off the debate had I known that Senator McLaren was present. He is a very valuable member of the Committee and contributed a great deal to the inquiry.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Thomas sought leave to continue his remarks later. I then called Senator McLaren. In the circumstances, perhaps he should have sought leave to speak. I ask him to do so now.
– I did seek leave and I understood that leave was granted to me to make a short statement. To put the record in order, I seek leave to finalise my remarks.
– I thank the Senate. I will not delay the Senate for very long, because what I wanted to say has already been recorded in Hansard. I have expressed my disappointment that people in South Australia, particularly in the Riverland, who have been very vocal over the years, did not see fit to make a submission to the Senate inquiry. Those people were aware of the inquiry because I released a Press statement that the Committee was conducting the inquiry. I also told people with whom I came in contact in the Riverland on my frequent visits there that it was a very important inquiry. It is unfortunate that those people did not take notice of what ihey were told and come forward with a submission.
I have not had the opportunity to read the statement put down by the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman). To put Senator Thomas’s mind at rest, let me say that I was not in the chamber when he commenced to speak; so he is not at fault. I came in later because I did not expect that this matter would come on when it did. I hope that in future, when an inquiry is conducted on a matter on which the people in the Riverland of South Australia have been very vocal and very critical of the South Australian Government, they will take the opportunity to come forward and make a submission. In that way, a Senate committee that is inquiring into any aspects that are causing problems, particularly in the River Murray area, can analyse the complaints and submissions and bring into the Senate a report that can be acted upon by the Parliament and the Government. I am in a quandary now as to whether I should seek leave to continue my remarks later, in view of the fact that Senator Thomas has already done so. I am in the hands of the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Thomas) agreed to:
That the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for (he next day of sitting.
Debate resumed from 28 March, on motion by Senator Durack:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose the Parliament House Construction Authority Bill 1979. 1 do not suppose that it was anticipated that we would oppose the Bill. The Bill essentially authorises the formation of the Authority which will be responsible for the construction of the new and permanent Parliament House to be built on Capital Hill. Most of us know that the construction of a new and permanent Parliament House has been the subject of very great debate in this Parliament for a period of 10 years. Those of us who were members of the Senate in 1967 or 1968 will recall the debates which took place at that time. In fact, as the second reading speech of the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) pointed out, as far back as 1955 discussions took place and suggestions were made about the construction of a new and permanent Parliament House. Then, in 1965, a joint select committee was appointed to make recommendations concerning the matter.
It was not until the late 1 960s that any definitive debate on the matter took place. That related very much to the location in which the Parliament House was to be built. I can recall quite distinctly, as many honourable senators will recall, the considerable number of arguments which took place then amongst members of parliament concerning whether the House should be built on Capital Hill or by the lakeside. That has now been resolved and the building is to be constructed on Capital Hill. It is unfortunate that 10 years later we have only reached the stage where we can say that the construction of the building will proceed.
I do not need to make the obvious statements because they have been made so many times before. They relate essentially to the need for a new Parliament House to be built because of the total inadequacy of the present premises and the conditions under which so many people have to work- not only members of parliament but also members of their staffs the public servants who need to come here to advise the Parliament, members of the Press Gallery and so many other people in Parliament House. For all these people the facilities of this Parliament House are now totally inadequate. We were not able to make any progress 10 years ago because most of us in the Parliament saw ourselves as architects, town planners, engineers and so on. Had we been smart 10 years ago we would have gone ahead with legislation such as this then, instead of arguing amongst ourselves about where the new Parliament House should be located and what its nature should be. Had we done that then we would be in the new Parliament House now. As it happens, we will have to wait another 10 years before we can enjoy the new facilities. The only observation I make is that I hope that we will not see a repetition of the Parliament exercising authority in any unreasonable way which might hinder the operations of the Parliament House Construction Authority. Sub-clause (2) of clause 8 of the Bill states:
Work shall not be commenced or carried out on a declared stage in the design of Parliament House or a declared stage in the construction of Parliament House unless each of the Houses of Parliament has passed a resolution authorizing the commencement of work on that stage.
Immediately following that, in clause 9, the Bill goes on to indicate that the Authority will operate very strictly under the control of the responsible Minister and the Parliament and that unless both Houses of Parliament object to directions given, the Authority will be permitted to proceed. One can envisage arguments again arising in this place because of different views held by members of parliament on what ought to be done in certain aspects of the construction of the new Parliament House. Obviously, if that occurs, the 10-year program will wind up being a 1 5-year program or maybe a 20-year program.
The six people who will be appointed to the Authority presumably will be six competent people. It is proper that they should act under the authority of the responsible Minister and the Parliament- I am not questioning that principle. But I do sound the warning that we in the Parliament will be fools unto ourselves if we allow the program to get bogged down because of debates taking place here and in the House of Representatives concerning personal views held by members of parliament, such as we heard 10 years ago ad nauseum. I trust that we will have sufficient confidence in the authority that is to be formed under this legislation to leave responsibility for the construction of the building largely in the hands of that authority and that the Parliament will interfere only when there are very good reasons for doing so. With those few comments, I indicate again that the Opposition does not oppose the Bill.
– The introduction of the Parliament House Construction Authority Bill seems a formality but, in real terms, it will provide a starting point to which Australian people will look as long as there is an Australia, as long as Australia has a Parliament and as long as Australia has a parliament house. I am not suggesting that future droves of visitors to this Parliament House or to any other parliament house will hang on the words which are contained in this Bill or the words which are uttered in this debate. But this Bill and the record of this debate will be included in the historic references which are available for perusal by anyone searching for details on the issue and the events leading up to what we hope will be the successful completion and opening of the new and permanent Parliament House on Capital Hill in Canberra on 26 January 1 988.
This Bill reflects in legislative form a number of proposals which have been worked out over the years concerning the construction of the proposed parliament house. Honourable senators will recall that in November of last year the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) announced the details of this proposal. Since then a number of steps have been taken in order to get this enterprise under way. The second reading speech lists the names of the persons who have been invited to form the new Authority which will be in charge of the design and construction of the House. These people have taken part in a number of preliminary meetings.
We all know that since 1927 Parliament has operated in this building which was intended at the time to be a temporary Parliament House. Australia’s growth and the whole development of the nation in those 50 years or more have brought an increased representation of the people in the parliamentary sphere and also greatly extended the complex functions of government, of parliament and of parliamentary authority. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) has just observed, this cocalled temporary Parliament House has become increasingly unsatisfactory. It has been quite unsatisfactory for senators and members to work in and it has brought a great deal of strain and discomfort upon those who live and work here in support of the parliamentary institution.
Over the years, and especially over the last ten years, there has been inquiry and much debate about the establishment of the new and permanent parliament house. The question was further resolved in 1974 with the passage of the Parliament Act which declared that the new building would be on Capital Hill. To give effect to all this, the Authority, which is the subject of the legislation, will be established to undertake and carry out the design and to construct the building. It is important to observe that this Authority will be under the control of Parliament and the Bill, as we read it, provides that the Authority must comply with resolutions passed by both Houses of Parliament in relation to both the design and construction of the building.
The Bill also gives the responsible Minister of the day certain powers in respect of his relationship with the Authority and an ability to give directions to the Authority on a matter which the second reading speech describes as ‘a matter of policy’. Material relating to this must be tabled in both Houses and provision is made for the passage of time and the disallowance provisions. This, of course, is a good safeguard and it is important that the authority of Parliament in relation to this construction should always remain paramount. But I share very keenly with the Leader of the Opposition the hope that Parliament will not unduly interfere with the construction of this building.
The new and permanent parliament house is to be completed in less than ten years from now and in reality that is a very tight schedule. A building such as this will take a long time to construct and a lot of work and planning has to be done. As time goes on there will be changes in the demands made upon the parliamentary institution and alterations will be made to meet these new demands. This is not the sort of building that can be built quickly or in any straightforward manner. Therefore I hope that Parliament will not unduly interfere with the construction of the building which is to be opened on Australia Day in 1988.
I think that the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster) reflected the feelings of all of us when he said in his second reading speech that it was the expectation that the new parliament house would be what he called the crowning achievement ‘within the parliamentary triangle where already we have our great National Library and where the new National Gallery and High Court are now under construction’. This leads me to make a couple of observations. Whilst it is true that the National Library, the National Gallery and the High Court will be in the parliamentary triangle, I should add that when the new and permanent parliament house is completed, in addition to the great trinity of buildings in the triangle Parliament House will have another neighbour which is as close or closer to it than any of the buildings to which the Minister has referred. I am referring to St Andrews Presbyterian Church which is adjacent to Capital Hill. This church and its denomination, along with others, have always been conscious of their relationship to public affairs and the affairs of the state. The church is descended from a long line of the Church of Scotland to which the Crown sends a Lord High Commissioner. But in serious terms it will have a special interest in the new building and in the senators and members who live and work there. St Andrews Church was established at the same time as this building was established and it has always been conscious of the hope that one day a new parliamentary building on top of Capital Hill would be its neighbour. So any design selected will undoubtedly crown Capital Hill but will be related to the surroundings of the neighbouring buildings of which St Andrews will be one.
That is one denomination only. I refer more particularly in the much wider, larger and more inclusive sense. I point out that this legislation highlights the need for some appropriate accommodation in the new and permanent parliament house to meet the needs in the wider and more inclusive sense. I am thinking in terms of accommodation that might be described as a meditation room, a chapel or a quiet room to which people can repair for reflection or which may be appropriately used for particular and appropriate observance. I have made this kind of representation to earlier committees. I understand some of the earlier design plans provided for the inclusion of some accommodation of this kind. I want to say that politicians are realists who live in a hard world where matters of religious observance may not always seem to have a place. But I have been here long enough and I know enough about my colleagues in this place to realise that they hold this kind of discipline in a special way.
Everyone is different, but I think there is basically an acknowledgment of a relationship to what I might describe in very general terms as a supreme being beyond ourselves. We share a similar sentiment with our political colleagues around the world. There are chapels, synagogues, mosques and other centres in legislatures everywhere. For example, I have seen such a centre in the legislative building in Kuala Lumpur. I know of the one in the Lok Sabha in Delhi and the synagogue in the Knesset in Jerusalem.
There are chapels in the legislatures in Paris and at Westminster in London. There are special places on the hill in Washington and on the hill in Ottawa. There is also a special place in the legislative building in Brasilia. I have seen the accommodation in the United Nations buildings in New York and Geneva. In our very busy world of politics there should be a room in a legislature or parliamentary building in which members can be still and meditate according to their inclinations and needs. Great legislatures of the world have made provision for such accommodation and I suggest that we should give very serious consideration to doing the same thing.
The second and only other matter to which I wish to refer this afternoon is the Parliamentary Library. I make a plea that special consideration be given to the Parliamentary Library in the planning and building of the new and permanent parliament house. Here again I speak from my own experience as a member of the Library Committee almost since the time I arrived in this Parliament. As chairman of the present subcommittee on technical advances and speaking as one who has had a long association with both the Parliamentary Library in this place and the National Library of Australia I renew my plea for special consideration of the needs of the Parliamentary Library in the new building. There was evidence at this morning’s meeting of the Library Committee in Parliament House of some concern at the reduction of the amount of space that has been allocated to the Library in the latest plans of the new building. It is recognised that within the guidelines set out space restrictions are inevitable. But the Library has been faced with accommodation problems ever since it was moved from Melbourne to this building in 1927. I must say with disappointment that we seem to be in the position of having to accept the inevitability of having our external storage areas, in addition to the services that will be provided in the new building, in places other than the new Parliament House.
Having said that, my special plea is in regard to not so much the space needs of the library but to the great importance of the technical needs of the Parliamentary Library in the new building. The technical needs of a parliamentary library in a parliament house that, hopefully, will be established towards the end of this century are quite different from those required for other functions and, indeed, for other libraries. They are different from those required for other functions that will be needed in the new parliamentary building. These are very important considerations and I suggest that they are of even greater importance and significance than any architectural design. After all, the parliamentarians who will sit and work in that building will be concerned more with the efficiency of the systems within it than with any particular glory or grandeur that the architectural design might present in an outward way. These are considerations which concern the special needs of libraries relating to meeting the needs of senators and members. In addition to such considerations as air conditioning, lighting, floor loadings and flexibility to allow for variation between the needs of readers and staff on the one hand and storage facilities on the other hand, it must be emphasised that the Parliamentary Library is a special library for special needs and that it lives and works in a rapidly changing context.
The Parliamentary Library is without a doubt an intellectual resource centre and it expresses in this way the dual functions of an organisation which provides reader and reference services on the one hand and a sophisticated libraryintensive legislative research service on the other hand. The Parliamentary Library is and will be a collection of graphic materials, including books, journals, newspapers, teleprinter facilities, films, maps, microfilms, manuscripts, discs, tape recordings- all manner of new technical equipment in addition to the ones I have already mentioned- and, in the not too far distant future, computer tapes, all of which must be organised for immediate access for parliamentary purposes.
In addition to this, an almost limitless collection of materials is available and will be required by an intellectual resource centre or library within a legislative building; and there is a need to have accommodation and facilities to cope with this enormous mass of information which is being produced at breathtaking speed. It has been estimated that for the sciences alone in each of the last 10 years since the National Library collections were physically separated from this Library in this building there have been produced about 60,000 books, 100,000 research reports and well over a million articles in periodical literature. A leading authority in medicine has estimated that a doctor would have to attend at least 15 meetings a year and read 20 to 30 journals regularly if he were to learn about only three-quarters of the research going on in his field in the United States alone. It has been claimed by engineers that if a piece of research costs less than $100,000 it is cheaper to do it than to spend time researching the literature to find out whether it has been done. I mention these facts with some emphasis and conviction because the Parliament is very dependent upon its legislative research service and it is that service which does and will digest, read, analyse, select and produce material for members of parliament, firstly, in a form which they can understand, secondly, in a form which they can present and, thirdly, in a time scale when it is needed. It will produce the information that modern legislators must have if they are to do their jobs properly.
In planning for the new library the technical advances sub-committee of the present Library Committee has been looking at the new storage and retrieval systems which are being developed. It is looking at additional information storage and computer-based data processing. As is well known, modern computers possess enormous capacity for storing information, and there is no doubt that it will be necessary to have in the new Parliament House equipment which is already technologically feasible but to which careful consideration has to be given with regard to not only its accommodation but also its cost and, of course, its availability to the users. The Library’s automated retrieval system may well become part of the total service within the Parliament and, therefore, attention to the accommodation needs of a parliamentary library and parliamentary resource centre is of” the utmost importance. If we are to have these sorts of facilities- and members and senators of 1988 will be calling out for them; they will require them and need themaccommodation must be provided so that we are not looking at a restricted situation such as we are looking at in this temporary building, albeit 50 years after it was erected and developed.
I plead today for very special consideration to be given to the needs of the parliamentary resource centre and I hope that we can have some assurance from the Government that adequate attention will be given to the provision of the best possible advice in relation to this aspect of the new and permanent Parliament House. Those are the two points that I wanted to make in relation to this Bill. We wish the Authority well. We hope that it will complete a noble building, and complete it on time.
– I regret in more ways than one that it falls to the lot of the Australian Democrats to be the sole dissenting voice in this matter. In ideal circumstances nobody could object to the idea of a new and permanent Parliament House, to domestic satellites in profusion, to Boeing 707 VIP aircraft, to $l-a-week flats for members of Parliament or to airconditioned cars for all. But we in this country live in circumstances which over the next decade will be far from ideal. We will be facing national challenges and competition on an unprecedented scale; and I suggest that we all know that. If we do not know it, we should. We in this Parliament will necessarily be calling on Australian citizens to work hard, to be more frugal and to accept sacrifices in the national interest. The going must become progressively rougher over the next 10 years.
Now we propose to present the bizarre spectacle of a parliament which, while asking for this sacrifice and frugality, simultaneously expects the community to bear the cost of a magnificent new parliament house which basically will be there to our greater glory and comfort and which, I will say, is already seen as such. I quote: Flesh and blood, for God’s sake, before bricks and mortar’. We have enough human problems in this country not to be wasting money on this mammoth scale at this stage; and the cost of that waste, I predict with confidence, will be very much more than the $ 1 5 1 m of the 1 978 estimate. Let us be reasonable about it. Let us consider recent Press reports that building costs are soaring everywhere already. Let us say that realistically around half a billion dollars will be the cost of the new and permanent Parliament House. Can we afford that in this country? I suggest, reasonably, no, and I venture to predict at this stage that that building will never be built. If by some chance it were completed by pushing through the funds to it in the teeth of adverse public reaction, when would it be completed? We see the spectacle in Canberra now of great new buildings held up indefinitely by strike action and I suggest that, as a symbol, the new and permanent Parliament House will be a very likely target for industrial action. That is another prediction I make, not with any pleasure.
Based on achievements in Australia so far in building, I suggest that it may be 12 years or possibly 15 years before this edifice is completed. I noted with interest that Senator Wriedt made the point that if there were dissensions or any difficulties with the building, that might be the case. Senator Davidson said that it is a very tight schedule which is going to be very difficult to achieve. I suggest that the achievement of it is going to be beyond the realities of human nature. The Australian Democrats understand also that during the intervening period of more than a decade no major funds are going to be spent on the maintenance of this building. It will be a shambles within a few years. Conditions of operation here will deteriorate. Again, I speak of the acute problem of the Parliamentary Library. The services it offers will become much less than adequate. I gather that the urgent need for more library staff, especially in the research area, is limited by the actual space available. The provision of expert research staff is a long term investment. It is not possible to pick 20 research officers off a tree when the new and permanent parliament house is finished. These people must be accustomed to working in our conditions and on our terms. I predict that there will be a serious fallback in the facilities provided in the new and permanent parliament house, if it is ever finished, for at least a decade after its completion.
I believe that a more modest building, which could easily be designed in accord with this one, could be constructed. Plenty of space is available for it and no doubt it could be built at limited cost within a few years. I suggest to my colleagues in this Parliament that, in making the decision to build a new and permanent parliament house, what they are doing, in effect, is condemning the Parliament to a decade or more of less adequate services and hence performance than may be desirable for this country. They are doing this in one of the most critical decades this country could possibly face. That is really the crunch point. It will be great to have this new and permanent parliament house; but it will not serve the needs here and now or during the next few years. Everyone in this place will suffer for at least 10 years and probably 15 years. There will be a fall-off in the performance of the Parliament during that time. I suggest that that is not necessary.
Is this building so bad? I say that it is not. It is a building of some value, of ritual and of tradition in this country. Those things are rather important to a society, particularly if it faces some degree of instability, as I think we might do in the next 10 or 15 years. I am not aware of any plans to rebuild the Houses of Parliament at Westminster every 30 or 50 years, although those buildings are without doubt inadequate, certainly oldfashioned and probably a fire trap. I suggest that that last point about buildings being a fire trap is not one that can be canvassed with any validity in regard to our present premises. It is a matter which could be remedied quite easily and at relatively small cost. Moreover, no member of this Parliament has been burnt to death in this place during the last 50 years.
– Not physically, anyhow.
– No one has been burnt physically. That is the sort of burning about which I am speaking, not the hell fire type. This place has been seen as the centre of government nationally by two generations of Australians. We see them, young and old, filing into this building day after day. It is not an inelegant building. I believe that it fits into its setting gracefully. It has been said that there is no room for future expansion of the Senate and the House of Representatives chambers. Will the Senate and the House of Representatives expand very much when, after all, our population is stabilising and shows signs of possibly declining? I believe that the seating accommodation for senators could be extended into the lower galleries if that were absolutely necessary.
Certainly, this building is compact. My own office is extremely compact. But that situation could be greatly remedied by extensions being carried out in a discreet and sensible way. I suggest that plenty of Australian architects would welcome the challenge of designing a building or buildings which would fit in with this one and which would be an example to future generations of the frugality and forethought of this generation of politicians rather than an example of a desire to spend, spend, spend, regardless of any other consideration, at a time which is inappropriate. It may be argued that a new, massive public building would create employment, especially for the hard-pressed Canberra building industries. It will do that in 10 or 12 years time when most people in the industry will have given up hope, their businesses and possibly life in any case. However, the extension program could provide work and relief from the tight accommodation problem within the next few years and at costs which I have seen estimated at between $15m and $20m. That is a reasonably modest requirement of the nation in these circumstances.
It is on these grounds that the Australian Democrats oppose the new and permanent parliament house. We urge an immediate rethinking of the matter. The Australian Democrats have already had considerable feedback from the public on this matter. I place it on the record that not one person who has written to me or telephoned me was in favour of the new and permanent parliament house, with the exception of some of my colleagues in this place. I give fair notice that we Australian Democrats will maintain our opposition if this project- in our view, a quixotic and unrealistic one- is persisted with.
– The Senate is debating the second reading stage of the Parliament House Construction Authority Bill. I take a slightly different attitude from that which was taken by Senator Mason who has just spoken in the debate. I take a fatalistic attitude. The Government took the decision to build a new and permanent parliament house and that decision received the enthusiastic endorsement of the official Opposition. I think that any attempt to overturn that decision either in this place or anywhere else would be so much whistling in the dark. Senator Mason spoke of the possibility of industrial action arising during the construction of the building. Needless to say, this can happen with any major project. It would be unusual if some industrial disputes did not arise. I would be surprised if the industrial disputes arose out of the concept itself. When the decision to build a new parliament house was announced, it was hailed by the various unions in the building, industry in the Australian Capital Territory. In any event, if the unions went out on strike for any lengthy period during the construction of the building, I do not think that it would be a matter of sufficient public interest to warrant any decisive action. A couple of years of delay in the completion of the building would not concern the people very much. Therefore, it would not be a matter of much public interest.
I agree with Senator Mason that during the interim period there appears to be an accepted decision by the Executive that little or no maintenance will be undertaken on the present building. Whilst all honourable senators expect to be in this place in 1988 and therefore to be ensconced -
– Speak for yourself.
– I am. Whilst we expect to be ensconced in the new and permanent parliament house, there are officers of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Joint House Department who have to work in this building day and night and who will be retiring in that intervening period. I think it is essential that the points raised by Senator Mason be taken on board. There should be no blanket attitude of reducing the amount of money to be used in maintenance of this building to ensure that at least the minimal levels of conditions which now apply are maintained.
I agree also with Senator Mason and Senator Davidson concerning the space allocated for the Parliamentary Library. Senator Davidson dealt with this matter at length. I want to tell honourable senators what is happening. The Parliamentary Library, the most important form of assistance available to parliamentarians, is being squeezed. I wish to read out what is in fact happening in this regard. 1 do so because this information is not readily available. It is available to me as a member of the Library Committee. It would no doubt be available to members of the Joint Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. Generally speaking, members of Parliament do not know what is happening. These are the facts: In simple terms, the amount of space proposed for the Library in 1977 was 8,387 square metres. The area decided upon a few weeks ago for the new and permanent Parliament House is 4,786 square metres. It has been cut by almost half. I believe that that is a scandal. Compare that, for example, with the other services, the refreshment services such as the bar and the eating places, and see how degrading it is. I would like to make the observation, and it is by no means original, that man does not live by bread alone. Bar facilities are not touched to any great extent, nor are the eating facilities, but the library area regarded by the experts as being the minimum area desired is cut to half from 8,387 square metres to 4,786 square metres.
– Who is responsible for that?
– That is a good question. I am not sure who is responsible for it, but the Library Committee received this information today. I would like to know who was responsible for it. The space provisions now determined by those in authority are only a little different from the provisions made for the Parliamentary Library 50 years ago. The space needs of the Department of the Parliamentary Library cannot be predicted so easily as those of other departments. For example, it is known how many members of parliament there are, how much they eat, and a determination can be made as to what area will be needed for eating and drinking facilitiesalthough I notice from time to time the numbers in the bar do go up and down.
– So do the people.
– Yes, I have noticed that too. The area for the Executive can be determined, as can the area for seating for senators and for members of the House of Representatives. But the space needs for the Department of the Parliamentary Library cannot be predicted because the information services and needs cannot be so easily foreseen. The influence of technology is not readily quantifiable. The information explosion continues unabated as new forms of communication, for example, satellites, are used. This increases the requirement to obtain, to retain and readily to retrieve and disseminate information for the needs and use of the Parliament: Concomitant with this is the need of the Parliament to retain its own sources of independent information. If this requirement is to be met satisfactorily, adequate provision must be made so that the information services are not fragmented, or housed improperly, and thereby rendered inefficient and perhaps ineffective. How often have we heard members of the Parliament, particularly members of this chamber, saying that the Senate needs to be a brake on the Executive, that it should be the House of review. How can can it review Executive decisions which are translated into Bills coming before this House unless there is a source of independent information? I regard it as an affront by the Executive, or whoever is responsible, for it to attempt to slash the area that was regarded by the experts as being that which was required to provide the basis for that independent information.
Constraints upon the size of a new building increase the temptation to reduce the space allocated to information holdings. The tendency is to regard the holdings as book collections, a view which loses sight of the fact that a modern library must increasingly hold its information in other forms, for example, as tapes, cassettes, microfiche, microfilm and computer data. Books and other print forms are no longer adequate sources of information on their own.
The Library Committee also received a report this morning that approximately 25 per cent of book stocks are weeded out every year on the basis that the type of book held in the Parliamentary Library is somewhat different from that which would be held, for example, in a university library. Many of the titles soon become outdated because of new editions, and so on. The size of the parliamentary Library’s holdings in the new Parliament House has already been under scrutiny. As I mentioned, they have been slashed considerably. The provision that has now been decided upon is little different from that made 50 years ago, which has been considerably encroached upon by other departments of the Houses of Parliament.
The overall allocation of space for the Department needs to be considered. It is important, as Senator Davidson said, that as much as possible should be under the same roof, so as to ensure the availability of information on short notice. Information must be processed to be made readily retrievable and instantly usable. The requirement of the Parliament for instant information must be catered for within the new building. I raise these matters because I believe that those responsible should reassess their decision to reduce the area available to this vital adjunct to any member of parliament and to the Parliament itself. I ask those concerned to do this in the interests of parliamentary democracy.
– The Senate has been debating the Parliament House Construction Authority Bill 1979. As honourable senators will know, this Bill establishes the Parliament House Construction Authority. It delineates the parameters within which the Authority is to function and provides for interaction and cooperation between the Authority and Parliament, committees, departments and other statutory bodies, including the National Capital Development Commission. As Senator Mason has indicated that he opposes the concept altogether, I should briefly establish the facts. Firstly, as all honourable senators would know, this building was built some 52 years ago as a temporary building. Secondly, I am bound to say, as one who has been a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House and of a Cabinet committee in this regard, that repeatedly the advice to us from the National Capital Development Commission has been that this building is quite incapable of being maintained and developed in a functional capacity for the decades ahead. The fact is that the experts tell us that virtually in every function, quite apart from the attraction and sentiment of the two chambers and King’s Hall, the building is hopelessly inadequate and would cost tens, even hundreds of millions of dollars just for sheer maintenance. When one looks beyond the facade presented by the two delightful chambers and King’s Hall one finds, as everybody knows, that every compartment and department of this building is totally non-functional.
Every honourable senator and member is appallingly badly housed. Some of the ones who now say that we ought not to have a new building are saying in the next breath: ‘Can we have accommodation to bring our research assistants or electoral secretaries here?’ It is important to make the point that the advice we have been given is that if we proceeded to live in this building and to respond to those in the years ahead who say that we must improve the accommodation, the overall cost itself would end up being at least equal to and probably more than is now contemplated. I think that that is fundamental to the situation.
In any case, the fact is that no ordinary commercial or industrial concern would allow its staff, including its junior staff, to work under the conditions that honourable senators and members work in this place. If members of the public expect from each of us- honourable senators and members- a capacity in an executive form as befits our public status we need to have those facilities. That applies right throughout. Only a few Ministers have even barely adequate accommodation. I am more fortunate than many others. The rest of the ministerial compartments are appalling.
– They are the least of our worries, though.
-I am delighted that Senator Puplick finds the Ministers the least of his worries. I hope that continues to be the case during his lengthy stay in the Senate.
I emphasise that Senator Mason’s argument is totally self-defeating. This building, in terms of its plumbing, wiring and flooring, is inadequate. Its flooring, indeed, is literally held together by the renewal of carpets. Anyone who runs for a division knows that he runs with considerable peril along the corridors in this regard. I think that demonstrably there is a case for the construction of a new Parliament House. Senator Wriedt has urged that the Parliament House Construction Authority itself should be comprised of people who would be of a stature, quality and durability for the future. I draw his attention to the names and backgrounds of those who comprise the Authority. I would say that we have six very eminent Australian. I particularly draw attention to the Chairman, Sir Bernard Callinan, who is one of Australia’s quite outstanding people.
There is only one other point I want to make. It has been suggested that the accommodation for the Parliamentary Library has been cut back. I am bound to say, to understand this situation, that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House is jointly chaired by Mr President and Mr Speaker and is comprised of a number of honourable senators and members. It is highly unlikely that that Committee would acquiesce with inadequacy in any compartment of the new building. It is significant that we have not had from Mr President, and in another place from Mr Speaker, any such complaint. What has happened is that there was in the original concept some idea that one should look towards the year 2000 and in a much grander perspective supply large amounts of accommodation in all areas. That, in the overall concept of the building, has been reduced. My understanding is that the Library itself will be adequately and effectively housed. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I would like to reinforce Senator Harradine’s complaint. I took his statement to be a complaint, and a very valid complaint. As he is a member of the Library Committee of the Senate, the information he has obtained must be accurate. Therefore I want an assurance that this matter will be looked at. The explanation of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) that these things will fall into place is not very satisfactory to me. I believe that they will fall into place only if considerable pressure is applied to prevent some anomaly occurring. It would be more than an anomaly as far as the Parliamentary Library is concerned. If there is to be some concept whereby the Parliamentary Library is closely connected with the National Library, perhaps that would be the explanation. But I put it to Senator Carrick that, unless there is that sort of explanation, Senator Harradine’s point should be followed through to make certain that the Library’s facilities are not to be depleted in any way. I also take it that there will be an opportunity for members of this Parliament to look at the allocation of space as we get closer to the point of acceptance of the plans for construction. I take it that that will be the position. If not, we would have to look very carefully in the meetings of the various committees on which we serve to make certain that the appropriate space has been made available for such areas as the Parliamentary Library.
– I think that Senator Georges has taken a very permissive look at what I said. I did not say that things would fall into place. I said that a tight and close look is taken at this matter by Mr President, Mr Speaker and the colleagues of Senator Georges who are members of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. The statement of Senator Georges was a slight misuse of what I said. Let me make it perfectly clear that the Joint Committee itself is entrusted, on behalf of the Parliament, with the surveillance. Since the matter has been raised, and it is important, I will bring it to the attention of Mr President and draw his attention to the remarks of Senator Georges.
– To Senator Harradine’s in particular.
– And to Senator Harradine ‘s in particular. Indeed, any honourable senator who feels so disposed can so do. My feeling is that any honourable senator who is so disposed can contact the Joint Committee and seek information. As to the general picture of the plans and progress, again I will draw the attention of Mr President to the remarks of Senator Georges. I have no doubt in the world that the aim is to keep honourable senators in touch with every step of the journey.
– During the second reading debate Senator Davidson outlined a proposition in respect of the area required by the Library Committee and I followed that up. I am a member of the technical advances sub-committee of the Library Committee. I rise not only because of my knowledge in that area but also because I am the chairman of the Derwent Regional Library Advisory Council. That is the newest library in Tasmania. I know what happens when architects and engineers get into their minds that they are the be-all and end-all when it comes to determining space for a particular function. If this function is the retrieval and making available of information they must be guided by the experts; that is, the librarians in the field, whose function is to ensure that the service is maintained for members of parliament.
I did not detect in the statements of the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) anything that would encourage me to the belief that this sort of expert advice will be followed. Rather, he laid stress on a suggestion that the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives have not made any complaints. I do not know whether they have or whether they have not. I take the Minister’s word for it, but I would hate to be in the position of Mr Speaker or the President. They have to juggle the bids made by each and every one of their departments. I do not expect to receive an answer now because I know that the Minister would not be in a position to give it- I hasten to say that that is no reflection on the Minister- but all I would like to be assured of is that when the critical discussions are taking place as to space in the Parliamentary Library, those people who are responsible for considering the technological advances that are required for the new and permanent parliament house library will be the ones to give the advice. Let their advice be heeded. Also, leading up to the construction of the new and permanent parliament house, it will be important to have staff made available to the Parliamentary Library for this very purpose. I simply make those points and hope that those who will have the authority in this matter will take them up at the appropriate time.
– I do not think I have made myself plain. There is no suggestion that the engineers and architects will be deciding this matter. The suggestion is quite clear; that is, that members of parliament in both Houses will be deciding this matter. The decision shall be made primarily through the joint committee, on which Mr Speaker and Mr President and on which honourable members and honourable senators sit, and which has a duty to call for the evidence of the Parliamentary Librarian and experts on libraries and to satisfy itself that what is being done is adequate in that and all other compartments. That is quite clear. So if the Library staff feel aggrieved in this matter I suggest that Senator Harradine and Senator Davidson call upon the Librarian to contact Mr Speaker and Mr President and to go before the Joint Committee and put his case.
That is the simple situation. It is not a question of some foreign, expert outside advice deciding the matter. It is a question for a joint committee of this Parliament, responsible to both chambers. Because the matter is important and because I do not diminish the points raised by the honourable senators, I have undertaken to refer their remarks to Mr President and Mr Speaker who have a primary responsibility to see that the building, when completed, is adequate in all its compartments.
– I have one more point. Could the Minister also refer the matter to the Parliament House Construction Authority?
– Yes, I will do that.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Carrick) read a third time.
– I seek leave to make a statement relating to a number of reports by the Australian Science and Technology Council which for the information of honourable senators I will be presenting.
-I seek leave to incorporate the statement in Hansard.
The statement read as follows-
In making this statement, I should, at the outset, remind honourable senators that an advisory committee on Science and Technology was set up in 1972 when the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was Minister responsible for Education and Science. This action was taken by the Coalition Government in the light of experience and developments overseas. It followed discussions with leading industrialists, the Australian Academy of Science and senior Government scientists. The Committee was disbanded by the Labor Government in February 1973 and was not replaced until mid-1975, when an interim Australian Science and Technology Council was set up, pending the passage of legislation.
On 9 February 1976, a small group of distinguished scientists and industrialists was formed to advise the Prime Minister on the role of a permanent Science and Technology Council. The Report from this group was presented in April 1976. After consideration of the Report it was announced that the interim ASTEC would be given the primary task of reporting on arrangements for a permanent Science and Technology Council. After consulting widely and considering the issues in detail, the interim ASTEC produced a report entitled ‘Future Arrangements for an Australian Science and Technology Council’. The Government accepted this report, and announced the formation of the permanent ASTEC in Parliament on 19 April 1977. It was also announced then that ASTEC would be a statutory body. The legislation to establish it was passed by the Parliament last year.
During its period of operation the interim ASTEC provided valuable advice to the Government on a wide range of matters, including: Australia’s participation in the first world-wide series of experiments of a major international research program known as the global atmospheric research program; whether Australia should install facilities to receive and process information from Landsat, the United States of America’s earth resources satellite and arrangements for surveys of our biological resources, particularly our unique and extensive flora and fauna. With regard to the global atmospheric research program, the Government accepted interim ASTEC’s advice that funds be provided for Australia’s participation in an international program to improve knowledge and understanding of the global circulation system. On the Landsat program, the Goverment ‘s decision to establish receiving and data processing facilities in Australia at an estimated cost of $4.2m was in line with interim ASTEC’s advice. Following ASTEC’s advice on biological resources the Minister for Science announced on 20 August 1978 that the Government had approved long-term arrangements for recording Australia ‘s flora and fauna. These included a new Advisory Committee for the Australian Biological resources study. Since the permanent ASTEC was established, its substantial commitment has been the preparation of the report ‘Science and Technology in Australia 1977-78’, on which I will have more to say shortly.
As well as this major task, however, ASTEC has also been occupied in providing advice to the Government on a wide range of matters. Some of the more important include: The Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. ASTEC’s comments on this major report assisted the Government to decide on the Report’s recommendations, and on the future form and role of CSIRO. These comments were presented to the Parliament on 11 May 1978. ASTEC has also, at the Government’s request, reported on energy research and development in Australia. We presented this report to Parliament on 4 April 1978.
ASTEC’s advice, in conjunction with that provided by the National Energy Advisory Committee, was instrumental in the establishment of the National Energy Research Development and Demonstration Council. In May 1978, the Government asked ASTEC to report on the role and level of activity, of the Bureau of Mineral Resources. ASTEC’s report, containing detailed recommendations on how the BMR’s resources should be deployed to best meet national goals, was tabled on 2 1 November 1978. ASTEC’s recommendations on the BMR are to be considered by the Government shortly. In June 1978, the Government requested ASTEC to report on the direct funding of basic research. The Government is examining this report as a matter of urgency, and for the information of honourable senators, I present that report. Other activities undertaken by ASTEC are described in the Council’s first Annual Report covering the period from its formation to 30 June 1978. 1 also present the Annual Report today for the information of honourable senators.
I turn now to ASTEC’s report on ‘Science and Technology in Australia, 1977-78’. The Council has prepared its report in two volumes. Volume 1 contains the Council’s views and recommendations. Volume 2 comprises a series of chapters, each describing the present situation in a particular area of activity. Because of the many and complex issues involved, this task has been a demanding one and has taken some time to complete. For this reason, Volume 1 was produced in two pans. Volume lA was tabled on 26 September 1 978. It contains ASTEC ‘s views and recommendations on the organisation of Science and Technology in Australia and on the specific areas of fundamental research, industrial research and development, the marine sciences and technologies and health. Volume IB contains ASTEC’s views and recommendations on agriculture and forestry, mineral resources, manufacturing industry, services and environment. For the information of honourable senators, I present Volume IB and Volume 2 and a summary and recommendations. The Government, for its part, has now completed its consideration of the recommendations of Volume 1A. I take this opportunity to announce the Government’s decisions with respect to those recommendations.
Volume lA of the ASTEC Report is a valuable survey, which has assisted the Government in its consideration of Science and Technology programs. In this Volume, ASTEC has identified four main areas of concern in Australian science and technology: Industrial research and development; marine sciences and technologies; fundamental research; and health. One of the economic consequences of the increased inflation of the 1972-75 period was a serious downturn in manufacturing industry in Australia. This resulted in a reduced level of research and development being carried out in industry. ASTEC’s examination of industrial research and development concluded that increased Government incentives for industrial research and development were warranted. The Council placed such importance on this matter that the Chairman, Professor G. M. Badger, wrote to the Prime Minister prior to the last Budget requesting that the Government give urgent consideration to the Council’s recommendation that the level of Government support for industrial research and development be increased.
The Government took action in the Budget in accord with the broad thrust of this request. A joint announcement by the Ministers for Industry and Commerce and Productivity, following last year’s Budget gave details of increases in funding for industrial research and development. The extra funds are available under the Industrial
Research and Development Incentives Act 1976 and amendments were introduced during the last sittings of Parliament to improve the Act’s effectiveness. In 1978-79, an estimated $24m has been provided for industrial research and development. Compared with expenditure of $13. 7m in 1977-78, this is an increase of 73 per cent. The increased allocation is financing an expanded programme of commencement and project grants under the Industrial Research and Development Incentives Scheme. As well, it is supporting major industrial research and development projects, which are in the public interest, with potential national and international application. The Government is also aiding the implementation of a number of pilot programs in the areas of technology transfer and the commercial exploitation of Australian inventions. Manufacturing industry, the mining industry, and the rural industries generate much of Australia ‘s wealth. The productivity of these industries is critical to our prosperity and inprovements in technology by innovation and by technology transfer are of great importance to our domestic and international competitiveness, and the level of employment.
In this regard, I would draw honourable senators’ attention to the Crawford Report’s broad endorsement of ASTEC’s views on the importance of stimulating innovation in Australian industry. I am sure that the Senate is aware that the Australian invention, InterScan, has been accepted as the international aircraft landing system of the future. This great development confirms that Australia is carrying out research at the forefront of science and technology and is able to apply that research to practical uses. However, our economic future will depend also on our success in devising numerous innovations perhaps of a less dramatic nature, but in the aggregate of undoubted importance. Our success with large-scale mining operations in remote regions, for example, has only been possible following development of our railway systems to a stage where as a result of technological advances in the design of rails and bearings, they are able to support the huge trains and heavily-laden trucks which carry minerals from the mines to the coast.
Another important innovation is the development by CSIRO of a ‘Sirotem ‘, an instrument to detect mineralisation buried under thick overburden. This is an important development for mineral exploration in tropical and arid environments. Sirotherm, a process for the desalination of water, jointly developed by CSIRO and ICI Australia Ltd, is currently being examined by the
Department of Productivity with a view to possible funding under the public interest section of the Industrial Research and Development Incentives Scheme.
I particularly draw to honourable senators’ notice three ASTEC proposals aimed at building Australian industry’s technological base and stimulating innovation. The first suggests that governments and agencies should give greater attention to the placement of research and development contracts with industry. The council believes that ‘a closer and more fruitful association between industry and Government laboratories must be beneficial, and that the placement of research and development contracts in industry will substantially assist this association’. The Government recognising that this proposal could enable industry to develop and maintain improved research and development capacity is attracted to this concept, and believes that further examination is required. We have requested ASTEC to undertake a more detailed examination of the proposal in consultation with the appropriate Government departments and agencies, so that the cost-effectiveness and longer-term possibilities are analysed in some detail.
The second proposal relates to special measures to encourage technological efficiency and innovation in small companies by the promotion and formation of research associations. This broad policy issue is currently being considered by the Government as a result of its decisions on the CSIRO Inquiry Report. ASTEC’s contributions will assist this process. The third proposal relates to institutional arrangements for encouraging the development of research findings. The Crawford Committee has also recommended that a body to promote innovation be established. The Government is examining the operating experience of research development corporations such as the (UK) National Research Development Corporation, to see whether this mechanism would be suitable to Australian conditions. ASTEC has also recommended ‘that greater attention be paid to the marine sciences and technologies in Australia’. The Government accepts this recommendation. It recognises the great importance of the marine sciences and technologies in our future well-being.
I remind the Senate that the Australian Institute of Marine Science was established under a previous Coalition Government when the Prime Minister was Minister responsible for Education and Science. The importance of marine science in this regard has increased in recent years; particularly in relation to off-shore energy resources and the utilisation and management of resources in our expanded off-shore economic zone. The Government has accepted ASTEC’s suggestion that an Australian Marine Sciences and Technologies Advisory Committee- AMSTAC- be established. The Committee will investigate and report on the co-ordination of research and development and the establishment of priorities in this area. I am pleased to advise the Senate that this Committee will be chaired by Professor A. J. Birch, a distinguished scientist whose wide research experience will be invaluable in this important task.
Because of the need to avoid the proliferation of science advisory committees outside the purview of ASTEC, AMSTAC will be established as a standing committee of that Council. It will work closely with relevant Ministers, particularly the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster). As a general rule, advisory committees such as AMSTAC will be established as standing committees of ASTEC, particularly in areas of science and technology where a number of ministerial portfolios are involved. ASTEC has also recommended an increase in funds for projects of merit and promise in health research and basic research. In the current year, pending consideration of the ASTEC Report on Basic Research, funding for the Australian Research Grants Committee and the National Health and Medical Research Council, has been maintained at the same levels, in real terms, as in 1977-78. Other decisions taken by the Government with respect to the ASTEC Report, relate to the rationalisation of funding procedures particularly in regard to the use of scientific equipment and facilities through greater emphasis on the centralised use of equipment, and the need for co-ordination mechanisms for special requests for new equipment to avoid overlap and duplication.
I take this opportunity to announce details of the membership of the statutory ASTEC. As honourable senators will be aware, the Australian Science and Technology Act of 1978 received Royal Assent on 22 June 1978 and it was proclaimed on 28 February 1979. The members of the Statutory Council are: Professor G. M. Badger, A.O., F.A.A., F.T.S., Chairman, Research Professor of Organic Chemistry, the University of Adelaide; Professor Sir Rutherford Robertson, C.M.G., F.A.A., F.R.S., Deputy Chairman, Formerly Director, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University; Professor B. D. O. Anderson, F.A.A.,
Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of Newcastle; Sir Samuel Burston, O.B.E., President, Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers’ Council; Dr L. W. Davies A.O., F.T.S., F.A.A., Chief Scientist, Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd; Mr A. W. Hamer, F.T.S., Deputy Chairman, ICI Australia Ltd; Professor B. E. Hobbs, Professor of Geology, Monash University; Dr P. S. Lang, Member, Commonwealth Council for Rural Research and Extension; Mr B. T. Loton, Chief General Manager, The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited; Professor Sir Gustav Nossal, C.B.E., F.A.A., Director, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research; Sir Arvi Parvo, F.T.S., Chairman and Managing Director, Western Mining Corporation Ltd; Mr L. G. Peres, Reader in Political Science, The University of Melbourne; Mr K. C. Stone, Secretary, Victorian Trades Hall Council; Professor R. Street, F.A.A., Vice Chancellor, The University of Western Australia; and Mr J. G. Wilson, C.B.E., Chairman, Australian Paper Manufacturers Limited.
The Government is pleased to have so distinguished a body to provide advice on matters of national importance in the broad areas encompassed by ASTEC’s charter. I should like to commend the work which has been carried out by ASTEC over the last two years, and thank the Members of the Council for their time and effort. In particular, I should like to thank the retiring member, Sir Louis Matheson, for his important and valuable contributions to the Council’s activities. Sir Louis served as Chairman of the interim Council, and when the permanent ASTEC was established, readily agreed to the Government’s request that he serve for a further period as a member of the Council. I should also like to mention the valuable work of the present Chairman, Professor Geoffrey Badger. Professor Badger has held this position since early 1977 and during this period, has ably guided the Council in its deliberations. The Government is most grateful to him for his leadership of this important advisory body, and I am glad to be able to inform the Senate that he has accepted appointment as Chairman for a term of five years. Professor Sir Rutherford Robertson has been Deputy Chairman of the Council since its establishment early in 1977. His wise counsel has also greatly contributed to the success of ASTEC, and the Government is very pleased that Sir Rutherford has agreed to continue as Deputy Chairman.
In view of the importance of the primary industry sector in Australia, the Government has thought it best to increase the expertise of the
Council in this field. Accordingly, Dr Patrick Lang has been appointed as the new member. Dr Lang is a member of the Committee Council for Rural Research and Extension, and also a member of the Universities’ Council of the Tertiary Education Commission. In conclusion I should like to express again the Government’s appreciation of the work being done by ASTEC. The role of the Australian Science and Technology Council is a particularly challenging one at this time, and will become more so in the years ahead with the increasing importance of the role of science and technology, and programs of research and development which will lead to improved productivity and in turn to a stronger international trade, through better products and more, efficient techniques. But reserarch and development can do more. It can be the key to new industries and employment opportunities, create new vistas for society, and improve production in all industrial sectors. ASTEC will be an important aid to the Government in developing strategies to achieve these goals. I present the reports of the Australian Science and Technology Council.
It has not been possible, given the time constraints within which this Report has been prepared, to gain a clear picture of the size of the Australian R&D effort in coastal and ocean engineering except to say that the effort in coastal engineering R & D is small and that in ocean engineering virtually non-existent. Expenditure on R & D unrelated to the problems of specific engineering projects, appears to amount to less than $ 100,000 a year, excluding salaries. R&D undertaken in support of specific engineering projects amounts to somewhere between $3m and $Sm a year.
It has become clear to ASTEC, as it has been clear to those who have reviewed this area before, that the marine sciences and technologies are important to Australia. They assist in the protection of life and property against the ravages of the sea; they contribute to our economic well-being by making possible the use of the living and non-living resources of the maring environment . . .
The report deals with a number of aspects in respect of which the application of marine science is important to Australian research and development. In a significant paragraph of the report headed ‘The Need for Immediate Decisions’, ASTEC says:
The marine sciences and technologies scene, both in Australia and the world over, is changing very quickly. Nations, including Australia are rapidly acquiring new rights and responsibilities and many of these require administration based upon sound scientific knowledge or the marine environment; knowledge that Australia largely lacks at present.
Further on, the Report states:
ASTEC recommends: That greater attention be paid to the marine sciences and technologies in Australia than has been to the present time.
Apart from the specific recommendations of ASTEC in volume 1a of its report, the importance of all that is that in the context of Australian industrial development, the question of research and development in the marine sciences is most important in this country. Australia has one of the longest coastlines in the world. It has the most limited knowledge of the resources available off that coastline and it has the most limited research and development into the resources which are available in that coastal area. This is not the first time that this matter has been raised as a question of importance. It has been raised before by ASTEC; it has been raised by a number of institutions over the years. It is a very sad reflection that these words appear on page 5 of the statement accompanying the report tabled by the Minister today.
ASTEC has also recommended ‘that greater attention be paid to the marine sciences and technologies in Australia ‘.
That was first recommended by ASTEC about a year ago.
The Government accepts this recommendation. It recognises the great importance of the marine sciences and technologies in our future well-being. I remind the House that the Australian Institute of Marine Science was established under a previous Coalition Government when I was Minister responsible for Education and Science. 1 would scarcely regard that as a piece of selfcongratulation when one reflects on that fact that nothing has happened since. The statement continues:
The importance of marine science in this regard has increased in recent years; particularly in relation to off-shore energy resources and the utilisation and management of resources in our expanded off-shore economic zone. The Government has accepted ASTEC’s suggestion that an Australian Marine Sciences and Technologies Advisory Committee (AMSTAC) be established. The Committee will investigate and report on the co-ordination of research and development and the establishment of priorities in this area.
That is another statement by the Government which puts the issue- if I can use a colloquialism- ‘on the long finger ‘ or ‘in the hard tray’. Again it defers any action in relation to this recommendation, which has been made on several occasions and which has been a matter of concern to the Opposition and to others outside. I emphasise the importance of this in view of the present unemployment crisis. I think it is conceded by most political observers that there is a crisis. Most politicians as well as spokesmen for Australian manufacturing industry are concerned about employment in this country. The continual question which is not answered, and which is not asked as often as it should be, is this: What viable industries can this country support in the context of a decline in the existing pattern of manufacturing industry in this country? What industries can we support which would be viable and what industries are available to us? All sorts of suggestions come up in a very ad hoc way, particularly at election times; suggestions such as we can support the mining industry and it can support us’. I would not wish to be a member of a society which was totally dependent on the mining industry for its support. Although the rural industries of this country have been enormous export earners over the years, one would not wish to depend entirely on the fluctuations of the rural economy and the rural markets to support the lifestyle to which this country has been accustomed in the past.
In contemplating the decline of manufacturing industry we have to advert to the question of what new industries Australia might be able to develop and support. It is of the utmost importance, in the context of declaring the economic zone and the 200-mile limit off Australian shores, to consider what new resources are made available to Australia in terms of developing new industries in this country. We can only have our suspicions about that. We can have our suspicions that fishing might be such an industry. Where do we look for those suspicions? We look not to any action of the Government but to the interest that Taiwanese and Japanese fishing interests take in the resources of that area.
The other point I want to make is that, quite apart from anything ASTEC has to say about the need for more research and development in this country, the Tertiary Education Commission also has emphasised the need for concentration of more research funding. I refer the Senate very briefly to the report of the Tertiary Education Commission for 1979-81, Volume 2, at page 24, where the Commission had this to say:
In the Commission’s view, the cumulative effects of this continuing tightening of recurrent funds will not only erode the quality of the work in both the universities and colleges but will inhibit innovation and the capacity of institutions to adjust to changing community needs; these effects are already becoming evident.
In this context, one particular area of concern to the Commission is the impact of these funding restrictions on research activities in universities. Both the Commission and the Universities Council have previously emphasised the importance of research and research training, and the Commission believes the level of activity in these areas to be particularly vulnerable to continuing restraints on recurrent funding.
This is not the first time that the Tertiary Education Commission has made comments of that kind. Indeed, in earlier reports to which the TEC refers in this report almost identical recommendations have been made. The important point I want to make in relation to all these matters is that there is an outstanding deficiency in policy on the direction in which research funding ought to go. With the tabling of this final set of documents relating to the ASTEC report, it is now up to the Government to make decisions regarding these recommendations and to get on with the task of implementing these matters because of their fundamental importance to industrial development in this country. Just as now, with the publication of the report of the Williams Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training, the 2lA years of prevarication over many of the areas dealt with in that report must surely be over, so, with the publication of this report and the report of the Crawford Study Group on Structural Adjustment, the time for prevarication over the issues dealt with must surely be over.
Of course, that is not the context of the tabling statement made by the Minister in relation to this matter. It is a quite extraordinary document. It deals with recommendations made by ASTECthis important and distinguished council- and has this to say, when dealing with the first major recommendation:
The first suggests that governments and agencies should give greater attention to the placement of research and development contracts within industry. The Council -
That is. ASTEC- believes that ‘a closer and more fruitful association between industry and Government laboratories must be beneficial, and that the placement of research and development contacts in industry will substantially assist this association ‘.
The Government recognising that this proposal could enable industry to develop and maintain improved research and development capacity is attracted to this concept, and believes that further examination is required.
Further examination is required after 2Vi years of examination by this body and comment by numerous other responsible bodies. The Government will now make a further examination of this proposal, in consultation with departments, and so on. The Minister went on:
The second proposal relates to special measures to encourage technological efficiency and innovation in small companies . . . This broad policy issue is currently being considered by the Government . . .
The third proposal relates to institutional arrangements for encouraging the development of research findings. The Crawford Committee has also recommended that a body to promote innovation be established. The Government is examining the operating experience of research development corporations such as the (UK) National Research Development Corporation, to see whether this mechanism would be suitable to Australian conditions.
In other words, the examination of that issue is going to be embarked upon. The statement then deals with recommendations relating to marine sciences. A sub-committee of ASTEC is to be set up to look at that important issue. The Minister’s tabling statement on this important report is a very disappointing document indeed. As I said earlier, it is disappointing in the same sense as the tabling statement in relation to the report of the Williams Committee is disappointing and in the same way as the response to the Crawford Committee’s report is disappointing. All these issues, about which there has been much public discussion but very little action over the last two or three years, are again to be considered by the Government in the ways that are referred to in the Minister’s tabling statement. I hope that Senator Chaney will take no personal offence. The copy from which I am reading is the statement made on the matter by the Prime Minister.
The important point is that it is time that something was done about these matters in the context of Australian industrial development, in the context of developing a policy about industry generally in Australia. Of course, there is no doubt that those sorts of things can be done and have been done with great success. As an example, I single out the development by the Department of Productivity of a method of production, subject to joint venture agreements, of the InterScan system for aircraft landings. That is a clear example of an initiative that the Government has taken and on which the Minister for Productivity (Mr Macphee) particularly is to be congratulated. The InterScan development is significant in that in an important way it departs from the usual Australian cultural cringe on these matters. It displays the truth of the fact that we can deal with these matters as a country, that we have here the talent and the initiative to develop these inventions, to develop research. The area in which we are seriously lacking is the capacity to apply the consequences of that research in industrial development generally. While welcoming the tabling of the report, it is because of those factors that I take the opportunity on behalf of the Opposition to urge the Government to act on it in an imaginative, constructive and speedy manner.
Debate (on motion by Senator Chaney) adjourned.
– I seek leave to make a statement relating to defence policy and to move a motion that the Senate take note of the statement.
– I seek leave to have the statement incorporated in Hansard.
The statement read as follows-
I said last October that, in the present fiscal situation, we could no longer proceed with all the objectives in the 1976 Defence White Paper at the pace we then contemplated. I pointed nevertheless to: The provision in 1978-79 for a defence outlay larger in real terms than any achieved since the last Budget of the McMahon Government; and a continuation of the work that has rescued our defence capabilities from the downwards slope on which they were launched in 1973. The Government has lately reviewed the content of the Defence program, and given the Defence Administration directions within which it is to plan the spending program in the remainder of this year and the years ahead.
In the continuing war on inflation by the Government I have to accept continuing restraint. Nevertheless the new program provides for a continuing growth in real terms in defence expenditure. Announcement of figures for 1979-80 must of course await the budget. Nevertheless real growth will not be less than 2 per cent. The program calls as well for some change in emphasis. The maintenance and improvement of the operational effectiveness of the defence force in the years ahead is to be the first aim. Consequently, the growth in spending on capital assets will continue, and it will be in equipment rather than buildings, more, however, will be spent than in the recent past on maintenance spares and other stores needed to relieve some restraints on service training activities. Growth in manpower will continue to be held down. Growth in other assets will be stimulated. Discussion about the capacities Australia may need in the future, the threat contingencies we supposedly might not be able to meet, and the supposed deficiencies today, must never overlook that we already possess substantial defence assets. There is a perception developing in some sections of our community that we lack significant military capability, This is completely false. It is far from the reality, as I propose to explain.
As the House is aware, the Government has commissioned an intelligence assessment following recent unsettling events in the Middle East and in Indo-China and its frontier with China and elsewhere. There will be a subsequent strategic review to discern whether change in our defence capabilities needs to be planned for the future. In the meantime there are some fundamental propositions which deserve consideration. They suggest seven requirements that our defence effort must satisfy:
We must sustain a defence force which supports our diplomacy so that both in combination effectively deter interference with Australia’s sovereignty by the military forces of a foreign power.
We must sustain a defence force containing men with the right skills, possessing the right weapons, that could train and develop an expanded force as and when a major threat to Australia begins to emerge.
We need a force that can undertake surveillance and patrol duties, provide assistance to the civil community as and when needed and respond to limited military tasks and requirements that can arise at short notice.
We need a defence force that will protect our supply lines in the maritime areas near to Australia’s principal ports; or that could make some contribution to assisting allies protect our more remote sea routes should there be no significant local threats.
We need a defence force with capabilities affording the Government of the day the option of giving defence help to regional friends with whom we have common security interests, should they wish this- whether this be the south-west Pacific, Papua New Guinea, or other countries to our immediate north.
Subject to our giving priority to capabilities needed for operations in our own environment, our defence force should also provide the Government of the day with the practical option of contributing to Pacific defence in accordance with the ANZUS Treaty.
It should also enable governments to contribute to United Nations international peace-keeping.
I turn to the characteristics of such a force. The size and shape and equipment of our Defence Force should be assessed in Australia’s own geopolitical environment- and this for three reasons:
Like every country Australia must sustain its military standing in its geographical neighbourhood through which attacks upon its territory could be launched.
Australia’s isolation from other continents, and our physical environment of sea and air space and archipelagic territories, carry a number of pointers for our defence capabilities; as do the physical characteristics of our own continent.
It is in respect of armed threats within our own geographic environment that our allies could be expected to look to Australia to be reasonably self-reliant, and to make a maximum effort to look after its own security.
Therefore the first test is the strength of the force vis-a-vis the countries that are within striking distance of Australia. This should be assessed realistically, not on the basis of prejudice, suspicion or ignorance. Fortunately our present relations with our neighbours on the fundamentals of security are so good as to render this a somewhat theoretical question. Moreover the objective of both our diplomacy and our defence policy is to sustain the mutual interest that
Australia and these countries all possess in protecting ourselves from armed attack by external powers. If there is success in sustaining the recognition of a common interest Australia has the prospect of an environment which adds protection to the defence of Australia, rather than creates a defence hazard for us.
But nonetheless the shaping must address all credible contingencies- including the contingency that in some calamitous situation we might again find, as was once our experience, territory to Australia’s north occupied by a country with hostile intent towards us. Australia’s force must exploit the advantages of the sea and air spaces which would separate us from the bases of such an enemy. We cannot assume that all threats could necessarily be disposed of at a distance. I do suggest nevertheless that we would be well advised to reflect a little more carefully than some commentators do upon our present and future capabilities. I read recently a suggestion about our being ‘invaded ‘ within a small number of years. It is time some straight talking was done about this kind of proposition. ‘Invasion’ is not a term to be used loosely by responsible people. I take it, therefore, that it was meant seriously and was intended literally to connote the onslaught of tens of thousands of foreign troops on this country for the purpose of taking it from us or of forcing an Australian Government to bend to the will of a foreign power.
Let us think what that means. It means, firstly, the possession by a foreign power or alliance, hostile towards us, of maritime strength sufficient to overcome our own and gain substantial mastery of the seas around us, and the air space over them. The question is not- and I cannot emphasise this enough- whether some wooden boats or light aircraft can sometimes reach some lonely Australian shore undetected when only a small part of the military, and I stress military, means of surveillance and interception that we actually possess is deployed against them, and never for the purpose of destroying them. There are very few nations which possess today the capacity to project maritime power across thousands of miles and produce, at the other end of a very long line of communications, the kind of force on the sea, in the sea and over the sea that could overwhelm our own maritime capabilities in our own home waters and the air space above them. The two super-powers could do it if they had motive and unrestrained mind and opportunity; and there are two or three European navies which still have a fairly substantial trans-oceanic capability. Those nations are thousands of miles away. Happily, we can number most of them among our friends and allies. Invasion of our country would scarcely be an enterprise on which any country would embark excepting in the context of, or at the great risk of precipitating, very much larger global events.
To be sure, the Soviet Union has the capability to attempt the invasion of virtually any country in the world, as for that matter does the United States. If one were allowed flights into fancy sufficient to conjure up a world in which no-one else existed but the Soviet Union and one other country, it would require no brilliant insight to demonstrate that the Soviet Union possesses overwhelming conventional military power visavis any one of a hundred or more potential victims. But I put it to this House that that kind of fancifulness does not happen to reflect the real world.
One could think of a second tier of maritime powers. It is not difficult to flip through Jane’s Fighting Ships to find second or third tier navies that possess more units than ours: fast, inshore, missile-armed patrol boats, for example, tailored to the operational requirements of the inland waters of the Baltic and the Mediterranean, or the enclosed waters of the South East Asian archipelago. One can distil plenty of parliamentary questions out of researches such as these. It is quite another matter to distil a credible, transoceanic strike force that could overcome our own sea-borne capabilities on, in and over the seas around our own country, defeat our land-based aircraft, blockade us and shepherd an invading force to our shores, and go on supplying and resupplying it.
Once you go to the second tier of maritime nations you are entering a league- and make no mistake about it- whose members do not possess blue-water capabilities significantly greater, if any greater at all, than our own. There is no way that a member of this second tier of maritime powers could acquire the kind of maritime strength necessary to dominate the sea approaches to Australia without its naval program becoming blindingly obvious, and without the process taking that country an appreciable span of years, and I stress the word years.
We, in the meantime, possess maritime capabilities which, by standards relevant to our immediate strategic requirements, are substantial, and will remain so. Let me say something about them, and also about our strike capabilities, reminding the House at the same time of my earlier comment about our needing to sustain a force that would deter interference with
Australia’s sovereignty and protect our supply lines in adjacent maritime areas.
HMAS Melbourne is, by super-power standards, small and aging. Yet in the context of Australian defence she represents for several years to come an important defence asset. Carrying Skyhawk fighter aircraft, Tracker antisubmarine aircraft and Sea King anti-submarine helicopters, she can fight and destroy surface ships, submarines and enemy aircraft hundreds of miles from our shores. Our three guided missile destroyers, Brisbane, Hobart and Perth can hit very hard, not only with their missiles but each with two five inch guns, which can have half a ton of projectiles in the air before the first shot lands. Each ship’s firepower is far greater than a World War II cruiser’s. Behind them are our six River class destroyers with twin 4.5 inch guns, anti-aircraft missiles, and the Ikara antisubmarine missile, which can drop a torpedo into the lap of a submarine at very long range.
The question- and I refer now to some current Press stories- is not whether our ships should sink a small barge when they are using a variety of munitions, mostly anti-aircraft, to test the fire power that they could bring to bear if used in that role at a long range, on a ship’s superstructure. It would have been a truncated and unrewarding exercise if the barge had been disposed of when our ships first fired upon it. The question is whether, using their primary weapons in their primary roles, our vessels could stop enemy ships. And that, I suggest, is an altogether different matter.
Augmenting our maritime forces, starting next year, will be the three FFGs, guided missile frigates, being built in the United States of America. These ships will bring to Australia new strengths and new weapons. They are to be armed with Harpoon- the most modern anti-ship missile in the world- the latest surface-to-air missile, and will be able to carry two helicopters, acting as the eyes’ of the ship, targeting Harpoon over the horizon where radar cannot see. They are firmly in the program.
Supporting these forces, and enabling them to stay at sea for long periods, are the replenishment ship Supply and the destroyer tender Stalwart. The program provides for replacement of Supply. Those are the major surface ships.
Under the sea, our six Oberon class submarines are particularly effective. Their present and future weapons systems will make them the most advanced conventional submarines in the world. Extremely difficult to detect, they can hit hard hundreds, and if need be thousands, of miles from our shores. Ten years ago the Royal Australian Navy was barely in the submarine business. Today, it is there in a way which, by any but super-power standards, and certainly by regional standards, is highly significant. The Program provides for fitting the capacity to launch Harpoon anti-ship missiles while submerged.
Modern patrol boat facilities at Darwin will both match and maximise the capabilities of the 15 new patrol craft that are in the program and will begin to enter service in the next 12 to 18 months. Likewise a new patrol boat base will be built at Cairns.
The facilities at Cockatoo Island Dockyard now provide an excellent capability for refitting two submarines concurrently. Previously, that was not practicable. Until June 1978 we had no substantial naval facility in the west. Since then the facility at Cockburn Sound has been commissioned and is capable of supporting the deployments of our fleet, and, indeed, those of our allies. It enables our ships to be deployed for long periods away from their home fleet bases on the east coast.
What I have just described is not a picture of impotence or unpreparedness.
The Royal Australian Air Force’s two squadrons of Orion aircraft form a remarkable force. The word ‘reconnaissance’, in its World War II sense, fails altogether to convey what each of these airborne platforms of surveillance and detection can already do. With Harpoon missiles and the Barra Sonobuoys to come- and they are in the program- the Orions will have remarkable powers both to seek and to destroy at long range in the approaches to Australia- and beyond, if that should be the mission. Plans are being developed to modernise the older Orions, to give them too a better surveillance capability- with commencement within the five-year program.
In the program period we have included initial provision for capabilities that will be needed when the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne retires. I do not yet have the recommendations of the Chiefs of Staff Committee or financial advice on what form those capabilities should take. But it is neither necessary, nor desirable, to make such decisions prematurely. The relevant technologies and the performance of V-stol aircraft using seaborne platforms are still unfolding, and their futures depend on decisions still to be made in countries such as America and Britain. It is necessary for us to look at the whole matter of tactical airpower at sea and to weigh up the alternative ways of projecting it by land-based aircraft.
I put it to the Senate that our maritime capabilities in our region do not lag behind the second tier of maritime nations, and are not in danger of slipping behind them. Under this Government they will certainly not do so.
But let me mention some other aspects of maritime preparedness. We plan a program of construction, in our own dockyards, of new surface vessels for maritime defence. Studies are being made of overseas designs with a view to assessing what alternative levels of capability and cost are likely to be available for choice of a design appropriate to Australia’s particular geographic and strategic circumstances. We have to foresee operational requirements well into the next century.
The basic facilities at Learmonth airfield have been extensively upgraded so that it can be used as a forward base. Already it has supported maritime surveillance operations off the Western Australia coast and operational exercises by the strike and fighter forces.
We will proceed with the development and prototype construction of the unique minehunting catamarans and so redress the deficiency that now exists in our mine counter-measure forces. We are also examining how best to improve our minesweeping capability.
Also relevant to our maritime capabilities is a plan to increase the hydrographic survey work that we undertake around our coast both for defence and national purposes. More hydrographic vessels will be acquired. These will be built in our naval dockyard at Williamstown, Victoria.
The process of converting the ex-Leyland plant at Zetland into a centralised stores depot for the Navy is well advanced. Computercontrolled stock retrieval systems will contribute directly to the Navy’s operational effectiveness.
The overall modernisation of Garden Island Dockyard in Sydney is part of the program. It is to commence during the next two years and will upgrade the efficiency and capabilities of the dockyard. It will be done in a manner which will enhance the appearance of the island and reduce air, noise and water pollution, It will include facilities to repair and maintain systems on the three new guided missile destroyers.
I suggest that our maritime capabilities do not lag behind and are not in danger of doing so. I suggest once more that the requirement to maintain sufficient force to deter interference with Australia ‘s sovereignty is being met and will continue to be met.
Even so let me turn to some other matters. Seven years in service, the Fills are proving, and will continue to prove, to be a good investment as a strike force. There is nothing within thousands of miles of this continent that can match them. It is time that we reminded ourselves that these aircraft can, at long range, at great speed in all weather and at night, penetrate defences and deliver their weapons loads. That does not suggest a nation unable to hit back- and to do so with telling effect. Our strike force nevertheless will need updating, particularly with more versatile weapons, and this will be started during the current program. We plan extensive improvements including fitting for new electronic warfare equipment, air-to-surface precision guided missiles, and more modern target acquisition and tracking systems, all based on the latest digital computer technology. These would require new avionics equipment. In the meantime we are, right now, in the process of equipping the strike force with a reconnaissance capability superior to anything we have ever had before.
To maintain and service aircraft and their systems such as these, which are likely to remain at the forefront of military technology for a long time, Amberley has been developed as a base of the most modern kind. There is not a comparable base within thousands of miles. Many parts of the defence program command less attention because they are less glamorous. I might give an instance. A works program is at this time greatly extending the fuel storage capacities at major Royal Australian Air Force bases. By January 1980 total capacity will be almost double what it was in 1977. Amberley’s has already gone up fourfold; work at Richmond- about a fivefold increase- is nearly completed; expansion at Williamtown- nearly fourfold- will be finished early in 1980.
I emphasise yet again the asset we continue to have in the Mirage fighter force. The aircraft will serve us well for some years to come, overlapping later with the new tactical fighter aircraft to be selected from types either in inventory, or still to be developed, in the United States or France. As I informed the Senate on 8 March last, a RAAF operational and technical specialist mission leaves today, closely followed by an industry team, to pursue in depth the evaluation of contending TFF aircraft including the development of plans for Australian industry participation. In the meantime, there is provision in the program for retaining the effectiveness of Mirage into the late 1980s. New air-to-air missiles will be acquired with the new fighters; and the Mirages too will be equipped with new air-to-air missiles to maintain air defence capability through the 1980s. More helicopters will need to be ordered in the next three years to carry out a wide range of tasks in the Defence Force. We have to improve our capabilities over what we possess in our Wessex utility helicopters. We need new training helicopters to replace our older Iroquois in that role. We plan to improve our helicopter search and rescue capability. We are studying how much commonality is possible in the interests of economy and a workload for industry. The Department of Defence is working with Australian aircraft industry as we define the fixed wing aircraft to be acquired in the late 1980s for basic and advanced air training. Our Canberra aircraft are used for such tasks as photographic survey work and target towing work. Their use in survey programs in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia has been invaluable. We will provide in the coming years for these roles.
I return now to the suggestion which I read recently that the prospect of our being invaded within a small number of years had implications- the suggestion was immediate implications- for the size of the Australian Army. May I refer again to our need to have a defence force with the men in the right skills, possessing the right weapons, that can train and develop a force expanded in size, should a direct threat to Australia begin to emerge. This applies to the Army and I hope most honourable members would by now be satisfied that we are not yet in a situation where invasion of this country needs to be taken as a serious, imminent possibility. In the interest of rational defence debate, we must resist a somewhat old fashioned concept of measuring the country’s military capability in terms of the number of men in our Army, or the number of men we could contribute to overseas expeditionary forces in a major conflict in a distant theatre.
Lest it be said tomorrow, ‘Killen knocks the Army’, let me say here and now that we shall always need an army large enough to embrace and keep abreast of the most modern skills of land warfare and to provide a basis for expansion, while being ready for lesser contingencies that may require the deployment of some part of it. On all the advice to successive Australian governments, the size of regular army should be between 30,000 and 40,000 plus a substantial, reasonably well-trained reserve. We have a total army of 54,000 today-32,000 regulars and 22,000 reserves. It is highly professional and so regarded internationally. It trains hard. It is the core of leadership and skill around which, in some future defence emergency we would build. We have the largest full-time army this country has ever maintained in peacetime. The reserves are at a satisfactory level at 22,000 effectives.
I digress for a moment to take exception to some exaggerations to the effect that the Army is so limited as to be unable to do this or that. To be sure, extraction of 300 engineers, or 700 logistic personnel for overseas service, causes disruptions and extra costs and puts training schedules out of phase and balance- and a good deal more so than is commonly realised. But there is an enormous difference between these things being tackled in a considered, compassionate and orderly way, consistent with the way any other section of our community would arrange its affairs in peacetime; and the way they can be done, and would be done, in an emergency. It is absurd, when spreading invasion scares, to assert as I read in one recent Press account, that ‘as Australia can muster only a few thousand troops if we were invaded, we would be far from ready’. This is no less silly than my saying that, as I could not put my horse in the Melbourne Cup if it were held tomorrow, I should shoot him tonight. The Melbourne Cup is not being run tomorrow. Please let us have a sensible and serious debate about defence, and about how thousands of millions of taxpayers’ money should responsibly be spent, which is based on worthy propositions, not a competition in scare mongering or political grandstanding. There are things which should prudently, and I stress ‘prudently’, be done in respect of our ground forces in the program period.
The Government aims to improve the air and sea mobility of the ground force within Australia, and the capacity of the Services to move a modest force over the seas and sustain it in limited operations. Next year the new amphibious heavy lift ship HMAS Tobruk will be commissioned. She will operate out of new facilities to be built in Brisbane. She will give the Defence Force a capability for moving men and equipment to any location around our coast without the use of port facilities. We already have a substantial air-lift capability in fixed and rotary-wing aircraft and have recently acquired a fleet of new C-130 aircraft. Special emphasis will continue to be put on preserving a storehouse of expertise in the various corps which would enable such a force to be built up from the bottom if a threat called for it. We have already improved our armour. And may I say here that the one point which critics contrived to overlook last November is that it will sometimes be a wise course in Australia’s circumstances to hold and maintain certain equipments on a care-and-maintenance basis instead of working all of them, full time, all the time. In the program we shall be acquiring new trucks and additional lighter vehicles that will improve mobility and logistic support capability.
The Army’s present 5.5 inch gun will be replaced early in the program by new 155mm towed howitzers incorporating the significant technological advances that have been made in range and delivery accuracy. Other support equipment will be acquired to enhance the Army’s mobility in the field. We will also be furthering the Army’s own independent electronic warfare capability, and acquiring new combat surveillance equipment in order to keep up with technological advances in this important area.
May I mention some further planned developments applying to the Defence Force as a whole. We intend to adopt the latest improvements in simulators for training. This applies not only to our fighter and strike aircraft but we are acquiring simulators for training our new P3C aircraft personnel, adapted to the Barra Sonobuoy Antisubmarine Warfare system. Many command and control tasks on board our guided missile destroyers can be simulated on shore, and investigations are proceeding into similar equipments in relation to the FFGs.
Communications equipment is important. A project now under way will ultimately give our land forces modern light-weight portable and secure radios for field operation. Ships communications systems will be augmented with advanced radio systems and new teleprinters. The secure communication network in Australia, already announced, will be extended. The initial phase in Queensland and Victoria will be extended in the next few years to cover both New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
I do not feel what I have just outlined conveys a sense of the ineffectual, or the mismanaged. What is being done comprehends an efficiently managed and thoroughly thought-through review of this nation’s defence capabilities, setting priorities right within the financial limits that have to be imposed.
I would like to say something more on that point. Some honourable members may be aware that each month I chair a meeting of the Council of Defence. It comprises my colleague the Minister assisting me, the Minister for Administrative
Services (Mr McLeay), the Secretary of the Department of Defence, the Chief of Defence Force Staff and the three Service Chiefs. I preside at the Council meeting. The meeting discusses a monthly summary of defence business. The document spans the full range of activity of the force and the Department. It covers, to mention but a few examples, the main exercises in hand and in prospect; progress in service training programs; Defence Force activities in assistance to the civil community; surveillance operations; dealings with our allies on strategic matters; progress in scientific research; progress with equipment projects; problems with tenders or quotations; recruitment trends; service activities abroad, for example, with the United Nations; and the effects of budgetary constraints, labour disputes, accidents, impending legislation and other matters. Despite the stringent economy of words the report is never fewer than 20 pages.
I relate this not out of complaint but because I appreciate the enormous span of activity which is managed daily and with great professional competence by the commanders of the Defence Force and the officials of the Department of Defence. I have actively encouraged debate in this country about defence issues. My friend, the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes), was gracious enough recently to acknowledge that. But I have to say that I sometimes despair of some of the results.
I may have overestimated the willingness of the media to discriminate between the compulsive critic and the informed and balanced critic; or to discern the man who has a valuable, intellectual contribution to make, from the lobbyist seeking to advance a material interest of his own, or of his sponsors. Perhaps I have had too much faith in the proposition that taking party politics out of the defence debate is an objective that can be achieved, and that discussion of defence matters will rise above the level of sensationalising the views of the precious and the disgruntled. This Parliament would benefit from more open mindedness and willingness to listen. I am personally distressed by the prejudice that I sometimes hear expressed towards defence administrators.
Let me be clear about one thing: It will always be easy to point to areas of our defence structure that need, or will sooner or later need, attention. As requirements are met or problems solved, new ones will take their places. But the central judgment will always be: How soon, how fast, in what order of priority and at what cost. These judgments- the defence decisions- will be made in the Cabinet rooms, or the offices of the two
Ministers in charge of defence matters. They are not made by civil servants or military officers. I want to add something about distribution of spending in the defence budget. We need to refresh our perceptions of some of the fundamental matters involved in defence administration.
I turn first to manpower. Manpower is our largest single defence cost, and our most important asset. In 1977-78 it accounted for 54 per cent of all defence spending. Yet ours is not a manpower-intensive defence posture and there are obvious reasons why it cannot be so in peacetime, which I should not need to dwell upon. But there is a point I want to put with some force: The more complex the equipment we bring into service, the more expensive our manpower will be. The quality of manpower needed pushes defence further into the high cost bracket. Not merely to remain competitive with the civilian sector and provide wage equality, but in terms of training, retraining, specialisation, broader education, higher education.
A core force concept such as we have will not work unless it embraces also the concept of that core force maintaining exceptionally high professional standards. I would like to comment here about a related matter which is not widely understood. It is sometimes said that our peacetime defence force is ‘top heavy’. Of course it is. I do not think this is an area where we can indulge ourselves in parsimony. There is a long lead time for producing senior commanders, staff officers, top-flight NCOs upon whom we would depend to lead an expanded force in war.
We would be in dire trouble if the career structure in, say, our Navy, allowed only a handful of men to achieve an Admiral’s rank and pay. What of officer retention rates under those circumstances- not to mention the quality of the professional advice available to governments? It is always to be remembered that the task of defence administration under peacetime standards of financial efficiency and scrutiny, properly demanded by this Parliament and by law, calls on experience and professionalism in the Public Service as well as the Services.
The nature of defence administration has been attracting the attention of some commentators. On that subject I invite consideration of an address, delivered a fortnight ago by the country’s most senior military officer, General Sir Arthur MacDonald. He said:
There seems to be an impression that the secretary’s responsibility for financial administration and control of expenditure empowers him to decide, on his own initiative if you like, what equipment is bought and what is not- despite the views of the Chiefs of Staff or the Chief of Staff of the service directly concerned. This, of course, is nonsense, and it might be an appropriate stage for a few words on the committee structure within the Department. No one person is the complete expert on any major defence issue.
Indeed the skills and knowledge of a number of uniformed and civilian experts can be required to make a sound judgment on a matter which might call into play strategic considerations, operational requirements, defence science and technology, the capabilities of industry, financial programming and contractual aspects. Committees are a necessary part of defence as they are of any large organisation, in order to bring together the range of views which need to be taken into account in determining complex questions.
Incidentally, contrary to popular opinion, there has not been an increase in the proportion of civilian to service personnel in defence. Since 1973 there has been a significant decrease.
I would also like to take this opportunity to make one point perfectly clear: I do not believe that the role of the Public Service in the department is as all powerful as many outside defence say it is. Such a misconception does little credit to the knowledge and understanding of those who propagate it. It underplays the absolutely fundamental responsibilities and contributions of uniformed personnel at all levels. Personally, I find this particular criticism quite insulting and if anyone has information which would stand up to scrutiny I would be interested to hear it
I come back to manpower. Our defence manpower costs in this country are about the same as in other countries with which we might compare ourselves. In the United States, for example, they are 57 per cent when calculated on the same basis as our own; in Canada, 60 per cent; in Britain, 45 per cent. Our Defence Force development policy has insisted, nevertheless, that the manpower expenditure rates must continue to come down. There is no way this can be done quickly. There are prior requirements to satisfy. I have mentioned some of them: Retraining, new specialisation and higher education. There is usually a price in manpower to pay when a new equipment is introduced into the Force.
I have spoken earlier in this House regarding the canard about an army of bureaucrats. But it still persists. I would ask the patience of the House while I seek once more to dispose of the matter. The fact is that thirteen per cent of all defence expenditure today goes to civilian salaries and wages. Five years ago the figure was almost 17 per cent. Something like 6,500 defence civilian jobs have been given up or transferred to other functions in recent years. Of the 30,700 who remain, about 5,600 are dockyard employees and 22,800 fall into other categories including professional engineers, naval architects, scientists, technical officers, draftsmen, tradesmen, artisans, storemen, drivers and the like; or else they work in regional offices providing accounting, clerical and other support; or they comprise the staffs of computing services, the Joint Intelligence Organisation, and the like.
Comparing like with like, there are in the Australian Defence structure 450 civilians to every 1,000 servicemen. In the United Kingdom, there are 825; in the United States of America, 490; and in Canada, 420. Some 2,300 civiliansPublic Servants- occupy positions in the central divisions and branches of the Department of Defence, which, contrary to the most obstinate myth, do not comprise a massive bureaucracy. The civilian functions at Russell Hill are today more streamlined and more coherent, than they have ever been. The fact is that 68 per cent of defence civilians are employed directly under the service chiefs of staff. The fact is that, did they not exist, the functions they perform would have to be carried out by servicemen diverted from tasks more directly relevant to the role of the Defence Force. Five years ago, total manpower costs stood at 61 per cent of defence expenditure. Today they are down to 54 per cent. The 7 per cent reduction in manpower costs has been achieved even while well-deserved improvements to service terms and conditions were being made and while qualitative improvements, in the nature of long-term investment, were also being made- and continue to be made- in Australian defence manpower. Let me cite but three examples. We have today a Joint Services Staff College providing mid-career education for the senior officers of the future. We did not have one 10 years ago. We have today a Joint Warfare Establishment. We did not have it four years ago. We have today a Naval Staff College. We did not have it one year ago.
I turn to the question of officer retirements. It is one assiduously pursued by some commentators. Almost every organisation contains people who will leave it earlier than their compulsory retiring age. Their number will, for a time, increase perceptibly in organisations which introduce procedures to make retirement possible in the last few years of service with little financial penalty. Every organisation will also contain people who, before acquiring pension rights, decide to quit, whether out of dissatisfaction or because of the attraction of alternative employment, or for any of dozens of other possible reasons. Every large organisation will have particular areas in which, at particular times, it would hope for a good retention rate, and other areas where a higherthannormal turnover may even be welcome.
The defence force is very much like the rest of our society in these respects, and one would not have it otherwise. I suggest the figures for officer resignations are not significantly different from those among the professional groups in any large industrial undertaking. They vary a little from time to time and from specialisation to specialisation, but they have in the past two or three years mostly been about what one would have expected in most respects, in most categories, most of the time. They are not the subject of abiding concern to the chiefs of staff. Even if they seem to exercise one or two observers whose own resignations from the Defence Force did not leave the unbridgeable gaps they might have supposed.
I have spoken about manpower and 54 per cent of defence expenditure. Another 27 per cent or thereabouts goes on running costs. The money feeds, clothes and houses the Defence Force, buys the consumable stores and maintenance spare parts, the computing services, and the maintenance services. It pays the rent, power, freight, fuel and other bills. The Senate will not want an interminable list. In Russell Hill jargon it finances the activities of the Defence Force. It funds their main function in peace-time, which is to train for war with equipment kept in serviceable condition. It funds, additionally, the operations that they conduct in peace-time such as surveillance and patrol, United Nations peacekeeping and assistance to the civil community. The Defence Force is a busy force. It has intensive training and other programs. There is constant activity. But it all costs money. A patrol boat costs about $1,000 per day to run; a DDG, $18,000; an Orion aircraft, $2,300 per hour to operate; a Mirage aircraft, $2,900 per hour to operate; and a CI 30, $1,300 an hour. To give some point to those figures I point out that they exclude manpower costs.
The progressive refitting of the submarine squadron accounts on average for about $17m annually. Qualitative improvement nevertheless is constant. If some facilities are old and in need of attention, others, such as Puckapunyal, in general terms, and the base at Amberley that I have mentioned, are as modern as one could wish. There exists a very high-level technicalapprenticeship training scheme, producing tradesmen for the benefit of the Defence Force and, indeed, the nation as a whole. Time will not permit me to do more than mention defence cooperation with other countries, which takes up a further one percent of the defence Budget. Yet I might remind the House that within the region our military reputation stands high. Fierce competition exists for places on Australian military training courses. Some 600 to 700 foreign students attend such courses each year. Nearly 2,000 members of the Defence Force serve in neighbouring countries, transferring knowledge and expertise.
Let me mention but one more example: Over the past 10 years Australian Army surveyors, with Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Australian Navy support, have contributed more to knowledge by the governments concerned of the physical features of the archipelago to our north than was gathered in the hundreds of years of colonial administration. With 54 per cent of the defence expenditure allocated to manpower, 27 per cent to running costs and 1 per cent to defence co-operation programs, we are left with 1 8 per cent for capital equipment and facilities, including 1 4 per cent for equipment. The latter is the crunch-figure. Whilst never ignoring the importance of trained men in service, the provisions for capital equipment and weapons systems are an absolutely fundamental measure of our preparations against future uncertainties. The corresponding figure in 1974-75 was 6 per cent. It has gone up every year since then; and in the context, moreover, of larger overall defence budgets. It will rise in the years ahead.
To be sure, some part of the investments funds are being used to foot the bills for equipments decided upon in earlier years. I will not be ungenerous about that. Some of the planning that was in train when we came to power, some of the decisions that had been taken, were completely justifiable. It was right, for instance, to decide to buy FFGs and P3Cs from the United States. Of course, there were gaps to be filled between taking decisions and actually placing any orders. Some quantities were inadequate and needed adding to. I remind the Senate that this Government made good the shortcomings in both the instances I have cited, and in others. I do not wish to introduce a polemic note, but the question will intrigue the House, as it has intrigued me, as to how our predecessors had planned to pay for their decisions- if and when translated into orders. In any event it fell to us to provide the money. We have done that, and very much more as well. Capital equipment investment for the future has more than doubled under this Government. It continues to rise.
I turn to the patrol frigate program. Three patrol frigates- FFGs as they are so styled- are being built for Australia by United States naval shipbuilders. The practice is, as the Senate will know, periodically to review the estimated cost of these works. I can now inform the Senate of the latest position after a review with the United States Navy. The revised estimate of the average sailaway cost for each ship is $132m in August 1978 prices. This is an average increase of about $9m for each ship over the previously announced estimates. The contract which the United States
Navy has with the shipbuilders is of a type which provides the builder with an incentive to deliver on time and to contain costs. Progress in the construction program is encouraging. The performance of the lead ship has fully justified the confidence of the United States and Australian navies in the capabilities of these ships. In August 1978 prices the total project cost for the three ships is currently estimated at $642m.
It is not generally understood that the project cost covers a great number of matters and extends to a wide range of activities. The cost includes outfits of missiles and torpedoes, spares, maintenance equipment, assistance to secure Australian industry participation, travel and overseas allowances associated with training, training equipment and helicopters. I make a specific reference to the provision of funds within the project cost concerning helicopters. The figure I have given includes the provision of $95 m for helicopters. As I have explained, helicopters add substantially to the operational capability of the FFGs. No final selection of type has yet been made. I believe it may prove possible to satisfy the RAN ‘s requirement at a lower cost than the figure I have given. In the interests of project control, cost estimates issued from time to time henceforth will combine the costs of the three ships as this facilitates better project control.
Some grossly inaccurate statements have been made with respect to the FFG project. The position deserves to be made clear. In October 1978 I informed the House that the total project cost for the three FFGs was estimated at $600m. That figure was expressed in 1977 prices. That figure of $600m expressed in August 1978 prices would be approximately $649m. There has been, in fact a reduction in real terms of $7m in the FFG project.
I want to conclude with some general comments. As I have said we possess substantial capabilities and the core of the Defence Force we may need in the future exists in the Navy, Army and Air Force. In strike and defensive capabilities we obviously have limits in numbers, but we have the skills and equipments needed as a basis for expansion. There are some discernible deficiencies but the significance of them has always to be weighed, as I have earlier suggested, against the likelihood of an international situation arising where we could be caught unprepared. As long as it can be assesed that no potential military adversary of Australia has a significant long-range capability, the present limitations in the size of our continent-wide surveillance and air defence systems can be accepted. But obviously this is an area which must be kept under review. The defence programe is currently and in the immediate future allotting unusually large sums to various technologies for gathering data and information about our maritime and terrestial neighbourhood. These include activities by us both undisclosed and disclosed. The latter includes the overthehorizon radar, long-range aircraft with their various sensors, naval patrol vessels, and submarines equipped with advanced sonic facilities. I believe it is right to continue to place this emphasis on surveillance and information gathering in our defence program even though not insignificant sums are thereby diverted from direct combat capabilities, whether manpower or weapons.
The region of South East Asia and the SouthWest Pacific does not contain at present a longdistance offensive capability which could be regarded as a threat to Australia’s capacity to defend itself. In the event of a deterioration to the point of a threat to Australia, we have many requirements which would need to be satisfied but we would have the singular advantage of a defence force that has mastered the very high technology equipment which is now held in the Navy, Air Force and Army and around which the country would build as the threat developed. The Government has not thought it necessary to provide, as yet, in the program for aerial refuelling, airborne early warning capabilities. It is our judgment that it is right to place this later in our consideration. There are approximately 1 .3 million categories of items in service inventories. The management of those inventories is a prodigious task. It is an absolutely vital one.
There are some holdings of equipment spares and maintenance stores that are lower than I would like them to be. There are some categories of ammunition stocks that I would like to increase. I would prefer to see more orders being placed by my officers than financial limitations enable them to do. There are some service activities that have been disturbed. Discussion in Cabinet leaves me confident that we will be able to make a significant increase in expenditure on these items in 1979-80. 1 can say with equal confidence that increased levels of expenditure will be maintained in successive years. Meanwhile, I want to give the House an assurance that the intrinsic defence capability of the country has not been impaired by such shortages as exist. Assessments of the adequacy of stocks of spares and maintenance stores to be held by the Services must take account of certain favourable resupply arrangements we enjoy. Many items are produced locally; some in our own factories. It deserves to be acknowledged that some 55 per cent of defence expenditure on equipment, spares, maintenance, repair and overhaul is spent in Australia. Where we must purchase from abroad it is usually under special government-to-government arrangements. In the case of purchasing from the United States, these arrangements provide our Services with the great advantage of direct access to the large stocks of the United States Services without the necessity to re-negotiate with manufacturers.
I accept the Government’s judgment- as I may add do our chiefs of staff- that, on the balance of things, we shall have to persevere with some continuing restraints on service training activities and that in the present international circumstances the risks in doing so are acceptable. We shall meanwhile steadily raise our acquisition of major equipments. The Government will sustain the campaign against inflationwhich I may say would be no friend of the defence effort of the country if it defeated us. The personality of Australia has changed very greatly in the last generation. We may not always be conscious of the nature of that change but change there indeed has been. In 1952 there was genuinely held concern by many people in this country that Australia should participate in the ANZUS agreement without the United Kingdom as a member of that agreement. Time and tide wait for no man. The past can instruct. It is the future which concerns.
As the nation has changed, so indeed has its responsibilities. For the greater part of our national existence we depended substantially for the preservation of our national integrity upon the United Kingdom and the United States. Events have required us to meet that concern from substantially our own resources. We are doing just that. Australia today has a defence capability which is consistent with our responsibilities and our circumstances. Australia has an intelligence gathering and assessing capability singular in quality. We have a surveillance and interdiction capability completely reflective of our determination to preserve our national sovereignty. We have developed technological military capabilities which are unique in our area. We have developed the skills and trained personnel to support them. The cost of this endeavour is clear. The complexity of it should be acknowledged.
There is in the service of the Defence Force of this country a professionalism quite exceptional in the country’s history. That professionalism does not and will not tolerate complacency; it is critical of mediocrity of performance; it is anxious to correct shortcomings; it is responsive to events; it gives advice promptly and bluntly. That professionalism has put at the disposal of this country a defence capability which is certainly not under-estimated by people who live outside it.
– I move:
– The statement that has been put down by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney) on behalf of the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) is a lengthy, 38-page document and is one to which Parliament has been looking forward for some time. The Opposition has always taken the view that the defence and security of this country is a very important matter that deserves careful consideration. Perhaps at some time in the future we will have an opportunity to debate at greater length the contents of the statement because of its very wide canvass.
We take the view that there should be increasing consultation between the Government and the Opposition on matters of defence, for the reason that the sophistication of defence equipment and the very long lead times involved in the consideration of and planning for the purchase of equipment and the training of manpower mean that the decisions of one government can affect a subsequent government, very often one of a different political colour. When the White Paper on defence was tabled in 1976, the Opposition welcomed the statement of a five-year objective. We were heartened by the attitude adopted by the Minister for Defence in seeking intelligent and public discussion of defence matters. We recognised that difficulties would be involved in obtaining a bipartisan approach to future planning but we hoped that the Minister’s attitude might result in some improved or increased degree of input by both government and opposition.
The Minister noted in his paper that he expected the reactions to it to be mixed. He knows that there have been lobbyists and people with vested interests who have sought to create an atmosphere of fear and anxiety. That is in contrast to those- amongst whom I hope that the Opposition would be included- who want to see sensible and rational discussion about defence planning and expenditure. In this respect, I am somewhat disappointed in the very long statement which has been presented on behalf of the
Minister for Defence by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. It is the Opposition’s view that the statement, being unduly long, is convoluted and is designed for the principal purpose of either embarrassing or silencing the critics whom, it has been obvious for some time now, the Government has on its back benches.
There is little doubt in my mind that the detailed concentration on the problems associated with the Royal Australian Navy and the purchase of equipment for that section of the defence forces is an unnecessary and blatant attack on a very intelligent and informative speech which was made in this chamber by Senator Hamer last week. We do not agree with all that Senator Hamer said, but it is our view that he did attempt to discuss quite rationally and openly matters associated with the organisation of the Department of Defence. Honourable senators will recall that it was under the Labor Government that the integration of the three Services took place and they were brought within the responsibility of one Minister. The Labor Government sought to do this on the basis of the Tange report and it believed that the concept was correct. But one would be foolish to suggest that we do not have some reservations about the implementation of the original concept. In some ways we do share Senator Hamer ‘s concern about the way in which the management structure of the defence forces is moving.
The Minister for Defence cannot escape the fact that, in times of financial stringency, not only does the equipment have to be cost effective, but also the entire management structure of a department which has control over so many assets has to be as efficient as possible. It was surprising, therefore, that the Department of Defence sought to exclude itself from the provisions of the recent Audit Amendment Bill. The arguments which the Department used in seeking exemption contrast considerably with the defence of the departmental structure contained in the statement before us. We cannot ignore the fact that on a number of occasions it has been clear that the Minister has not been completely and adequately informed by his Department about important matters of defence policy. The North West Cape debacle last year and the criticism of the maintenance and repair programs for certain naval vessels are excellent examples of that. The Minister claimed in his statement that he meets on a once-monthly basis with the Defence Council and receives a report which he described as follows:
Despite the most stringent economy of words the report is never fewer than 20 pages.
That comparison is hardly valid because, without knowing the contents of a report, it is impossible to judge whether 2, 20 or even 200 pages are enough to constitute effective and accurate advice. The instances I have cited suggest that the Minister does not receive accurate advice on all occasions. I am also a little perplexed at some of the analogies which the Minister used. In particular, I draw attention to the Minister’s argument in dealing with the matter of recent reports in the Press about Australia’s capacity to deal with a possible invasion. The Minister stated:
And it is absurd, when spreading invasion scares, to assert as I read in one recent Press account that ‘as Australia can muster only a few thousand troops if we were invaded, we would be far from ready’. This is no less silly than my saying that, as I could not put my horse in the Melbourne Cup if it were held tomorrow, I should shoot him tonight.
Those are the Minister’s words, not mine. If I did not know the Minister for Defence and if I were an outsider reading his statement, I could only assume that the control of Australia’s defence forces was in the hands of a gambler. It reflects poorly on the Minister for him to use that sort of analogy because it suggests that emotions rather than good sense prompted his statement.
I turn to some specific matters which the Minister raised. Unfortunately, the Minister’s statement is somewhat haphazard in its assessment of the objectives of the 1976 White Paper on defence. It does not set out what is actually being achieved, what can be achieved and what is being deferred. For example, at page 2 of the statement the Minister indicated that there will be a change in emphasis and that: the growth in spending on capital assets will continue and it will be in equipment rather than buildings.
Does this mean that the Casey defence university, which many of us feel is an unwarranted extravagance, will now be deferred or dropped because obviously it would not come within the definition which the Minister has used. On the same page of the statement the Minister restated the Government’s intention to seek a strategic review following the intelligence assessment being made as a result of political events in the Middle East and Indo-China. Again, the Opposition believes that our defence capabilities should be under continuous review and should be the subject of frequent intelligence assessments rather than of one-off exercises when something extraordinary happens. I am somewhat at a loss also to understand what the Minister meant at page 4 of his statement by his use of the words:
Like every country, Australia must sustain its military standing in its geographical neighbourhood through which attacks upon its territory could be launched.
Unless that has some deeper meaning, it seems to be a form of words to fill up paper. Perhaps in due course the Government Will explain what that remark means and will spell out its implications in terms of Australia’s foreign policy, presumably in respect of South East Asia. The subsequent remarks, which commenced on page 7 of the statement and meandered through the statement, dealing with Australia’s naval forces are not, I suggest, words which one would assume could be written by a professionally informed person. It is significant that the Minister spent so much time talking about that area. It verifies the view that the majority of the statement is directed at criticising Senator Hamer ‘s remarks here last week. Without attempting to deal with the Minister’s statement paragraph by paragraph, I make the general observation that when the Minister talks of Australia’s naval defences as being a second tier force equal to any other country with a second tier force he failed to mention that, whilst we have substantial book strength in terms of the DDGs and the River Class destroyers, their availability for service and their manning problems are quite serious issues. This oversight by the Minister is exacerbated by his comments on HMAS Melbourne. He stated:
The Minister failed to mention that HMAS Melbourne probably spends more time in dry dock than she does at sea. Thus, all the equipment related to her, such as the Skyhawk fighter aircraft, the anti-submarine aircraft and the Sea King anti-submarine helicopters, have limited mobility. I note also that the Government is again talking about the issue of providing a replacement for HMAS Supply which, in itself, has had a limiting effect on the mobility of HMAS Melbourne. But the Minister evaded making any specific commitment on that. Similarly, he did not make any commitment on the construction of the new patrol base at Cairns. This evasion and apparent deferment of decisions is typical of the whole statement. It appears that the Minister is attempting to create the impression that programs are on the drawing board when in fact they are not and the likelihood of their being phased in in any rational way seems fairly unlikely.
I turn now to the remarks which the Minister made on page 23 of his statement. He said:
I am personally distressed by the prejudice that I sometimes hear expressed towards defence administrators.
I have already pointed out the criticisms which have been made of the Minister in failing to receive accurate and continual advice from his department. I want to deal briefly with perhaps the most sensitive of these issues which the Minister fails to comment upon, and that is the replacement of the current Secretary of his department. I share Senator Hamer ‘s view that it is a sad reflection on the organisation of the defence forces that the Government is unable to find an immediate, effective replacement for Sir Arthur Tange. In an area as important as defence, as with the organisation of any government department or any company, there should be always in training at least one successor to the secretary or the managing director. It is not unreasonable to believe that a situation in which a well-trained replacement was not available to move immediately into the position of a person who was suddenly killed as a result of an accident of some description would be an adverse commentary on the management structure of the department. I suspect that what the critics within the Government would mean when they talk about the department being top heavy is not so much a case of its having too many admirals, generals or air marshals; it is perhaps a case of its having too many top brass in the wrong positions.
The other night Senator Hamer gave some very interesting figures that I will not repeat but which are themselves indicative of the very high proportion of senior public servants who are in the Department of Defence- a higher proportion apparently than is in other departments. There are other matters relating to the statement with which I could deal at quite considerable length. I hope that we are given a future opportunity to deal with the statement. Sufficient to say that there are many areas of defence policy which the Government needs to re-examine, especially in the light of the rapidity with which events have been changing. Given that the Government looks intelligently and rationally at these policies I am sure that it will have the support of the Opposition.
-A defence statement of 38 pages by the Honourable D. J. Killen, the Minister for Defence, has been incorporated in Hansard. I was nol given the opportunity of seeing this document beforehand. I think the statement deserves close study before significant comment is made upon it. However, I believe that if a statement of this nature is to be incorporated in Hansard it ought first to be distributed to honourable senators so that they are in a position immediately, as obviously was the Leader of the Opposition (Senator
Wriedt) who received a copy of the statement beforehand, to debate this matter. I rise simply to make the point that defence is a vital issue confronting this nation. The question of our nation’s defences, including their inadequacy, is becoming a matter of political significance in this country.
The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) soon after he was elected talked consistently about ‘a steady enlargement of self-reliance and defence capability’. Of course, Mr Killen made the comment in 1 975 that our defences were such that they were ‘unable to protect Botany Bay against an enemy on a summer afternoon’. It appears from the concern that is expressed on all sides that we are not very much further advanced from that situation. It is all very well for the Minister to state on the first page of his statement:
The provision in 1978-79 for a defence outlay larger in real terms than any achieved since the last Budget of the McMahon Government . . .
That is not an adequate statement. In fact, if one has a look at the provision for defence in successive Budgets one will see that the provision for defence in the 1978-79 Budget as a proportion of total outlays was lower than in any year for the last five or six years. This proportion has been steadily declining over that period of time. This position must be reversed.
At this stage I do not wish- nor can I- to reply to this statement. As I have said, it has been incorporated and I have not had the opportunity to look at it. But I hope that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney), before he adjourns this debate, may be able to advise the Senate when a substantive debate could take place on this vitally important matter of defence.
– My position is something like that taken by Senator Harradine insofar as I have only just received this very large document. It appears to me that the document deals largely with issues which have been current in the defence area, that is, the general criticism of maybe the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) and the defence Services themselves. I think these criticisms have been generated not only by the recent Hamer remarks but also to some extent by the general situation of reduced activity in the industrial support area which was the subject of investigation by a subcommittee of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. As honourable senators might well remember, that most significant report was known as the Hamer report. It seems to me that this report which is generally valid and acceptable in the wide sense, must have stirred a number of sensitive souls in the defence area who did not acknowledge the competence of a group of parliamentarians to look into the question of defence.
To me the sub-committee’s conclusions were very pertinent. They have not yet been answered. You, Mr Acting Deputy President, might remember that one of the recommendations of that defence sub-committee - and the subcommittee’s recommendations were later adopted by the full Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence- dealt with the question of shipbuilding capacity within Australia. The committee was concerned about what it saw as the lack of defence support in the industrial area. It was not necessarily an argument about calculating to what extent strategic obligations and commitments might be seen to be different according to one’s evaluations. It was mainly a general acceptance by both sides of the Parliament that there had to be stability within the country’s industrial area so that the requirements of war could be provided in the event of an important threat to Australia.
I well remember that you, Mr Acting Deputy President, and I got together with other members of the Senate, went to Whyalla and to Newcastle in New South Wales and told the people there that the sub-committee had recommended that a package deal might be offered to keep the shipyards going because the sub-committee saw that the capabilities of the shipyards were declining. The sub-committee saw the necessity to keep the Whyalla and Newcastle shipyards going. It said that what has been achieved already in other countries- a package deal- would be possible if the unions and the management were asked to get together to make an arrangement as to productivity gains, which gains have since been achieved in Newcastle, and that there was a basis for getting a defence capability together. We did all those things. We got the support of the local communities. We then reported back to the Parliament and to the Prime Minister and the recommendation was rejected. So there we have community groups which resent the action of a government in an area of defence capability which they consider important.
Let me re’ ate that to the general position. Let me put forward what is obviously a basis of complaint by those people who criticise various activities in the defence area. The second most important factor is the general view today of what we might call the defence industries. Not one defence industry in this country is satisfied with the works program that it is getting from the Government-that is, the amount of equipment which we are making in this country- or with the way in which the Department of Defence machinery and the Minister are arranging to supply the necessary weaponry for the country, either within Australia or outside it. I say that because I am, and have been for a long time, a member of a sub-committee which deals with this issue. I also say it quite seriously as a former Assistant Minister for Defence who knows something about the operations of the Department of Defence.
I do not share the general discontent about the Secretary to the Department of Defence or about the method of reorganisation which the Labor Party introduced. I was the Minister who brought to the Senate the legislation which reorganised the three Services and which, for the first time in Australia, put them together into one workable organisation. That was the policy of the Labor Party and was certainly a great advance. In addition, the requirement, for the first time also, to set up a five-year rolling program was also a sensible decision. What I am saying is that now the debate is not about the important items of defence equipment that we have to buy, whether it be aircraft, ships or the style of weaponry for the Army, but about discontent within an industry which sees that throughout the country not enough work is being put into Australian factories, which work could and ought to be put into Australian factories. The Government ought to be planning to give that aspect more emphasis than it is giving to it. I mentioned earlier our commitments in respect of shipyards, but this can also relate to industry generally. The work force of the whole of industry, including the aircraft industry, has gone down until it is at almost a very basic requirement level.
I had the opportunity of being the Minister who introduced into Cabinet the approval for the production of the second batch of 25 Nomad aircraft. Fortunately, since that time, despite differing ministerial viewpoints, the Government has had enough sense to keep the aircraft industry going on that minimal basis. That is a good thing. But, since the change of government, employees in the industry have been frustrated and insecure because they cannot see a stable future. I mention in that regard the scientific side of the industry- the Weapons Research Establishment in my State and Woomera- where the same position obtains. The staff of the WRE has been reduced by many thousands. Activity at Woomera has been almost minimal in that the place has been kept up on a care and maintenance basis. Some experiments have taken place and the Services have undertaken trials there, but generally speaking there is this wide feeling that our capabilities are not being used in the way they should be used. That has been exactly my interest in the matter over many years.
Unfortunately our Service requirements are being met largely by equipment manufactured outside the country. Whenever we have embarked upon the sharing of the production of equipment, our share of that production has always been minimal. We have never set a mandatory quota. Largely because of agitation within this Parliament, over the years we have certainly achieved an increase in the amount of work which could be called defence work because our factories have been competent and active in getting such work. They have done a very good job, within the limits of the options available, in sharing the work that we have produced for them. But the Australian industry wants more and steady work and it wants to believe that the Department of Defence and the Government are on its side. At WRE we have very good capabilities. We have a group of scientists there. How long will they stay if we do not know whether the horizons for them will be better than they are at present? We have great capability not only in the aircraft manufacturing industry and the sophistications of this modern age of technology but also in optical work. I am not going to make a long speech on the matter, but I am sure that the general dissatisfaction with the position arises because of those matters 1 have mentioned and because the industry itself is greatly concerned about them. Without breaching any confidences I can say that what I said earlier is exactly the truth. Hardly any industries connected with defence in Australia are satisfied with the sorts of positions they are occupying in the defence basis of Australia at present.
Coupled with that there is one of the last things I want to mention at this stage; that is, the general position regarding surveillance. Every day in the Press we read about the concern of people in relation to the surveillance of the north of Australia, not only with respect to drug trafficking or possible terrorism. We know, of course, that the substantial arguments in this statement about a strong force invading Australia are positive points of view, but in these times it is not impossible to accept that there could be raids of the sort mentioned by the Hamer sub-committee in its conclusions. If one reads what has been said by the scientists who attended a forensic science forum in Adelaide one can see that situation becomes more feasible today. When one reads their statements one understands the practicabilities of the situation and one can also understand the notions advanced by people who are not satisfied that the strategic assessments of the Department of Defence are adequate.
Having not seen the statement for long but realising that governments and Ministers are prone to run for defence from all sorts of critics, I accept that the defence reorganisation was a very good thing. It was Labor Party policy. As honourable senators will remember, it was opposed by some members of the then Opposition but finally went through the Parliament. Since that time the basic organisation has proved to be successful, but it does not respond in those circumstances in which, year after year, governments make its planning difficult because budgetary considerations come into the requirements of the defence forces on every occasion. I would think that a department of defence has to be satisfied that within a long economic time frame allocations from the national purse have to be fairly substantial and consecutive and not interrupted by budgetary planning. We know that since the Fraser Government came into power every department has been upset by these financial cuts that come off the cuff and the Department of Defence is one of those departments. Funds have been cut off year by year. Economies have had to be made which should not have been made.
I am satisfied that the recommendations of the Hamer Sub-committee represented substantial criticisms. They have not yet been answered. I am not talking about Senator Hamer’s recent contributions or Mr Killen ‘s recent contributions; I am talking about those basic points about which I and my party are concerned. The platform of the Australian Labor Party for many years has stated and affirmed that there must be a substantial competence within this country for defence production and defence capability. This capability has been allowed to run down in a most rapid way. I hope that when the debate on the statement takes place in the Senate we will have a greater opportunity to discuss the implications of the statement and perhaps to review in a more direct sense the views that the Minister for Defence has put to the Parliament for its guidance.
– I will be very brief. I wish to make a few remarks about this defence statement and also to support the remarks that were made earlier by Senator Harradine. It is not good enough for the Government to present a statement of 38 pages of which the Opposition did not have prior notice. Senator Bishop and I are both members of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. We did not know that the statement was to be presented. The fact is that the debate would have been adjourned and placed on the Notice Paper, and probably we would not have had an opportunity for some weeks to talk about the matter.
Only the other day, we heard the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in a statement to the Parliament list a number of purchases of defence equipment supposedly initiated by this Government. Whilst it is true to say that this equipment has been purchased during this Government’s term of office, most of it was ordered during the period of the Labor Government. The list that he read out contained only minor augmentations of defence equipment or slight increases in particular items. This was pointed out in both Houses in replies to the Prime Minister’s statement, but for the record I will restate the position: Of the capital outlays the Prime Minister mentioned, the construction of two of the three guided missile destroyers was announced by the Labor Government. The construction of the Tobruk was announced by Labor. The purchase of 12 Hercules aircraft was announced by Labor. The modification of the F111C aircraft was announced by the present Minister for Defence (Mr Killen). However, in October 1975 the present Minister for Defence announced that the FI 1 ls would be given an inflight refuelling capacity and stand-off weapon capability; but in three years all that was achieved was the provision for reconnaissance pods. The purchase of the two PC3 Orion aircraft was also announced by the previous Labor Government.
When the Prime Minister made this statement he neglected to mention a series of unfortunate foul-ups, some of them quite disturbing, that have come to the attention of the public in the last few months. I want to list some of them: There are widespread reports of low morale, especially in the Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. There is an insufficiency of and poor planning in maintenance and equipment development. We have seen the mothballing of an entire squadron of Leopard tanks. Increasing concern has been expressed that, even though there is widespread unemployment and also a strategic need, the Government has not made any serious attempts to improve Australia’s defence industry structure- a matter about which Senator Bishop spoke. Mr Fraser and the Minister for Defence have been attempting to portray themselves as the champions of Australia’s defence needs. Yet, instead of taking action in these areas, they have simply tried to cover them up and keep them from the public’s attention.
I also wish to make a few remarks about a subject that was written about in the Australian newspaper recently under the heading ‘Our US defence staff are missing’. It is perhaps ironic, as part of the inconsistency of the Minister for Defence, that the Government is presently maintaining in the United States of America, what could only be described as a small army of defence officials supposedly responsible for the review of defence purchases and equipment. In all, according to the figures of the Minister for Defence, there are 75 Defence Department officials in Washington- 19 at the equivalent rank of major and 17 at the equivalent rank of lieutenant-colonel. The rest of the 57 officers are civilian personnel. At a time when the Minister for Defence has had a number of overseas tours reviewing possible purchases in Great Britain and Europe, it seems strange that is is necessary to have such a large contingent for this purpose in the United States employed full time.
I said that this situation was ironic in view of the mothballing of the Leopard tanks and other areas in which expenditure perhaps would better meet the present defence needs of Australia. However, the situation can only be described as ludicrous when it is realised that, while the Minister maintains that only 75 defence officials are stationed in Washington, the estimates for the Department of Foreign Affairs and officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs maintain that there are 93 personnel there- 70 uniformed officers and 23 civilians. This does not include personnel on temporary postings for specific purposes or on an exchange basis. It was reported in the Australian of 5 March 1979 that a Foreign Affairs official commented that the Department’s estimate may include officers outside Washington. However, this would still leave five officers unaccounted for.
Two essential matters are involved in this question: Firstly, how is it that such confusion as to the number of personnel presently stationed in Washington can remain after three months? A number of questions have been placed on the Notice Paper on this subject. Why are two government departments unable to agree on the number of staff working in this area? How could such confusion have arisen in the first place and when will the Senate be given a definite answer on the number of staff actually involved? These are questions that the Parliament has a right to have answered promptly. Secondly, it seems to me that either figure- that is, the 75 which the Defence Department officials assert or the 93 on which the Foreign Affairs Department is equally adamant- is a tremendously large number of staff to be responsible for purchasing equipment when the Government is actually ordering some equipment to remain unused because of expenditure pruning in defence and is failing in a number of important areas such as the development of a defence industrial self-sufficiency.
It would seem that the Minister and departmental staff are capable of initiating defence equipment expenditure where no full time staff is stationed overseas. So perhaps the staff in Washington could be better deployed in other areas, either in a similar role in other countries or in Australia itself. In any case, the cost of maintaining such a large staff in terms of salaries alone would seem to be prohibitive. The Minister for Defence or the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick), who represents him in the Senate, should undertake a review of this matter urgently and tell us how many Defence Department staff we have stationed in Washington.
Debate (on motion by Senator Peter Baume) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 28 March, on motion by
That the Bills be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator Button had moved by way of amendment in respect of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Bill 1979:
Leave out all words after ‘That’, insert “the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide-
that Annual Reports be presented to Parliament on the general operation of the Act and in particular the exercise of Special Powers under Part III, Division 2 of the Bill;
that regular periodic judicial audit be conducted into the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to ensure-
that it complies with its charter and the law;
that it does not unjustifiably infringe civil liberties; and
that it operates effectively and efficiently;
that the responsible Minister be fully informed by the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation with respect to any matter, other than the contents of files relating to particular individuals, on which he has sought information and advice;
that the Leader of the Opposition be fully and regularly briefed on all aspects of the operation of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, including the exercise of its Special Powers under Pan III, Division 2 of the Bill;
the proper financial accountability of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, including the auditing of its accounts by the Auditor-General, as recommended by the Hope Report;
the redefinition of the concept of ‘security’, and in particular the element of ‘subversion’, in order to narrow its scope and limit the possibility of its misapplication;
the restricting of the circumstances in which, and the times for which, warrants may be issued under Part III, Division 2 of the Bill;
that communication by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to State authorities of security assessments information in relation to individuals be made only upon condition of adoption by such State of a Security Appeals system similar to that created by Part IV of the present Bill;
that the Security Appeals system be given retrospective operation as recommended in the Hope Report;
that no person be denied notification of the existence of an adverse Security assessment made about that person; and
that the communication of information purporting to identify an Australian Security Intelligence Organisation employee or agent be penalised only when such information would endanger the safety of such person or itself be seriously prej udicial to security ‘ ‘.
– When the debate was interrupted last night, I had made reference to the use by conservative governments over nearly a quarter of a century of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization as a political arm of the government. For many years, particularly in the 1950s, during the McCarthyism era, the nation was, as it were, in a state of paranoia over the whispered word ‘communism’. We heard such infamous and, I suppose one would now have to say, rather epic phrases as the downward thrust of Chinese communist aggression, the domino theory and movements of troops from Indonesia and other places. As I have said, for political reasons the conservative Government at the time adopted the McCarthyist tactic of sneer, and anyone who dared speak against the Government or the policies of the Government seemed to have his name recorded and placed on file. It appeared to us at the time that either the Government was expecting the Australian Security Intelligence Organization actively to support it as an arm of government or ASIO felt that it was its responsibility to engage in the political life or the political espionage of this country and to take the names of anyone who dared make utterances of any kind against the government of the day.
To give some indication of the farce of it all, let me cite from page 545 of the fifth edition of Odgers’ Australian Senate Practice. In 1953 there was a sitting of the Public Accounts Committee, a joint committee of the Parliament, chaired by Professor Bland. It was functioning under the Public Accounts Committee Act of this Parliament. A question of security came before the Committee and advice was sought on the attitude of the Government to calling security officers before the Public Accounts Committee to give evidence. On page 545 of Odgers is set out a letter that was written by the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, to Professor Bland on 19 November 1953. 1 will not read the whole of the letter, but the first paragraph reads:
I must apologise for this long delay in replying to your letter of 28 January on the subject of ‘security ‘ in relation to the activities of the Public Accounts Committee.
The Professor, as Chairman of the Committee, wrote to the Prime Minister on 28 January. It was such an urgent matter that the Prime Minister replied on 19 November. The letter continues:
As you know, I arranged to have some inquiries made about the practice in the United Kingdom, and the information I requested did not come to hand until I had left myself for overseas.
Then there is a long dissertation of two or three pages as to the practice that existed in the United Kingdom at that time of calling security witnesses before committees of the House of Commons. The there is a dissertation on the question of privilege. Finally the then Prime Minister made these suggestions:
Bearing in mind the practice in the United Kingdom and the provisions of our own Public Accounts Committee Act, I think a procedure along these lines might well prove to be a useful beginning:
A witness may, at his discretion, and as provided in the Act, request that the evidence be taken in camera. He should also be permitted to request that it should not be recorded;
Should an official witness be asked a question on a classified matter which it would in his opinion be contrary to the public interest to answer, he should be entitled to consult his Minister on the matter, or refuse to answer at his discretion; (iti) Should the Committee regard the question of the line of inquiry being pursued as important for its purposes, the Chairman should arrange to discuss the matter with an appropriate Minister. The object of the discussion would be to arrange a method of making available to the Committee such information as is requisite for its purposes without endangering the security of classified information;
There may be circumstances in which a Minister will be obliged to refuse information or instruct his officers to refuse information. A Minister should not refuse except after having considered the issues carefully in the light of the principles referred to above;
This is the incredible one:
That suggestion was made although, as I understand it, Hansard reporters of this Parliament are subject to the provisions of the Public Service Act and the regulations thereto. I would have thought that especially in 1953 any appointments to the staff of Hansard would have been the subject of the normal security provisions. But that was the attitude of the Government in 1953 to security in its dealings with the Australian Parliament. Compare that with what happened in 1973, when a select committee to inquire into the civil rights of migrant Australians was established by a combined vote of Liberal Party senators, Country Party senators and Democratic Labor Party senators. The Labor Government appointed some of its members in the Senate to sit on that committee. A request was made by the majority of the members of the committee to have the Director-General of Security called before the committee. As I understand it, the Labor Government of the day agreed to that and the Director-General came before the committee and gave evidence.
The Labor movement has always been consistent in its attitude to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. We have always believed that the eleven matters set out in our amendment should be part and parcel of the terms and conditions under which ASIO operates. As I was about to say last night when the Senate adjourned, the Labor Government came into office in 1972, and the Labor ministry was sworn in that year. On 21 December 1972, two days after being sworn in as Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, the then Senator Murphy issued a Press statement which is headed ASIO- Implementation of Government Policy’. For historical purposes I now read the whole of that Press statement into the record:
Within a few hours of being sworn in as Attorney-General last Tuesday, Senator Murphy discussed with the DirectorGeneral of Security, Mr Barbour, the implementation of measures relating to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization which were adopted at the last ALP Federal Conference in Launceston and will now become Government policy.
The Director-General will keep the Attorney-General informed on the working of the Organization so that he can make an annual report to Parliament.
I emphasise the words ‘so that he’, that is, the Attorney-General, ‘can make an annual report to
Parliament’. This is something that we now request in our amendments. The Press statement continues:
Details have not yet been worked out but the DirectorGeneral will maintain close contact with the AttorneyGeneral on matters coming to public or Parliamentary attention so that the Attorney-General can effectively exercise his responsibility to Parliament in respect of ASIO.
The Attorney-General also asked the Director-General to consult with him and with officers of the Attorney-General’s Department on the preparation of Federal legislation prohibiting the use of devices for the invasion of privacy except for authorised purposes in the interests of national security. It has not yet been decided whether exceptions will be included for other purposes such as major crime.
Mr Barbour is already working out with Mr C. W. Harders, Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, guidelines for the introduction of a system which will enable appeals to be made against administrative decisions based on security grounds. Mr Barbour has had this matter under review for some time and has been studying the procedures already in use in other countries such as Britain, the United States and New Zealand.
Another matter from the ALP platform discussed by the Attorney-General with Mr Barbour was the development of regulations governing the conduct of ASIO activities. The Attorney-General is anxious to find means by which he can satisfy himself, the public and Parliament that ASIO is adhering strictly to its charter and Mr Barbour is understood to be drafting for him an explanation of the regulations and procedures under which his officers perform the functions prescribed by the ASIO Act. Mr Barbour is understood to welcome these measures as a means of rebutting criticisms and allegations which have been directed against ASIO in the past.
I repeat that that statement was issued by Senator Murphy two days after he became Attorney-General in the Labor Government. The matters that he enunciated in that Press statement are matters that are now embodied in the terms of the amendment before the Senate. Last night I referred to comments that have been made over the years by our political opponents and by others about the ‘raid’ by Senator Murphy and his officers on the headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. In confirmation of the remarks I made last night that it was done to give protection to the visit to Australia that was pending of the then Prime Minister of Yugoslavia. I refer to a Press statement issued by Senator Murphy on 16 March 1973, which reads:
Today I paid two visits to the offices of ASIO- one to the Headquarters in Canberra and later to the National Headquarters in Melbourne. Al the Melbourne Headquarters 1 conferred with Mr Barbour, the Director-General, and senior officers and addressed ASIO staff. I was accompanied by Commonwealth Police Officers involved in investigations of Croation terrorist activities in this country. I inspected certain files. Measures have been taken for the safety of the forthcoming visit by the Yugoslav Prime Minister.
The Press statement continues:
I have been assured by those responsible that all necessary precautions have been taken for the safety of him and his party. I have directed maximum co-operation between law enforcement and security bodies. The most stringent security measures are necessary for the Prime Minister’s safety because of the existence in our midst of Croation revolutionary terrorist organisations. These were tolerated by the previous Government which even denied their existence. I want to make it clear that terrorist activities will no longer be tolerated in Australia. The Government is determined to stamp out terrorism.
To the Labor Government’s credit, from 1973 to 1975 there was not one act of terrorism on the part of any extremists, be they of the extreme right wing or the extreme left wing, throughout the whole of this country. What has been the situation since the Fraser Government has been in office? Paramilitary activities have been engaged in on the South Coast of New South Wales and the New South Wales Police Force has been engaging in activities to catch people making bombs in Lithgow, to catch people who had plans to blow up the Sydney water supply and to catch people who were stopping people attending a theatre in Newtown, one of the suburbs of Sydney. I suggest that the activities of the Labor Government concerning security and the protection of the civil liberties and rights of the ordinary citizens of Australia were second to none.
I come now to the events of 1974. The then Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, made a statement on 21 August 1974 in which he announced that the Governor-General, on the advice of the Executive Council, had appointed Mr Justice Hope of the Supreme Court of New South Wales as a royal commissioner to inquire into Australia’s security and intelligence services. The then Prime Minister recalled that in his policy speech of 29 April 1974 he had given an undertaking that the Government would, if returned, appoint a judicial inquiry into the structure of the Australian security services, and the methods of reviewing decisions adversely affecting citizens or migrants and he said that the commission given to Mr Justice Hope would fulfil both parts of his election promise. The royal commission that was effectively conducted and reported upon by Mr Justice Hope was set up as a result of the policies of the Labor Party and in accordance with the decisions taken by the Labor Cabinet. It is as a result of the recommendations of that royal commission that this Bill is now before the Parliament. As I said last night, but for the actions of the Labor Government this Bill would not now be before the Senate.
Last night I referred to an article in the Canberra Times of 10 June 1968. It is worth reiterating some of those remarks. It states:
As long ago as 1968 the Canberra Times was suggesting that the Australian Security Intelligence Organization should be subject to a searching judicial inquiry. That, as I have indicated, was carried out by the Labor Government. At the end of the article- I remind honourable senators that this was as long ago as 11 years- it was stated:
In the interim there is one action the Government can take to demonstrate that it is aware of the disquiet surrounding ASIO: Make the organisation responsible to a joint Committee of the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and the Leader of the Opposition, a proposal that was revived on this page last week by Professor Geoffrey Sawer. Parliament ought to insist on this change at the very least. As last week’s events implied . . .
Referring to the bugging of the telephone of Dr Cairns -
This Bill does not comply with the general principles of democracy or democratic government. It does not comply with the provision of ensuring the protection of the civil liberties and political freedoms of the Australian people. It does not comply with the provision of public accountability. It does not comply with a provision for there to be an annual report to this Parliament. Because it is deficient in so many respects including the 1 1 points we have set out in the Opposition ‘s amendment, I suggest that the Senate should support the amendment and demand the withdrawal of the Bill and the redrafting of it to provide for the protection of the civil liberties of the Australian people and the right of parliament to be informed.
– Four Bills are being dealt with at once in this debate, but I will concentrate my remarks on the parent Bill, that is, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Bill. I have listened intently throughout this long debate to the various arguments that have been put. It has been a most interesting debate because so far everyone seems to be in agreement on the basic points. Everyone seems to agree that there is need for a sound and efficient intelligence agency in Australia. Everyone seems to regret the necessity for such an agency to breach civil liberties or human rights. Everyone is of the opinion that we should minimise as much as possible the intrusion into civil rights of this agency in its operations. Of course, the difference of opinion comes about in the Government’s claims that every care has been taken in the Bill for the protection of civil liberties, whereas the Opposition says that it has not and that it should be redrafted in accordance with the 1 1 items it has listed for the purpose of making sure that it protects civil liberties.
Despite all I have heard, I am still not convinced that there is justification for the existence of an intelligence organisation in Australia. It could well be that because of a personal experience with security I am prejudiced against security operations but I am supported by the knowledge that the countries with the greatest security organisations are the countries where more dangerous acts of terrorism occur. That may be a case of which comes first, the chicken or the egg; I do not know. The Central Intelligence Agency in the United States of America is a great security organisation but one cannot walk down the streets of New York at night. There was no protection for America with the assassination of a President and a candidate for President and the injuring of another candidate for President. The Shah of Iran must have felt very safe with the huge security force he had in that country. Idi Amin must feel safe today with the security force he has in his country. Such are the countries with security forces.
I congratulate Senator Primmer on his address. I took heart when he said that there is no need for security if we have a pure democracy. I think that theory is worth examining. It has been said that because of the restrictions on democracy in Australia there will be a greater number of acts of terrorism and mob violence. Professor Manning Clark, after the 1975 debacle, said that Australians could well desert the ballot box and take to the streets. I think we are nearing the time when, with the restrictions on freedom and liberty in Queensland, there shall be greater violence in that State than we have experienced in other States of Australia. Senator Harradine justified the need for an intelligence organisation by giving the examples of the Hilton bombing and the attack on Aldo Moro in Italy. I could not think of two worse examples for the justification of a security force. The Hilton bombing occurred when the heads of state of all the nearby islands were staying at the hotel, surrounded by the greatest security force Australia has amassed for the purpose of their protection. Two bombs were planted in the dustbins at the front door, under the nose of security. As there was no known detonator attached to the bombs, it is reasonable to assume that they were not intended to explode. Those who planted the bombs would have expected that the big security force would have discovered them at some time. That incident was a demonstration that security was no protection for those in the hotel. Those who planted the explosives had not recognised the possibility of a garbage truck collecting the garbage and subjecting the bombs to the compression which caused them to explode and kill two workmen. Had there not been security at the Hilton Hotel no bombs would have been planted. The bombs were not planted for the purpose of destruction. They were planted for the purpose of a demonstration of the capabilities of the security force and the support afforded by it.
In the case of Aldo Moro, he was on his way to his office with five security guards who were machine-gunned down. That was an act of the Red Brigade of Italy. Terrorism is a state of mind. When there is a state of mind, especially on the part of an organisation, to commit an act of terrorism- to abduct and to murder someone- if the organisation is perfect it perpetrates the crime.
If the security guards put up a defence it makes the situation more difficult when there is that state of mind. The organisation then has to increase its capabilities and improve its methods of destruction. Aldo Moro was protected by security guards. He was the vicitim of a plot to abduct and eventually kill him, which succeeded. It was necessary for five men to lose their lives because of the security in Italy at that time, when at all times the target was only one person. I think it was Superintendent Jack Fletcher who spoke last week at the forensic science symposium in Adelaide. He led the symposium. He told of the terrors which Australia has to face and which are spreading throughout the world at present. He said that we shall have more of them in the future. He referred to the Rand committee’s investigation of terrorist plots. That committee assessed that 79 per cent of such plots are successful. That is an alarming statistic when we realise that organisations exist which are plotting destruction.
Senator Puplick, who amazes everyone with his abundant vocabulary and his knowledge of ancient history, tried to justify the need for a security force by quoting Lord Denning. He said that we can only justify this in the light of the need for protection of the realm. He says that that justifies a breach of civil liberties. In Senator Puplick ‘s mind protection of the realm justifies the breaking and entering of premises for the purpose of the planting of bugging devices, listening devices; it justifies the opening of mail, searching through drawers and folders, phone tapping and all the other ‘ spy on your neighbour ‘ actions. Yet he does not support the amendment. He supports the Government’s Bill and suggests the addition of a clause to the effect that where as a result of the tapping, as a result of these activities of the security service a breach of Commonwealth or State law is discovered which is of a severity that would carry three years imprisonment, it is the responsibility of the authority to report that breach to the State or Commonwealth authorities.
Senator Walters tries to justify this view by saying: ‘Yes, if ASIO discovers a case of murder or manslaughter it will report it’. The perusal of documents, the breaking and entering into offices in breach of laws other than security laws that will be discovered will mainly involve companies subject to corporate law. While we seek to justify giving these powers to an organisation in the name of security, we are doing far more than just providing security. We are setting up a police force to detect breaches of laws other than security laws.
We condemn ASIO because either it did not do its job or else it exceeded its job. It is said that ASIO was established for the purpose of the protection and security of Australia. It was not. It was established for the protection of American armaments. We are fortunate in that Sir Winston Churchill made a statement in the House of Commons in April 1954 which exposed all the ramifications of the building of the atomic bomb. A booklet has been published entitled ‘Atom Harvest’. It was written by Leonard Bertin. I believe it is available in the Parliamentary Library. The author points out that when Germany overran France many French scientists went to England. Those scientists were working, on atomic energy. Halban and Kowarski set up the Cavendish laboratory at Cambridge as a pilot study on atomic energy. The project on uranium energy was continued and a fullscale plant was established in Canada, under the directorate of Tube Alloys. This is important because over the years there have been a lot of questions in this Senate as to Australia’s real implication in the Tube Alloys agreement. Those questions were asked so that we might discover whether Australia was party to the Quebec agreement which, we find, is the Tube Alloys agreement.
After Pearl Harbour, Vannevar Bush urged the transfer of all activities to Canada. On 13 August 1942 the Manhattan Project was born, with all the ramifications of atomic operations. The review on ‘Atomic Harvest ‘ states:
After the war -
The Second World War- . . Congress, grossly misled by the Executive Department as to the nature of the British contribution and the Anglo-American agreements, passed legislation which forbade the transfer of atomic energy data to any foreign country.
In the early summer of 1943 Stimson and Churchill discussed the atomic energy impasse. Stimson took the position that the British pressure to obtain information was economically motivated, and that ‘the Americans could not see the fun of spending billions of dollars to find out things for someone else to use in a competitive postwar world’. At least this put the cards on the table. The British were deeply concerned, but further discussion was postponed until after the heads of state met in Quebec a month later. There an agreement provided for the setting up of a Combined Policy Committee ‘to keep all sections of the project under constant review’ and for a complete interchange of information and ideas on all sections of the project between members of the Policy Committee and their immediate technical advisers.
That was the Quebec agreement, which was signed by Canada, America and Great Britain. Australia sought to become a member of the agreement as it had the scientists, the uranium and an interest in uranium use. America was not prepared to accept Australia as a party to the agreement as America had secrets which were worth millions of dollars and Australia did not have the security to guarantee the secrecy of the discoveries that were made about the use of uranium. The Quebec agreement was signed in August 1943. In 1949 Prime Minister Chifley set up the security organisation under Mr Justice Reed for the purpose of giving Australia the security that would permit it to become a party to that agreement. A security organisation was established so Australia could not be a party to exposing or revealing American atomic secrets when it received them.
Everyone had the greatest confidence in Mr Justice Reed but the first occasion on which I know of the security Act being imposed happened to involve myself. I had no atomic secrets that I could expose to anyone. Under the Labor Government’s Defence Force Projects Act, no one could go onto defence projects without permission and a security clearance. The Government decided to build the township and the bombing range at Woomera, South Australia. Construction workers went on the job. At the time I was a young, ambitious secretary of one of the construction unions. I received correspondence daily about the poor conditions- the poor food, the lack of sanitation- and the long hours the men were working for nothing more than the city wage plus keep. Woomera was built under the worst building conditions of any construction work in South Australia. After having seen it I can say that without contradiction.
Not being a radical who wanted to pull all the workers off the job, we called a conference of all building trade unions to see what could be done. It was attended by the Building Trades Federation of Victoria, which took a leading part, the Building Trade Union of South Australia and all federal building trade unions. Our decision was to go to the Arbitration court and try to get an award to improve the conditions. Was this revolutionary? We went before Commissioner Portus with the application for the purpose of arbitrating the men’s claim about the conditions at Woomera. Commissioner Portus decided to inspect the site. He told all advocates before the Court that they had to get security clearances to go to the site. As the Building Trades Federation of Victoria had carried a resolution at some time that it should ban the construction of the Woomera Rocket Range and as I, a poor, innocent secretary in South Australia, expressed support for the resolution, no Victorian building trade union official, or I, was permitted to go to Woomera. This was a case before arbitration when the main advocates for the men on the job were debarred by the security organisation from going to the site for an inspection to decide a site allowance.
This security organisation was not approved of by the public. I stood for the Senate election in 1961; I was chosen as number three on our Senate ballot paper. During that campaign the time of the House of Representatives was taken up each night with a debate on the undesirability of having in the Parliament Cavanagh, who could not get a security clearance from a Labor government, Cohen from Victoria, who it was alleged was a communist, Dr Poulter from Queensland, and a seaman named Arnell, who it was alleged was a communist. Cavanagh was not a communist; he was only a security risk. But every morning the front pages of the Adelaide newspapers had this sort of headline: ‘Cavanagh a security risk- Labor Senate candidate ‘. Despite the fact that we had four undesirable candidates who would corrupt the Commonwealth Parliament if they were elected, in the electorate of Moreton in Brisbane the Labor Party lost by only 14 votes after the distribution of the Communist Party preferences and Killen the magnificent was returned.
– Communist preferences?
-After the distribution of communist preferences. Cavanagh in South Australia, for the first time in any State in the Commonwealth, was elected from third position on the ticket without an elimination of candidates on the basis of preferences. Cavanagh in
South Australia, who was third on the ticket, got a greater proportion of first preference votes than did any other candidate in third position on a ticket until Nancy Buttfield campaigned for the women’s votes. The informal vote, which had been 10 to 12 per cent, in this case went down to 3 per cent. Many people in the electorate who deliberately vote informally would not stand for the injustice that was done on that occasion. This security risk, by the irony of fate, subsequently got a position in the Labor Government as Minister for Works, where he supervised every military establishment we built. We built dockyards, military buildings and defence buildings, despite the fact that the Department was headed by someone who could not get a security clearance.
– And was the head of the police.
– I will come to that. I do not know that any of the plans have turned up yet in the Soviet Union or any other country that opposes us. I have not heard of that. To add insult to injury, the police force that polices the defence establishment was headed by this security risk to Australia. Only last Christmas at a breakup party one of the Government senators said to me: ‘I came into this place hating you because of the publicity you got about Woomera. I was not here a fortnight before I appreciated your capabilities. Knowing you, I like you ‘.
– You are the only one who gets a salute at Adelaide Airport.
– Yes, but the honourable senator to whom I am referring did not salute me. Nevertheless, he had a liking for me. However, there are many thousands of others with his convictions and his prejudices who hate Cavanagh because although they have never met him, they know about his security record. That is the damage that has been done, and possibly I will carry that all my life. When I was in Western Australia a policeman who acts as a security agent said to me: ‘There is one thing I hate about this job. When you want to get a report on someone up north you ring up the local police station and tell the police there to get a report on the fellow. The local policeman is not capable of making a security assessment. He may dislike a man because he sees him in the hotel bar or because he talks red; so he puts in a report saying that in his belief the man is a Com’. A decent-living fellow could be barred for life from promotion in the government service or in industry generally when that is known.
During the anti- Vietnamese demonstrations I took part in many processions in Adelaide. On one occasion a lad in front of me was arrested in King William Street, but at the time he was arrested he had not done a thing. There was some mistake. A policeman was pushed and he turned around and hit the wrong fellow. The police dived on this lad, put him in the paddy wagon and took him off. I went to give evidence for the defendant in this case- not the same sort of defendant as in the case referred to last night by Senator Rocher. During my cross-examination I was shown a number of photographs of various sections of the procession, including one of this individual in a menacing mood and with a baton in his hand. I was asked: ‘Is that the defendant? Do you recognise the defendant?’ I said: ‘Yes, that is him’. On the evidence produced, the magistrate had no alternative but to find the lad guilty of assaulting a policeman. He may have assaulted the policeman a dozen times, for all I know, but at the time he was arrested he was not doing that. I was a witness. I asked where the photographs came from and I was told that they were ASIO photographs taken at the start of the procession. When this person was asked where the stick in his hand had come from, he said: ‘I was carrying a banner and it broke and I carried the stick along’. That is what ASIO did in order to bring about a confrontation at what was intended to be a peaceful demonstration. Under this legislation, even that sort of thing will become a breach of the Act if it comes within the definition of domestic terrorism. To those who advocate that I say that in future demonstrators in street marches in Queensland could well become victims of this legislation.
To my mind, the penalties relating to security far exceed the benefits. As I said in my opening remarks, penalties do not provide protection against acts of terrorism; nor do they provide protection for those supplying to the Government information that is necessary for the proper defence and protection of the country. I am indebted to the Alert Service of the Parliamentary Library for providing me with an extract from the Listener of 19 October 1978. An article by Harry Howe Ransom entitled ‘CIA: a modern Frankenstein’ points out:
But remember some of the monumental failures: The first nuclear bomb test by the USSR in 1 949. was unexpected; the North Korean attack across the 38th parallel, in June 1 9S0, was a surprise, as was the later Chinese communist intervention; and the Bay of Pigs expedition by the CIA against Cuba in 1961 was an intelligence failure, in both senses of the word. In 1968, American intelligence ‘lost’ the Soviet army in Central Europe for two weeks, and President Johnson learned that Russian tanks had invaded Czechoslovakia, not from the CIA, but from the Soviet ambassador in Washington. In the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, there was a real test of the system; here all the best technology and human skills had been focused on a known trouble-spot,
American intelligence failed, and the war came as a surprise to an unprepared Washington.
So why are we giving up our civil rights, about which everyone seems to be concerned? It is for the purpose of having something to say to fool the people. As I said, terrorism is a state of mind. We have a sick society. We are doing insufficient to remedy the sickness. Instead, we are seeking scapegoats to justify our claim that we are doing something about the matter. If the Central Intelligence Agency was a failure in America, what have its activities in Australia been? On 29 April 1977 Christopher Boyce was convicted on eight counts of gathering and supplying information to the Russians. Boyce had been employed as a security clerk at TRW in Los Angeles. He testified at his trial that he became a spy for the Russians because he was outraged at the CIA activities against the Whitlam Government in 1974 and 1975. Boyce said that he was told of CIA activities and of infiltration of Australian unions at a special briefing at TRW. He also learnt of the ‘practice of deception in our transmission to the Australians’ from communications messages which moved in and out of the code room at TRW, where he worked.
Victor Marchetti, a former CIA agent who resigned in 1969, was introduced to the intelligence business in 1952 while serving with the United States Army in Germany. Among the statements he made in his testimony he claimed that Australia kept a liaison man at the CIA headquarters and that information was exchanged between Australia and the CIA. He confirmed that the CIA was operating in Australia. He said that one of its functions would be to make sure that the Australian Security Intelligence Agency had not been penetrated by the Russians. Of the numerous CIA allegations Marchetti made from information he received from one Stallings, who was mentioned in the last elections, and Boyce and from his personal experience, the main ones are as follows: The installation of a super bug at Pine Gap which can monitor any telephone and telex messages in or out of Australia; the funding of the LiberalNational Country Party by the CIA since 1967; that Australia’s intelligence agencies knew of CIA activities in Australia; interference in Australia’s unions by the CIA; and CIA deception of Australia over the Pine Gap defence base. There we have the sorry story.
In my time I have been a member of many organisations with which CIA agents have been involved. Eventually these agents were found out and they admitted their involvement with security. On every occasion that an organisation was studied for subversion, it was found that that organisation got more work out of the CIA agents than from anyone else. The CIA agents were always more militant, always wanted to do things which were unlawful and always were prepared to work. I was a member of an anticonscription movement in which a CIA agent was a member. That CIA agent worked for the South Australian Government Tourist Bureau and used to post out a lot of letters using the Tourist Bureau’s stamps rather than have the struggling movement pay for them. He had that job with the movement because he wanted to know the names of every member of the movement when the raids took place.
A Mrs Chambers worked for the Communist Party Peace Movement for 10 years. She worked for the Communist Party typing night and day, at all hours, and did more to boost and to increase the membership of the Communist Party Peace Movement in South Australia than anyone else. It was then disclosed that she came from the secretariat of the Liberal Party of Australia and was paid by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. Her purpose was to spy on the Communist Party.
Sitting suspended from 6. 1 to 8 p.m.
General Business taking precedence of Government Business after 8 p.m.
The purpose of the motion is to seek the Senate’s concurrence with the intention of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee to modify the four principles which it adopts in its scrutiny of delegated legislation. Standing Order 36a refers to the Committee regulations and ordinances laid before the Senate, but does not provide the Committee with any criteria which it is to adopt in its scrutiny of the legislation referred to it. Since 1932 the Committee has adopted the following principles in its scrutiny of delegated legislation:
The Committee scrutinises regulations and ordinances to ascertain:
These principles were reported to the Senate and that report was adopted by the Senate so as to give the Committee the Senate’s concurrence with the four principles. The Committee has now reported that it has modified two of these principles to take account of certain historical developments.
Principle (c) has been revised to take account of the growth of the system of review of administrative decisions. The Committee has adopted the practice of not objecting to administrative decisions affecting the rights and liberties of citizens if there are adequate means for the review of the merits of those decisions by an independent tribunal. In 1 932 the system of review of administrative decisions by independent administrative tribunals, as distinct from the courts, had not been developed to any great extent, and it was therefore appropriate for the Committee to insist upon ‘judicial decisions’ on matters affecting important rights of the citizen. The development of a system of administrative review, and particularly the establishment in 1 975 of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, means that it is now appropriate for the Committee to revise this principle to reflect its current practice.
Principle (d) has also been revised to remove the references to delegated legislation being restricted to ‘administrative detail’ and not being permitted to contain ‘substantative legislation’. The Committee considers that this principle was difficult to enforce strictly even in 1932 and is impossible to enforce strictly at present when there are so many Acts of the Parliament which leave substantive matters to be dealt with by delegated legislation. The revised principle will simply require the Committee to exercise a judgment whether particular pieces of delegated legislation are more appropriate for parliamentary enactment, and it will be for the Parliament to accept or reject any such judgment. The report of the Committee expresses the Committee’s intention to adopt some criteria in applying this principle.
The four principles, as revised, are as follows:
The Committee scrutinises delegated legislation to ensure:
There are two other matters in the report which I ought to draw to the attention of the Senate. First, the Committee now intends to apply the revised principle (d) to ordinances of the Australian Capital Territory. In 1976 the Committee reported that it had decided not to apply that principle, as it then stood, to ordinances of the Australian Capital Territory, and the Senate concurred with that decision. The decision was based upon the belief that the Australian Capital Territory was heading towards self-government, and upon the obvious inappropriateness of applying the principle as it then stood to Australian Capital Territory ordinances. Now that the electors of the Australian Capital Territory have rejected self-government, and the laws of the Territory are to continue to be made by the Executive government, the Committee considers that it is wholly appropriate that principle (d), as revised, should be applied to Australian Capital Territory ordinances.
I draw attention to a matter that is referred to on page 4 of the Committee ‘s report. In regard to ordinances of the Austraiian Capital Territory, the Committee will have regard to some criteria, perhaps taking as a possible guide the kind of criteria suggested by the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs in its report upon the Evidence (Australian Capital Territory) Bill 1 972, for determining whether the laws of the Territory ought to be made by ordinance or by Act of the Parliament. These criteria will need to evolve in the course of the Committee ‘s consideration of ordinances of the Territory in the future. The Committee intends as a matter of course, when it proposes to apply principle (d) to Australian Capital Territory ordinances, to notify and seek a reaction from both the Legislative Assembly and the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. The Committee does not envisage that many ordinances of the Territory will be reported to the Senate on the basis of principle (d), and it must be emphasised that it is for the Parliament to determine whether a particular law of the Territory should take the form of a statute rather than an ordinance.
Secondly, in the statement of the Committee’s principles, as revised, the expression ‘delegated legislation ‘ has been used instead of ‘regulations and ordinances’. The reason for this is that the Committee has made a practice over a number of years of scrutinising all instruments which are subject to disallowance and which are legislative in character. This includes not only regulations and ordinances properly so called, but also rules of court, by-laws and the like. Neither the Senate nor the Government has objected to this practice. In a previous report the Committee recommended that Standing Order 36a be amended to take account of this practice, and I understand that the Standing Orders Committee has agreed to this proposal. The adoption of this report of the Committee will, therefore, give the Senate’s support to the present practices of the Committee, and I commend the motion to the Senate.
– It is a matter of some consequence when the Senate ‘s best known and longest established major committee changes the guidelines within which it has operated for the last 47 years. Indeed, it is a measure of just how well those guidelines have served the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, and through it this Parliament, that it is only now, nearly half a century after the Committee’s founding that it has been found necessary and desirable to make certain modifications in those principles. Certainly it has not been without a good deal of thought that the Committee has adopted the changes which are now reported to the Senate. They have been made not as a matter of passing whim or fancy but because the Committee has believed that it is necessary and desirable that our principles or criteria of operation should reflect a number of recent and quite substantial changes in administrative law and practice which have, as Senator Missen said, quite significantly affected the way we go about our task of scrutinising delegated legislation on behalf of the Parliament.
There are in fact three significant changes of language in the principles of the Committee which are recommended in this report. The first of them is to change the description of what it is the Committee scrutinises from ‘regulations and ordinances’ to the more general description of delegated legislation’. As Senator Missen said, this change simply reflects what has been for very many years the reality. The Committee has not confined its attention to regulations and ordinances properly so-called but has dealt with all executive instruments of a legislative character, or at least with those of them which are subject to parliamentary disallowance or disapproval. In this extended class, for example, are such things as by-laws made under the Telecommunications Act, the Postal Services Act and the Australian National Railways Act, rules of court made under the various bits of legislation establishing the different arms of the federal judiciary, and also certain ministerial orders of a legislative character. Although it might be a matter of some nicety to determine in a particular case whether a particular instrument is of a legislative character, particularly when one is talking about ministerial orders, I do not imagine that there will be any dissent from the proposition that the committee, on behalf of the Parliament, ought to be looking at this whole wider range of statutory instruments to which I have referred.
The second change in language that is contained in our report relates to criterion or principle (c) which the Committee has applied. The original formulation of this criterion is that the regulations and ordinances in question do not unduly make the rights and liberties of citizens dependent upon administrative rather than upon judicial decisions. The proposed new criterion (c) is that delegated legislation does not unduly make the rights and liberties of citizens dependent upon administrative decisions which are not subject to review of their merits by a judicial or other independent tribunal. This reflects more than anything else the fundamental changes in administrative law which have come about in recent years as a result of the energies of both the Whitlam Government and its successors in this area.
When the Committee was first established back in the early 1930s, and indeed for many years thereafter, there was just no systematic machinery for citizens to turn to when they were aggrieved by the exercise of an administrative discretion. There was no Administrative Appeals Tribunal; there was no network of specialist tribunals in the social security area or anywhere else. The only remedy was the courts, either through the uncertain and complex route of the prerogative writs in situations when the Administrator had acted either beyond or in excess of his jurisdiction or in breach of the rules of natural justice, or through specific court remedies created by the particular enabling legislation. Given that situation, the Committee as a result was always anxious, in years gone by, to ensure that whenever the rights and liberties of the subject were in any significant way affected by administrative decisions there was a clear line of judicial redress, or at least a requirement in the delegated legislation that the decision in question be based, so far as possible, on an objectively ascertainable and, therefore, testable matter of fact rather than simply on matters of administrative opinion.
Of course, now the situation has changed quite rapidly, not only with the creation of specialist tribunals such as the Social Security Appeals Tribunals, for one, but also with the enactment of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 and the supporting array of legislation, in particular the Ombudsman Act 1976 and the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act of 1 977, which, at least when they all come into full operation, will create a situation of real revolution in our administrative law. Perhaps I should interpolate at this point that it is certainly a matter of concern to me- I think that goes for the other members of the Committee- that the jurisidiction of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal still remains extremely limited and narrow in scope. Further, it remains a matter of acute concern that the Administrative Decision (Judicial Review) Act has not yet been proclaimed into operation. One recognises the various administrative difficulties that have been associated with getting this machinery into full swing. One recognises also the work that the Administrative Review Council has been doing on a part-time basis over many months to resolve those difficulties. Nonetheless, it is still, I think, fair to say that the Government is running out of plausible excuses in this respect and it can expect to come in for some fairly heavy criticism if significant developments do not start happening within the next two to three months.
For present purposes the point remains that significant changes have occurred already, and will continue to occur, in this area. Those changes have altered the focus of the Committee’s concern- and this Parliament’s concern, one would hope- away from simply the question of the availability of court remedies towards a situation where what really matters is that there is available not just necessarily a court mechanism but also some mechanism, not necessarily of a court kind, as I say, but quite possibly of an administrative review kind or a quasi-judicial kind, which will ensure that there is some form of review, some avenue of redress, which an aggrieved citizen can pursue. This change in focus is now reflected in the language that we propose to the Senate tonight, where the emphasis is not simply on the availability of judicial remedies but the availability of some avenue of review of decisions on their merits by either a judicial or some other independent tribunal.
The third and last of the changes contained in this report concerns the operation of criterion or principle (d) applied by the Committee which, in its original form, which has prevailed for the last nearly half a century, has been expressed as follows: That the legislation is concerned with administrative detail and does not amount to substantive legislation which should be a matter for parliamentary enactment. It is now proposed to change that so that the criterion simply reads that it does not contain matter more appropriate for parliamentary enactment. As Senator Missen says, and as is spelt out in the report, for many years there has been real difficulty in giving criterion (d) literal application. As the business of government has become more and more complex and extensive, so too has it been necessary, if the system is to work at all, for more and more matters to be dealt with only in outline in statute, with a great deal, including much of really substantial importance, being left to delegated legislation.
This question has arisen particularly in the context of territorial ordinances. In 1976, in the 55th report to this Parliament of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordiances, the Committee grasped the nettle, as it thought, of territorial ordinances and decided that this fourth criterion should not be applied at all in respect of Australian Capital Territory ordinances, the notion being, in other words, that the Committee would no longer scrutinise ordinances by reference to the criterion of whether they contained substantive material rather than simply matters of detail and as a result ought to be the subject of parliamentary enactment. This 1976 decision was intended to reflect, in one respect, the obvious reality that had been the case for many years past- that Australian Capital Territory ordinances did not pretend by and large to be anything else but pieces of substantial legislation, the territorial equivalent in fact of State legislation. Also, that decision reflected to some extent, as Senator Missen said, the feeling that I think the Committee then certainly had that the Australian Capital Territory, as is the case with the Northern Territory, was well on the way to real self-government; that the time was not far distant when there would be a legislative assembly with not just advisory functions but real legislative functions and that it would, as a result, be less and less proper for Parliament to interfere in any way with the legislative processes in those territories.
I think it is fair to say that ever since 1976 there has continued to be a good deal of ambiguity in the way that this decision has operated and there has been a good deal of unease among Committee members about the way that this decision has been working out. There has often been a feeling in the Committee, I discern, that really important subject matters of territorial ordinances, matters of sensitivity, difficulty or real significance, ought to be subject to proper debate and indeed enactment by a properly elected legislative body. As Senator Missen also said, that feeling was further reinforced undoubtedly by the result of the recent referendum in the Australian Capital Territory. It indicated that the Australian Capital Territory voters were not especially anxious to develop full local selfgovernment and were happy to go on being governed, for better or for worse, by the Commonwealth Government and Parliament. In the result, the Committee feels that it is appropriate that we should rewrite principle (d) and reserve a general power to scrutinise delegated legislation in general and Australian Capital Territory ordinances in particular, to determine whether under ail the circumstances that piece of delegated legislation or that ordinance ought not to be more appropriately dealt with by parliamentary enactment.
In case there is any misunderstanding about this- I appreciate that there may be some sensitivity on the subject- I shall reiterate points which are clearly set out in the report and to which Senator Missen pointed. It is certainly not our intention that there should be a regular stream of domestic Territory matters coming before this Parliament in the form of ordinary Bills. God forbid that we should have a succession of Australian Capital Territory abortion debates facing us into the hereafter. Equally, it is not our intention as a Committee to ignore from now on the existence of either the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly or, for that matter, the Parliament’s own Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory in making the recommendation to the Parliament on what is or is not appropriate for direct parliamentary attention. Paragraph 9 of the report indicates very clearly the Committee’s intention, whenever it might be minded to recommend disallowance to the Parliament on the ground that the subject matter of the ordinance is more appropriate for enactment, as a matter of course to consult both the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly and the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.
It will be necessary, in applying this principle, to evolve over time detailed criteria by which it is to operate, just as it has been necessary over the years to evolve more detailed criteria for the operation of the existing clauses. I simply trust that as the Committee goes about this task with all the excellent and professional help we get from our secretary, Harry Evans, and our independent legal adviser, Brian Doyle, we will continue to enjoy the confidence of the Senate in the way that the Committee has for so many years past. On that basis I commend the report to the Senate.
– I recommend to the Chairman of the excellent Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances that he send post haste a copy of this report to the Queensland Parliament. It may inspire that State to set up a similar committee based on the sound principles which have been expounded here tonight. I say that very seriously.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
The year 1979 is the International Year of the Child. It is important for us during the course of this year to consider those areas in which there is discrimination against a child not only in this country but also in other parts of the world where there are not laws to protect children in the same way as there are to protect adults. I raise again tonight in the Senate the use of corporal punishment in the Australian education system- a matter which I raised in the Senate about nine years ago and which subsequently I have endeavoured to promote. It is important that the reasons why this action should be taken be placed before the Senate.
As we know, the practice of corporal punishment has been with human society for many centuries; but in more recent years there has been a very marked tendency to remove this form of punishment from the laws not only of our country but also of a great number of other countries. Unfortunately, we are witnessing now, as we have seen in recent Press reports, a return to this form of punishment of adults, particularly in Islamic countries. I am sure that most honourable senators were repelled by an incident, about which we read only a fortnight ago, of the public punishment of a young couple in Iran. This seems to be, in my view, a retrograde step. Nevertheless, it is something of which obviously we will see more, particularly in those countries.
The Declaration of Rights of the Child which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 November 1959 was designed to provide that nations recognise that children as well as adults have rights. We have heard the long debates in this chamber and in other parts of the world on many occasions in recent years and the great indignation about the violation of human rights in various countries. But always those rights are concerned with adults and not, as a rule, with children. There does not appear to me to be, as I will indicate later, the legal protection afforded to children or the groups or individuals prepared to take up this matter. Children, by the very nature of their age and their lack of maturity, are not competent to protect themselves. Therefore, they have to depend on either the sense of justice or the compassion of adults to ensure that they are given the same protection as adults expect and normally obtain. I will not read the Declaration of the United Nations in its entirety. However, I will read some extracts from it. The brochure I have before me states that the child should be:
Protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation; and to be protected from practices which may foster any form of discrimination. Finally, the Declaration emphasises that the child shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood.
The preamble to the Declaration also makes this point:
Whereas the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection . . .
The Declaration also states in its first principle:
The child shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. All children, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights.
That is specifically referring to the issue of corporal punishment. It is quite clear that the Declaration intends to protect the child in at least the same way as the adult would be protected; but we find that in our laws- fortunately this is not the case in the laws of many countries in the Western world- protection is not afforded. In fact, discrimination takes place in all the States and Territories of Australia. I should mention initially, from a survey I have done, that it is remarkable how few Western countries retain this nineteenth century practice. For example, of those countries on which 1 have been able to obtain information, I have found that this practice has been abolished in Norway, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Italy, Austria, Spain and all the eastern European communist countries. It is unofficially forbidden in France. It is forbidden in Japan. In Britain it is apparently quite widely practised, as it is also in the United States; Canada and South Africa. It may not be simply coincidence that the United States has one of the most violent societies of our time. It is interesting to look back as far as 1853, when a justice of the Supreme Court of Indiana said:
The husband can no longer moderately chastise his wife; nor … the master his servant or apprentice. Even the degrading cruelties of the naval service have been arrested. Why the school boy . . . should be less sacred in the eyes of the law than . . . the apprentice or the sailor, is not easily explained.
– What is sacred about school children?
– What is sacred about dissidents in the Soviet Union? Children have the same rights, I would assume, as any other person. For example, the honourable senator would expect the same rights as anybody else under the law to be protected against assault or being struck by me or anybody else. I would have thought that the honourable senator, as a lawyer, would be the first to stand up and defend that principle. But if he cannot understand the implications of what was said by the justice I have quoted that is his problem, not mine.
It is remarkable that no law concerning child cruelty was passed in the British Parliament until the Act of Parliament for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was passed in 1899. That year a society was formed for the prevention of cruelty to children. But 74 years before a society had been formed for the prevention of cruelty to animals. It took the British society that long to recognise that cruelty against children was as important as cruelty against animals.
I come to some of the laws which apply in the States. I will not deal with all of them because, as I have indicated, all of them allow for the practice of corporal punishment. However I think the laws and regulations which apply in one or two States ought to be considered. For instance, in the highly progressive State of South Australia, public corporal punishment is permitted under State law. In New South Wales, another progressive State in these matters, corporal punishment of girls 12 years and over is prohibited, which means that it is specifically provided that a girl of 10 may be corporally punished. Those two States might give some consideration to their regulations.
The National Catholic Education Commission, to which I wrote on this matter, advised me that it had not formulated any policy on corporal punishment in Catholic schools and had not considered any of the details about which I asked. It said:
Discipline in a Catholic school is the responsibility of the Principal and usually guidelines for the direction of Principals are issued from the Catholic Education Office in the capital city of each State.
Time, of course, prevents me from going through all the detailed information I have, but there are sections of it which are relevant to the total case that I wish to put. The information that was sent to me headed ‘Legal Responsibility of School Principals, NSW, states that the principles under which principals operate were clearly set out by Judge Staunton in the 197 1 case of Morris v. Council of Trinity Grammar School. The learned judge said:
The privilege of a teacher to inflict corporal punishment on a pupil is undoubted and the contrary is not asserted by learned counsel for the plaintiff. The basis of this power has been said to be a delegation by the parent to the teacher of the parent’s own right to administer reasonable and moderate corporal punishment when required, but with the advent of compulsory schooling the more modern view is that the privilege is based upon the necessity for maintaining order in and about the school. The limitation placed by the law upon the exercise of the power is that the punishment must be moderate, reasonable and not dictated by bad motives.
What amounts to moderation and reasonableness depends on all the circumstances including the nature of the offence, the age, sex and strength of the child, his past behaviour and the kind of punishment inflicted.
These seem to me to be extraordinarily loose guidelines. They are not unlike many of the regulations which apply in State systems, which allow a very strong discretion on the part of an individual to inflict corporal punishment and to what degree.
In the Sydney Sun-Herald of 3 September last year an article appeared on this subject. Information was given to the journalist who wrote the article, Warren Owens, on instances of abuse of corporal punishment guidelines in a nongovernment school in Sydney. The article gives examples of how easily these so-called guidelines and regulations can be abused simply because there is no protection afforded to the child. It states:
Ten-year-old boys are made to hold their hands on cold bricks before each receives four strokes of the cane for talking in class.
A 13-year-old has two fingers broken in a savage caning.
An entire class of primary school boys is caned . . because no one would say who had written on the blackboard.
A relatively backward child is made to stand in front of the class and repeatedly belted on the buttocks, with the teacher encouraging a sense of amusement.
Migrant children are belted when they have insufficient English to understand staff instructions.
An 11 -year-old is caned . . . a total of 2 1 times, by six teachers, in one school day.
– They should be certified.
– Yes, indeed they should be certified. The article continues:
One by one youngsters in a class are asked a question relating to a particular subject. The first one to answer incorrectly is caned, then the teacher begins again this game of fear.
A five-year-old receives internal injuries after a teacher angrily grabs the nearest available implement for punishment, in this case a small tree branch.
Children are caned, or otherwise physically abused, for such faults as not being able to understand work, for not scoring above a certain mark in a test, for being late for school, for eating in class, for smiling during prayers . .
They are examples which I understand from inquiries I have made are factual. The information given in that newspaper article is correct. It demonstrates how easily these laws and regulations can be abused when insufficient protection is given to the child. That same article quotes Mrs Totti Cohen, President of the Parents and Citizens Association as follows:
It makes you wonder if we need a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Kids.
If animals were treated like that, the RSPCA would be up in arms.
But there is no group empowered to look after the interests of children.
How right she is. A teacher commented:
The argument is not about discipline itself.
The argument is about a number of practices far more severe than the one judged by the European Court of Human Rights to be degrading, practices which the Government of this State -
That is New South Wales- appears unwilling or incapable of preventing.
I would suggest that the real reason is the unwillingness rather than the incapacity to prevent it.
– What about the welfare departments? Do they take an interest in these things?
-Of the State governments?
– Yes. Surely the State welfare departments ought to take some aggressive interest in these things.
-One would think so. Of course, the point I am making is that unless the law is properly written in the first place abuses will take place. That is the substance of it. I will refer to that further. Reference has been made to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights over which there was considerable controversy in Britain. That court ruled that birching constitutes degrading treatment and is contrary to the European Convention of Human Rights.
– Was that not for an adult on the Isle of Man?
– Yes, for an adult. I think it grew out of the case of a 16-year-old lad. That is the important distinction. There are plenty of laws to protect adults.
I also make reference to some lectures that were given by Mr Barry Dwyer, who has taken a particular interest in this subject over the years. Mr Dwyer is the Principal Lecturer in Education at the Good Samaritan Teachers College at Glebe Point, New South Wales. In an article concerning violence, the teaching of values and how violent methods in fact create a tendency towards violence, he said:
They teach, in fact, that violence against others actually works, and that it is a legitimate way of working through inter-personal problems and changing the behaviour of others.
There is one important proviso, however. The person delivering the punishment must represent ‘righteousness’ and ‘authority’ while the receiver must be smaller and weaker!
And when stick or strap is used as the ‘final deterrent ‘ we, in fact, promote violence to the top of our hierarchy of values. It becomes something special, reserved- like Mum’s best china- for important occasions.
Mr Dwyer, in another article, made this observation:
As I see it, the caning and strapping of school children is an affront to human dignity; it is fundamentally unchristian; it is psychologically harmful; and it is educationally untenable.
To come to Senator Puplick ‘s interjection about the decision in the case of the European Court of Human Rights applying to adults, four of the States of Australia and the Territories have abolished corporal punishment for adults. It is abolished in the Australian Capital Territory by the Crimes Ordinance of 1974. Having seen former Senator Lionel Murphy in the dining room tonight, I put on record my appreciation of his efforts in this case. It was he who initiated the ordinance which deleted the practice of corporal punishment of adults in the Australian Capital Territory. In the Northern Territory it was also abolished in 1974. Paul Everingham, the Attorney-General in Darwin, said in a letter to me:
This is consistent with the attitude of my Government to introduce progressive, humane laws for Territorians.
I give full marks to Mr Everingham. In Western Australia corporal punishment of adults is permissible under its laws, but Mr Ian Medcalf, the Attorney-General of Western Australia, said:
As far as the practical application of the provisions is concerned, the last time corporal punishment of an offender was directed, so far as can be recalled, was at least a quarter of a century ago, and that seems to have been an isolated revival after a long period of disuse.
Corporal punishment was abolished in South Australia in 1971. The Mitchell Committee, in its report on this matter to the State Government, stated:
Had this step not been taken already, we should have recommended that it be taken immediately.
In Tasmania it was deleted from the statute book in 1973.
In the case of Queensland we find that the criminal code of that State contains provisions to the effect that whipping remains on the statute book as an alternative punishment in a certain limited number of offences, but it is important to record that the last time any corporal punishment was practised in Queensland was 1932. The circumstances of that punishment are not known at this time. It is quite obvious that in practical terms it has been abolished in Queensland. Even when it did apply it applied for some very grave offences- defilement of girls under 12 and offences of that nature. But even then there is a right of appeal for adults against that sort of punishment.
In the case of Victoria we find that corporal punishment is still legal. Section 477 of the Victorian Crimes Act of 1 958 states:
Where any male person apparently of the age of 16 years or upwards is convicted of an indictable offence against the person of another, and in the opinion of the court the commission of the offence was attended with or accompanied by cruelty or great personal violence the court may in addition to the punishment awarded direct that he be once, twice or thrice privately whipped.
It goes on to say in a succeeding sub-section:
Provided also that in all cases where the punishment of whipping shall be inflicted under the authority of this section, the surgeon or medical officer of the prison in which the offender is confined shall be present when the said punishment is inflicted; and such surgeon or medical officer, if he is of the opinion that the prisoner is not at any time able to bear the whole or any part of the said punishment so awarded, may from time to time order the infliction of the whole or any part of the said punishment to be postponed.
Section 572 (2) of the same Act states:
The Victorian Attorney-General, Mr Haddon Storey, did not advise me as to whether the practice is actually carried out in Victoria. I do not think that it is. The important point is that under the Crimes Act 1958, and probably before that, it was ensured that certain provisions would be made to protect the person who was to have this punishment inflicted, both in the nature of requiring a medical officer to be present and in providing the right of appeal against such an order.
To sum up, the position we have in this country insofar as the law is concerned, although this is not entirely the case, is such that corporal punishment has been abolished for adults, but of course it has not been abolished for minors. I draw the attention of the Senate to the double standards of our laws. They are double standards, it is as simple as that. I wish to cite a case in Queensland. I am not choosing Queensland for any particular reason except that the legal case I wish to cite is a Queensland case. The definition of assault under the Queensland criminal code, which is a fair representation of the definition in codes in other states of Australia, is as follows:
A person who strikes, touches, or moves, or otherwise applies force of any kind to the person of another, either directly or indirectly, without his consent, or with his consent if the consent is obtained by fraud, or who by any bodily act or gesture attempts or threatens to apply force of any kind to the person of another without his consent, under such circumstances that the person making the attempt or threat has actually or apparently a present ability to effect his purpose, is said to assault that other person, and the act is called an assault.
It is quite apparent from that definition that one would not need to do much in the way of a physical act to be guilty of an act of assault and therefore be punishable by the court. Let us look at the contrast of this case to what the law says about things being done to children. I cite the case of White v. Weller in 1959: . . ‘a well grown-athletic boy’ of 15, was punished for insolence by being slapped several times on the head and shoulder by his school teacher. Notwithstanding that punishment by slapping the head was ‘irregular’ under teachers’ regulations in any circumstances, the Queensland Full Court held that, without condoning the punishment, it would be going too far to say that slapping a pupil ‘s head could never be reasonable within the meaning of the code. The dismissal of the information was upheld.
It seems unreal that such double standards can exist in one country. The criminal code of Queensland and of almost every other State goes to great pains to ensure that none of us as adults strikes another person, that we are protected, and properly protected. Yet, as has been tested so many times in the courts, in the case of the striking of a minor by a schoolteacher, even by a parent, not only is the person doing the striking protected by the law but unless someone is prepared to do it for him, the child is denied the opportunity to defend himself under our laws. Another example is a recent case in Sydney. It was determined by the Parramatta Court of Petty Sessions that it was an offence for a bus passenger to blow smoke into the face of another passenger. The person who did that was convicted of assault. I wish to make one or two more points. Recently we had a visit from the United States by Dr Virginia Satir who conducts an advisory consultancy firm in San Francisco. She heads a corporation which markets in 26 countries her advice and guidance on such issues as child bashing. The report of an interview she had with the Hobart Mercury on 13 July last year stated:
The conclusion she draws is simple: There is no mystery about why there is so much violence in the world, because that’s how children are taught.
It is openly obvious that the violence learnt in childhood is carried on through adulthood.
Violence is opposed to learning. Violence teaches only negative attitudes- fear, hatred, resentment, retaliation.
And they lead to desperation, mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, and an internal feeling of loneliness.
I think she summed that up very well. After reading that article and from conversations that I had with her I am convinced that she is a woman who did in fact understand the significance of what violence means to a child in its formative years. I know that the Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) shares my views in this matter, as he said in the Senate not long ago. Fortunately, I do not think he is on his own on the Government side in that opinion. Only last week the Swedish Parliament, by 259 votes to 6 votes, passed the first draft of a Bill forbidding totally corporal punishment of children. That, I believe is the beginning of what will be a move in our own country towards ensuring that the rights of children are protected in the same way as the rights of adults are protected. As 1979 is the International Year of the Child, I hope that it will not pass with a series of sanctimonious statements about the welfare of children, but at least will result in concrete and positive steps being taken to protect the kids of this country.
Debate (on motion by Senator Webster) adjourned.
– I move:
Every year thousands of migrants to this country decide to adopt Australian citizenship. When doing so, at a ceremony which must be full of emotion and great gravity for them, these new citizens either by oath or affirmation make a declaration in the following terms:
I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
It is obvious that those words signify a very significant alteration to the outlook of the new citizen of a country which until then has given him or her some protection and opportunity. Henceforth, in addition to that, such a person is not merely a resident, but becomes a citizen.
But just before giving that very important undertaking to observe faithfully the laws of Australia and fulfil his or her duties as an Australian citizen, the new citizen states that he or she renounces all other allegiance. I suppose the burden of the matter I raise tonight is that that renunciation, those solemn words, made at the behest of the Australian community during that ceremony of citizenship, are totally ineffectual, besides in many cases being emotionally very demanding on the new citizen. Apart from that, they are totally ineffectual in that the renunciation of any former allegiance makes no impact on the claim which that new citizen’s former nation may wish to make upon him. In particular, such a new citizen may well find himself with two nationalities- that of his new country, Australia, and that of his former homeland. Simply stated, that is the problem of dual nationality.
For some new citizens the retention of the former nationality may be beneficial for various reasons. For example, it may be that an Australian citizen who migrated here from the United Kingdom would feel happy to retain dual nationality in that revisiting the United Kingdom would be much more simple. Better employment opportunities may be available in the country of his former nationality if that former nationality is retained. Access to social benefits from that nation may also be retained. There are very many advantages which can accrue to certain persons retaining the nationality of their former homeland.
Whilst that would be the case for some, for very many dual nationality becomes a curse and a burden. The fact is that for very many Australian citizens dual nationality is extremely serious and even fatal in one sense. The essence of the problem is that when such a person returns to his former homeland he is denied the protection of the Australian Government although he is a citizen of Australia. The Australian Government is precluded from offering consular protection to such an Australian citizen whilst in the other country of his dual nationality.
All honourable senators will be aware that in the mid 1970s- around 1975- this matter was brought dramatically to the attention of the Australian community by the Yugoslav Government’s refusal to allow Australian diplomats access to Australian citizens held in detention for several months. That Government even executed Australian citizens who held Yugoslav nationality. It did so without informing the Australian Government. That was a very disturbing incident. Luckily, I think that incident is unique in the sense that to my knowledge executions without the Australian Government being informed have not occurred in any other nation of former nationality of any Australian citizens.
However, any simple file of newspaper clippings will reveal other heartbreaking situations. I have three newspaper clippings, one of which is headed ‘Federal help in Viennese custody case’. It was found to be impossible. Mr Grassby, the then Minister for Immigration, spoke of dual nationality being ‘one of the curses of citizenship around the world’. That curse is still operative and affecting the lives of many Australian citizens. Another heading is ‘Australian jailed in Greece ‘. In part, the article reads:
A naturalised Greek-born Australian was expected to be court-martialled next month in Athens for failing to undergo military service with the Greek Army.
This Australian citizen had come to Australia as an 18-year old, had returned to Greece as a 28-year old for a visit to his former village and was facing court-martial without the protection of Australian Government officials in Greece. The third heading is ‘Australian envoys’ problems’. The article begins:
An Australia . . . arrested in Argentina earlier this year, and brutally interrogated after the explosion of a bomb hidden in luggage on a bus during a customs check.
Repeated requests by the two men for contact with Australian . . . officials were not passed on by the Argentine authorities.
Australian consular authorities however, were alerted by news agency reports of the incident and made urgent inquiries. However, they were given no information until a week later.
Those articles are only three of a very thick file of newspaper clippings which reveal that the problem of dual nationality is one which seriously affects Australian citizens when they return to their former homelands. Of course, this has an intimidatory effect which prevents many of our citizens doing what anyone would wish to doreturn to our former homeland or village, our families and our relatives, to see the scenes of our youth and childhood.
It is obvious that the Australian Government should be pressing vigorously for a single simple principle to be adopted within the international community. A person should hold only one nationality and be able to renounce in an appropriate way his former nationality. Instead, what do we find? The report from the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, presented to this Parliament on 14 October 1976- two and a half years ago- recommended that Australia should initiate action within the United Nations to renew efforts to resolve nationality problems. Despite that, in the face of that recommendation of the Joint Committee - a bipartisan committee- we have a tired, languid, even unconcerned statement by the interdepartmental committee stating that the International Law Commission of the United Nations should not be asked to make this a high priority matter because there is every likelihood that no positive results would follow. In paragraph 2 1 the interdepartmental committee states:
That is, international states- are more prepared to forego their discretion to determine the nationality of their citizens than they were in 1 954.
That plainly is wrong. Both the Western European community, in the Council of Europe Convention in 1968, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, with bilateral arrangements with its Eastern European allies in the late and mid 1950s, have demonstrated considerable willingness to forego their claims on former nationals who wish to voluntarily renounce the nationality concerned.
– That is a split infinitive- to voluntarily renounce.
– A split infinitive in the cause of Australian citizens is forgiveable. I do get emotional about this matter because, as the examples I cited to the chamber illustrate, it has a very severe impact on many people who go through Australia’s citizenship ceremony and therefore expect the protection of the Australian Government when they travel abroad, particularly to their former homelands. My major objection is that if this interdepartmental committee attitude becomes government policy we will have a period of quiet, a period of indifference. The resolution of this matter will await years of bilateral negotiations, say, with the Italian Government or the Argentinian Government, from time to time. I believe that this is a matter which needs to come before multilateral forums, most especially those under the auspices of the United Nations. I believe that it is in multilateral negotiations that those governments which continue to exert a tyrannical claim on their former nationals, those governments which remain indifferent to the plight of their nationals who migrate and settle, perhaps for a 10, 20 or 30-year period, ought to be isolated and thereby brought to a more generous and just understanding of the situation. It is not as though there are not many models from which to choose.
The East European model followed by the USSR and its allies is roughly to assume that the sole nationality follows residence between the nations concerned. Thus, on moving from the USSR to Hungary, a person who obtains citizenship of Hungary would automatically lose his status as a Soviet national unless he expressed a choice of citizenship of the USSR. That choice could be rejected or accepted by the USSR authorities. In any case, one nationality is the desire and the end. Is there any evidence that this Government is seeking to conclude like arrangements with the USSR or its Eastern European allies in respect to Australian citizens who could be expected not to exercise the choice of nationality of their former homeland? The Soviets and East Europeans- I cite them because of their obvious relevance- have devised a very civilised technique. All one would need to have is a vigorous program by the Australian Government, a diplomatic offensive, to see that that technique is afforded to Australian citizens who have a former homeland in the USSR or Eastern Europe.
On the other hand, the democratic European countries which are party to the 1963 Council of Europe Covention adopt a- somewhat different and in fact more difficult approach. A person needs to seek the consent of the state whose nationality he wishes to renounce. Even so, the former homeland may not withhold consent if the person concerned has not been resident there for 10 years or more and is ordinarily resident in the state whose nationality he wishes to retain. Australia should seek immediately to accede to that Council of Europe Convention. I cannot for the life of me understand why successive Australian governments, and particularly this Government, in the face of the report to this Parliament by the Joint Committee, have allowed the opportunity to pass for 21/2 years since the report was tabled, and in fact for 2 1 years since the Council of Europe Convention was brought into operation in March 1968. In respect of the Western European democracies, we have a perfectly accessible means of assuring that the problems of dual nationality do not attach to Australian citizens who come from those European democracies.
I have had this matter on the Notice Paper since 15 November- some four months agoand it has put the Government on notice. I certainly hope to get a response from the Minister tonight. If not, one can only conclude- certainly those who fear to return to their homelands can only conclude- that this Government is indifferent to their plight. The time has long passed for pious declarations about the desirability of single Australian nationality for a citizen. What is required is action, and so far there is no evidence of it.
I turn for a moment from the action that this Government should take on the international level, which it appears to have been woefully slow in taking, to the question of allegations that within Australia our citizens can be subjected to harassment or other invasions of privacy by persons claiming to represent their former countries. Clearly, it is impossible to substantiate the incidence or scale of such harassment- harassment that allegedly goes beyond access that consular officials of the country of the other nationality properly might have.
Let us look at the Committee’s assessment of how these allegations should be dealt with. At page 4 of its report the Committee said:
For those who believe that they are being harassed and are suffering from other forms of invasion of their privacy, the Committee recommends that machinery should exist where complaints of this nature may be lodged by the individuals concerned, with the assurance that the complaint will be examined and wherever proven, whatever action can be taken through diplomatic channels will be pursued. It appears that the Office of the Commissioner of Community Relations would be the appropriate office to accept this task.
As far as I have been able to ascertain, no approach has been made to the Commissioner for Community Relations to find out how or even whether he might undertake this task. I cannot say whether his office would be the best means of sorting out these allegations of harassment, which possibly would be few in number; but clearly the Committee thought that the type of investigative and conciliatory approach which characterises the Office of the Commissioner for Community Relations is a type in which the aggrieved Australian citizen of dual nationality could have confidence. What is more, Mr Grassby ‘s office is well known throughout the ethnic community. That general awareness alone could well make it the most appropriate machinery, but no approach has been made.
Having failed to establish adequate machinery to allow harassed dual nationals to disclose confidentially their predicament, the Department of Foreign Affairs is enabled to say, in its indifferent way, in the IDC report- I quote from paragraph 10 on page 3:
The Department of Foreign Affairs is not aware of any significant instances in recent rimes of harassment in Australia of dual national Australian citizens by representatives of their former country.
Of course it is not aware. The machinery that might raise its awareness, along with that of other government agencies, is not established and has not been sought to be established within the office of the Commissioner for Community Relations, as the parliamentary Committee’s report suggests it ought to be. Thus is so evidently a circular argument on the part of the Department of Foreign Affairs that it raises questions about the seriousness with which that Department has approached its task of advising the Government on a possible response to the Joint Committee’s report. To the extent that it has received bad advice, inadequate advice, uncompassionate advice from the Public Service, the Government’s response to date- namely, a monumental silence- can be understood but it cannot be excused.
The Senate ought to require of the Government a major effort immediately to respond to the plight of many of our fellow citizens. The analysis and the recommendations of the Joint Committee are 2Vi years old. The Government must be condemned for its tardy and inadequate response. I hope that the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle), who is now in the chamber, can indicate a change of heart and of tempo in this important matter. As I speak, I become aware of how moderate are the terms in which I have couched this motion. Instead of condemning the Government, I have merely asked the Senate to note with concern the lack of response by the Government. In couching the motion in those terms, which perhaps are too moderate for the occasion, I feel that honourable senators from both sides of the chamber may join in requesting that the Government make a very speedy response to the plight of many of our citizens.
– In entering this debate on the motion regarding dual nationality. I should like to say that I concur sincerely in many of the points made by Senator Tate. I have been interested in this matter not for just a few months but for many years. I believe that the problem of dual nationality is a very complex one. Incidentally, I think that the term ‘dual nationality’ is a misnomer and that it should be ‘dual citizenship’. However, I will deal with the semantics later.
The report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence is an excellent one, and I fully support all the recommendations. I support particularly the recommendation which confirms the Australian belief, the Government belief, that every person should have one nationality only, with the exception that I would refer to citizenship and not nationality. This principle is based on the Hague Convention of 1 930, and I believe that the Hague Convention realises, as do many governments, the problems created by dual citizenship. The Committee’s recommendation No. 6 is very relevant and extremely important to Australian citizens who were born in another country. That recommendation states:
Consideration should be given to the deletion of ‘Place of birth’ now entered on Australian passports and the substitution of Place of residence ‘ in its stead.
I believe that many other nations have replaced the reference to country of origin or country of birth with a reference to place of residence. I have been told that it is an international convention which requires the passport to show the country of birth; but, even if there is an international convention, I do not see why we could not change that, as Switzerland has done, and refer to place of residence. I firmly believe that it is important for anyone who applies for a passport to show his country of origin on his application. But the passport should show only the place of residence, as the person is an Australian citizen. I do not see why it is necessary to show the country of origin on the passport if the issuing authorities in Australia already have been given that information in the application for a passport.
I do not intend to delay the Senate too long on this issue, but I was delighted to read in the Hansard record of yesterday afternoon’s proceedings in the other place that the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Mr MacKellar, in answer to a question regarding dual citizenship, had this to say:
I did have discussions with Yugoslav Ministers during a visit to Yugoslavia just prior to Christmas and I did raise the question of the problems experienced by Australian citizens of Yugoslav origin. It is a fact that, despite taking out Australian citizenship, people from Yugoslavia do not automatically relinquish their Yugoslav citizenship and all that that entails, including the obligation to undertake military service.
The next part of the answer is vital and very important. It has not yet been sufficiently publicised or emphasised by either our Government or the Yugoslav Government. The Minister said:
It was explained to me that it is possible to renounce Yugoslav citizenship, but that decision is taken at the republican government level rather than at the central government level.
I hope that the Minister will be able to announce more details about the matter outlined in that sentence. The Minister continued:
As I have already mentioned, this is a problem for Australian citizens of Yugoslav origin visiting that country. I raised with Ministers in Yugoslavia the question of Australian citizens who were undergoing military service. I am very pleased to be able to say that three Australian citizens who were undergoing military service have had that obligation reviewed and at the very highest level two have had their obligations set aside. One has undertaken to continue his military service but at a much reduced time scale.
I am very pleased that the discussions with the Yugoslav Government have resulted in this understanding of Australian citizens’ points of view and I am very hopeful that the discussions which will continue with the Yugoslav Government, relating to the question of dual nationality, will have a mutually acceptable result.
I am delighted with that statement by the Minister because I feel that it indicates that the first step has been made in negotiating a bilateral agreement with one of the countries from which a large number of Australian citizens have migrated. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will continue with such discussions with other governments in order to conclude bilateral agreements. I believe that that is the best and only way to tackle the problem as every country looks at the problem from a different point of view. I really feel that a multilateral agreement would be too complicated in the present situation, with so many people from different countries now being Australian citizens.
I now wish to speak briefly on a matter which I believe creates tremendous confusion. I refer to nationality versus citizenship. Senator Tate, at the beginning of his address, read the text of what the new citizens of this country say when renouncing their allegiance. In that situation, a person becomes an Australian citizen and not an Australian national. From my point of view, and I would say from the points of view of the majority of Continental people, there is a big difference between nationality and citizenship. There can be a Scottish national of British citizenship. There can be an Irish national of British citizenship. There can be a Welsh national of British citizenship. As I understand the position, there cannot be a British national because I do not think that there is a British nationality as such. In the same way, I believe that it is absolutely strange, to say the least, to call a Ukranian a Soviet national. He is a Soviet citizen, but he is a Ukranian national or, for that matter, a Byelorussian. He is a Byelorussian national but a Soviet citizen.
I wonder what a Latvian would say if he were told that he was a Soviet national. He is not a Soviet national; he is a Lithuanian national but a
Soviet citizen because of the political situation in his country. I strongly believe that we should make a clear distinction when referring to nationality or citizenship. Today maybe nationality would be better equated with ethnicity. But I believe that in official papers and statements issued by the Government and by all public bodies the ethnic origin of a person should be referred to as the national origin and his citizenship should indicate that he is a citizen of a particular country, of a political state. There can be a Croatian national who is an Australian citizen. I am a Slovenian national. I consider myself a Slovenian national. My nationality is Slovenian but I am an Australian citizen. I think that that distinction should be clearly made and maintained.
– Should we delete the renunciation of nationality?
-I would say that nationality’ has a different connotation and a different meaning from ‘citizenship’. If we look at the Oxford English Dictionary we see that the definition of ‘nation’ is this:
An extensive aggregate of persons, so closely associated with each other by common descent, language, or history, to to form a distinct race or people. Usually organised as a separate political state and occupying a definite territory.
The definition uses the words ‘usually organised’ and talks about a ‘political state’, not a nationalist state. The definition in the Oxford English Dictionary of citizen’ is this:
A member of a state, an enfranchised inhabitant of a country, as opposed to an alien; in the United States of America a person, native or naturalised, who has the privilege of voting for public offices, and is entitled to protection in exercising of private rights.
Therefore nationality has nothing to do with the rights of a citizen as such. I believe that we should really be consistent in that regard. I hope that the Government will take notice of the report’s recommendation in that regard and that it will take notice of the difference between the interpretation of the word ‘nationality’ and that of the word ‘citizenship’.
– I think that these types of discussions are valuable to bring out certain points. I agree with Senator Tate in respect of the need for a government io produce, say, biannual reports of what is happening with negotiations of this type. I can remember the time when Senator Willessee was the Foreign Minister in this chamber. During that time he initiated top level talks with governments. In fact I think he visited Athens, Rome and Belgrade. At that time the difficult country was Greece because it had an extreme military government. I think it is not merely a matter of whether a government is Left or Right. Governments of either complexion seem to attract extreme nationalism. They have to prove the claims of their nationals or former nationals wherever they live. It was this situation that prompted Senator Willessee to undertake his initial pilgrimage.
I think that we should not get too sanctimonious because Australia has its black spots in this context. Although Australia has been a recipient of migrants over the years dating back to the early 1920’s the fact is that it was only when Attorney-General Lionel Murphy took action to take out the iniquitous clause in our Crimes Act that people did not have to go through all the pangs of being accepted for Australian citizenship or being deported on a double penalty. I know that even now a treasonable past could nullify the actual citizenship ratification. Our record between the two wars in comparison with Canada was not the best.
I want to raise a point which relates to really the other side of the coin. Being what we are, everyone tries to do a bit of bargaining, even in respect of citizenship. I would like to refer to the iniquitous patrial clause in Britain. We know that that country at the moment is in the European Common Market. I suppose that I could claim an Irish grandfather and on that basis I could get on the gravy train and so could someone else with British ancestry. But to me it is quite wrong for people to want to bargain. Recently one of our top bike riders claimed Irish ancestory so that he could get an Irish passport which would enable him to stay longer overseas. I am not condemning that action. The point I am making is that people who accept Australian citizenship should not be subject to overseas pressures. We all know that many people, irrespective of origin or ancestry, are not above trying to find out what is best for them. Of course, people are tempted to go to European Common Market countries which offer job security to their nationals.
Australian citizens suffer from many complexities. I wish to draw to the attention of the Senate a recent case which involved a girl who originally came from Spain. We all know that people who were anti-Franco during the Spanish Civil War in the early 1930s were on the losing side. Many Spanish teenage refugees were taken by Latin American countries- probably countries like Mexico- and the Soviet Union. When these teenagers had been in the Soviet Union for five years Franco decided that they were to be struck off the books and were not to be recognised as being of Spanish origin no matter what happened. We might differ in many ways with the
Soviet Union type of government. Those boys and girls were given a period of time before they were forced to make a decision as to whether they wanted Soviet citizenship.
The girl who I had in mind left Spain and went to the Soviet Union. She married in the post-war era and had two children. She was 16 years of age or a bit younger when she left the Soviet Union for Chile. Latin American countries, whether Left or Right, are not over-keen about non-nationals from overseas acquiring their citizenship. In fact they put a lot of obstacles in the way of people wanting citizenship. I think the divorce laws and citizenship laws of Latin American countries are very difficult to surmount. It takes years to get a result. The girl I am talking about came to Australia and applied for Australian citizenship. I can assure honourable senators that the citizenship section of the Department of Immigration in Sydney had to perform mental somersaults to determine her jumping off place. The Department demanded proof of Spanish origin. She could not give it. The Soviet Union regarded her more or less as being born of non-Soviet citizens. This is the sort of situation which arises.
I now want to talk about Yugoslavia and to refer in particular to the incidents mentioned by Senator Tate. There are always people who want the best of two worlds. Senator Lajovic referred to the decentralisation of the various Yugoslav republics. It would probably be true to say there would be a better chance of getting a speedy decision if one was a Slovene, a Montenegran or a Serb. Even under the present government there seems to be lots of tension in Croatia. There could even be a degree of nationalism with a left wing tinge, and there have been some difficulties between the common good of Yugoslavia and the needs of Croatia.
That brings me to the point that I want to make about vigilance. Some people obtained Australian citizenship so that they could travel overseas on Australian passports for activities that could be hardly legal. They did not, I suppose, live up to the Sermon on the Mount. They had certain ideas of changing the political structure in Yugoslavia. I think that this may have been the point that Senator Tate had in mind. We had the classical case many years ago when Eamon De Valera looked like going to the Tower of London, but he claimed American-Spanish parentage and he got out. Of course, he finished up leader of his country. I suppose one man’s terrorist is another man’s patriot; it is the way one looks at the situation. As far as Yugoslavia is concerned, successive governments have had to deny people whose motives they thought were not the best the right to citizenship. I think the debate on the legislation that is due to hit this chamber later on highlights this point. I think the legislation is an attempt by Andrew Peacock to get reserve power to deny people citizenship or at least the issue of passports because they believe by having Australian citizenship they can have a bit each way. But that does not negate the original complaint that has been voiced by Senator Tate.
I could give the Senate another illustration of how any country is sometimes judged by the zealousness of its customs officials. I think some people use an eight letter word to describe the customs officials with which one deals, but these people have a difficult role to perform. We talk about the desire to get Australian citizenship. I know of an English husband and a Yugoslav wife who live in my street. These people were going through customs on the border of Italy and Yugoslavia at a town called Sezana. Before they went overseas I suggested to the husband that he should get an Australian passport. He said in jest: ‘The good old British passport is all right; we are still a big power’.
At the time the couple were passing through customs a raid for contraband goods was being conducted. When the girl flashed her Australian passport the customs officials said: Australenski- pass’. When the husband showed his British passport he was interrogated for 72 hours. Of course, there was a happy sequel. Unlike John Wheeldon, I am not a good linguist but I do get papers translated. This week I read of a case involving smugglers. A number of people of different nationalities- I have to be very careful about this- including two Englishmen were apprehended. This friend of mine admitted that if a couple of Englishmen broke the law the authorities had to act strictly, but there was no Australian even of Yugoslav origin in the lurk.
I am just making the point to show the complexities of this problem and the difficulty in taking a balanced view. I suppose that as a result of the tariff walls that have been formed in Europe under this infamous European Common Market we will find that there will be certain enticements and inducements for Australians who want to hop off and claim British or Irish parentage to get some advantage. I do not know of any way to stop this practice. I suppose it would be the same thing- and a long time trade unionist like Senator Cavanagh would agree with me- as making a uniform award for building tradesmen who work in the heat of Alice Springs and building tradesmen who work in the cooler climates of
Victoria. I simply say that I do not think we can get away from the situation in which we should get twice yearly reports from Andrew Peacock about what is happening because, as Senator Tate says, the problem is there.
I still make the point that we have to be very wary of some of the people who protest; and this sort of thing seems to run in cycles. I think that by and large the advice given to most people going to other countries is that at least they should tell their Australian Consul that they will be there. It is very easy to get these rumours. I know a certain Commonwealth public servant who is of Yugoslav origin. He was at Lake Bled and he got into a lover’s tiff. He got into a brawl with the brother of a possible fiancee. When I got to Ljubljana I was told that there was an Australian in the cells. Well, I can assure honourable senators that he was not there because of his political viewpoint. He was there because he had got a bit aggressive. Those are the sorts of situations we get. When anyone says that the Yugoslavian Government or the Turkish Government is oppressive we have to find out whether some of these situations occur as a result of provocation by Australians.
We often talk about being bipartisan. I am always eulogising the actions of the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) when he was the Minister for Labour and Immigration. There was a time at the beginning of the drive against narcotics when it was suggested to a number of Portuguese migrants, who did not have Australian citizenship but who were permanent residents, that they had better leave the country because of their involvement in narcotics. They felt that we were anti-Portuguese. But we were able to tell them just what this Government, in a different context, has told other such migrants. We saw Australians in gaols on the Canary Islands. They were there 12 months before they faced trial. But we did not try to spring them, just as I feel that this Government will not try to spring a couple of Australian people now in a Malaysian gaol. I am not going to name them because I might upset justice.
– Well, one of them played the same code of football as Senator Grimes and I play. I want to round off on this point. It has been an interesting discussion. I hope that the legislation that will come down shortly will be an answer to some of the impatience that has been exhibited by honourable senators, although we might have different priorities on it. I would just like to feel that the other side of the coin is taken into account because more and more people are using Australian citizenship and the value of an Australian passport to further their activities in white collar crime. That is why I am one of those who believe we should take passports off those people who transgress from time to time. I will leave the matter at that.
– I rise to state that the proposition before the Senate is most timely. Since the early part of 1977 I have been in correspondence with the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) about this question of dual nationality. There have been some movements, if only to state quite unequivocally what the status quo is. Previously the remarks contained in the booklet entitled Hints for Australian Travellers were quite unacceptable. Following correspondence between the Department of Foreign Affairs and me and other members of parliament and following the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, those hints for travellers were made more specific. Indeed, they clearly set out the status quo. That is a step in the right direction, but it is only a first step. Negotiations with various countries should be developed to ensure that this problem is overcome.
The Senate will recall that on 1 7 August 1 978 1 read into Hansard a letter which I received from the Slovenian-Australian Association in this city of Canberra. It related to the difficulties experienced by Australian citizens of Yugoslavian birth when they visited that country and the difficulties that they experienced in this country by reason of their dual nationality. I will requote excerpts of that letter that I received from the Slovenian-Australian Association of Canberra. In fact the letter was received, as I understand it, by all honourable senators. The Association said:
The Yugoslav regime has implemented the law by which every citizen of Yugoslavia is forced to retain his or her citizenship whether or not he or she obtains a citizenship of another country. Furthermore, the clause extends over children of the first generation who are not even born in Yugoslavia. In practical terms, this means that it is impossible for an immigrant from Yugoslavia or his children to renounce their Yugoslav citizenship despite the fact that they become Australian citizens.
I interpolate here to say that recently there have been problems, which have been adverted to by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in respect of compulsory military service being imposed upon these people when they return for holidays to the country of their birth. I go back to the letter which states further:
This claim by the Yugoslav regime gives its embassies abroad, and in particular Australia, an outstanding power to control, through intimidation and harassment, their former citizens should these citizens ever require a visa to visit their friends and relatives in their homeland.
I will not read the whole of the letter. I will read just the final part of the letter. If anybody is interested it is to be found at pages 166 to page 168 of Senate Hansard of 17 August 1978. The letter concludes:
Members of our community are deeply concerned that they have been discriminated against as Australian citizens, in Australia and when abroad, by the simple fact that they find it impossible to free themselves of being citizens of the Yugoslav regime. They are also concerned that this very fact gives the Yugoslav Consular authorities in Australia power to haunt its dissidents beyond their terrestrial life, since this claim of citizenship extends beyond them to their children. They are concerned of course to see the Australian Government so indifferent when its citizens are being harassed by foreign powers in Australia, imprisoned by a foreign power abroad and even executed by a foreign power abroad.
Concern is also expressed over Article 44 of the Constitution which lends itself to discrimination against those citizens who involuntarily bear dual citizenship.
That is the Slovenian-Australian Association- therefore ask the Conference to request the Government to extend its political protection to all its citizens on an equal basis at home and abroad.
We also ask that Slovenes in Australia receive at least as much recognition about their national identity as they have enjoyed for centuries in their homelands.
I think that is the point that Senator Lajovic stressed- the question of nationality and citizenship. I advert to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence which, as far back as October 1 976, recommended:
As a shorter term objective, high priority should be accorded to entering into bilateral agreements between Australia and those countries whose nationality laws cause Australian citizens to be dual nationals and who suffer disadvantage because of this circumstance.
That was recommendation No. 3 on pages 7 to 10 of Parliamentary Paper No. 255 of 1976. The operative words were ‘shorter term objective’, high priority’, ‘bilateral agreements’ and ‘suffer disadvantage’. The recommendation was for the Government to attempt to achieve a shorter term objective by establishing a high priority to be accorded to the making of bilateral arrangements between Australia and those countries whose nationality laws cause Australian citizens to be dual nationals. As I understand it, we have not really received any substantitve report from the Government on the countries with which those discussions have taken place and what the results have been. That is why this motion is timely. It is time that the Government advised the Senate and the Parliament as a whole about the action it has taken in respect of this important matter. The recommendation indicated that these negotiations should take place with those countries whose nationality laws cause Australian citizens to be dual nationals and who suffer disadvantage because of this circumstance.
Senator Tate adverted to those people who do not suffer disadvantage. I also have received correspondence from persons with dual BritishAustralian nationality who seek to retain that dual nationality. The recommendation did not attempt to affect their rights. As you know, Mr Acting Deputy President, it went to the question of those people who suffer disadvantage. I support the motion before the Senate. I hope that the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle), who is in the Senate chamber tonight, takes the comments that have been made in the helpful spirit that they have been made. I hope that the Government will bring down a report in the Parliament in the near future on this important question which affects a large number of Australian citizens.
– I wish to speak briefly on this matter. Anyone who becomes a member of this Parliament very soon runs into the distress and difficulties caused to many citizens by this very real problem of dual nationality or, as Senator Lajovic would call it, dual citizenship. Senator Tate has mentioned the fact that it may be of advantage at times. You, Mr Acting Deputy President, and I- I understand- are both eligible for Irish citizenship should we desire it. This may be of great advantage to us on Easter Saturday in Dublin whenever we are there. But I believe that we are in the minority of people who can achieve such advantages. We are all running into the problem of dual nationality in our work as parliamentarians.
I believe that Senator Tate is correct in bringing this matter before the Senate and asking the Government to take some action on the conclusions and the recommendations of the 1976 report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence which looked into the matter. Some extraordinary situations arise. I think that I am correct in saying that Argentina still considers not only people bom in Argentina but also their successors to be Argentinian citizens. That is an extraordinary state of affairs. I have not personally faced any difficulties in that regard but I dare say that you, Mr Acting Deputy President, with your close contacts with the South American community in this country, may have done so.
It seems to me that the problems can be divided into two groups. Firstly, there are those people who have difficulty in returning to their country of origin. We have had problems involving people from Greece, Yugoslavia and Italy who find themselves liable for national service and who have to do that national service or buy their way out of it if they return to Greece. We have the problems of people who wish to travel to their homelands and who cannot do so because they are not acceptable. There are also problems of people who, if they travel there, find that they are liable to pay tax of various types. When they run into these problems in those countries, they find that although they are Australian citizens, the Australian consulate or embassy cannot help them. I agree with what has been stated by Senator Lajovic, Senator Tate and Senator Harradine. The way to overcome those problems in the short term and, we hope, in the long term is by bilateral negotiation and bilateral agreement with those countries.
It concerns me that we have had very little evidence of such bilateral negotiations taking place. I had reason this month to write to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Peacock, about the difficulties that Greek citizens face when they hold dual nationality. I refer not only to the difficulties that they face because of their liability to undertake national service when they return to that country but also to the difficulties that they face if they marry in Australia outside what is, in fact, the established church- the Greek Orthodox Church under the patriarch. In Australia, a schism exists in that Church. The fact of the matter is that those people who wish to marry in this country in civil marriages do not have their marriages recognised in Greece. The children of the marriages are thus illegitimate and either partner of the marriage- but usually the male- is free to return to Greece, desert the spouse married in Australia and marry again in Greece. This happens occasionally with people who have come to this country. It apparently happens much more frequently with Greek males who have been guest workers in countries such as West Germany and Sweden.
The Greek Orthodox community in this country approached the previous Labor Government and this Government to see whether something could be done about this problem. I wrote to the Minister for Foreign Affairs asking to be briefed on the progress that had been made and where we stood on this situation. The answer given to me suggests that, in fact, very little has been done. The Minister, in his usual manner, was helpful and said that he would try to do something for me. It seems that over the years Greek Australian citizens have been raising this matter with Foreign Ministers of various governments and the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the present Government, but nothing has been done. The Minister wrote to me on 19 March this year and referred to my letter concerning talks I had had with people of Greek origin in Sydney and Adelaide on the non-recognition by the Greek authorities of civil marriages performed in Australia. The Minister stated in his letter:
Officers of my Department have had informal discussions with representatives of some sections of the Greek community in Australia on the problems caused by the Greek authorities’ attitudes to such marriages. In addition, there have been in the past discussions on this question with the Greek Government in the context of broader consultations. No conclusive result has been achieved. I have asked my Department to have the Australian Embassy in Athens approach the authorities to seek their views on holding discussions specifically on the matter. I have asked that our missions in Washington and Ottawa forward any information they may have been able to obtain on the problems faced by Greek communities in the United States of America and Canada arising out of the non-recognition in Greece of civil marriages performed in those countries.
He went on to say that the problem will be difficult because of the established nature of the Greek Orthodox Church and the strong views of the Church on that matter. It seems to me that the whole implication of the letter is that very little has been done since 1976, when very firm reports were brought down. It seems that the evidence put forward by Senator Harradine and Senator Tate suggests the same sort of thingthat we really should be having firm, vigorous consultations with countries whose former citizens are involved in this matter. I join with these honourable senators in urging the Government to report regularly to this Parliament as to where the land lies.
We in this country of course have not always had a pure attitude to citizenship. I spent many years of my life writing on forms that I was an Australian citizen and having people cross that out and saying that I was a British citizen. I am sure a man of good Irish descent like Senator Mulvihill spent years doing the same thing. Fortunately we have overcome that problem. We did have the problem in the Second World War of Australian citizens being interned for the first two or three years of the War, as they were also during the First World War, and then being called up when the Japanese came into the War and sent to fight against the Japanese. These people were treated as second class citizens, although they had been accepted as British citizens at the time and had renounced their previous citizenship. So we are all at fault.
What we should do, of course, is get to a state in this world where people are in fact citizens of one country. As the Committee said in 1976, every person should have the one nationality or, as Senator Lajovic prefers it to be put, one citizenship only. But until that stage comes, we should recognise that people are unfortunately in the position of having dual citizenship and that they do face very real difficulties. It is up to this Government and future Australian governments to recognise those difficulties and to defend very vigorously the rights of Australian citizens, whether other people think they have dual citizenship or not, and to come to agreement both with those conglomerations of nations which have reached some agreement on this and with individual nations whose former citizens are now citizens of Australia.
Debate (on motion by Senator Chaney) adjourned.
-I seek leave to withdraw General Business Notice of Motion No. 4, as the subject of this notice is covered by an amendment which we will be discussing next week.
Notice- by leave- withdrawn.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Chaney) read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave to incorporate the second reading speech in Hansard.
The speech read as follows-
This Bill gives effect to the Government’s decisions, which were announced by the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife) on 1 8 October 1 978, to make certain changes to the operations of the Prices Justification Tribunal. In the statement outlining those changes, the Minister referred to the opportunity that had been given for views to be put to the Government on this matter and to the consultations he had held with the trade unions, business and other sections of the community before the Government took its decision. Those views were fully considered by the Government. The broad purpose of the Bill is to modify the operations of the PJT by reducing the emphasis on price notification and by broadening its inquiry function. The Bill replaces the present price notification requirements which are based upon the size of a company, with selective notification of price increases for a limited period by companies following public inquiry by the PJT.
Companies which have been the subject of a public inquiry may be required to notify their price increases for up to 12 months at the discretion of the PJT or for a longer period if the Minister approves. This will enable the Tribunal to monitor a company’s pricing behaviour closely following a public inquiry.
In anticipation of these changes, and at the request of the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs following his statement of 18 October last, the Tribunal used its exemption powers to release prescribed companies from the notification procedures. Companies involved at that time in public inquiries were not exempted. The PJT will, in future, concentrate its resources in the areas of price surveillance and public inquiry. It is well equipped to carry out an ongoing surveillance role. The PJT will be able to draw upon its bank of information on the pricing behaviour of companies. The Tribunal will also utilise the regular channels of information such as representations by consumers and user industries, commercial information and official price indices and reports. Where necessary the PJT will also seek the co-operation of individual companies in providing particular pricing information.
The Tribunal will retain its power to require any company to furnish information about its prices should this be necessary and will, therefore, be well placed to examine price movements and to maintain close surveillance over prices of particular significance to the economy. Arising from its surveillance of prices the PJT will be able, at any time, to recommend a public inquiry into any company or group of companies. Public inquiries will underpin the Tribunal’s surveillance role and highlight areas needing further inquiry. Presently the Tribunal is limited in the course of its inquiries to determining whether prices charged or proposed to be charged by companies are justified. This function will remain. The Bill will allow the PJT to conduct public inquiries, which do not involve price justification. These inquiries will consider matters such as the structure of prices within industries and how they are established.
Turning to the way in which inquiries will be conducted and the procedures associated with this, a pre-inquiry procedure will be established in respect of prices justification inquiries initiated by the PJT. This will allow the Tribunal to obtain basic information and consult with the company or companies concerned as well as with other interested parties to determine whether a prima facie case exists for a public inquiry. The decision whether to proceed to a public inquiry will be subject to approval by the Minister in respect of inquiries initiated by the PJT. The capacity which exists for the Minister to refer for public inquiry matters arising from wage increases outside the wage indexation guidelines and allegations of excessive prices will be maintained. However, it will be open to the Minister to confine a reference to the industries to be covered by an inquiry, in which case it will be for the Tribunal to select the companies to be taken to inquiry.
The Bill amends the price freeze provisions of the Act to provide the Tribunal with a discretion to allow an interim price increase to a company under inquiry. The existing provisions are unduly restrictive and can prevent companies from recovering legitimate cost increases for up to 4 months in certain cases. These provisions will not apply in respect of inquiries initiated by the Minister which do not require the Tribunal to consider the justification of the prices under inquiry.
Time limits for completion of inquiries by the PJT have been made more flexible by including provisions which allow the Minister to specify the time for completion of inquiries initiated by him, and which allow the Tribunal to extend the time for other inquiries with the consent of the company concerned.
The Bill modifies the confidentiality provisions of the Act so that companies may claim confidentiality in respect of documents and submissions containing secret formulas or processes. If requested, the PJT will not disclose information which in its opinion would damage the competitive position of a company, unless the Tribunal considers it in the public interest to do so. A provision is included in the Bill to allow the Minister to issue general directions to the PJT as to any matter which should be given special consideration by it in the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers. This provision will ensure that, notwithstanding its statutory independence to arrive at its own findings in particular cases, the Tribunal’s operations will be placed within the framework of Government policy.
The changes to the Prices Justification Act contained in this Bill demonstrate the Government’s concern that in its operations the PJT should not add unduly to business costs or inhibit investment. At the same time they will ensure adequate surveillance of prices and improve the capacity of the PJT to inquire into prices that need to be examined. The PJT will be better equipped to conduct comprehensive inquiries, as the need arises, into pricing practices within industries as distinct from companies- inquiries which range beyond the narrow confines of prices justification. The Government intends that the Tribunal be employed in this role as a support where appropriate for its policies and, in particular, its anti-inflation strategy. In this regard the PJT will undertake a program of inquiries into prices within industries which are major component groups of the consumer price index, or which have a significant impact upon the level of prices in other industries. These inquiries will be broadly similar to the inquiry presently being held by the Tribunal into the processed foods industry. Apart from its price surveillance role, the PJT will carry out a valuable function of advising the Government on the structure of prices in key areas of the economy. I am confident that the business community will recognise the importance of this function and respond accordingly. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion of Senator Grimes) adjourned.
That the Senate calls upon the Government to implement, in full, and at an early date, the recommendations contained in Whales and Whaling, the Report of the Independent Inquiry conducted by the Honourable Sir Sydney Frost, presented to the Prime Minister on 1 December 1978.
Before commencing my remarks, I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard the recommendations made in Sir Sydney Frost’s report.
The document read as follows-
Australia should oppose the continuance of whaling. While the Whaling Act 1960 remains in its present form, any application for a whaling licence should be refused, with the exception of a licence to take, in appropriate circumstances, a limited number of dolphins live for display purposes, and only in special circumstances should a permit be issued to take any cetacea for scientific purposes.
Whaling by other nations should be prohibited within the Australian 200-mile fishing zone. If Australia decides to include waters off the Australian Antarctic Territory in this zone, a policy of prohibition of whaling should also be pursued in these waters.
At the International Whaling Commission meeting to be held in December 1978, Australia should seek to classify both male and female sperm whales in Division 5 as Protection Stocks and to amend the catch limits presently set for this Division to zero. Furthermore, Australia should press for caution in the setting of other catch limits at that meeting.
Consideration should be given to the repeal of the Whaling Act 1960 and its replacement by new legislation directed to the protection of cetacea, and if thought desirable other marine mammals, along the lines of the marine mammal protection legislation of the United States and New Zealand.
The import of whale products or goods containing whale products should be banned in Australia from 1 January 1981.
Australia should continue to be a member of and support the International Whaling Commission as the most appropriate body to be responsible for conservation of whales internationally. Australia should support current efforts to revise the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling 1 946. In particular Australia should seek to extend the Commission ‘s charter to the conservation of all cetacea. It should also support increased liaison and cooperation between the Commission and other international bodies with responsibilities affecting cetacea.
Australia should seek to achieve a worldwide ban on whaling. In working towards this Australia should propose a more cautious approach in setting catch limits and a greater emphasis on the conservation of whales by the International Whaling Commission. Although seeking to bring an end to whaling, Australia should take into account any adjustment required by the special needs of particular countries, such as the requirements of some nations of whale meat for protein, and subsistence catches by some local communities.
Both in its own planning and in international discussions on the management of marine resources Australia should ensure that any implications for whales are given consideration. In particular, any proposals to exploit krill or other Antarctic marine resources should be developed with consideration of the whole ecosystem and examined to see that the potential recovery of depleted baleen whale stocks is not prejudiced.
The Commonwealth Government should promote research on whales by Australian scientists and research institutions. lt should provide funds at no less than present levels for this work. Priority should be given to:
the monitoring of the sperm, humpback and right whale stocks off Australia, including their abundance and matters affecting their recovery in numbers and their success in breeding;
the refinement of techniques for whale stock assessment and ecosystem modelling, especially while any whaling continues;
the monitoring of Australian strandings of cetacea and the preservation and study of the specimens thus provided.
The continued Australian involvement in the International Whaling Commission should emphasise particularly participation in the Scientific Committee so that results of Australian research are promptly incorporated in that Committee’s deliberations, and to ensure that due scientific attention is given to the various criticisms of current assessment procedures.
-The issue of the Government’s response to the inquiry into whaling is one that is of great concern not only to people who are interested in general matters of conservation but also to those who are interested in the whaling industry and whales as such. I do not know how many honourable senators have had the opportunity actually to see large numbers of whales in their natural habitat. I have certainly had that pleasure and it is one which I think one, having had it, would never forget. I have also stood like some sort of latter day Jonah inside the skeleton of a great blue whale in the British Museum, although I am reminded that the Bible says that Jonah was swallowed not by a whale but by a great fish’.
Perhaps one of the important things that has made whaling such an issue of importance is that whales are not simply fish. They are in fact mammals, and in many ways show an affinity and a kinship with the human species, which is rare in any animal. We know that from the 12th century onwards the Basque fishermen of Spain have been hunting and taking the North Atlantic right whale, and that the association in myth and legend between man and whale and the related cetacea species of dolphin and porpoise has been a long and enduring one.
The independent inquiry was established after an enormous amount of pressure was built up through the community and translated in petitions and resolutions coming before the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) first indicated in November 1977 his intention to establish such an inquiry. In a statement on 20 March 1978 he said:
Many thousands of Australians and men, women and children throughout the world have long felt deep concern about the activities of whalers.
In response to this concern, the inquiry was established and the inquiry reported on 1 December 1978. I think it is important to indicate that whereas many people were originally concerned that the report would have serious ramifications for the Cheynes Beach Whaling Co. and for the Albany district of Western Australia in fact because of the decision of the company, prior to the report actually being presented, to close down its operations we are able to discuss a report about future policy in whaling matters which does not involve making an economic decision about the future of the Albany district or about the position of the Cheynes Beach Whaling Co.
There is certainly no doubt that the world’s whale species have been plundered and that the whale continues to be in danger. I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a table from page 34 of Sir Sydney Frost’s report indicating the size of whale populations at various times.
The table reads as follows-
-It will be seen from that table and indeed seen from the Red Book of the International Conservation Movement that whale species in general are still regarded as being in considerable danger. It will be one of my charges that one of the great faults and one of the great culpabilities of the International Whaling Commission is that it did almost nothing to prevent that from occurring. It is a charge that has to be laid at the feet of the Australian fisheries authorities that they permitted this situation to occur and also permitted protected species to be killed. I refer specifically to dolphins, which are protected under the legislation of this country. It was reported in the Daily Telegraph of 3 1 July of last year that a large number of people have been reported on several occasions as being in small pleasure craft in St Vincents Gulf hunting porpoises wilh rifles, killing reasonable numbers and allowing them to settle dead on the seabed, and that the fisheries authorities in that State and of the Commonwealth have done nothing to stop this particularly barbaric slaughter.
It has been said- quite wrongly- that there are no substitutes for products derived from the whale and that as a result the whaling industry should be allowed to continue. Those remarks can be shown to be demonstrably false. In the Bulletin of 28 February of this year, under the heading ‘The marvellous bean that will save the whale’, there is a lengthy discussion about the development of the jojoba bean, which is a native of some very dry climates, particularly the south-west of the United States and Mexico, and which is now being grown in commercial quantities in Mexico, the southwest of the United States and the Negev Desert. I learned from that article that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Division of Plant Industry has been conducting experiments with some considerable hope that the materials derived in terms of lubricants and waxes from that bean will go a long way towards replacing the whale products that have previously been used. For instance, one can see on page 126 of Sir Sydney Frost’s report that the learned judge said that it was quite clear that no difficulties would arise if the products directly derived from the whale were no longer available. He went on to say that it would be possible for Australia, if it wished, to indicate after a two-year adjustment period that the importation of sperm oil, spermaceti and other whale products would be prohibited as has already occurred in the United States and elsewhere. His principal conclusion on this matter was that the oil from the jojoba shrub is a suitable substitute for sperm oil in almost all applications.
The second great lie that has been told about the need to continue the whaling industry is that the Japanese need whale meat to eat. In a paper produced by the Japanese Whaling Association the claim is made that whale meat is indispensable for the Japanese. Yet the lie is given to that in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald of 24 June 1977 in which it is indicated from official Japanese statistics that the amount of whale meat consumed amounts to only 0.33 per cent of the Japanese diet. Similarly it has been said that if we do not take part in commercial whaling operations in the area other nations will simply move in and take our share of the quota. That would not be true if, as the report suggests, we were to take action within the 200-mile limit of Australia to prohibit other people from taking whales. In the Audubon magazine of January 1977 it is clearly indicated that implementation of the United States 200-mile fisheries limit next summer will deal a crippling blow to the north Pacific, Japanese and Soviet whaling fleets.
I have said previously that the International Whaling Commission cannot be trusted. It cannot be trusted in the proper and efficient management of whales. Indeed, Sir Sydney Frost, on pages 90 and 9 1 of his report, said:
If the International Whaling Commission had adopted a more prudent approach earlier in its history, whale stocks might now have been sufficiently larger. As it is they have been excessively depleted.
He went on to say:
The gravest indictment of the International Whaling Commission since its beginning is that it has presided over the decimation of blue and humpback whale stocks and the severe depletion of most fin and sei and some male sperm whale stocks.
In an article in Nature magazine of 23 November 1978 it is indicated that, once again, the International Whaling Commission, reacting to the advice of its own scientific committee, has been doing too little too late, and that attitude has persisted for some considerable time. In the administration of the International Whaling Commission there are the most notorious loopholes. For instance, it was originally believed that there would be no killing of Bryde ‘s whales during the current Antarctic whaling season; yet the Japanese have granted themselves, under one of the IWC loopholes, a ‘scientific permit’ to kill 240 whales during the course of this season, despite the IWC’s having a formal zero quota for that whale during that period. Quite clearly, the International Whaling Commission cannot be trusted to do its job properly in that regard.
There are some indications that the Australian Government’s attitude over a period has become backsliding. In 1962 the Liberal-Country Party Government’s representative at the Stockholm conference on the human environment voted in favour of a 10-year moratorium on the taking of whales. By 1976, however, the International Whaling Commission meetings in London saw Australia and South Africa supporting the whaling nations of Japan and the Soviet Union in obtaining higher quotas. For instance, despite the fact that the International Whaling Commission suggested a quota of 287 for Area 1, the Japanese moved an amendment to raise it to 299. Australia supported that amendment. For Area 2 the scientific committee recommended a quota of 764. The Japanese moved for 1,369. Australia supported them. For Area 8 the scientific committee recommended a quota of 826. The Japanese suggested a quota of 3,188. Australia supported them. The New Scientist was moved to describe South Africa and Australia as the only allies’ of the whaling nations. That was one indication that Australia’s attitude was slipping somewhat. In a document put out in June 1977 over the signature of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) as a background paper on whaling, the Minister said:
A ten year moratorium on all whaling is unrealistic because any endangered species could not recover in such a short time.
Four years previously the Australian Government had voted for such a moratorium. On 22 March of this year the Melbourne Sun reported about accusations by American conservationists that an Australian delegation to last year’s International Whaling Commission in Tokyo had sabotaged efforts to ban whaling. That can be seen from what happened at that whaling conference to the low quotas that previously had been decided. For instance, the quota for North Pacific sperm whales, which had previously been reduced from 7,200 to 763, was then restored to a higher figure of 6,444 by the vote of the Commission when reviewing the quotas. Australia did nothing to stop that increased quota from taking place. I think that that is a disgraceful attitude, given what had been said in the public debate about the whaling industry in Australia.
I believe that the view of the Australian people that whaling should cease is overwhelming. It has ceased but that, frankly, is not sufficient. The latest Gallup poll on this matter indicated that 66 per cent of Australians believe that whaling ought to stop. It is not just that people are upset, as they ought to be, about the barbaric and disgusting way in which whales are killed. These sensitive and intelligent creatures are subjected to harpooning by canisters that then explode inside them, sending metal fragments reaching through their bodies until they die of blood loss or septicaemia and they can take 45 minutes to die if this thing does not discharge properly. That is what the Government condoned in all the years that it permitted the Cheynes Beach setup to operate. It permitted the Cheynes Beach setup to kill whales in that fashion. It is not just that one can see, for instance, in the January 1979 issue of the National Geographic a most brilliant article about the song pattern and speech pattern of the whales. There is even a recording provided free in that journal of the whale songs and their extreme complexity. It is not just that one can turn to volume two of Sir Sydney Frost’s report in which the various scientific papers are presented, including a paper on the intelligence of the whale; it deals with the brain size of the whale. That paper is presented by Mr Peter J. Morgane in which he says:
Nevertheless, the preliminary evidence is such as to make us firmly believe that the whale brain more closely resembles that of the human and higher primates in terms of cytologically distinguishable areas.
He goes on to say:
A meeting ground of minds across species would indeed be a remarkable event- in some ways more profound than putting men on the moon. Such intelligent interlock of minds and thought and feelings would mean that man no longer is a dominant being served by all other living forms depending on his wishes. He would then begin, in a sense, to ‘share’ space and time and to see into the life and mind of his fellow creatures. What significance this would have in changing the present view of his relations with the rest of living forms! Man might then better appreciate that all living forms are interlinked and related. To destroy any forms interrupts nature ‘s balance to the eventual detriment of man.
– Does Sir Sydney Frost give credit to the theory, do you know?
-Yes. Sir Sydney Frost in the first volume of the report refers in glowing terms to Mr Morgane’s paper and recommends everybody to read and study it, while giving the necessary cautions about taking an excessively anthropomorphic attitude, establishing human characteristics in animals that no matter what we think of them are not yet human although loving. Before turning to the particular recommendations which I have already had incorporated in Hansard, I turn firstly to volume 1 of the report in which at page 205 Sir Sydney writes as follows:
This Inquiry has then reached the conclusion that Australia’s policy should be changed, and that Australia should oppose the continuance of whaling, both within Australia and also abroad. Whales are migratory animals and are the heritage of all nations. We have a national and an international responsibility to preserve them for future generations.
We have been robbing future generations with the policy that this Government, the International Whaling Commission, the Japanese and the Soviets have adopted as far as whaling is concerned for going on the best part of 30 years of the operation of the Whaling Commission and its predecessors. We have been in a situation in which a valuable natural resource has not only been squandered and destroyed but also in some areas has been brought to the point where it is close to extinction. The theory of the maximum sustainable yield and the new management procedures which the Whaling Commission has made so much about have been thoroughly discredited. The International Conference on Environmental Matters in Bergen in 1976 debunked the scientific evidence which was supposed to have been the underpinning of the maximum sustainable yield theory. Yet that continued to be the practice of the Whaling Commission during the next couple of years. The new management procedures that were introduced some years later have not been better in any substantial fashion.
Mr Acting Deputy President, it is certainly true that these are emotive subjects. It is certainly true that they are subjects that excite a great deal of debate. I refer to Project Jonah, which I believe to have been one of the most responsible community groups ever to approach me and I think ever to approach other honourable senators. The way in which the people working on that project went about establishing their case, explaining their case, appeared before the independent inquiry, presented their case and persuaded the inquiry of the validity of their case is an exercise in real participatory democracy on the one hand, in that people who are interested and informed can bring recommendations to the Government; and a real outpouring of concern for natural resources, the environment and conservation on the other hand.
It will be to the lasting discredit of this Government if given that and given the recommendations that are made it does not act. I summarise the principal recommendations as follows: That Australia should oppose the continuance of whaling; that whaling by other nations should be prohibited within the Australian 200-mile fishing zone; that consideration should be given to the repeal of the Whaling Act 1960 and its replacement with legislation better able to protect all forms of marine mammal along United States lines; that the importation of whale products or goods containing whale products should be banned in Australia from 1 January 1981; that Australia should seek to achieve a world wide ban on whaling; that both in its planning and in international discussions on the management of marine resources Australia should ensure that any implications for whales are given serious consideration; and that the Commonwealth Government should promote research on whales by Australian scientists and research institutes.
This is all the more important when we consider the amount of control which Australia has not only over its own enormous coastal waters but also over the coastal waters adjacent to the Antarctic where a lot of poaching by the Japanese and the Soviets and the non-IWC whaling nations, of which there are seven, goes on and goes on without restrictions. If whales some day are gone, also will be gone the opportunity to learn how these warm-blooded social animals survive in cold seas, communicate with song and navigate across thousands of miles of ocean with no road map and no lunch. Gone too will be the poetry, the symbol that whales provide for us. By respecting their right to live and to co-exist peacefully with us there is evidence that we can find harmony with our environment, with our fellow creatures and perhaps with ourselves.
– I second the motion and seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Commerce and Industry in the Australian Capital Territory
Motion (by Senator Webster) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– On 22 March I raised a question in the Senate during Question Time concerning preference for local industry in the Australian Capital Territory in tendering for contracts for Commonwealth Government goods and services. In the course of that question I asked the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster), who is now in the chamber and who is the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, the following specific question:
Will the Minister consider as a matter of urgency the introduction of a similar preference scheme in the Australian Capital Territory to protect and assist local firms in their work for the Commonwealth Government?
In reply Senator Webster, as representative of the Minister for Capital Territory, said:
I understand that that has since been done. I draw this matter to the attention of the Senate because in recent times a situation has arisen in which a firm in the Australian Capital Territory, which was established by an individual who showed the incentive to establish a new business and who built it up over the course of five years, has been or in the near future will be almost wiped out by a decision to give a contract on what seems to be- it is difficult to judge because obviously the information available is not necessarily comprehensive- a very narrow difference in tender. I raise this question because on the basis of the information available to me the difference in the tenders was marginal or at least, to my mind, was not of great significance, particularly if the sort of schemes of preference available to local firms in the States applied in the Capital Territory.
All six Australian States and the Northern Territory now give preference to local manufacturers- that is, manufacturers within that State or Territory- tendering for Government contracts to provide goods and services to that particular State or Territorial government. My understanding is that this generally takes the form of a 10 per cent preference margin on tenders. That was the figure, the Minister will recall, to which I referred in asking my question of him.
The result of that is that tenders from local manufacturers in those States and Territories can be up to 10 per cent higher than tenders from interstate or overseas firms and still be successful. I understand that in some States an additional preference margin of 5 per cent is allowed to firms in country areas. None of these provisions apply in the Capital Territory. That results in part from the fact that there is no State government here. The only government which operates in the Territory is, of course, the Commonwealth Government. Therefore there is no particular benefit for companies, firms or businesses established in this Territory who may be tendering against interstate competition.
I believe that within some States- this applied to New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia- preference margins were allowed to firms located outside the major cities as part of programs in those States to encourage decentralisation. Those margins were originally in the vicinity of 5 per cent. This was a deliberate attempt by States to encourage industries established in decentralised areas to continue to operate and to provide them with some incentiveinitially presumably to start operations. These schemes were extended later to give preference margins on a Statewide basis in the various States. I understand this is relatively recent but before 1976 the four smaller States- Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmaniahad preference schemes in operation. Since then similar schemes have been adopted by New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory.
The point of all this is that no such schemes yet apply in the Capital Territory; in other words, the only part of mainland Australia and Tasmania in which companies must operate under a tendering system which offers them no preference is the Capital Territory. To give a recent example, in New South Wales as recently as September 1976 a preference scheme was introduced to encourage local manufacturers and to lessen the effect at that time of unemployment in the State. One could well apply an appropriate analogy of that situation to the Capital Territory and suggest that such a preference scheme might benefit not only businesses and firms in the Capital Territory by providing them with an incentive to establish here and a margin on which they could continue to operate, but it might also assist in overcoming the unemployment problem.
A situation to which I referred earlier, has developed here in the Territory, whereby an employer, who sought a contract and apparently missed out by a narrow margin, will have to reduce the number of people employed in that operation from, I understand, in the vicinity of 33 people to three people. It may well be that the company that has won the contract will be able to employ those people who have lost their jobs. The point is that someone who took the initiative to set up a business in the Capital Territory, who employed a large number of people and who had built up a business of considerable value over five years, has now lost that business in one fell swoop as a result of what seems to be, on the information available to me- I concede it is limited- a marginal decision.
In August 1978 the Northern Territory, which became self-governing in July 1978, introduced a 5 per cent preference scheme for local businesses. But in the Capital Territory, the remaining mainland Territory, no such preference exists. No capacity exists on the part of any authority, representative or elected institution in this Territory to create such a preference. The only organisation, body, authority or institution that can do that is the Commonwealth Government.
The preference schemes that have been introduced by States and more recently by the Northern Territory government are part of an overall program in those States to attract industry and to assist in the problem of unemployment which they face. Obviously these programs cover a much wider range of incentives and policies. They include tax concessions, financial assistance, the provision of factories and land, housing for employees and decentralisation incentives. I mention in passing that many of those incentives simply do not exist in the Capital Territory. Certainly there are other incentives here. I repeat, many of the incentives to attract industry to various centres and cities in the States do not exist in the Capital Territory. This contributes to some of the difficulties this Territory is having with respect to unemployment. The effectiveness of these sorts of programs in the States and the Northern Territory obviously is extraordinarily difficult to assess in any empirical sense but they have played a part in encouraging industries to choose locations which otherwise might not have been chosen. The States and the Northern Territory have provided incentives to ensure that those industries remain in the areas where they have been established so that those areas are not subsequently severely disadvantaged by dislocation. 1 again make the point that the sort of incentives to which I have referred and the preference incentives with respect to contracts are not available in the Capital Territory. As I have suggested already, the only authority that has the capacity to introduce any such preferences or incentives in this Territory is the Federal Government. We have no State government; we do not have selfgovernment such as that in the Northern Territory. The result is that these incentives and preferences have not been introduced here. We have seen a dramatic example in recent days of a local company, established by local initiative and prospering in the local scene, being severely and adversely affected by a decision to allow a marginally better competitor- as I understand it- to come into the Territory and take over.
As I suggested in my question on 22 March, I believe that the Commonwealth Government, because of its unique and, in our Federal system, unusual role in the Federal Territory, has a responsibility to examine this matter because we do not have a government, State or local, with any executive powers that might introduce some scheme of preferences or incentives for our local companies and industries. This lack of incentive or preference obviously has an impact on local industries which now exist as well as on the capacity of other industries interested in establishing themselves in the Capital Territory.
I appreciate the fact that the questions involved, such as the impact on the cost of contracts and so on, are matters of considerable complexity. They cannot be dealt with in an adjournment debate. Nevertheless, this matter, with all its complexities, is one for which I believe the Commonwealth Government has a very great responsibility. This is its Capital and it should give close attention to the matter. I therefore ask the Minister who is present in the chamber and who represents the Minister for the Capital Territory to look into this matter, following my question and the remarks I have made tonight, as a matter of urgency, to assess whether some scheme of incentives, and, more particularly, of preference with respect to local industries, can be provided in the Territory to protect industries that are here and to attract industries that may wish to set up establishments here. It is a matter of considerable importance and one to which I hope the Government will give its close and early attention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 20 September 1978:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Oil Drilling on Great Barrier Reef (Question No. 1 140)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 20 February 1979:
Has any approach been made to the Commonwealth Government from the Queensland Government since 1 1 November 1975 to allow oil drilling or prospecting on the Great Barrier Reef.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am not aware of any approach by the Queensland Government since 1 1 November 1975 to allow drilling or prospecting on the Great Barrier Reef.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Special Trade Representations, upon notice, on 2 1 February 1 979:
– The Acting Minister for Special Trade Representations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 20 February 1979:
What international conventions, treaties, agreements or other such arrangements have been implemented in whole or part in Australian law through Federal legislation since the Attorney-General provided a list in answer to Question on Notice No. 141 of 1977 (Senate Hansard, 3 June 1977, pp. 2062-63).
– I am informed that the answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 2 1 February 1 979:
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Premises Rented or Leased by the Commonwealth (Question No. 1390)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 6 March 1979:
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 20 March 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
-On 23 November 1978 (Hansard, page 2435) Senator Thomas asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question, without notice, concerning the review of Australian quarantine arrangements. The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Review of Australian Quarantine Arrangements, the report of which was tabled in the Parliament on 26 October 1977, was carried out at my request for an independent, administrative review of quarantine arrangements, in particular whether the controls as then applied were too strict or too lax.
The Review was carried out by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. It did not call for evidence but held comprehensive discussions with relevant Federal and State officials. The State officials were from New South Wales and Victorian authorities. Those consulted were:
Department of Health
Department of Business and Consumer Affairs (in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria)
Department of Primary Industry
Department of Transport
Qantas Airways Limited
Department of Defence
New South Wales Department of Agriculture
Biological and Chemical Research Institute, Rydalmere
Victorian Department of Agriculture (including Veterinary Research Institute, Parkville)
Liner Services Container Depot, Appleton Docks.
Information was also sought and received from the Association of Australian Port and Marine Authorities.
Inspections were made of conventional and container cargo handling; the Export and Import Branch (Plant Quarantine) of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture; and facilities at Kingsford-Smith International Airport (including the disinsection of aircraft).
-On 20 March 1979, Senator Knight asked me, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, the following question, without notice:
In view of this (Fraser Island) situation, and the concern expressed in business, political and other circles in the United States as to the decision of the Australian Government, can the Minister indicate whether the deadline to which he referred, and the appointment of an independent arbitrator with respect to compensation, might be reconsidered by the Government.
The Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government initially sought a firm response to its offer of an ex gratia payment by 3 1 December 1978. At DM Mineral ‘s request, the time limit for its reply was extended to 3 1 March 1979. The current situation is that the Government is waiting on a response from the company.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 March 1979, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1979/19790329_senate_31_s80/>.