31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the Senate that on 4 October the Minister for Trade and Resources (Mr Anthony) left Australia for trade talks in Thailand, Japan and Korea. The Minister for Special Trade Representations (Mr Garland) will act as Minister for Trade and Resources until Mr Anthony’s return on 17 October.
The Minister for Productivity (Mr Macphee) left Australia on5 October to attend the South Pacific Conference in Tahiti and will return on 1 4 October. The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife) will act as Minister for Productivity during Mr Macphee ‘s absence.
– I present the following petition from 20 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members or the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That the effects of hearing impairment are not recognised by the community at large. Seven per cent of the Australian population aged15 and above have some degree of hearing defect, and in Tasmania, sixteen thousand people are socially handicapped through hearing impairment.
The potential of the hearing impaired and profoundly deaf people within Australia is not recognised, nor are opportunities afforded to these people for the advancement of vocational and economic status or the quality of life.
Your petitioners therefore pray:
That the Honourable Senate take cognizance of your petitioners and encourage the advancement of hearing impaired and deaf people throughout the country.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 80 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Victoria respectfully urge the Commonwealth Government to:
. Increase all pensions and benefits to above the Poverty Line.
Establish and fund a national emergency aid system.
Agree to the introduction of a guaranteed minimum income.
Abolish the work test on Unemployment Benefit.
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. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Red Army Choir is a military propaganda unit glorifying the Soviet regime which is still hostile to the democratic way of life. The Red Army is the main instrument in keeping formerly free people under subjugation, and its presence enables blatant violations of Human Rights to be perpetrated. The support, therefore, of such instruments of a totalitarian regime can only harm the development of free and liberal thought under it.
Your petitioners humbly pray that the Australian Government assert its support for the aspirations of subjugated people by denying entry into this country to the Red Army Choir.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
-I present the following petition from 161 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 the Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) Act 1977 should immediately be repealed because:
It provides unfettered power to Ministers to suspend, stand-down and dismiss Commonwealth Government employees and places them in a markedly disadvantageous position as compared with all other Australian workers.
Its use places Commonwealth Government employees in direct conflict with the Government as it circumvents the arbitration tribunals and denies appeal rights.
Its use will exacerbate industrial disputes and inflame industrial relations in the Commonwealth area of employment.
The International Labour Organisation has condemned the Provisions of the Act as being incompatible with the rights of organised labour in a free society.
And your petitioners in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– A petition has been lodged for presentation from 6 1 citizens as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this our humble petition respectfully showeth:
That the decision of the Australian Government to depart from its 1975 election promise, a promise re-affirmed during the 1977 election campaign, that pensions would be increased twice-yearly in line with increases in the CPI, will seriously add to the economic burdens now borne by those citizens who are wholly or mainly dependent on their pensions.
Your petitioners are impelled by this fact to call upon the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to review the abovementioned decision, and to determineThat pensions will be increased twice yearly in line with rises in the CPI as promised by the Prime Minister in his 1973 policy speech.
Your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Senator Colston.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the following matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs:
1 ) The desirability of amending the Broadcasting and Television Act 1 942 to remove the existing ban on the broadcasting or televising of election matter after the Wednesday preceding an election day.
The desirability of amending the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1 9 1 8 to provide for
Public funding of electoral campaigns;
realistic limitation of electoral expenses;
displaying of’how to vote’ cards in voting cubicles at polling booths;
) the inclusion on ballot papers of the party designation of candidates; and
the application of the same standards of truthfulness and accuracy to political advertisements as apply to commercial advertising.
– I give notice that, 10 sitting days after today, I shall move:
That the Fuels Control Ordinance 1979, as contained in Australian Capital Territory Ordinance No. 14 of 1979, and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910, be disallowed.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. I refer him to questions which I have asked him on three occasions and in answer to which he has on each occasion undertaken to bring down a statement relating to fees for overseas students in tertiary institutions. I ask the Minister whether the statement made by Mr MacKellar, the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, on 28 September 1979 is in any sense a definitive statement of the Government’s view on this matter or whether we can still expect a statement from the Minister and, if so, when.
– As Senator Button would know, the Minister responsible for this matter is the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. The statement has been brought down. It is the statement of the Government’s policy with regard to the charging of fees.
– I ask a supplementary question. If the Minister responsible is the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, I ask the Minister, first of all, why this matter was first dealt with in the education section of the Budget and, secondly, why on three occasions he, as Minister for Education, undertook to bring down a statement regarding the matter?
– As to the second part of the question, I undertook to do so because Senator Button directed the question to me in my capacity, I presume, as Leader of the Government in the Senate and in accordance with my umbrella responsibility as such. Since the Budget was brought down it has been abundantly clear to all that the actual servicing of this matter would be done by the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs at the point of visa and at the commencement of the entry to Australia of the student concerned. It has always been regarded by the Government as a matter of immigration and not primarily of education. The job of education is to provide the institutions and quantitative teaching for the student. The question of an admission fee for foreign students is conditional upon the visa.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry give urgent consideration to the protection of the natural breeding grounds of the black marlin when final negotiations take place with the Japanese in respect of long line fishing off the north Queensland coast?
-The former Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair, at page 1463 of Hansard stated:
Negotiations by officials have now concluded and the resulting agreement is under consideration by the Government prior to the formal signing of the documents.
I stress that the matter is under consideration by both the Japanese and the Federal governments. Accordingly it is open to either of them to accept the texts negotiated by officials, to reject them, or to seek modification of them. In considering the matter, the Australian Government will ensure the conservation and proper utilisation of all fisheries in the waters of the declared Australian Fishing Zone. This will apply to black marlin fisheries as well as to other fisheries. In Australia’s negotiations with Japan it has been concerned to protect the interests of Australian fishermen while at the same time honouring its international obligations with respect to the proper management of fisheries resources and to ensure their proper conservation. These objectives are set out in the Fisheries Act, which was amended in 1978. The text of the agreement negotiated with Japan by officials on access to the 200-mile Australian Fishing Zone is, as I have said, at present under consideration by both governments. Federally we are closely assessing the situation of claims by Queensland game fishing interests that increased protection is required for fishing grounds in north Queensland. All the information available is being closely assessed. The honourable senator may be assured that if we have evidence that stocks are becoming endangered, further action will be taken to protect them.
– I refer the Minister representing the Prime Minister to the reported statement of the Prime Minister that unemployed people are the duller and less motivated people in each age group in the community and that he doubted that the Catholic bishops supported the statement of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, in the booklet Beyond Unemployment. I ask the Minister: Can he give any evidence to back either of these statements? Does he think that the former statement will do anything to assist the alienation that the unemployed in our society undoubtedly feel and have demonstrated in the last week?
– I think the question itself is based on a wrong assumption. I have no proof that the first part of the question has any basis in fact. Indeed, if Senator Grimes can show me any proof that the words that he put into the mouth of the Prime Minister in his question are words that are issued in a statement of the Prime Minister, I will draw the Prime Minister’s attention to them. Until 1 see that proof I cannot assume, nor do I invite the public to assume, that the Prime Minister said those things. The fact of the matter is, without any reflection whatsoever on juvenile unemployed and indeed because of a tremendous practical understanding for them, that evidence has emerged, whether it be from the Williams Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training or whether it be from the Education Program for Unemployed Youth, that quite a number of young people coming through schools reach the point of leaving school unequipped to get a job even if there were many more jobs available. When they have been brought together in EPUY or elsewhere, a number of characteristics have emerged. These are a reflection on society itself, and I have said so here. First of all, there is an unduly low selfesteem on the part of many of them, and an undervaluing on the part of many of them.
– Of course there is, because there are no jobs.
– The difference between those, who are making the noise now and the Government is that they created the juvenile unemployment and did nothing about it. We, the Government, on coming to office, have probed the reasons and, if I might say so, with a very practical sympathy and a great sensitivity on this matter, are setting up remedial programs in a very wide way to get to the heart of this matter. The EPUY situation has shown that there is unduly low self-esteem, and arising out of that is a lower motivation than would otherwise have occurred; not in any sense a bludging- I have said that here, and I have rejected the thought. I find that completely unacceptable. Through the Australian Education Council I have invited the States to probe through the high schools to locate the young people at risk. This suggestion is now being acted upon, and the States believe that it will bear fruit. We want to see how we can do some remedial things and preventive things by pastoral care, by special kinds of care.
Opposition senators interjecting-
– The noise emerges, but this Government is doing something. The other Government caused the situation and did nothing at all. Vital things are happening at this moment, at both the State level and Commonwealth level, in order to try to prevent coming to a point of unemployment those who would be unacceptable even if there were more jobs. I remind the Senate of the Williams Committee report, a Committee set up by this Government, that 15-year-olds have a 28 per cent unemployment rate; that is, the unduly young schools leavers. Indeed in years gone by we have had an education system which has resulted in the fact that 25 per cent of all 14-year-olds are incapable of independent reading; that something like 15 per cent of all 14-year-olds are incapable of independent arithmetic. What is happening is that the Prime Minister and this Government have diagnosed these things and are setting about a massive attempt at prevention and remedial action. Therefore, when we look towards these young people, it is with a practical sympathy and not with any insensitivity.
- Mr President, I draw your attention to the numerous rulings that you have given in this chamber, first of all in relation to lengthy questions and then the very lengthy answers. I suggest, with very great respect, that the Leader of the Government, in replying to what I believe is a simple question, went on to introduce new business, which is not unusual for him, and to give a very lengthy answer which cuts down Question Time for everybody else in this chamber.
– There is no point of order.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs and concerns the desperate situation in Kampuchea where famine and disease threaten hundreds of thousands- even millions- of the civilian population. I preface my question by stating briefly that last week I was able to visit Kampuchean refugee areas on the border of Thailand. What amounts of food and medical supplies given in aid by the Australian Government have already reached the suffering people of Kampuchea? What proportion of Australian aid is going via Phnom Penh and what proportion via Thai border towns such as Aranyaprathet? Finally, given the brutal and ruthless inhumanity of both sides in this communist civil war, how can the Australian people be assured that aid, government or nongovernment, actually reaches the civilian population in greatest need?
– At the request of the World Food Program, on 12 September Australia offered 3,500 tonnes of rice for distribution to needy civilians in Kampuchea. It was agreed that in advance of the arrival of this shipment in the region, WFP would organise the distribution of 1,000 tonnes of rice across the Thai border into western Kampuchea and replace this amount from Australia’s consignment. The 3,500 tonnes of rice, to which has now been added another 500 tonnes of rice, is due to leave Geelong on 1 1 October and to arrive in Singapore by 25 October. I understand that the WFP plan to forward the remaining 3,000 tonnes of Australia’s contribution to Kompong Son in southern Kampuchea is well advanced. An aircraft carrying 44 tonnes of food and medical supplies is scheduled to arrive in Phnom Penh today. The cost of chartering the aircraft has been met by the Government and the relief supplies were provided by Australian nongovernment aid organisations. They will be distributed by Oxfam.
On 2 October the Government decided to make available $A2m for the provision and delivery of essential foodstuffs and medicine for Kampuchea and, as appropriate, for the airlift of emergency relief supplies. Departments are giving urgent consideration to the most effective disbursement of these funds to bring immediate relief to the millions suffering in Kampuchea. The Government considers that in the circumstances currently prevailing in Kampuchea, there is no viable alternative to the well established and reputable international agencies, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations International Children ‘s Emergency Fund, the World Food Program and Oxfam, for the effective distribution of relief supplies to civilians in greatest need. These agencies have made it clear that they will undertake distribution of relief supplies in Kampuchea only on the basis of impartiality and nondiscrimination. The Government is satisfied that they have made and will make every effort to ensure that the humanitarian aid reaches those in greatest need.
-Has the Minister for Social Security seen a statement by the Victorian Minister for Community Welfare Services that payments of pensions under the States Grants (Deserted Wives) Act will stop on 1 January next year? Does the Commonwealth Government expect to be paying supporting mother’s benefit to these women who previously received pensions from the Victorian Government? What were the recommendations from the State welfare Ministers on the payment of a lone parent pension? I remind the Minister that she expected the report last May and there has been a question on this matter on the Notice Paper for some weeks.
– I noticed the statement made by the Victorian Minister. I also had communication with him after the statement had been made. The Commonwealth Government is giving consideration to the matter that has now been raised by the Victorian Government. I believe that the report is completed and will be considered at a State welfare administrators meeting later this month. In due course I hope to be able to respond and give the Commonwealth’s reaction to the Victorian Government’s new proposal.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I refer to a question I asked in this chamber on Tuesday, 18 September, in which I referred to the Nationwide program of 30 July in which it was stated that the South Australian Government had released the report on the deaths caused by cancer of former miners at the uranium mine at Radium Hill. I also mentioned that Senator Cavanagh and Senator Coleman had referred to the report in speeches on 29 August. At the conclusion of Question Time Senator Cavanagh stated in a personal explanation that in his original speech he did not claim that the report existed but that an inquiry had been conducted and that a report should be made available, although with the change of government in South Australia it may be that a report will never be released. I ask the Minister: Following the change of government, do we know anything more of the report? Is the statement made by Senator Cavanagh as a result of that inquiry that ‘it has definitely proved that since 1960–
– I take a point of order. Obviously the matter should be taken up in the adjournment debate.
– Let him go.
– Perhaps so, but at the moment he is interfering with Question Time. It is a matter that should be taken up in the adjournment debate in case we want to respond. It is not a matter for Question Time. I ask you, Mr President, to rule that way.
– The honourable senator has put a question to the Minister. Have you finished your question, Senator Collard?
– Ask your question.
- Senator Cavanagh said that ‘it has definitely proved that since 1960, a matter of only 19 years, 59 per cent of those who worked underground at Radium Hill over a period of at least two years died of cancer’. Are these figures correct? Have they been substantiated?
– I have some general information on this matter. I do not know whether I can answer all parts of the honourable senator’s question. I recall answering a similar question on 18 September. I said that the Minister for Health had some information on that study but, as it had been supplied to him on a confidential basis by the former South Australian
Minister for Health, he was unable to release it. Fresh inquiries have been made following the change of government in South Australia and I have now been informed that the study group hopes to extend its study of former miners at Radium Hill and so does not plan to produce any report at this stage. The honourable senator’s question refers also to statements made in this chamber by Senator Cavanagh on 29 August and again on 1 8 September about the results of the study. Findings of the study to date have also been made available to the Minister for Health.
The only positive finding was in relation to miners who worked underground for more than 12 months in that a higher than usual proportion of those who died did so from lung cancer. This suggests an increased mortality from that cause, but in this respect the Minister for Health repeats what was said in September: There are a number of well-established causes of lung cancer amongst miners and it would be important to exclude these before it could be inferred that the excess mortality has been due to radiation. It is very doubtful whether the study would have any application to present-day uranium mining. I have a short summary of some figures. I seek leave to incorporate that table in Hansard.
The table read as follows-
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. I refer to a statement released today by the Minister for Post and Telecommunications and the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs concerning the ethnic television service which says, amongst other things, that the Government commits itself to a continuation of the present Special Broadcasting Service experimental service broadcast over the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I ask the Minister: How can the Government justify its intended continuation of the service in the light of the serious criticisms of the service by the Ethnic Television Review Panel which concluded that the service had been a complete failure and had not provided any useful information about the wishes or needs of ethnic communities in relation to ethnic television?
– I have some information from the Minister for Post and Telecommunications on the matter raised by Senator Ryan. Criticisms of the ethnic television programs have been aired previously in this chamber and are known to honourable senators. The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has already acknowledged publicly that these criticisms have been made and because of that the Government is now better placed to consider further developments in this area. I think that even Senator Ryan would acknowledge that ethnic television is a new development in Australia and that there are no existing Australian precedents by which to proceed. Having had these trials and the opportunity to have criticism and views expressed about ethnic television, the Government now has to assess carefully where ethnic television is going. Notwithstanding those criticisms, the Government has decided to proceed in the way that was announced this morning. It will be taking the various criticisms into account in determining the long-term future of the program.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I draw his attention to the Life. Be in It’ television advertisements which are being shown nationally on all television channels and, in particular, to the portion of the lyric which states: ‘Australians came from everywhere’. 1 point out that at no stage in the lyric or in the visual presentation are the original Australians- my race- considered worthy of a mention. I ask the Minister: Is this another example of our long and inglorious history of discrimination against my people? Can the Minister assure this chamber that that slight against my race- being considered not worthy of recognition as Australians- will be rectified immediately?
– I think that I can give a categorical assurance to the honourable senator that no slight or discrimination was intended in the omission to which he drew my attention in his question.
– It was just another oversight.
– It may well be true that there was an oversight. I certainly will examine that matter and see what can be done. I would comment that one of the current issues of great debate in the circles in Australia which are interested in the position of Aborigines is just where the Aboriginal people did come from when they came to Australia. That is a matter on which the academics seem totally unable to agree. It may be that that state of uncertainty has contributed to the omission in this case.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Science and the Environment. I draw attention to the most revealing public airing over the weekend of the differences between the National Country Party and the Liberal Party of Australia in Victoria. The following statement was made by Mr Jim Taylor, the Liberal Party’s member for Gippsland in the Victorian Legislative Council:
I would sooner go to bed with a rattlesnake than make a deal with the National Party.
I ask the Minister, in his capacity as Minister responsible for the environment: What protection does he offer to the rattlesnake against the threat posed by the statement of that member of the Legislative Council that he would sooner go to bed with a rattlesnake than make a deal with the National Party? I draw the Minister’s attention also to the statement made in a news release that the same could be said of the situation in New South Wales and Queensland and that some people there would not throw a shadow if they stood behind a corkscrew?
– Order! I point out to honourable senators that questions directed to Ministers must relate to the areas for which they are responsible. I cannot see any seriousness in the question asked by the honourable senator.
-As Minister for Science and the Environment, I can assure the honourable senator that I have no competence in the matter of whether it is wise to go to bed with a rattlesnake. I do not find that to be a matter which falls within my portfolio.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Health seen the recent recommendation of the World Health Organisation that non-smoking should be regarded as normal social behaviour and that all action which can promote the development of this attitude should be taken and, further, that there should be a total prohibition of all forms of tobacco promotion? Has the Minister noted the attempts of the tobacco industry to frustrate a public health campaign in northern New South Wales on the dangers of cigarette addiction? Has that attempted frustration taken the form of challenging the wording of certain anti-smoking advertisements and forcing their withdrawal until they have been justified before a series of lay advertising tribunals? Is that despite the fact that the very serious health dangers of smoking are known and that the Australian Medical Association has confirmed the medical accuracy of the advertisements in question?
Does the Minister accept as proper that the purveyors of a dangerous drug- cumulatively the most dangerous of all the addictive drugs in Australia- should be able to disrupt a public health campaign in this way? If the Minister cannot do anything about this procedural manoeuvre, will she have the Department of Health make a formal protest so that the tobacco industry is similarly forced to justify claims such as that a certain type of country is marlboro country, that a particular type of cigarette is cool and that another is as fresh as an alpine stream and so that such advertising is stopped until these claims can be clinically justified before an impartial tribunal?
– The Minister for Health is aware of the recommendations of the World Health Organisation’s expert committee on smoking control. I think it would be accepted that there is considerable common ground between the recommendations of that committee and the recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare. The Government is actively considering the Senate Committee ‘s report and will announce its response as soon as possible. I refer now to the other questions asked by Senator Hamer. I understand that the dispute is between the advertising industry and the Health Commission of New South Wales. The Commonwealth is not directly involved in the dispute, but the Minister for Health regards health promotion as a most worthwhile activity and he deplores any attempts to disrupt it.
The Minister for Health reminds honourable senators that smoking has been shown, beyond doubt, to be the major cause of diseases such as lung cancer and to contribute substantially to the development of many other diseases. The Government’s support for health promotion is evidenced by its recent allocation made to test a national health promotion program in 1979-80. 1 think that I will need to refer the specific questions raised by Senator Hamer to the Minister for Health.
– Has the Attorney-General ‘s attention been drawn to several books written recently which allege corruption in Australia? In particular I refer to books written by a most courageous experienced journalist, Bob Bottom, and a former senior officer of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Bernard Delaney, which allege that organised crime has now reached near catastrophic proportions in Australia similar to that prevailing in the United States and that profits to the syndicates each year are running into hundreds of millions of dollars. Is he further aware that it is alleged in those books that the syndicates are supported by massive corruption in police forces extending in some States to a political level? In view of this, is he disturbed by a recent statement made by Sir Colin Woods, the new head of the Australian Federal Police, that there was unnecessary overlapping of work done by the State and Commonwealth Police and government departments and that there was jealousy and rivalry among them? In view of the serious situation, will the Attorney-General arrange an urgent conference of relevant Commonwealth and State Ministers who head law enforcement agencies to see whether these problems can be resolved?
– I am aware of the books referred to by Senator Chipp but I cannot claim to have read them. As I said recently in the Senate, I do not have the opportunity of reading many books these days. I am certainly aware of the concern that is expressed not only in these books but also by a number of other people. I refer to a question asked in the Senate recently by Senator Puplick concerning fears of an increase in organised crime in Australia. I think I should refer Senator Chipp and the Senate to the answer that I gave Senator Puplick in relation to his question because it is very much along the same lines. The specific question that Senator Chipp has raised as to whether there is overlapping of police effort in Australia between Federal and State police or between State police and so on is not within my immediate responsibility because I am not the Minister responsible for the Australian Federal Police. I will refer that aspect of the question to the Minister for Administrative Services, who is the responsible Minister. Other parts of the question dealing with allegations of corruption in police forces and so on I believe refer largely to problems within the State area. Organised crime is one area about which the Commonwealth is particularly concerned, and in conjunction with four States we set up the Commonwealth Royal Commission into Drugs under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Williams. I anticipate that the report of the Commission, which has been sitting for about two years, will be submitted reasonably soon. I know that the Commission is well advanced with the preparation of the report, which will be the subject of great study and consideration in regard to a lot of the matters that Senator Chipp has raised.
– In view of mounting concern for the grave social effects of unemployment, can the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform the Senate of the latest trends in unemployment? Has the situation worsened or improved in the last 12 months? Is the Government’s anti-inflationary policy consistent with the objective of creating more jobs? Does the Government intend to bow to pressure to abandon its anti-inflationary policy and, in particular, its determination to contain the rate of wage increases?
– The Government is very concerned about unemployment, which it regards as a very serious social problem. I am happy to say that the underlying employment situation is improving. In June, civilian employee figures showed an increase of 64,500 since June last year. By June, seasonally adjusted manufacturing employment had risen by more than 18,500 from the September low point. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force survey figures, in August the total number of unemployed persons was estimated at 373,800, or 5.8 per cent of the labour force. This is a decrease of 8,600 from the July level. In August, the number of persons looking for full time work was 3 12,900, a decrease of 6,500 from July. Of the 3 12,900 persons looking for full time work, 112,900 were in the 15 to 19 years age group, and of course that is a serious matter.
There is a significant and steady improvement. The Government is keen to increase this and has embarked upon a number of matters to that end. Fundamental to any increase in job creation in Australia is the containment of inflation and interest rates and, above everything, their containment in relation to the rest of the world.
– Both of which are going up.
– The interjection serves to remind me that when the interjector’s government- the Whitlam Government- was in power, Australia was in the top quarter of the inflationary countries in the Western world and had costed itself out of world markets. In one year 110,000 people were costed out of manufacturing in Australia. I am happy to report that we are now in the lowest inflation quarter. Our performance is not quite as good as that of Japan or West Germany but is better than that of competitors such as the United States of America and England. Today, we are in a better competitive position cost wise in the world than we have been in perhaps a decade. That is the basis under which jobs can be created and that is how they are steadily being created.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he recalls that several times this year he has made the emphatic statement that interest rates would go down. Is it not a fact that interest rates have steadily been going up? Is it not also a fact that the recent sharp increase in interest rates in the United States will have repercussions in Australia? If so, what is the likely extent of those repercussions? Are they likely to lead to the Government’s increasing interest rates in this country? I ask that the Minister give an emphatic reply to that question.
-As to the third part of the honourable senators’ question I give, of course, the very emphatic reply that no responsible government would ever forecast trends in, and thus talk up, interest rates in the immediate future. For anyone to say, as Senator Georges is saying, that there will be an increase in interest rates is to invite people not to lend at the moment, to withhold their lending power. So the irresponsibility lies with the questioner.
Several weeks ago, during a debate on a matter of urgency, I was able to have incorporated in Hansard figures showing the success that this Government had had in regard to a wide range of interest rates and borrowings; that in fact the Government had not only undertaken to reduce interest rates but had done so. I refer the honourable senator and others to the Hansard report of that debate where those Treasury figures may be seen. It is true that, sadly, in the United States of America and the United Kingdom there has been an upward trend in interest rates. The effect of that will be to press upon Australia in its battle against inflation and for the containment of interest rates. However, one thing is certainly good news. Today, in regard to both inflation and interest rates, this country is so much better off than it was some four or five years ago under a socialist Government. In world terms we are immensely better off than are our trading partners, and that is where the significant clout in this matter lies.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport: Is the Government committed to the retention of Guildford Airport, in Perth, to service major internal and overseas air traffic in the foreseeable future? Is the Minister able to confirm reports that during this financial year three additional international airlines intend to operate services calling at Perth? What plans exist for upgrading and improving terminal facilities at Perth Airport? Does planning envisage the relocation of Department of Transport personnel to other office accommodation in order to facilitate maximum usage of existing space at Perth Airport for the travelling public?
-A Commonwealth-State committee has reviewed Perth’s civil airport needs to the end of the century and has recommended that Perth Airport, which is at Guildford, be retained and developed as the sole primary civil airport for Perth. The Commonwealth and State governments are at present considering this recommendation, concerning which no final decision has yet been taken. With regard to the second point raised by the honourable senator, I can confirm that the Dutch Airline, KLM, has been granted rights to operate through Perth, but that at this stage the Government has not been advised as to when the airline intends to take up this option. I have no knowledge of any other international airline-having recently received such approval.
With respect to the third part of the honourable senator’s question, I say that a project has been included in the current civil works program in order to provide early relief in the international arrivals area of the terminal and that, subject to funds being available in the next Budget, an item has been proposed in the 1980-81 program for expansion of the international departures check-in area. In the longer term, the master plan that is currently being prepared for Perth Airport will make provision for a major expansion of terminal facilities. .,
The last part of the honourable senator’s question related to the relocation of Department of Transport personnel. It is a basic planning philosophy that activities which need not be located in terminal buildings should be accommodated elsewhere, if that can be achieved economically. At this time, planning in relation to the Perth terminal is such that the travelling public would gain very little benefit by the relocation of the Department of Transport staff currently housed in the terminal. The problems relating to passenger handling capacity, with which the honourable senator and I are all too familiar, relate to the ground floor of the terminal whilst the Department of Transport staff are located on the first floor, mainly at the rear of the building. In the longer term it is planned to relocate as many activities as possible elsewhere, consistent with overall planning for the airport and terminal development.
Senator Evans having addressed a question to the Attorney-General-
– I mentioned earlier in Question Time that questions about matters which are within the area of responsibility of a Minister and on which information is available from a Minister may be directed to him. This question is not one which I will allow.
-My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I refer to a report on the Indo-China refugee situation which claimed that in the Vietnamese refugee position there have been major splits in refugee family groupings. Has the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs seen the report? If not, will it arrange for a study of the report? Speaking as one who has seen the work of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs on the refugee island of Bidong in the South China Sea, can the Minister indicate whether departmental officers have any specific instructions relating to the family distribution situation? Finally, has the Minister any further information in relation to the refugee and family position?
– The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs did see the report mentioned. I understand that the Indo-Chinese Refugee Association has made it quite clear that it is in no way critical of the Department’s handling of the matters raised in the article. Certainly, the Association does not consider that the Department has ‘ bungled ‘, which was the term used in the article. Australia’s refugee resettlement policy is designed to ensure, as far as possible, that families are kept together. Every attempt is made to avoid separation of close relatives. This could be a particular problem, for example, if the presence of a relative was not disclosed. I understand that this has occurred. It can also create difficulties where an accompanying relative chooses not to come to Australia but exercises his possible options of resettlement elsewhere. I understand that this also has occurred.
There is a point of principle involved in deciding what constitutes a close relationship and whether brothers and sisters of mature age, and perhaps having their own families, should be included in the concessional arrangements for refugees, possibly at the expense of reuniting immediate families within Australia’s annual refugee program limitation of 14,000. Some specific cases which were raised in the article are being investigated by the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I understand that the Rev. Father Foale, the President of the IndoChinese Refugee Association, has been appointed to the Australian Refugee Advisory Council, whose membership was announced on 7 October by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. That Advisory Council we hope, will be helpful in matters of the type raised by Senator Davidson.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. By way of preface, I remind the Minister that some weeks ago I asked him whether he would refer to the Trade Practices Consultative Committee, a Committee that advises him on the Trade Practices Act, the question of the Channel 9 network being granted exclusive rights for three years to televise cricket. As the Australian Broadcasting Commission has announced that it will request the Trade Practices Commission to investigate the matter, can the Minister give me some idea as to when I can expect an answer to my question as to whether he intends to intervene in this matter, as he did in the Banana Growers Federation case and the newsagents case? The matter is of extreme importance to people in country areas who are being denied by this Government the right to see replays of major sporting events because exclusive rights have been given to commercial stations whose beams do not reach their area.
– As I understand the position, the arrangement between the Australian Cricket Board and Channel 9 is the subject of an application to the Trade Practices Commission for an authorisation under the provisions of the Trade Practices Act. The submission made by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, to which Senator McAuliffe referred, was made to the Trade Practices Commission in relation to that application. I understand that it is now within the jurisdiction of the Trade Practices Commission. Senator McAuliffe ‘s question of course raised the wider issue of what would be the approach of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. The honourable senator referred to the consultative committee which I think exists largely to advise the Minister on amendments to the Act rather than to deal with a particular application. I perhaps should not say too much about the details of the role of that committee. I certainly will remind the Minister of the earlier question by Senator McAuliffe. I think that the matters which give Senator McAuliffe concern are probably now within, as I said, the consideration of the Trade Practices Commission. However, I will also ask the Minister to advise whether he proposes to take any steps in relation to these matters which are before the Trade Practices Commission.
– I ask the Minister for Education: What attitude does he take towards the rumours that the Tasmanian Government is proposing to close the Mount Nelson campus of the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education?
-I have read in the Tasmanian Press and heard on the media allegations that the Tasmanian Government proposes to close down the Mount Nelson campus. There are various implications underlying this. I want to make it very clear from the outset that the matter is one which is primarily and essentially at the State Government level. The Cosgrove committee was set up by the Tasmanian Government to rationalise postsecondary education in Tasmania. As I see it, the Tasmanian Government is at this moment proceeding with that rationalisation. I make no comment on the matter at this moment because it has not come before the Commonwealth. Whatever the decision may be in due course, it will come in terms of a funding recommendation to the Tertiary Education Commission, the Universities Council and the Advanced Education Council. When it does come to those bodies they will look at it. I must make it emphatically clear that what is happening at this moment is at the State Government level. The decisions being undertaken arise out of the actions taken by the State Government primarily to reduce the intake of teacher trainees on its campuses. The number and disposition of teacher trainees is entirely within the control of the State Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. It follows from the question asked by and the answer given to Senator Collard. I ask: In the information she has received from the new Government in South Australia, has she ascertained or will she attempt to ascertain whether the State Department of Health in South Australia investigated 600 employees out of a total of 3,000 employed on Radium Hill? Does that incomplete investigation disclose that of the 300 who had spent in excess of 12 months underground and who had died, 40.9 per cent died from cancer? Of those who had worked underground for less than 12 months, 18.3 per cent died from cancer. Of those who had worked above ground the whole time, 15 per cent died from cancer. The Department also made an analysis of underground miners other than uranium miners for the years 1968 to 1975. This analysis showed that the average incidence of cancer was 17.8 per cent. It was discovered that uranium throws off a radium gas which is heavier than air, which makes it realistic that open cut mining is more dangerous with its related problems of radium gas than underground mining with a good ventilation and blowing system.
– A number of specific questions were raised by Senator Cavanagh. I would need to have them referred to the Minister for Health to see whether he has that information from the report of the South Australian Government. I will see what information can be given to him.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce able to say why the Australian Capital Territory does not have full representation on the Australian Tourist Commission along the same lines as the States? Can the Minister indicate also whether the Government will consider action to ensure that the Territory is given similar representation on the Australian Tourist Commission as applies to the States?
– I am advised that recommendations for appointment to the Australian Tourist Commission are the responsibility of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. In considering these appointments he is obliged to comply with the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1967. Section 6 of that Act requires that two representatives shall be persons nominated by the governments of all the States. It is under this section of the Act that State representation is provided. The State representative is usually the State director of tourism. He serves a two-year term in accordance with the rotational arrangement agreed by the State Ministers responsible for tourism. If the Australian Capital Territory is to be represented on the same basis as the States, as suggested by Senator Knight in his question, it will be necessary to amend the Act or seek agreement of the States to include the Territory in the rotational arrangement mentioned earlier.
– And the Northern Territory.
– And the Northern Territory. I thank the honourable senator. In either case, consultation with the States will be necessary, but I doubt that the inclusion of a representative of the Australian Capital Territory will be agreed to by all the States. I will draw the matter to the attention of the Minister for Industry and Commerce so that he can give it his attention.
-I ask the Minister for Social Security: Is the Government considering various recommendations from the Minister’s Department as to how it should support unemployed youth? As part of that consideration, is the Government examining the present system of allocating unemployment benefits? Has the Government reached any decisions on those issues?
– The Government has not reached any decisions to change the eligibility for unemployment benefits for unemployed youth. The Minister for Education and the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs have referred to matters which they hope to be studying with regard to enhancing opportunities for training and education, but my Department has not provided any information with regard to this aspect. I understand that the Social Welfare Policy Secretariat has been developing some papers on this matter, but the Government has not made any decisions with regard to changing eligibility.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question in order to seek confirmation from the Minister. Is the Minister’s Department presenting or drawing up recommendations to the Government on this particular issue?
– I am not quite clear what papers my Department might be preparing relating to the work of other departments on interdepartmental considerations of this matter. The Social Welfare Policy Secretariat did develop some papers on it, in conjunction with other matters that were before the Government.
The Government has made no decision with regard to changes in eligibility for unemployment benefit.
– Senator YOUNG- I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. It concerns the stalemate reached on the matter of vehicle emission controls, because of the State governments of New South Wales and South Australia refusing to defer stage 3 of the Australian Design Rules, even though this was agreed to by all the other States. With the election of a new government in South Australia, will the Minister renew talks with the State Ministers of Transport to see whether the deferment of stage 3 can be resolved even if New South Wales is the only State opposed and refuses to accept a majority decision on this matter?
– The honourable senator raises a matter which has been raised in the Senate by him on a number of occasions and reflects his concern at the difficulties caused by the State of South Australia and the State of New South Wales in getting arrangements with respect to vehicle emission controls. I have no doubt that the election of the new government in South Australia represents a chance to ease the problem in this area as in other areas. I will refer the question to the Minister for Transport and ask him to take up the suggestion of the honourable senator.
– My question is directed either to the Leader of the Government in the Senate or to the Minister for Social Security and refers to the answer given by the Ministers in respect of unemployment of youths between the ages of 1 5 and 1 9 years. It is clear from the statement of the Leader of the Government in the Senate that he was echoing what Mr Viner, the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, had said at the National Youth Conference, namely, that there would be new training schemes. However, he used these words in his Press release:
The family responsibility would extend to their maintenance and upkeep.
Is it not clear from the statements made that in future the families of those persons who may be trained and who are presently maintained by unemployment benefit would have that responsibility transferred to them? I am referring to any new training scheme or to any scheme which might incorporate youths in the age group of 1 5 to 19 years? Because presently many benefits are available to young people under the various government support schemes, can the Minister indicate whether there is a substantial policy on this matter?
-It would be wrong to draw the inference that Senator Bishop has drawn. The fact of the matter is that there has been developing over several years now, particularly through my Department, but also through the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs, schemes aimed at upgrading the skills, attitudes and aptitudes of the young so that after they leave school they are capable of seeking and obtaining employment. It is necessary, as I mentioned in an earlier answer, to seek out those at risk in the schools and see whether we can give them added assistance in special ways, hoping that they will stay in meaningful pursuits beyond the unduly early school leaving age. If the students are at school they are part of the family responsibility. After they leave school they may be covered by a wide variety of training and retraining schemes such as Commonwealth Rebate for Apprentice Full-time Training, the National Employment and Training Scheme or the Education Program for Unemployed Youth.
Students who have been unemployed and who are now training under EPUY get a benefit equal to the unemployment benefit but it is not so defined. As we develop our new programs and we respond to the suggestions of the Williams Committee that EPUY-type schemes and other schemes should be expanded, quite a number of new schemes may be developed which will aid those who either remain at school or who leave school and are in the transition stage. But there is no intention in this kind of concept to achieve the results that are implied in Senator Bishop’s question.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It is reported that the Hanoibacked Government of Kampuchea has admitted that more than two million of its people are facing starvation but has said that offers of aid from the United States and Japan are tied to unacceptable political conditions. Is the Government in a position to comment on this statement and to indicate the present situation in Kampuchea? Is aid such as that from Australia getting through to these starving people or is it being intercepted and used by others? Is aid from other nations of the Western world which is being processed for Kampuchea now too late and too little to bring about any significant relief for the starving population of that country?
– I identify five parts to Senator Kilgariff’s question. As far as I am aware, the United States has not yet made a specific offer of aid to Kampuchea but has indicated that it would be prepared to contribute to international relief efforts. Japan has announced that it will contribute approximately $2m to international relief agencies for distribution in Kampuchea and an additional $1.3m for refugees in Thailand. Despite previous difficulties encountered by the international agencies in securing the agreement of the Heng Samrin regime to a major relief operation in Kampuchea, there are now encouraging signs that the authorities in Phnom Penh will accept the presence of representatives of these agencies to supervise the distribution of increased amounts of relief supplies. According to a joint International Committee of the Red CrossUnited Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund Press release of 26 September, the agreement provides for the presence of at least some representatives of both organisations to ensure that relief distribution is quick and consistent with the principles of impartiality and non-discrimination.
With regard to the second part of Senator Kilgariff’s question, the Government has been assured that every effort has been and will be made to ensure that supplies distributed to Kampuchea, including Australia’s contributions, go to the starving non-combatants. The World Food Program, to which Australia has donated 4,000 tonnes of rice, is fully satisfied that the consignment already delivered has reached Khmer civilians in the greatest need. The Government remains convinced that in the circumstances currently prevailing there is no viable alternative. It is the Government’s earnest hope that the planned level of international relief aid for Kampuchea will not be too little or too late to alleviate the plight of the Khmer people. Over 7,000 tonnes of food aid are expected to be delivered to Kampuchea this month, including the 4,000 tonnes from Australia. On the basis of UNICEF estimates this will be sufficient to meet the immediate needs of the Kampuchean people for up to two months. Australia’s prompt and substantial contributions have not only helped to alleviate the sufferings of the Khmer civilians but also set an example to other potential donors.
-On 27 September Senator Mulvihill asked me a question relating to an agreement signed by United States VicePresident Mondale and the Chinese Government on that country’s expanded hydro-electric program. The Minister for Housing and Construction has supplied this additional information. It is the understanding of the Government that the recently signed agreement between the United States and China for the hydroelectric work does not preclude the possibility of services of other companies, such as the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, being also used in China. China has an enormous potential for development in the hyrdo-electric field and a number of countries, in addition to the United States, are interested in offering assistance to China. It is thought that there should be room for contributions from a number of countries.
For some time now the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, realising the potential for work in China specifically in the hyrdo-electric field, has been preparing a submission detailing the Corporation’s experience and capabilities in this field. This submission will shortly be presented to the Chinese under the cover of a letter from the Deputy Prime Minister to relevant senior Ministers whom he met during his last visit there. The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation has worked closely with the Department of Trade and Resources, including the Trade Commissioner in Peking, in this matter. Present indications are that the submission from the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation will be closely studied by the Chinese and it is hoped that an invitation will be issued for the Director of the Corporation to visit China to progress the matter of actual commissions for work in the hydro-electric field.
-Senator Rae asked a question of me relating to the final report of the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board as presented in the Senate on 25 September 1979. 1 am advised that the report covers the final six months of the Board ‘s existence, namely, 1 July 1978 to 3 1 December 1978, along with the financial statements covering the periods 1 March to 30 June 1978 and 1 July to 31 December 1978. The Australian Dried Fruits Corporation prepared its draft of the report in January 1979. However, completion of the report was held up pending resolution of a legal problem that arose over the authority of the Auditor-General to examine the Board’s accounts for the fourmonthly period ending 30 June 1978. This took some time to resolve and the Auditor-General’s certification of the accounts was not made until 3 July 1979. The Corporation was then able to set in train the printing of the report.
– For the information of honourable Senators, I present the annual report of the Curriculum Development Centre 1977-78. An interim 1 977-78 report was tabled in the Parliament in March 1979 pending approval from the Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson) of the Centre’s form of financial accounts. This final report now contains the Centre ‘s financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on the statements.
by leave - I move -
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I want to make some very brief remarks in relation to this report. My first comment is that the report is for the financial year ending 30 June 1978 and that where the Chairman has signed the report on page 5 the date which apparently was previously there has been blocked out and the date now appears as September 1979. Delay in the presentation and tabling of reports has consistently been taken up by Senator Rae. But, in relation to a report of this kind, such a delay does have a detrimental effect on the capacity of the Parliament to discuss the issues contained in the reports and to discuss what the bodies which are the authors of such reports are doing in thenday to day work. For example, it is interesting to note that this report does not contain any discussion of the core curriculum work of the Curriculum Development Centre, which has been the subject of some public discussion in the last year or so. Certainly I have not found it in the limited time I have had the document available to me. One would have thought that that would be fairly central to any intelligent discussion in the Parliament of the work of the Curriculum Development Centre. That is a matter of regret. Page 1 1 of this report contains a discussion of a review of the program of the Curriculum Development Centre. It states in the course of that discussion that: in the latter part of the 1979-80 triennium increasing emphasis will be given to activities and projects relating to primary schooling and to upper secondary, technical and further education . . .
I just make the point that it is gratifying to see that at least at the end of this triennium the Curriculum Development Centre will give attention to those areas of education which, as a matter of public discussion for some time, have been seen to be the most important. Primary education and the upper levels of secondary schooling and technical and further education are areas on which day after day we have discussions in this Parliament. We have discussions about the relevance of education to work, the relevance of training to work and, more particularly, the matter of youth unemployment. Even at Question Time today, I suppose three or four questions were asked on this subject matter. It is interesting to see that the response of the Curriculum Development Centre will be to look at these matters late in this triennium. I do not blame it for that; I am making a simple point that there is an awful lead time between the emergence of significant educational and social problems and the response of government statutory authorities and other bodies to those problems. It is gratifying to see that the Curriculum Development Centre will be looking at those matters because they are areas which the Curriculum Development Centre identifies in its report as being of crucial importance in any intelligent discussion of education in this country. It is to be hoped that that work which will take place in the latter part of this triennium, will be expedited as much as possible.
The report in the review of the program also refers to further projects in primary, upper secondary, technical and further education which will be tackled by the Curriculum Development Council. I notice that in a subsequent chapter of the report, under the heading ‘Science, Mathematics and Technology Education’, there is some discussion of the importance of these aspects of education and training. Unfortunately, there is not much discussion of computer education, which the Opposition certainly regards as important. The report contains also a pretty clear indication of the very limited resources which are available to a body such as the Curriculum Development Council in the area of science, mathematics and technology education. We hope that those matters also will be expedited, perhaps with some government stimulation and assistance, because they are matters of very considerable importance to the future of the education system in this country.
The report deals also, in passing, with schoolbased decision making. I simply make the point that, as school-based decision making becomes more and more autonomous- as one suspects is happening in a very slow, ad hoc sort of waythe role of a professional body, such as the Curriculum Development Centre, in developing curricula becomes more and more critical for the benefit of school-based decison makers. To that extent, any discussion or emphasis which the report places on that issue is commended by the Opposition and is regarded as well worth while. I have had the opportunity to look at this report only very briefly, but they seem to me to be some of the important issues which emerge from it. I commend the report to the Senate and seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 97 of the Legal Aid Ordinance 1977 of the Australian Capital Territory, I present the annual report of the Legal Aid Commission (A.C.T.) 1 979.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 46 of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975,I present the report of the Commissioner for Community Relations 1979.
-by leave- I move:
This report, which again I have had for only a very brief time, is the fourth annual report of the Commissioner for Community Relations and is for the year 1979. It is a document which I commend to the reading of all honourable senators.
– It is the last one that we will see.
- Senator Evans points out that it may well be the last report we will see. The business sheet shows that it was originally the intention of the Government to table this report and the comments of Mr Justice Staples concerning human rights. Then later this day the Senate is to debate the Human Rights Commission Bill and the Racial Discrimination Amendment Bill. This report, insofar as I have been able to examine it, chronicles the Government’s running down of the functions of the Commissioner for
Community Relations since the implementation of the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975. As I said, if the legislation which the Government has foreshadowed had in fact been introduced and passed today that process of emasculation of the Racial Discrimination Act would, in a sense, have become complete. Senator Evans implied this in his interjection.
The report contains a number of examples of how racism is finding its expression in contemporary Australia in 1979. At page 2 of the report the Commissioner notes that he has identified 30 extremist or racist groups dedicated to promoting race hatred and community division. Taken at their own words, these groups would have a combined membership, according to the Commissioner, of some 104,000 people. I think that every senator will have received in his mail in the last few weeks copies of literature- if it can be so described- which is identified with these racist groups. The proliferation of that sort of material is of considerable and growing concern to many people in this country.
The Commissioner notes in the report that coincidental to the rise in unemployment and particularly youth unemployment, school children are being made deliberate targets for racist propaganda relating to the employment issue. The Commissioner, both at page 2 and again at chapter 7 of the report, refers in detail to the decision by the Queensland Government to defy the law of the land and to deny complainants under the Act the right to conciliation processes laid down under the existing Racial Discrimination Act. The Commissioner notes that in the end as a result of the complete lack of cooperation between his office and the Queensland Government over a period of up to twelve months certificates had to be issued to complainants so that they could take their complaints against State Ministers to courts of law. Another interesting section of the report is the review of the international scene in which the Commissioner contrasts the action taken at home to combat racial discrimination with the Australian Government’s attitude overseas. He notes, for example that the Australian report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination at page 5 stated:
Action has been taken to repeal laws that may have discriminated between people on grounds of race, colour, national or ethnic origin. Section 10 of the Racial Discrimination Act 1 975 overrides any existing laws that may operate with a discriminatory effect.
That is what the Australian Government has told the United Nations. The Commissioner in all charity notes that while that may have been the desire and the expressed view of the Australian Government in international, forums- this Government tends to express fascinating views in international forums compared with its performance at home- the sentiment expressed stood in sharp contrast to the actions of the Queensland Government in relation to Aborigines living on government reserves and Torres Strait Islanders in their home territories. The Commissioner says that in practice the Queensland Government has failed to recognise the existence of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act of 1 975 and, to all intents and purposes, the Federal Racial Discrimination Act of 1975. The first report by the Australian Government to the United Nations Committee stated: . . The Department (of Aboriginal Affairs) is concerned with the rights of Aboriginals to retain their own languages, culture and traditions, their right to manage their own affairs and their rights in land.
The Commissioner then states:
In practice, such rights are daily negated on the Queensland Aboriginal Reserves, which are managed by white staff appointed by the Queensland Government, and where the land is owned, not by Aboriginal communities, but by the State Government.
That is, the Government of Queensland. The Australian report further stated:
Adequate provision for research and education on racial discrimination has also been stressed by Australian–
That is internationally-
The Commissioner says that of course he would agree with that. I think we would all agree with that. He continues:
A number of other statements in the report go to the same essential issues, but I just want to refer briefly to some of them. I can fully understand the desire of the Government to publish this report and forget about it if possible. We do not intend to allow that to happen because some of the matters are very serious and cannot be wished away by this window-dressing government that we have in Australia. I want to refer the Senate to one or two other passages. First of all, I refer to the Australian report which states:
Australia is fundamentally opposed to and condemns all propaganda and organisations which are based on or profess ideas or theories of the superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form.
The Commissioner then stated:
In practice, I have not been able to prevent the dissemination of racist literature, nor can a racial or ethnic group ( as distinct from a person) have any redress under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 against racially defamatory statements.
In that regard it is worth referring to the conclusions of the National President of the United Nations Association of Australia, Mr Richard Alston, on the operation of the Racial Discrimination Act. I draw government members’ attention to the fact that Mr Richard Alston is also the distinguished President of the Liberal Party in Victoria. He has the difficult but not entirely racist task of negotiating with the National Country Party in that State on behalf of the Liberal Party- a set of negotiations he handles with great skill and aplomb. Mr Alston who has had a very long association for so young a person with the United Nations Association of Australia, is a man whose views should be considered seriously by government senators, if not by Country Party senators.
In the summary of the report on page 14 the Commissioner deals with some of the views which have been put forward by the United Nations Association of Australia and which bear on the comments I previously made about the frustration which the Commissioner has suffered in the exercise of his functions under the Act. I think a very interesting commentary on page 13 of the report points out that the Commissioner for Community Relations has not been consulted at all about the forthcoming amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act. I would have thought that that was quite an extraordinary omission.
– An insult.
– It is not just an omission; it is an extraordinary arrogant and insulting way to treat a distinguished figure in this field and an extraordinary and insulting way to treat an office such as the Office of the Commissioner for Community Relations. I think it is important that that be noted before we get into the detail of debating the Government’s new window-dressing scenario for these matters to be dealt with in the future. On page 12 of the report the Commissioner also reiterates the suggestions made in his 1977-78 report for the better operation and implementation of the Racial Discrimination Act. It is very interesting that those suggestions made on page 12 of the report as to how the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 might be improved in its operations have not been tackled by the Government. Instead, we have this totally emasculating and alternative legislation which is projected to be brought forward in the Parliament in the near future. I make the point that, in a sense, this report is highly critical of the Federal Government’s actions and, more particularly, the Queensland Government’s actions. For that reason, I guess this Government sought to embark upon the course it has decided on.
We reach a parlous situation in a so-called pluralist and democratic society if a person in the office of Commissioner for Community Relations is placed in the extraordinary position where he cannot speak freely, without threat and without at least a degree of consultation with the government of the day. If that be so, it is an extraordinary and depressing situation for this country. I again make the point that the aim of the projected legislation is to obviate this sort of criticism and to thwart proper analysis of that criticism in this place by honourable senators and members of parliament. I find it quite extraordinary that the Commissioner was not consulted about the legislation which is now to be brought forward. I find it quite extraordinary that the Government has not seen fit to make any comment on the recommendations the Commissioner made in his 1977-78 report and which he feels it necessary to make again in the body of his 1979 report. This is another deplorable story in the life of this shonky Government. It is a matter that we would like to discuss and debate further in the Senate. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) For the information of honourable senators I present material received in January 1979 from Mr Justice Staples concerning human rights. I seek leave to make a statement relating to the material.
-On 21 February 1979 Senator Evans asked me a question without notice concerning the tabling of material I had recently received from Mr Justice Staples concerning human rights. Honourable senators will recall that Mr Justice Staples travelled overseas in July 1 977 at the request of the Government to examine and report on practices, procedures and laws that other countries use for the protection of human rights. The judge returned to Australia in late 1978 and on 15 January 1979 sent me a letter and a summary of suggestions concerning human rights legislation.
I indicated in my answer to Senator Evans that I did not regard this material as being Judge Staples ‘s full report and on 5 February 1979 I invited him to present this to me by the end of April 1979. I mentioned also in my response to Senator Evans that if no further material was provided I would consider tabling the material received in January. As I have not received anything further, and in view of the fact that the Senate will soon be debating the Human Rights Commission Bill, I consider it appropriate to table this material.
I should mention that I did receive other material from Mr Justice Staples during the course of his examination. The dates and subjects of the material are as follows:
September 1977-Arrest and Bail-The Bail Reform Act of Canada and its relevance to the Criminal Investigation Bill 1 977
September 1977- A Lawyer’s Canadian Scrap Book, August-September 1 977.
October 1 977- Civilian Prosecutors in Canadian Courts.
October 1977- The Canadian Concept of Human Rights, A Handbook for Australian Legislators, Volume 1- the ideas; Volume 2- the activity.
I do not propose to table this material as there are some 1 775 pages of it but I would be prepared to make it available to interested senators.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on paper products.
– Pursuant to section 32 of the Albury-Wodonga Development Act 1973 I present the annual report of the AlburyWodonga Development Corporation 1979.
-by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) On behalf of the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle), pursuant to section 2 1 of the Papua New Guinea (Staffing Assistance) Termination Act 1976 I present the report on the general administration and operation of the Papua New Guinea Superannuation Scheme and the Contract Officers Retirement Benefits Scheme 1979.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) On behalf of the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) for the information of honourable senators I present a revised edition of the Galbally Information Kit and the text of a statement by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Mackellar) relating to the kit.
– Pursuant to section 17 of the Meat Research Act 1960 I present the annual report of the Australian Meat Research Committee 1979.
– Pursuant to section 25 of the Commonwealth Grants Commission Act 1973 I present the Commonwealth Grants Commission Report on Special Assistance for States 1979.
– Pursuant to section 25 of the Commonwealth Grants Commission Act 1973 I present the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s First Report on Special Assistance for the Northern Territory 1 979.
-As a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts I present the1 75th report of the Committee.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave-The Committee’s 175th report is the second in a significant series on the use of automatic data processing in the public sector. The first report dealt with the acquisition of large-scale systems in the Public Service, especially the high cost that can result and has frequently resulted from unduly prolonging the procurement process. This report concerns the origin, acquisition and development of one major Public Service system- the Mandata project, described by the Public Service Board in its 1 97 1 annual report as a centralised service-wide computer based personnel and establishment system with direct links to the payroll and superannuation systems, that would provide a response to inquiries as effective as existing systems while providing a superior management information system ‘.
Our detailed examination of this project confirmed the views we stated in our previous report- our 174th report- on the importance of senior management’s close involvement in all stages of a major project. The fact that this did not occur for Mandata is a major factor contributing to the difficulties experienced with this project. We would not wish our report to be seen merely as being critical of the Commissioners of the Public Service Board. Rather our recommendations are based on sound management principles and if the Commissioners view them in a positive and open way they will lead to a speedy and effective completion of the project.
Despite the manifest problems, the Committee believes that Mandata should be completed as quickly as possible. The project, as initially envisaged, may bring significant benefits to departmental managers and to the Public Service Board. The recommendations in this report will be of particular relevance to all future major projects. The mistakes which plagued Mandata should not be repeated. We believe that the Mandata project was, in its initial stages, poorly planned and directed. Some aspects of its management are still unsatisfactory. We conclude that the Commissioners of the Public Service Board were not well informed on Mandata ‘s progress. They did not effectively review and control the project’s development. There was more than 100 per cent change in the personnel involved in the leadership of the Mandata development team, and this had a major impact on the quality of evidence given to our inquiry.
The re-organisation of the Board’s structure, begun in May 1978, had a significant effect upon the character of our inquiry. The operation of the Mandata office was removed from the control of the Automatic Data Processing Division and placed in a direct management relationship, through the Secretary, to the Board itself. From that time, with renewed senior management control and newer project management, the level of co-operation and the quality of information that began to flow to the Committee improved remarkably. Despite the evident improvement, we still must be critical of some of the detailed planning and control yet to be implemented. The Committee believes that Mandata was an example of a situation which will become increasingly common in an era of high technology- for example, uncertainty about the responsibilities of non-technical policy-makers, in this case the Commissioners of the Public Service Board and the heads of user departments, in initiating and directing complex technical projects.
The Committee concluded that the Public Service Board, which was responsible for developing and operating Mandata, had seriously underestimated the difficulty of implementing the project and had overestimated its ability in a field where it had had no prior experience. Mandata equipment, development and operation has so far cost, in 1 977 dollars, more than $ 1 9m, and by 1986-87 will have cost more than $45m. Over the same period the Public Service Board expects that the Service should have achieved savings of nearly $100m in reduced clerical costs and improved manpower resource management.
The Committee considered that significant costs have been incurred on Mandata which would have been avoided had the system development been planned and managed in accordance with the best current practice. We believe that at least several million dollars already lost in the form of unproductive cost-benefits was due to project delays and errors of planning and development. The Committee appreciates that not all the delays were within the control of the Board. However, the Committee has identified a minimum of $ 1.2m of unnecessary costs which resulted from the premature acquisition of minicomputers and data concentrator units and unproductive site planning.
The Committee is concerned about the accuracy of current estimates of costs and benefits and is of the opinion that the Public Service Board should review them immediately. We believe that anticipated economic benefits will be achieved only if the project were to be completed as quickly as possible and better managed than it has been in the past as there are only slight cost saving advantages demonstrated to us. The form that savings from Mandata would actually take is still obscure- whether a reduction in the size of the Public Service, or merely a redeployment of displaced staff to other positions in the Service. The Committee is aware that there are social advantages and disadvantages as well as economic.
The Public Service Board has not fully faced the implications of changes to the work force that may result from the effects of technological change. The Public Service Board should enunciate its decisions from social as well as economic objectives. We expect that the inquiry into technological change in Australia will be addressing itself to these matters and will assist the Government in formulating guidance for the Public Service Board on acceptable objectives. We believe the Parliament should be informed of these. The Committee is concerned that Public Service departments are not yet fully capable of making effective use of the information that Mandata could provide and training in manpower management is therefore an essential prerequisite to the achievement of the expected benefits.
This inquiry brought to our attention an important principle of the relationship between the Parliament and the Executive. The Committee had considerable difficulty due to inordinate delays in obtaining adequate documentation about Mandata from the Public Service Board. It was reluctant to provide or declined to provide, documents which were alleged to be Cabinetrelated, interdepartmental documents, reports or material used in the preparation of those documents and reports on the grounds of privilege. The Committee is of the opinion that the proposed guidelines of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), of September 1978 for official witnesses appearing before Parliamentary Committees, in relation to privilege of these documents, has to some extent clarified the situation, but in our case the guidelines were interpreted far too widely by the Board. In the event, representations by the Committee to the Prime Minister achieved the desired result.
The Westminster concept of ministerial responsibility evolved at a time when Government operations were much more simple and it was possible for a diligent Minister to comprehend the full range of activities of his department and take full responsibility. The vast increases in complexity and sophistication and the increase in the volume of work in the last decades have put the Westminster tradition under severe stress. It remains absolutely fundamental to parliamentary government that the Executive must be accountable to Parliament which is properly informed of the activities of government. Therefore, the need for scrutiny by parliamentary bodies such as the Public Accounts Committee is even more important and reduces the justification for failure to provide relevant information under the excuse of privilege where documents relating to Cabinet submissions or other interdepartmental activities are denied. The members of the Public Accounts Committe do not accept that a general embargo should be placed on access to all material needed in the preparation of Cabinet submissions. An extension of this principle would make the work of the Public Accounts Committee- or even the Parliament -impossible.
In November last year, 1 1 months ago, we presented the first report in our series on automatic data processing, the acquisition of systems in the Public Service. In spite of the Prime Minister’s directive for a response within six months, and our own long-standing arrangements with the Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson) and his Department, a response on this subject has not yet been received. While the delay is of concern to the Committee, even more disconcerting is a report published in Computer World on Friday, 5 October, that new delays are being built into the process of acquiring a computer system, making the situation worse than ever. We hope there is no substance to it. The Committee would like to think that the Public Service Board and other interested bodies will examine its recommendations in context and, before the new guidelines are promulgated, discuss them with the Committee as well as those who will be charged with the responsibility to permanent heads for the implementation of systems within their departments.
The rate of change of computer technology is faster than the community’s ability to understand. Whilst there is often criticism that Parliament is not bending its efforts to major social problems, this Committee’s report represents the most serious attempt by any parliamentary institution to come to grips with the implications of computer technology. In undertaking this inquiry the Committee has imposed on itself a very great workload and due acknowledgment must be given to my colleagues on the Sub-Committee -Mr Barry Jones, Senator John Watson and Mr
David Connolly. Our inquiry is now over two years old and we must also pay tribute to the secretariat of the Committee and its technical adviser, Mr Peter MacGregor of P. K. MacGregor and Associates. I reiterate that we firmly believe that this report is a positive contribution to administrative efficiency and effectiveness. I commend the report to honourable senators.
-by leave- I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate take note of the Public Accounts Committee report presented by Senator Lajovic and the statement made by him.
– by leave- The Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory’s report on planning in the Australian Capital Territory was tabled in both Houses on 4 April 1979. The report has been under active consideration since that time by the National Capital Development Commission and within the Department of the Capital Territory. Due, however, to the wide scope of the report and the importance placed by the Government on long term implications for the development of the national capital, it has not been possible to finalise governmental consideration of the report. I hope to be in a position shortly to make known to the Parliament the Government’s response to the Committee’s recommendations.
– by leave- I move:
I must express the extreme disappointment of the Opposition and particularly of myself, as a senator for the Australian Capital Territory, with the contents of the statement which the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster) has just made. The report by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Australian Capital Territory on planning procedures for the Australian Capital Territory is of utmost importance to the Territory. As is well known to the Senate, the Australian Capital Territory has been experiencing great difficulties in recent yearsdifficulties caused by the disruption to the projected population growth, the economic recession and the failure of the referendum proposal.
The inquiry into planning processes by the Joint Parliamentary Committee was commenced before the referendum on self-government was put to the people. Much of the discontent and dissatisfaction felt by the people of the Australian Capital Territory with regard to planning processes came before the Committee. It was hoped- indeed, expected by some of us- that the referendum on self-government would be decided in favour of self-government and that we could proceed to delegate powers and devolve decision-making responsibilities to the community. Many of the issues raised in our inquiry into planning processes would have been resolved in that way. However, the majority of the people in the Australian Capital Territory voted against the self-government referendum. So we concluded the inquiry into planning processes with that knowledge, but with a number of very urgent recommendations about planning processes in the Australian Capital Territory.
The urgency of these recommendations arises from the total dissatisfaction on the part of the Australian Capital Territory community with traditional planning processes here and with current planning processes. The National Capital Development Commission has been able to proceed with its own planning proposals unfettered by the wishes of the community. This has caused a great deal of controversy. I am aware, right at this moment, of several planning controversies in the Australian Capital Territory. I am sure that my colleague, Senator Knight, is also aware of them. Every time there is an attempt by the NCDC to change or develop some aspect of the Canberra plan, there is a controversy.
The current controversies mostly concern infill programs, that is, proposals by the NCDC to put up flats and medium density housing in areas which were previously green spaces and which were enjoyed as such by the residents of the Australian Capital Territory. I certainly do not want to enter into the pros and cons of any of these individual planning proposals. What I am saying is that the proper resolution of these controversies is a matter of utmost urgency.
Another important matter is the proper allocation of residential and business leases in this Territory. Again, we have a highly controversial area. It was the case for many years that the proper authorities in the Australian Capital Territory did not prosecute breaches of the City Areas Leases Ordinance, so we had a very confused situation developing where some people were operating businesses in residential areas to the discontent and the dissatisfaction of the neighbours and where other areas which were zoned for business development were not being taken up because they were not suitable to business interests and so forth. We had a very confused and controversial situation with regard to residential and business leases in the Australian Capital Territory. Again, that controversy has not been resolved. I expect my colleague, Senator Knight, has received as many submissions as I have for and against the various leasing decisions that have been taken during this confused period.
We have a very urgent situation in the Australian Capital Territory. As I have said, we have a situation where the expectations of the population with regard to future employment and future education and training have been severely disrupted by the economic policies which the Fraser Government has inflicted on the Australian Capital Territory. We have a crisis in small business in the Australian Capital Territory. Large numbers of small businesses are going broke and having to withdraw. Families are losing their investments and so forth. Again, that is partly because of the disruption to the plans for the developing of Canberra. We have disruption in our local work force which is caused particularly by the cutback and the decline in the building and construction industry. All of these problems are directly related to the decisions that are made and the way in which decisions are made for the development of the Canberra plan. As I have said, since the failure of the referendum proposal there is, as yet, no proper avenue whereby citizens of the Australian Capital Territory can express their views effectively on planning proposals. Certainly, it is the case that the NCDC conducts public meetings from time to time, exhibits plans and invites comments and so forth. The end result is that there is still no effective way in which citizens of the Australian Capital Territory can affect this process. This is totally unsatisfactory.
The members of the Committee inquiring into planning processes in the Australian Capital Territory went to great lengths to discuss with Australian Capital Territory residents how we could improve this situation and how in the absence of a self-government body- which is an absence, I think, which we will have to endure for the foreseeable future- we can provide effective means by which citizens of the Australian Capital Territory can say where they want roads to be extended and where they want recreation areas, business areas and areas which are to be purely residential. After all, this is the sort of view which any person living in any other part of Australia can express effectively through his of her local council. But in the Australian Capital Territory because we do not have a local council- of course, we do not have a State government, we have only the Federal Government- there is no proper avenue of expression.
The situation is critical. It is one that has carried on in a very confused way for many years. Anomalies and injustices of various kinds have been allowed to go unaddressed. Finally, of course, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Australian Capital Territory made a report with what I believe to be fairly significant and realistic recommendations to remove a lot of this chaos and to allow the future of Canberra- such as it is in the present economic climate- to be planned rationally with adequate notice given to local business interests and to people who may wish to come here to invest and to people who might want to make their homes in certain sorts of environments. Until the Government takes steps to implement these recommendations the situation remains chaotic and, I believe, very disruptive controversy amongst various community groups will continue to plague the community. As I said at the outset, I am very disappointed that the Government has been so dilatory in considering the report of the committee.
The Minister said in his statement that the report has a wide scope and for that reason the Government still has it under consideration. I am afraid that that is not a satisfactory explanation given the chaotic state of planning at the moment. The report certainly has a wide scope, but the Federal Government has a very particular responsibility to this territory because it is the only government that this territory has. I believe that the Government has neglected the planning procedures report in the same way as it has neglected many other matters concerning the Australian Capital Territory to the detriment of the citizens living in my electorate. In conclusion, all I can do is to urge the Minister who brought down this statement to take to his Cabinet colleagues and to the Government my viewalthough 1 believe I am speaking for far and away the majority of my constituents- that the Government should act immediately to consider and implement the recommendations of this vital report. ( Quorum formed. )
– As Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory I simply say, although in the short time I have been aware that this statement would be made I have not been able to consult with members of the Committee. I think the Committee as a whole would be disappointed that the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott) has been unable to make known the Government’s views on the Joint Committee ‘s report on planning in the Australian Capital Territory at this stage. I also say that I think it is at least commendable that the Minister has taken the trouble to recognise that the six month period has now elapsed and has made an interim statement indicating that he and the Government are proceeding with their consideration of this very important report. 1 do note from what the Minister has said that he will be shortly in a position to make known to the Parliament the Government’s response on the detailed recommendations of the report.
I think it is worth reiterating that the report covered a very wide range of issues and covered a wide scope with respect to planning issues in this national capital. As Senator Ryan has suggested, the response to those recommendations will have considerable significance for the future of this territory, the national capital and the people who live in it. If the Minister and the Government are to take a little more time then perhaps that is acceptable. As Chairman of the Committee I must say that I am well aware from discussions I have had with the Minister that he is pursuing this matter quite diligently. He is concerned to make known to the Parliament and therefore to the community as soon as possible details of the Government’s response to this very complex but very important matter. I think I could also say on behalf of members of the Committee that we do hope and, indeed, expect that the Minister will make his final statement to the Parliament on behalf of the Government on this matter before the Parliament rises for the summer recess. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– On behalf of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence (Senator Carrick) I seek leave to make a statement relating to the termination of the Turana Target Aircraft Project.
– I seek leave to have the text of the statement incorporated in Hansard.
I wish to inform the Senate that the Minister for Defence has accepted the advice of his Department to terminate the Turana target aircraft project. He gave appropriate direction to the Department four weeks ago but delayed informing the Parliament prior to the tabling of the Auditor-General’s report.
Turana is a small radio-controlled jet aircraft similar in appearance to the Ikara antisubmarine missile. It was developed out of the successful Ikara project, with the objective of providing the Royal Australian Navy with a ship’s gunnery and missile target. One particular requirement which was sought was the simulation of sea-skimming missiles.
It was invisaged that, carried aboard Ikara fitted vessels, and as a consequence compatible with the Ikara system, Turana would give RAN ships an independent capability to use target aircraft.
The work on Turana was assigned to the Government Aircraft Factory at Fisherman’s Bend, Victoria. That factory had produced remarkable results with the Jindivik and Ikara projects.
Work “on Turana commenced in 1969. The original concept was for 41 aircraft to be introduced into service.
Flight trials were held in 197 1. They were encouraging. The risks associated with further development appeared acceptable. They were accepted. An initial order for 12 aircraft was placed in March 1971.
Further trials commenced in mid- 1972. Since then the project has run into a series of research and developmental difficulties. The difficulties, while profound, were not completely daunting. Having regard to the encouragement which earlier trials had offered, the judgment was that research and experiments should continue.
In 1 975 there was a review of the project. It led to a modification of some of the specifications. A re-design phase took place over the period 1976 to 1978.
In November 1978, a further series of trials was conducted. Professional judgment was that, without substantial further investment, the level of reliability required of all operational target aircraft such as Turana could not be achieved.
The Minister had a series of consultations with officers involved in the project. He looked closely at the prospects and the likely orders of cost. It was with regret that he decided he could see no alternative but to accept the advice that the project should not be taken to a further stage.
I do not disguise my disappointment. However, I am bound to say all of us should understand that when you are involved in work which is in the forefront of technology you must be prepared to take risks. There never has been- and I doubt if there ever will be- assurance of success available in carrying out experiments with high technology. Failure is always in prospect.
It deserves to be said that risks on the same scale were also carried in the highly successful Jindivik and Ikara projects.
Hindsight is the strongest of all sight. It is very easy to make harsh judgments of the past. Successes in the past may have encouraged greater confidence in the Turana project than was justified. The Minister does not believe that past decisions about Turana were wrong. Those decisions had to be made. Comparable decisions will continue to be made. They are an absolutely indispensable feature of defence science activity.
The Minister’s predecessor in 1975 was faced with the results of a technical review which, to put it mildly, were not encouraging. He had the courage to direct that the project was not to be abandoned at that time.
The RAN’s gunnery practice requirements will continue to be met with targets towed by aircraft and with Jindiviks. The requirement for a fast, manoeuvrable sea-skimming target, organic to RAN vessels, cannot be met at this stage.
May I say that no navy is yet in a position to meet this requirement- a fact which lends point to my earlier remark about Australian work at the forefront of technology where frustrations must inevitably occur from time to time.
As with all such work, the non-achievement of the immediate, specific objective, is not the end of the story. Without the Turana endeavour, Australia’s impressive expertise in the field of remote-controlled aircraft would have withered. Instead it has been maintained, expecially in the areas of flight vehicle control, mathematical modelling of guided weapons and target aircraft, and methodology for controlling the thrust vectors of rocket motors and telemetry.
Such knowledge is of direct relevance and benefit to the latest Jindivik development (the Mark IV, which we are jointly progressing with the United Kingdom), and to the recently announced trainer aircraft study. There are also other projects emerging where the expertise amassed out of Turana will be taken further forward. I can make mention at this time of Turana ‘s outstanding flight control system, and also its miss-distance indication systems. Both will have direct application in new projects.
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 have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
Leave granted. 77ie speech read as follows-
The purpose of this Bill is to provide legislative authority needed to meet the prospective deficit in the consolidated revenue fund in 1979-80.
At the same time it will, together with authorities expected to be available under other legislation, provide the borrowing authority needed to finance the estimated overall budget deficit for the financial year.
Honourable senators will be aware that, for many years, there has been legislation for these purposes in the legislative programs of successive governments.
In the Budget Speech it was announced that the prospective overall budget deficit for 1 979-80 is estimated to be $2, 1 93m.
Except in so far as funds are available from accumulated cash balances or other miscellaneous financing transactions, this deficit must be financed by net borrowings. Such net borrowings must, of course, be within proper legislative authority derived from the Parliament.
The overall budget deficit takes into account all relevant transactions of the three separate funds used to record the Commonwealth’s receipts and expenditures.
These funds are the consolidated revenue fund, the loan fund and the trust fund.
The amounts which may be paid from each fund are limited to the amounts legally available to it.
Underlying the overall deficit estimated for 1979-80 is an estimated deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of $ 1,604m.
Details of the current estimate of the Consolidated Revenue Fund transactions are set out, for the information of honourable senators in Table 3 of Budget Paper No. 4- Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30 June 1980.
As payments from the Consolidated Revenue Fund cannot exceed moneys available in it, it is necessary either to reduce payments from the Consolidated Revenue Fund by charging to Loan Fund some expenditures normally met from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or, alternatively, to supplement the receipts of the Consolidated Revenue Fund from some other source.
Appropriate legislative authority is needed for such transfers. The simplest and traditional means of providing appropriate legislative authority is a Loan Bill of the type I am now presenting.
This Bill will authorise borrowings for defence purposes in order that defence expenditure, which would normally be met from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, may instead be met by the Loan Fund.
The Bill authorises borrowings for defence purposes. I should make it quite clear, however, that it does not authorise any defence expenditures additional to those which have already been authorised by Parliament in Supply Act (No. 1) 1979-80 or which will subsequently be authorised in Appropriation Acts for this financial year.
It will simply allow reallocations of defence expenditures between the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the Loan Fund to be made during the remainder of the financial year, following the enactment of this legislation.
In this regard I draw the attention of honourable senators to Clause 8 of the recently introduced Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1979-80, which makes that Bill subject to the provisions of the proposed Loan Act.
I should also mention that, as borrowings under this legislation will be for the purpose of financing defence expenditure, those borrowings will not require approval from the Australian Loan Council.
The Bill includes a specific limit to the amount of such borrowings that may be undertaken. This limit is directly related to the level of defence expenditure which is expected to be made from the date of enactment of the Bill to 30 June 1 980. Honourable senators will be well aware that, at this early stage, the estimate of the Consolidated
Revenue Fund deficit is inevitably a qualified one. The actual figure for the year will be affected by presently unforeseen developments during the year which could cause departures from current estimates of receipts and payments of the fund.
In setting a limit on borrowings for inclusion in the Bill these inherent uncertainties need to be recognised. The limit that has been included is $ 1,800m. This provides a reasonable margin over the estimated Consolidated Revenue Fund deficit of $ 1,604m.
Borrowings under this proposed legislation will be undertaken within the framework of the monetary policy objective to which the Treasurer referred in his budget Speech. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 28 August, on motion by Senator Chaney:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
– The Senate is being asked to give its assent to very voluminous legislation which encompasses five Bills associated with the maritime industry, the principal Bill being the Navigation Amendment Bill 1979. I think it is worth while recalling to the attention of the Senate that an inquiry was set up in 1 973 to inquire into the maritime service industry in Australia. Arising from it, although not particularly germane to this piece of legislation, in 1975 the Parliament had under consideration amendments to the Navigation Act which sought to take into consideration some of the factors relating to that inquiry and to ratify a number of international covenants and agreements relating to the maritime industry generally. The Bill lapsed when the Whitlam Government was unceremoniously dismissed from office in 1975. But as we know, in the aftermath of that period nothing was done until this Government sought to reintroduce a Bill, taking into account the matters that were relevant to the 1977 legislation. When Parliament was again disrupted by the actions of the conservatives, when Parliament was prorogued in 1977, the principal Bill, the Navigation Amendment Bill, again lapsed. It was reintroduced into the House of Representatives in May of this year. Now, some four years after the Bill was first introduced into the Parliament, this very important piece of legislation, together with the associated Bills with which we are dealing cognately, is receiving the consideration of the Senate.
The Bill is long overdue. It is an important Bill. It is a vital piece of legislation. It has been a long time coming. Veritably it has been a piece of legislation which can be described as having travelled on a slow boat to China. Nevertheless, it is legislation that the Opposition does not intend to oppose because it takes into consideration the basic features of the Whitlam Government’s proposals back in 1975, when the Bill was introduced by the then Minister for Transport, Mr Charles Jones. The proposed Act gives effect in Australia to five international shipping conventions and lays down the regulations regarding the qualifications required by seamen. It will require complementary legislation by the States, as I understand some of the ramifications come within the purview of the States. So even when Parliament does finally agree to this Bill there will be another passage of time before the full procedure is set in motion.
The regulations do have some relationship to the seamen who man our ships, and that is particularly important. The Bill sets out to tighten up the provisions which govern the safe operation of ships. As I have indicated, these changes are long overdue. In fact, some of the earlier legislation which will have to be changed by the States dates right back into the last century and the early part of this century. The Bill will be welcomed by all of those groups involved in the shipping industry, whether it be the statutory authorities which operate in the federal or State jurisdiction, the shipowners, or the trade unions concerned.
I think it appropriate here that a few comments are made concerning the state of Australia’s shipping industry. The Bill provides for the establishment of a code of uniform shipping laws concerned with such aspects as construction standards, fittings, materials, stability, load line and the equipping of vessels under 500 tonnes. This should be seen as setting the framework for a growing Australian shipping industry. However, it must be said that since this Government has come into office, it has demonstrated its opposition to the expansion of the Australian international shipping industry, for a whole variety of reasons which I do not want to canvass, other than to say that the Australian Labor Party believes that the establishment and maintenance of a secure shipping industry are vital not only for economic reasons and our own domestic economy, but also from the point of view of defence. This is of crucial significance to shipping for Australia’s own economic wellbeing. Australia, being the seventeenth largest trading nation in the world, is dependent upon an efficient line of maritime transport, both to carry its exports of rural and mineral products to other counties, and to import vital manufactured goods. I think we have seen plenty of evidence in recent times of the need to have a very efficient and stable industry. I would suggest that efficiency criteria have to be applied in economic terms to our maritime industry.
It is strange that with record unemployment, even if we were not aware of the fact that the Government has allowed our shipping industry to run down, the Government should suppress an industry with the potential to provide substantial employment opportunities in areas of shipbuilding, ship repair and ship crews. I think it should be pointed out to the Senate that countries on a similar trade basis with Australia are cognisant of their responsibilities in these areas. I think it is particularly important that we draw attention to the fact that recently the Carter Administration in the United States has recognised the importance of fostering a strong domestic shipping industry and the employment which can be created as a result of such a stable and prosperous industry. The fact is that Australia’s international shipping is overwhelmingly dominated by the foreign multi-national shipping conferences. The foreign conference lines and the trans-national companies carry some 99 per cent of Australia’s overseas trade. We are therefore dependent upon their goodwill in many respects. In short, we are completely dependent upon these big corporations whose main concern is their own profitability, rather than Australia’s interests as determined by its own economic development.
The effects of this foreign domination are several. Freight payments represent a huge drain of profits flowing overseas. The effect of this on our balance of payments has been obvious for years. I seek leave to incorporate a table in Hansard.
– The table shows that in 1971-72 freight payments caused $207.8m to go out of the country into the pockets of foreign capital. By 1976-77 this figure had risen tremendously, even allowing for inflation, to the sum of $78 1.6m. This represents a huge drain on our balance of payments and wipes out our advantage from a surplus on the balance of trade, that is, an excess of export of goods over imports of goods. As we know, the Parliament has from time to time concerned itself in trying to develop more export-oriented industries in our country, in developing minerals and rural products for export purposes, and emphasis has been given to this in all sorts of incentive payments as a result of Budget consideration. It seems strange that we should put ourselves in a position where the overseas shipping companies can drain out of this country some of the advantages that result from the domestic decisions that we made to bring about an improvement in our balance of payments situation.
Australia needs to join the many countries which are trying to overcome the dominance of the big shipping conferences which are a law unto themselves, which set the pattern, and which make the decisions which companies and countries have to follow automatically. The overseas countries are doing this by adopting a formula which is known in the shipping industry as a 40:40:20 policy. In other words, 40 per cent of our trade should be carried by Australian ships; 40 per cent of our trade should be carried by the countries with which we trade; and the remaining 20 per cent should be carried by the ships of the Third World. So often these ships sail under the flags of convenience which are known by many people to represent the way out for countries which seek to profit through the use of the shipping conference at the expense of weaker countries and companies. We need to build up our domestic shipping industry. Under the 40:40:20 policy we could have turned a balance of payments deficit of $687.7m on freight payments in 1977-78 into a surplus of $ 136.6m. I seek leave to incorporate another table in Hansard which sets out the position.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is leave granted?
– The normal practice is for these things to be shown to the Minister at the table. I do not know whether the table has been shown to another Minister. 1 have no wish to interrupt the honourable senator or to refuse leave. However, I would be grateful if he could let me have a look at any other material he wishes to incorporate in Hansard.
– While the Minister is looking at that table, I point out that it shows that the balance of payments saving on freight payments under the 40:40:20 ratio in 1 97 1-72 would have been $43.8m. The saving in 1977-78 would have been $ 1 36.6m. Over the period under review- for 1971 to 1978- Australia could have been $824.3m richer as a result of adopting the formula which many countries are adopting as a means by which the companies can operate and the countries can profit from their own trading arrangements.
The rip-offs do not end there. If we compare total transportation credits- that is, the benefit to Australia from the expenditure by foreign ships on bunkering, stevedoring, taxes, et cetera, while docked in Australian ports- with the total transportation debits- that is, these expenses paid out by Australian ships when docked in foreign ports- we get a startling result. The figures show that in 1977-78, for example, total credits amounted to $45 5m and total debits were $63 7m. The debits include payments for chartering foreign ships. These figures are in the same range despite the fact that Australian shipping carries 99 times less of Australian overseas trade than overseas shipping. In other words, overseas shipping is charged very low rates for all sorts of services in Australian ports. That means that we are subsidising these foreign shipping lines- as I understand it, this is done largely by the State instrumentalities- but get charged full rates when Australian ships dock in overseas ports.
The Navigation Amendment Bill would be a much more acceptable document- it does go some way towards trying to establish a more equitable system- if it were presented in the context of a dynamic and expanding Australian owned and government backed shipping industry. In these circumstances we would be likely to profit very considerably by the changes in our overseas trade and in our balance of payments. Not only would we diminish our dependence on foreign shipping lines; we could simultaneously improve to a significant degree our ailing balance of payments. As we know, the balance of payments from time to time constitutes a major problem. Such a shipping industry would have the effect also of providing several thousand jobs for shipbuilders, ship repairers and seamen. Of course, this ought to be the strategy adopted by the Parliament and by a government worth its salt- a government prepared to take the steps to establish an independent position in our shipping industry.
It is true that this substantial legislation- the Navigation Amendment Bill and associated Bills- will create a great deal more stability and confidence in our snipping industry. It will have the effect of establishing some purpose and sense of responsibility in the industry itself. That is an important prerequisite before taking the next step, which would be to establish a lot more Australian influence in the management of our maritime industry. It is because the Opposition sees these Bills as being a step in the right direction that it supports them. I now seek leave to have that second table incorporated in Hansard.
The table read as follows-
– In speaking to the Navigation Amendment Bill and the associated Bills, I want to mention briefly a number of matters which are not referred to directly in the Bills but in relation to which I hope at some later stage we may see some action. The first matter concerns the lighthouse at the southwest of Tasmania known as Maatsuyker Island. Maatsuyker Island is in an area where it would be fair to say that the weather conditions can be among the most extreme that can be experienced for shipping and maritime endeavours. It is a very rich fishing ground. Maatsuyker Island is the first piece of land that people coming from South America and South Africa under the mainland of Australia are likely to strike. The first lighthouse they strike is the Maatsuyker Island lighthouse. This is an area of southwestern Tasmania where there is virtually no other habitation other than some people living at
Port Davey itself. With all of those situations, it is believed by many people in Tasmania- by many of the fishermen, seamen and the people who are concerned- that the unmanning policy being pursued by the Government in relation to lighthouses around Australia is one which should be varied at least in this instance.
It is also relevant to bear in mind that in this area radio reception is notoriously bad, it being interfered with by the topography of the very rugged area of south-western Tasmania. The cost of maintaining this lighthouse would be relatively minimal if it helped to avoid or speed up some search and rescue operations. Bearing in mind the relatively heavy use of the area by fishing boats, the nature of the weather and the difficulty in communication, the services of the lighthouse keeper at Maatsuyker Island can make a tremendous difference. This matter has been the subject of a number of representations to the Government by various people. I understand that at the moment the State government is considering what it should do.
I will summarise briefly what has been said in a booklet put out by the Tasmanian Conservation Trust. The Trust sets out the reasons why it believes the Maatsuyker Island lighthouse should remain manned. It makes seven major points. They are:
The booklet also summarises the attitude taken by the Professional Fishermen’s Association of Tasmania which has made frequent representations to me and, I believe, to other Tasmanian members of the Federal Parliament in relation to this matter. The Professional Fishermen’s Association has been particularly outspoken in its opposition to the unmanning program. It states:
Forty-two per cent of the total State’s abalone and 72 per cent of the State ‘s rock lobster catch are taken in the area from Cape Sorell to South East Cape.
Maatsuyker Island is in about the centre of that length of coastline. The Association states further:
More specifically, 20 per cent of the State’s abalone catch and 10 per cent of the rock lobster catch are taken within sight of Maatsuyker Island. As well the area is presently being explored as a squid fishing, tuna fishing and trawl ground.
The fishermen consider the presence of keepers on the island to be of extreme importance for the following reasons.
Communication of weather conditions- in particular the swell and the state of the sea. This frequently results in considerable savings by fishermen who base their decision to embark on a trip to the South- West on the lightkeeper’s reports.
The island represents a haven for vessels in distress and the keepers can provide emergency supplies, medical treatment from a Flying Doctor kit, communication of problems to Hobart, and assistance in medical evacuation from the island ‘s helipad.
Keepers can assist in the surveillance of foreign fishing vessels.
Keepers ensure that the light is absolutely reliable.
These are regarded as matters of great importance by the people who have to work and operate in those at times extremely difficult conditions. I hope that while the Senate is considering amendments to the Lighthouses Act it may pay more than passing attention to the policy adopted by the Department of Transport of unmanning lighthouses, in particular the Maatsuyker Island lighthouse. Recently I took up this matter in the chamber by way of a number of questions, and I have received a reply from the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon). I take the Opportunity to indicate the details of the reply which I received. I asked:
Is it a fact that very great concern is being expressed by fishermen, other small boat operators, conservationists, search and rescue operators and many other people about the proposed conversion of the Maatsuyker Island lighthouse in the south-west of Tasmania to automatic and the withdrawal of the existing staff?
The answer was:
Over recent years there have been many representations to me expressing concern about the proposed unmanning of Maatsuyker Lightstation.
The second question was:
Does one of the stated reasons for that proposal relate to cost?
The answer was:
Yes, the Commonwealth network of marine navigational aids is being modernised and upgraded in accordance with a 5 Year Plan. The Plan is based on a goal of zero real-cost increase and automation followed by unmanning of several stations is an integral part of achieving that goal.
The third question applied to whether the island is serviced fortnightly by a helicopter at a cost of $60,000 per annum, to which the answer was:
The service is provided by helicopter but the annual cost is more in the order of $30,000 per annum.
I am not quite sure what ‘more in the order of $30,000 ‘ means, but presumably it means more than $30,000 but not as much as $60,000 and something closer to $30,000. But I cannot take it much further. I asked whether tenders were called for the provision of the service and the answer was yes. I asked: ls it a fact that the servicing could be provided by a suitable large fishing boat Tor less than hair that amount- that is, Tor less than $30,000 per annum?
The answer was:
A large fishing boat could provide the service but costs would be similar and flexibility would be reduced due to increased lead times.
I pause there because I understand that the owner of one fishing boat, known as the Kathleen Del Mar, has sought to tender for this service. He has said that he could operate the service for $30,000 or possibly less on a regular fortnightly basis. The vessel is substantial and could readily undertake the work. I take this opportunity to say that if cost is an important factor, on the face of it this is one way in which the cost could be reduced. I am also told by that fisherman that inquiries of the Department of Transport in Hobart drew forth no eager response- in fact virtually a nil response. It may be that there is a lack of enthusiasm for some reason unknown and unstated in these answers. I asked:
Will tenders bc called next time?
The answer was:
Yes, if necessary, when the current contract expires.
I asked whether, in the light of the unique importance of that lighthouse as a manned meteorological observation station and warning relay station in an area of heavy fishing, poor radio reception and extremely bad weather, the decision could be reviewed, to which the answer was:
The final decision to unman is being delayed while the Tasmanian Government prepares a report which has been promised to me soon. 1 should think that the report, if it is forthcoming, will canvass the issues you have mentioned.
The letter from the Minister goes on to state:
The decision to automate Maatsuyker Light will have primary regard to the station’s main function: that is, an aid to marine navigation. None of the submissions received so far has recognised this fact. However, my Department is very much aware of the several peripheral benefits which accrue from a station being manned and these factors will be taken into account.
You will recall that the provision and maintenance of all the Commonwealth’s marine navigational aids is funded entirely by the shipping industry through the Government ‘s Light Dues Levy. The Commonwealth is obliged to limit increases in that Levy to the absolute minimum by effecting cost saving measures wherever possible. The automation and unmanning of Maatsuyker Lightstation will save in direct cost about $50,000 per annum.
It should be noted that negotiations are progressing with the Tasmanian Department of National Parks and Wildlife for them to take over free occupancy of buildings on Maatsuyker should they eventually wish to station a Ranger there. Provision of such an officer would, incidently, satisfy most of the peripheral benefits mentioned in submissions so far, all of which are matters primarily within State responsibility
Safety at sea is a matter of Commonwealth and State responsibility. I believe that for too long we have been approaching the questions of navigational aids, position-fixing assistance, the provision of meteorological advice and recordings, the provision of radio relays and all of these other things on a too-compartmentalised basis rather than looking at the overall situation. As the result of the historical basis on which the provision of lighthouses was to be paid for by light dues, the Government, in fulfilling what ought to be its total task in relation to navigation and the other matters that I have mentioned, has been saying: ‘If the major shipowners have to pay light dues they should have the primary say as to what sort of navigational aids should be provided and when they have that say, with all the automation that is available in the major ships of the world today, that is all that is necessary’. But this overlooks entirely that Australia has just expanded its off-shore control to a 200-mile economic zone and that Australia has growing maritime and fishing industries which use smaller vessels than those operated by contributors to the light dues. I do not know whether to date any step has been taken to inquire into the extent to which professional fishermen and others would be prepared to contribute in some way, but I see no reason why there should not be a broadening of the approach which has been adopted by the Government in relation to this question.
It is the overwhelming view of almost everybody, except a few shipowners and the Department of Transport apparently, that Maatsuyker Island lighthouse is of major importance and should be retained because of the unique nature of the circumstances in which it exists. I hope that the Government can adopt a rather more broadminded attitude, possibly look at the question from the point of view of the functions which the lighthouse can serve and then seek funding partly from what it would cost to run an automated lighthouse, partly from the Department of Science and the Environment from the point of view of the preservation of the environment and the provision of meteorological information, partly from the point of the funding of a lifesaving station, in effect, and for various other purposes, so that together all these sources can provide the necessary funds to keep the manning of this station. The impression that I have to this date is that the approach has been far too limited in relation to the importance or otherwise of retaining the manning of lighthouses generally and this one in particular.
That became rather evident at a seminar which was conducted in Melbourne on 2 March this year under the auspices of the Victorian Institute of Marine Science. The matter of navigation and position-fixing facilities in marine areas off south-eastern Australia was discussed. At that seminar the Commonwealth Government’s attitude was made clear by a departmental officer who made the point that the Commonwealth Government’s Maritime Services Advisory Committee is basically the representative of the people who pay for the provision of those facilities. Apparently relatively little of the taxpayers funds is involved in the provision of the facilities. Represented at the seminar was a broad cross-section of organisations involved with the maritime industry, such as the Victorian Institute of Marine Science, and various people related to fisheries interests, including the Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority, the New South Wales State Fisheries, the Lakes Entrance Fishermen’s Co-operative, the commercial fisheries section of the Victorian department; shipping interests, including the Broken Hill Pty Company Ltd, the Merchant Service Guild of Australia and Australian Offshore Services; the oil industry, which is concerned with oil exploration and position-fixing in Bass Strait; hydrographic and surveying interests, including the Public Works Department, the naval hydrographer, the Department of Surveying at the University of Melbourne; and recreational marine users and various other people. At the seminar, after consideration, there was unanimous agreement that the following action should be taken:
Government for the provision of more accurate and comprehensive navigation and position fixing facilities. Such facilities should be provided on a ‘test case’ basis, providing useful information to assist the planning of navaid systems in other such intensively used ocean areas.
That is, the Victorian Institute of Marine Science- as an independent organisation with expertise in these matters, should conduct the study and make recommendations to the Commonwealth Minister for Transport, on the facilities and equipment required. Funds should be provided as soon as possible to enable the proposed study to be undertaken.
I urge that very serious consideration should be given to those proposals, which came from a widely representative group of people who attended that seminar and which are important in a variety of ways in relation to the further development of the use of not only Bass Strait but also the various marine areas off south-eastern Australia. In the past that has been a neglected area of study. Relatively little study has been undertaken, particularly in relation to the continental shelf areas off Australia. Work on it is now starting to develop. In fact, a committee of this Senate is looking at marine science and research. But this is one aspect of that matter which, I believe, in the past has been approached in a far too narrow way. That approach could be improved very substantially by the Commonwealth Government adopting a broader, perhaps even multi-departmental, approach.
I hope that the Tasmanian Government will put foward a proposition which recognises the part which it would have to play in relation to the continuation of the manning of the Maatsuyker Island lighthouse. But that is only one of the many aspects to which I believe the Commonwealth Government should be having regard and should be further developing. Certainly, it is an entirely wrong time to make plans to unman the Maatsuyker Island lighthouse. As far as the general position-fixing proposition in relation to south-eastern waters is concerned, I commend to honourable senators the report of the seminar to which I referred. Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to table a copy of that report so that it can be made available to any honourable senator who wishes to examine it.
– I take a little further, in a conservation sense, some of the constructive references which were made by Senator Rae to the important role played by lighthouses. In the mid-1960s, when the Cape Barren geese were under seige, we had a lighthouse on the Chappell Islands. The very presence of that lighthouse made that federal territory. We were able to establish a beachhead there and that species, which was on the verge of extinction, was saved. Using what happened at the Chappell Islands as a sort of benchmark, I am wondering whether we could act in a landlord capacity using other off-shore islands on which we have lighthouses and which therefore are virtually federal territory and, if so, which ones. Possibly the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney) will not be able to respond to my suggestion at this point in time, but he might get the information for me.
Some years ago I spoke to the then South Australian Minister responsible for conservation and wildlife about whether, if modern technological development was such that it was decided not to man off-shore lighthouses off the South Australian coast, the South Australian Government would want to preserve those areas as off-shore wildlife refuges. I think that we could be provided with some more information on that. I suppose that the problems will be compounded by the introduction of a 200-mile off-shore fishing zone. Problems are encountered even with islands which are relatively close to the mainland. I refer to two islands in the Shark Bay region of Western Australia. As late as last week the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment was taking evidence in Perth. As members of that Committee know, several rare rock wallabies live only on those off-shore islands. Those islands are not very far from the mainland. The Western Australian Department of Fisheries and Wildlife was most apprehensive about the fact that, due to the lack of coordination and the absence of a coastguard service, maverick or psychotic fishermen could create havoc with high-powered rifles or something of that nature. I believe that much more coordinated activity is needed. There is no doubt about it, on several islands within about 300 or 400 miles of Darwin there have been depredations by Indonesian seamen and the bird life has virtually been wiped out. I think of lighthouse occupancy as a sort of mini-defence measure. I hope that we can get in detail the information sought.
Another matter I raise deals with oil pollution. Following on Senator Rae’s theme about seeking information, I recall that in the past year, when we had several other oil tanker mishaps, the Minister for Transport, Mr Nixon, indicated to us that we had a sort of loose federation comprising Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. I do not know whether its aim was to act as a subsidiary to the law of the sea conferences and the codes established by them, but that seems to have died a natural death. I was surprised about that because our nearest big spillage, the Oceanic Grandeur spillage, created an oil slick in Cape York which veered towards the territory of Papua New Guinea. I feel that there is a case for regional co-ordination. I am very anxious to know how often the body to which the Minister referred meets or whether it is believed that, with the holding of some of the major law of the sea conferences, such a body is unnecessary.
I am also wondering about mishaps concerning oil rigs. This probably has an industrial connotation. Some time ago an industrial fatality occurred. I think that two members of the operating staff of a rig lost their lives. The event ran the gambit of a coroner’s inquest in Victoria. The Victorian Labour and Industry Department played a particular role. It seems to me from my experience, with all due respect to State departments of labour and industry, that the inspectors are overworked. I believe that Federal legislation in this area may have to be tightened. This is not mentioned in the Bill. I instance a case which will prove to be a king-size problem. We hope that the area concerned will be more than the equivalent of the North Sea oil find. It may cover joint Australian-Indonesian territory. A work force will have to be sent to the area. As was indicated at the Appin coal mine, there is a tendency, even sometimes by collusion between employers and employees, for safety measures to go out the window. I hope that this legislation meets that situation.
The major legislation and the one to which , want to give most attention is the Navigational Amendment Bill 1979. 1 do not wan: to be critical of the layout of the Bill. Perhaps matters could have been illustrated a little better if we had more classic examples of the expansion of liability. I refer in particular to the preamble. We talk about the liability of owners under our own Navigation Act. The Labor Government was in power between 1972 and 1975 when the case concerning the Oceanic Grandeur disaster went before a Hong Kong court; but one matter was never resolved. We do not know whether we would have got any effective compensation under our own Navigation Act. The then Minister for Transport, Mr Charles Jones, and a former Minister, Senator Cavanagh, will confirm that the Government at that time tightened up legislation.
I have had correspondence with Senator Muskie, an outstanding authority in the United States Senate. He warned me about the Tanker Owners Voluntary Agreement on Liability for Oil Pollution which was a private indemnification scheme of various oil companies and people involved in that area. He said that we should not have the idea that that agreement was better than our own legislation. He said that with the increase in size of tankers we needed to keep pace with the ambit of danger. It would be very helpful if we were given some examples concerning disasters such as the Oceanic Grandeur or disasters which occur inside our own coastline. I imagine now that with the 200-mile limit we would be out to get all that we could if an oil spill caused damage to our own fishing resources. I wonder whether, if we had the misfortune of a disaster of the magnitude of the Oceanic Grandeur we would sue under TOVALOP or under the new concept of our Navigation Act. Perhaps the preamble is suggesting that we would receive compensation under conventions and. codes of the Law of the Sea. I have not brought all my correspondence concerning this matter from Sydney. I know that Senator Muskie was adamant that the United States legislation was not keeping up with the magnitude of some of the disasters.
The other matter I raise concerns safety again. I refer to the maritime work of the journal of the Waterside Workers Federation. On odd occasions a new freighter comes to Australia. I am not talking about ships bearing Liberian flags or ships of that nature. I am talking about West Germany, which has great amounts of technical skill in its mercantile marine. Sometimes these disasters occur. To make matters more complicated, we used to have a stevedoring authority which was disbanded by an agreement between employers and employees.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I want to summarise the submissions I made before the suspension of the sitting for dinner. In relation to the Navigation Amendment Bill 1979, I am seeking greater elucidation on the respective coverages of the Navigation Act, the Tanker Owners Voluntary Agreement concerning liability for oil pollution, and what I assume are other protective measures emanating from the various United Nations Law of the Sea conferences. That is the first matter I want clarified. I have been told by the Merchant Service Guild and by other people that there is a lot of doubt, even under the legislation I have mentioned, about what will be regarded as maximum damages, and in that respect I think we would all agree that oil spills are getting bigger and bigger.
The other matter I wish to raise is one about which the oil companies have disputed some of my earlier comments. I refer to the question of whether we should outlaw aging tankers or th ise flying flags of convenience. During the recess the Opposition’s shadow Minister for Transport, Mr Peter Morris, and I, along with others, were told by the Merchant Service Guild that it believed our Government had been over-solicitous in one case involving a vessel flying the Panamanian flag. On the question of manning scales, it seems to me that in many instances there would be a very limited core of skilled mariners on some ships and that because of their relatively short time in port people are on a knife edge, both physically and mentally. In fairness to the Minister. for Transport (Mr Nixon), I should say that in relation to the Botany Bay episode I received a letter today advising me that further inquiries are proceeding. Fortified by the views not only of the Merchant Service Guild but also of the United States Government, I believe there is a need to cull out some of these rather old, accident-prone vessels. As far as the Botany Bay incident is concerned, I do not know the age of the hull of the vessel that was damaged, but I believe that if is better to err on the side of caution, in the way I have mentioned.
Those are two of the matters on which I seek further information. The final one relates to the very effective role that in the past has been played by lighthouses, either on an island or on a promontory on the mainland. Because those areas automatically became Federal territory we have been able to keep at bay the quaint ideas of some State governments and councils about placating developers who wanted to defile parts of the continent. I hope that when the Minister replies he will respond specifically to the three matters I have raised.
– Tonight we are discussing legislation to amend the Navigation Act to lay down new criteria regarding the qualifications of masters, officers and seamen. Requirements relating to instructions, training, examinations and certificates of qualification of seagoing personnel are to be specified by regulations. Standards are being upgraded, and the legislation lays down the basis for the new curriculum to be adopted by the Tasmanian Maritime College. I am pleased to say that it was the Labor Government which started this college when it was in office in 1 973.
– It had a very vigorous Minister federally, didn ‘t it?
– Yes. There is a great need to improve the training of seagoing personnel. As ships become more technical and complicated the qualifications of the masters and seamen are needed to maintain them, and this need will increase as ships become larger , and faster and carry greater cargoes. It is sad that not all ships fall into this category. Many ships that come to this country fly what are called flags of convenience. They are registered in Liberia, Panama and other places which do not lay down a strict code for maritime industries to follow, and safety on those ships is very much neglected.
If one considers the great oil spillages that have occurred and the ships that have foundered around the world in the last few years one finds that the majority of the ships were manned by seamen who had not been trained and that the majority of them flew flags of convenience. Many parts of the world have been polluted by oil spills, and I think this is a serious matter that the world should look at. As I have said, when ships have a high speed and carry large cargoes, training of personnel must be stringent. I believe that many ships coming to this country could not be considered safe. I have figures which show what some of the flag of convenience ships pay to seamen who work on them. The International Transport Federation has established a code, which last year set down a payment of $US520 a month. Only a matter of three years ago I was aware of seamen being paid $US16 a month. This is the type of problem with which all advanced countries have to cope. No shipping country in the world can compete with payments such as those. Correspondingly, when seamen are paid such a small rate of income they do not have the skills or the desire to put their best effort into the manning of the ships. Usually they are very unhappy ships, from the officers down to the seamen. This is one of the great problems that confronts not only this country but, I believe, the whole world.
This Government should look seriously at the possibility of increasing the tonnages carried by Australian ships, whether of oil or our exported raw materials. Today we are the seventeenth largest trading country in the world, yet we have only 1 1 ships that ply overseas. They are good ships, and my understanding of them is that they are very happy and very competent ships. Naturally, the cost of manning those ships, on the basis of Australian wages and conditions, is much greater than the cost of manning ships which pay their seamen some $US 16 or $US 100 a month. I think that that situation is intolerable and should not be allowed to continue.
The Seamen’s Union of Australia has been associated with the drafting of this Bill and, as I understand it, has discussed it with the employers. I believe that there should be liaison not only with the companies but also with the Seamen’s Union. That union is unhappy about the provision in this Bill as to the manning of the new types of ships. Further negotiations should take place on the minimum manning requirements. It is not for me to say what the outcome should or should not be but I believe that satisfactory results can flow from such negotiations. It is a matter of sitting down and working out sensible solutions that are satisfactory to the whole of the industry.
The Australian Labor Party does not want to see the Australian ships priced out of a market but, on the other hand, wants to ensure that those who work the ships will have security of employment and will be paid properly. I believe that, with co-operation between ship owners, governments and unions, the Australian shipping industry can expand. This country should demand the opportunity to carry a much larger percentage of its exports. Australian ships should carry those cargoes. After all, if we lay down legislation which insists upon higher standards for the industry we should ourselves be using the resultant facilities. Qantas Airways Ltd carries the flag of this nation to almost every part of the world and I believe that Australian ships should do likewise. Australia gradually will increase its exports and imports and thus should have more of its own ships. Invisible costs always represent a drain on our international balances and for that reason alone we should consider seriously building up our maritime fleet.
Moreover, in time of war it will be essential to have Australian ships and men who are capable of manning them. If Australia were endangered by invasion from another country it would almost certainly need its own ships. They are essential to any nation and I was very sorry to see the building of large ships in this country virtually stopped. The productivity of our shipyards should have been increased. Australia is a trading country and should always increase its shipbuilding resources.
Under the legislation the compensation that is paid to injured seamen is to be increased. Although I could not find a reference to it in the Bill, I understand from the Seamen’s Union that a seamen who is injured receives for the first three months full pay and after that $80 a week if he is a single man, $90 a week and so on. Correspondingly, a man with dependants will receive more. I realise that the allowance of three months on full pay does apply under the Navigation Act and certainly it should not be removed. I imagine that its removal would cause a great deal of trouble. Perhaps the Minister will refer to that matter in his reply.
The passage of the Bill will increase navigational safety, and comes not before time. It represents a step forward and, given proper cooperation between the ship-owners, the unions and the Government, sensible solutions can be arrived at and a better shipping industry can be achieved in this country. As I have stated, that is essential for many reasons. I hope that the Government considers that fact further and has additional talks with the Seamen’s Union and the industry in general. The Bill will improve the whole of the maritime industry. I wish to say no more on the matter except to urge the Government to increase the tonnage of Australian shipping.
– in reply- I thank those honourable senators who have spoken for the relatively concise way in which they have tackled this substantial piece of legislation. As has been made clear, the legislation has been before the Parliament on a number of occasions. In fact, it first saw the light of day in almost its present form under the previous Government. Its history has been amply discussed. It has the support of both sides of the Parliament and I think that it would be fair to say, in summary, that the matters that have been raised by honourable senators generally add to the Bill rather than take from it. In many cases they are already under consideration by both the Commonwealth and State governments, where appropriate, and one can expect action to be taken on many of them.
I cannot deal with all of the points that honourable senators have raised but will certainly refer the remainder to the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) and seek a response. Senator Gietzelt, who led for the Opposition, was in error when he said, as I understood him, that because the States would be introducing complementary legislation concerning some of the conventions in the Bill, there would be further delay even though this Bill might have been passed by this Parliament. I am advised that the Bill does not envisage any delay while State legislation is awaited; that the saving clauses, which give the States a foot in the door, also provide that in the absence of State legislation the
Commonwealth legislation shall apply. Thus, there would be no hiatus or delay and Senator Gietzelt need have no worry on that score.
Senator Gietzelt and Senator Elstob, and I believe also Senator Mulvihill, stressed the need to have additional Australian ships in international trade. They referred to Australia’s position as a trading nation and to the relatively small percentage of Australian-owned ships which participated in that trade. Comment was also made, especially by Senator Gietzelt, about the effect of that upon our balance of payments, a matter which he said was sometimes of great concern to this country. The Government would acknowledge the fact that invisibles, of which shipping costs are a significant part, represent an important element in our balance of payments. Once again, as so often happens with legislation such as this which does not have a partisan content, the differences between honourable senators are relatively small.
Rather than speak at length on the Government’s policy I will direct the attention of honourable senators to the reply by Mr Nixon in the House of Representatives. He pointed out that the policy of the Government was to encourage the use of the Australian flag in foreign trade. The proviso that the Government puts on this- and it may be the point of difference between it and the Opposition- is that it expects to do so only where that would be commercially sound and would not involve the consumers bearing an additional cost or the Government providing a subsidy. I am sure that Senator Gietzelt, who at times has in a formal way on behalf of the Opposition taken an interest in rural matters, would acknowledge the important effect on superphosphate prices, for example, of the relatively high cost which is in part a function of the rather good conditions which are enjoyed on Australian ships. Mr Nixon spoke at some length and pointed to a series of ships which have been brought into the trade under the coalition governments both before the Whitlam Government and since. I do not think that it is necessary to burden the Senate with that detail again. I simply commend it to the attention of honourable senators.
A number of other matters were raised. Senator Mulvihill expressed concern about incidents arising out of the Oceanic Grandeur and the difficulties of that ship in 1970. Again, my advice is that those circumstances were immediately dealt with by urgent legislation at that time. There was legislation in 1970 which is relevant to the point that he has made. I must confess to Senator Mulvihill that I do not have a working knowledge of that legislation. My advice is that it picks up the point of concern. One will find it in Navigation Bill (No. 1) 1970, which introduced what is now part 7a of the principal Act.
Senator Mulvihill also raised the question of pollution. Again, I am advised that separate legislation is envisaged to deal with the total question of pollution of the sea. This has been the subject of recent negotiations with the States and action should flow from that. The final point which I want to mention in reply relates to substandard foreign ships. This is a matter which is under active consideration. I am advised that the Marine and Ports Council of Australia has the matter under consideration. There will be a meeting of officials on this question on the 1 8th of this month. There will be a meeting of relevant Ministers on 30 November. I think that on all of these points -
– The other point was the relevancy between TOVALOP indemnification and the protective clauses of the Navigation Act and which people suffering from oil spillages would get the biggest claim. I do not know whether you have any information on that.
– I do not have any information on that. Rather than try to give half of the information here, I will seek a full reply for the honourable senator. A matter was also raised at some length by Senator Rae. He was concerned about the manning of lighthouses, in particular the lighthouse at Maatsuyker Island on the south coast of Tasmania. His concern was that this was being or had been converted into an unmanned lightstation. The Government did take that decision, taking into account the factors mentioned by Senator Rae in the Senate late this afternoon. The Government can see the basis of Senator Rae’s concern which is, of course, about the interests of the local fishing industry and the protection of the local environment. These are regarded by the Commonwealth as predominantly matters for the State Government. The Commonwealth has offered to allow the State Government to take over and place personnel on the territory formerly occupied by the Commonwealth. So far the State Government has declined to do that.
I know that Senator Rae has made specific suggestions about ways in which costs might be met. My advice is that the cost is about $60,000 per annum. Senator Rae has suggested various ways that it could be picked up out of different votes and so on. I can only say to the Senate that I will refer that matter back to the Minister for consideration by him and other relevant Ministers. The position taken by the Commonwealth to date- I have no indication that that will be altered- is that the sort of considerations about which Senator Rae is properly concerned, as a Tasmanian senator, are considerations which properly fall within the province of the State Government. I think that there will be a great sense of relief on the part of many honourable senators from the Government and the Opposition when this legislation is finally passed. I understand that it will be a matter of considerable relief to the industry, which has been long awaiting these amendments. I commend the Bill to the Senate and thank honourable senators for their remarks.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time.
Navigation Amendment Bill 1979
– I understand that amendments are to be moved to the Navigation Amendment Bill 1979. The Opposition is at somewhat of a disadvantage due to the fact that the amendments- I think the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney) will concede this- are relatively late in coming on to the scene. During the suspension of the sitting this evening I attempted to get some guidance from my colleague who handles these matters in the other place, but so far I have not been able to get a suitable explanation. I wonder whether the Minister is in a position to inform the Senate about the objectives of the amendments. I understand that they are not of any great consequence. The Opposition would like to have that sort of assurance from the Minister- that they do not make any substantial challenge to the Billparticularly recognising that the Opposition supported the general trend of the legislation. Perhaps we could be given assurances that the proposed amendments do not radically alter the original concepts of the Bills.
– by leave- I move:
In other words, the proposed new section simply provides for a certificate to be issued which enables one to determine what are the provisions of the Uniform Shipping Laws Code. It is a method of proof provided in the Bill. I am advised that the substitute section arises from a decision of the Marine and Ports Council of Australia. The Code, which provides for Australia-wide uniformity in the laws covering survey and manning of commercial vessels, has been adopted by the Marine and Ports Council of Australia, which consists of the Commonwealth, State and Northern Territory Ministers responsible for marine and port affairs. Since proposed new section 427 was drafted and as it now stands in the Bill, the Council has decided that the Code would best be implemented by the Commonwealth, the States and the Northern Territory legislating by reference to it. The most appropriate way to enable satisfactory reference to be effected would be for the Code to be published in the Commonwealth Gazette. What we are really doing here is implementing not only the method of determining what the Code is, but also how it is proved to be the Code. The necessary gazettal arrangements having been made, amendment No. 4 changes proposed section 427 so that the Minister may by order published in the Gazette declare that the provisions annexed to the order are the provisions of the Code. It also provides for future variations to the Code to be similarly declared and gazetted. Perhaps just as a final consoling point, I direct that the Senate ‘s attention to the proposed new section 427 which states:
In other words, it is not conclusive evidence and if there were some error- if the Commonwealth Minister gazetted the wrong thing- it would be open to a person who suffered from that to bring evidence to dispel that prima facie case. So, once again, we are looking at what is essentially a machinery provision which enables people going to the Courts or elsewhere to establish just what is the Uniform Shipping Laws Code. It is not establishing it in a way which is irrevocable. In other words, somebody can come in if there has been an error- which of course is not very likely, but it could occur- and displace that prima facie evidence. In conclusion I point out that my reading of those amendments is that they do not raise issues of policy or substance. I hope that they do not cause particular concern to the Opposition.
– I take it that clause 91, which proposes an amendment after section 425- which I have not seen- refers to breaches of some code. I am much concerned that in all legislation there is the establishment of a written statement being prima facie evidence. If one has a code, surely that code should be known. I raise a question in regard to proposed amendment No. 4. Paragraph (b) of that amendment states:
Does the person who may be in breach of the Code know of his obligations and liabilities before he is in breach of it? I do not know whether the offender would be the owner of a shipping line or somebody else, but how does he know his obligations in regard to his shipping if something has been changed and a piece of paper is prima facie evidence of the fact that it has been changed? What is the understanding with a deliberate breach? Should someone know of changes that may occur in the Code from time to time? I recognise that perhaps there is one thing that could be taken into account if there is a breach and a penalty. Surely we should have some method whereby there is notification of a change in the Code so that one who may be in breach of it would know whether in fact what he would be doing would be in breach. I do not regularly favour prima facie cases as evidence of fact until such time as they are proved otherwise. It seems to my mind to be somewhat a reversal of proof.
– I appreciate the point raised by Senator Cavanagh, which is consistent with the points he has made in this chamber from time to time, and that is a concern with the liberty of the subject.
– Yes, I am a democrat.
-Yes. I acknowledge the honourable senator’s consistent interest in this matter. I do not think the problem arises in this case. As I indicated when I was on my feet before, the Code is simply something which will be implemented by legislation. If in fact an offence does arise it will be committed under legislation of either the Commonwealth or the States and not something brought under this Code. In any event, the Code, because of the provisions suggested for section 427, will involve the gazettal of the contents of the Code so that it will be public. Needless to say, all of us are ignorant of the contents of the great bulk of statutory instruments put out by the Commonwealth.
– We are expected to observe them.
-Yes. That is a problem with all laws and there is nothing very much that can be done to change that. But in the instant case- I repeat what I have said- the Code has been adopted by the Council which consists of Ministers. But the Council has decided that the Code is to be implemented by the Commonwealth, the States and the Northern Territory legislating by reference to the Code. In other words, there will be either Commonwealth, State or Northern Territory Acts of parliament in relevant cases which will bring the Code into legislative form. In those circumstances I do not think the problem raised by Senator Cavanagh would really arise because one would have the normal situation of an Act of parliament.
– Who can be in breach of the Code?
– One would be in breach of legislation enacted to implement the Code, not of the Code itself.
– I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney) to refer to proposed new section 269F at page 24 of the Bill. The first sub-section provides for the sailing plan to be provided by the master of the vessel prior to departure. Sub-section (2) requires the time of the position report to be nominated before the vessel leaves port. Sub-section (3) appears to me to exclude a foreign vessel from this provision. That is to say- if I read that correctly- that the master of such a vessel can give notification prior to departure that he does not intend to furnish position reports. If that interpretation is correct, I would like some information as to why that is so. If that is by international arrangement, then that would be an obvious explanation. The reason I raise it is that the second reading speech makes specific reference to the question of vessels being in trouble and the effect of this system of regular positions being given by radio. The second reading speech states:
It would seem to me that if a foreign vessel is not required to do that, it would obviously largely defeat the purpose of this legislation in this particular respect, because with a vessel, let us assume going west about from Melbourne to Durban, who knows what course that vessel may be steering even if a position plan or a sailing plan has been given before the vessel’s departure, or whether the conditions may require the master of that vessel to change that course. Depending on the time of the year, which is the key thing in that part of the world, technically one could possibly be sailing on a great circle course or a composite great circle course, and a lot depends on the conditions as to how far south the master can go to get a shorter voyage. So if he has to make a decision to alter those arrangements during the course of the voyage, where he may be after two or three days’ sailing could be anybody’s guess. I would just ask for clarification as to why, if I am reading that sub-clause correctly, a foreign ship would not be required, is not obligated in fact, to give that position each day. After all, it will be Australian resources which will be employed to find him if he is in trouble.
– The section has been read quite correctly by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt). There is that clear distinction between the obligations on a foreign ship and on an Australian ship. The position is that the master of a foreign ship leaving an Australian port for another port in Australia must comply, but when he is leaving for a port outside Australia, although he must lodge a sailing plan, he does not have to comply with the other provisions of the division. All that is necessary is for him to indicate on the sailing plan whether or not he intends to comply with the requirements voluntarily. But even then, if he does, there is no provision for enforcement. My advice is that voluntary compliance is to be encouraged. Obviously for the sort of reasons given by the Leader of the Opposition we are not going to gain maximum benefit from the scheme unless there is a compliance by all shipping, and one is likely to be put to the additional expense which is sought to be avoided, whatever sort of ship is involved, if it appears that a search is required.
Again my advice is that it is not open to the Government to compel a foreign ship to comply.
That is a matter which is in the hands of the flag state, and it would not be compatible with international practice to introduce that as a compulsory requirement for ships which were simply visiting Australia and departing for a foreign port. I am afraid I cannot give a more definitive reply than that. The Leader of the Opposition might like me to seek a more definitive reply, but that is the advice that I have on the clause at the moment.
– There is just one other matter. Could I also be advised, if not now then at a later stage, why the term ‘ship’ is now written into the Act? It is something which has never been done. I think from many years back it has always been a technical term ‘vessel’. I notice that that term is still used in the international regulations. I think that the advisers of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney) would know that the term ‘ship’ has a specific meaning which has always been recognised in the Act.
– A three-masted vessel, square-rigged on all masts.
– It could have more than three masts, ex-commander. I am just curious. It will be found that it does become a bit of a tongue-tie, the way it is expressed in some places, because there is a slight mix-up now as to the use of the term. If the advice is not available now, could I perhaps receive it later on?
– It must be very obvious to the gallery that I have an old seaman in front of me and an ex-commander behind me and that I am all at sea. I think the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition is a very good one, and I should seek a more detailed analysis of the position. My advice is that the use of the word ‘ship’ in the present context is not new. But I do not seek to cross, I suppose it would bc sabres or cutlasses, with the Leader of the Opposition on the point. I will seek advice on the matter and ensure that he does get a more considered reply.
Amendments agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
– Is it the wish of the Committee that we take the remaining Bills together as a whole? If there is no objection, it is so ordered.
Lighthouses Amendment Bill 1979
Pollution of the Sea by Oil (Shipping Levy Collection) Amendment Bill 1979
Sea-Carriage of Goods Amendment Bill 1979
Seamen’s Compensation Amendment Bill 1979
Bills agreed to.
Navigation Amendment Bill 1979 reported with amendments; Lighthouses Amendment Bill 1 979, Pollution of the Sea by Oil (Shipping Levy Collection) Amendment Bill 1979, Sea-Carriage of Goods Amendment Bill 1 979, Seamen ‘s Compensation Amendment Bill 1979 reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bills (on motion by Senator Chaney) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 8 June on motion by Senator Chaney:
That the Bill be now read a second time. (Quorum formed).
Debate (on motion by Senator Chaney) adjourned.
– by leave- I present a statement in relation to the winners of stage 1 of the Parliament House Design Competition. I seek leave to have the text of the statement incorporated in Hansard.
The statement read as follows-
On 22 November 1978 the Prime Minister announced that the Government had decided to proceed with the design and construction of the New and Permanent Parliament House and that the building would be completed in 1988 as part of the nation ‘s Bicentenary Celebrations.
To ensure that the project will be completed on time and within the cost budget, the Government has established the Parliament House Construction Authority to undertake and carry out the design and construction of the Parliament House.
The Authority accepted the recommendation of the Joint Standing Committee for the New and Permanent Parliament House and the Royal Australian Institute of Architects that the most appropriate method of selecting the designer of the new Parliament House was by a two-stage architectural design competition. On 7 April 1979, the Authority announced the commencement of the competition and invited all architects registered to practice in Australia to participate. 961 architects registered for the competition, and 329 design submissions were received. The Assessors for the competition were:
Sir John Overall: Chairman, Architect, Town Planner and Member of the Parliament House Construction Authority. Former Commissioner, National Capital Development Commission.
Mr John Andrews: Australian architect.
– Labor Senator for Victoria.
Mr Barry Simon, M.P.; Liberal Member for McMillan.
Professor Leonard Stevens- Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Melbourne University.
I am assured that in accordance with the terms and conditions of this competition, the registrar and the assessors have maintained anonymity and complete security throughout the conduct of the assessment. At no stage since the first entry was received by the registrar has he or the assessors been aware of the architect orfirm of any particular whatsoever relating to the name of the registrant responsible for any particular design submitted. The assessors will continue to remain unaware of the relationship between each entry and its author until the conclusion of the second stage assessment. The assessors became aware of the names of the prizewinners and finalists only after the prizewinning entries had been selected.
The assessors have now completed the judging of the First Stage of the Competition and have selected ten ( 10) prizewinners each of whom will be awarded $20,000.
The prizewinners selected are as follows:
Bickerdike, John- 16 New End, London, United Kingdom, Bickerdike Allen Partners (UK)
Thorp, Richard G.-18 East 18th Street, New York, USA, E. B. Mitchell Jr, R. Girugola, F. Foote, R. LaFrance, J. Lawson, R. Thorp (USA)
Carrol, Jerry Wayne- 40 Brisbane Street, Bondi Junction, New South Wales, Australia, Robert Venturi, John Rauch, Denise Scott Brown, Jerry Wayne Carroll (USA)
Daltas, Spero Paul- 1033 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, Brown Daltas & Associates Inc. (USA)
Leech, Denis John- 6 The Avenue, Newport Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia, Denis Leech in Association with Stephenson & Turner (Australia )
Of the 10 prizewinning architects, six are resident in Australia and four, one of whom we understand to be an Australia citizen, resident overseas. Of the five finalists, two are resident in Australia- Denton and Madigan- one is an Australian resident in the United States- Thorpone is a Canadian with extensive Australian experience- Waite- and one is resident in England- Bickerdike.
The finalists will proceed to the second stage of the competition.
It is the opinion of the assessors that the building selected to house the Parliament and to be constructed on the Capital Hill site must exhibit four main qualities:
The assessors were unanimously of the view that in the first stage they were selecting not so much buildings but architects who, in their design submissions, had demonstrated a clear understanding of the problems posed by the construction of a Parliament House on Capital Hill and who indicated to the satisfaction of the assessors that they had, or could in the second stage, provide solutions to meet the criteria specified above. In the second stage, however, the assessors will select a design which can be presented to Parliament, Government and the public as the building which, subject to refinement and development, should in their judgment, become the Parliament for the Commonwealth of Australia.
In making their judgment in this competition, the assessors are operating on the assumption that the present provisional Parliament House will remain after 1988 and that in all probability the Parliamentary Triangle will ultimately be developed in accordance with the philosophy of the Griffin Plan.
In their report to the Parliament House Construction Authority, the assessors made the following observations in relation to their work on the first stage of the competition:
The designs of the prizewinners will remain confidential until the conclusion of the competition in August 1980. This is a normal condition of an architectural competition to ensure that anonymity is maintained.
During June- July 1980, the assessors will select the competition winner. In accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Act 1974, the design of the competition winner will be presented to both Houses of Parliament.
Honourable senators will appreciate that many buildings of national importance are either in the course of being built or are about to be built in Australia. It is a period of great challenge for our architects and designers. It will foster great interest in the inter-relationship between the architecture and design of our buildings and our daily living.
It is timely too that the relationship between art and architecture and design be fostered and encouraged. For some time, the Australia Council has been considering the question of setting up an Architecture and Design Board for this very purpose. I hope that soon such a Board will be established so that in co-operation with the private sector even greater encouragement can be given to this development.
– by leave- I inform the Senate of the outcome of the inaugural meeting of the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council which took place in Brisbane last Thursday, 4 October. The Ministerial Council at this inaugural meeting was: The Hon. Eric Robinson, the Commonwealth Minister for Finance and the convenor; Senator the Hon. James Webster, the Commonwealth Minister for Science and the Environment; the Hon. Max D. Hooper, the Queensland Minister for Maritime Services and Tourism; and the Hon. Ivan Gibbs, the Queensland Minister for Culture, National Parks and Recreation. Mr Robinson replaced the Right Hon. Phillip Lynch as convenor, as Mr Lynch was not able to be present at the meeting.
Before going into detail on that meeting, I believe it would be useful if I recounted the developments which culminated in last Thursday’s meeting. The relationship between the Commonwealth and the Queensland governments on issues concerning the Great Barrier Reef has continued for a long time. Nearly a decade ago both governments agreed to the appointment of the Joint Royal Commissions into Exploratory and Production Drilling for Petroleum in the Area of the Great Barrier Reef, on 5 May 1 970. The Royal Commissions reported to both governments on 1 November 1974.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act developed the relationship to a further stage by establishing the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority which provides an avenue for consultation between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland at the officials level. That legislation also established the Great Barrier Reef Consultative Committee which provides a forum for discussion among officials, experts, interest groups and industry representatives. It creates a mechanism for the interest groups represented on it to provide specialised advice to the Marine Park Authority and to the Minister for Science and the Environment.
The Senate will recall that on 4 June 1 979 the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) announced the Commonwealth ‘s decision as a result of its examination of the report by the Royal Commissions I referred to earlier. The Government decided that there should be no further exploration in the Great Barrier Reef region and that there should be no renewal of petroleum permits in the region until the results of both short and longer term research are known. A further- and significant- development occurred on 14 June when the Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland signed an agreement establishing the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council. This Council was established to provide a clearly recognisable forum for consultation and coordination at the ministerial level. Such a forum had not existed previously. Both the Prime Minister and the Premier in their joint agreement confirmed that it was the policy of their respective Governments to prohibit any drilling on the reef or any drilling or mining which could damage the reef. The Commonwealth Government sees the development of the Ministerial Council as being entirely in keeping with its approach to proper sharing of responsibilities between the Commonwealth and the States.
This brings me to the inaugural meeting of the Ministerial Council. The most important issue was the question of the first section- the Capricornia section- of the Great Barrier Reef region and its development as a marine park. I am very pleased to inform the Senate that following its careful consideration of this issue, the Ministerial Council agreed to recommend that this matter should be processed without delay. The reefs and shoals of Capricornia section of the Great Barrier Reef form a distinct geographical unit. There are several habitable coral caysislands composed of coral sand and rubble often densely vegetated- which provide a base for intensive recreational, tourist and scientific research use. Parts of this coral reef ecosystem are important breeding areas which are vital to the maintenance of several species of turtles and birds.
The Capricornia area is the most accessible part of the reef for visitors from southern capitals and overseas. Local use by inhabitants of Bundaberg, Gladstone and Rockhampton is becoming increasingly heavy. The coastal centres benefit economically from the recreational and commercial uses of the reefs and surrounding waters. It might be helpful to the Senate if I mentioned the marine park concept- a concept which is certainly not familiar to most of us. A marine park differs substantially from a national park which typically protects the natural landscape and allows only limited human use. The Great Barrier Reef in general- and the Capricornia section of the reef in particular- presents a very different picture. It is already widely used and enjoyed and effective planning of the environment of the reef can occur only in close cooperation with the community which will continue to use it. I would say that the scale, diversity and complexity of the Great Barrier Reef is unmatched by any other marine environment in the world. Therefore the marine park will need to be designed to allow reasonable use while conserving the reef. It will therefore differ, at least in some respects, from other models already in existence or proposed elsewhere in the world.
The Council also considered the question of the day-to-day management arrangements which will need to be put in place in the marine park. The Prime Minister and the Premier had previously agreed that this function should be undertaken by the appropriate Queensland authority which in discharging this responsibility will be subject to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Within that general framework, the question of the matters to be included in the management regime, of course, will require detailed discussions. Such discussions are required because, as I mentioned above, this concept of a marine park is quite unique but also because both governments are concerned to ensure that an effective management regime giving appropriate protection to the ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef is established without delay. The next meeting of the Ministerial Council will examine this matter in detail.
Associated with the day-to-day management is the zoning plan which is in preparation by the Marine Park Authority. This plan will be directed towards minimising the effect of incompatible activities on the Marine Park and giving extra protection to those areas which need it. The public will be extensively consulted during the preparation of the zoning plan. The final plan, taking account of all comments which have been received, will be submitted to the Ministerial Council for its consideration. When it is approved it will be tabled in this Parliament and members will be given an opportunity to express their views on that plan. The Council also examined a number of other issues which impinge on the Barrier Reef. Rather than delay the Senate further on this matter, however, I seek the approval of the Senate to have incorporated in Hansard the communique which was issued at the conclusion of the council meeting.
The document read as follows-
GREAT BARRIER REEF MINISTERIAL COUNCIL
The inaugural meeting or the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council look place in Brisbane today. The Council at this inaugural meeting was: the Hon. Eric Robinson, the Commonwealth Minister for Finance (Convener);
Senator the Hon. J. J. Webster, the Commonwealth Minister for Science and the Environment; the Hon. Max D. Hooper, the Queensland Minister for Maritime Services and Tourism; the Hon. Ivan Gibbs, the Queensland Minister for Culture, National Parks and Recreation.
Mr Robinson replaced the Rt Hon. Phillip Lynch as Convener, as Mr Lynch was not able to be present at the meeting.
The Council was set up following the Agreement between the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. Malcolm Fraser and the Premier of Queensland, the Hon. Joh Bjelke-Petersen at Emerald on 14 June. In the joint statement concerning this Agreement they announced that the decision to set up the Council had been taken so that both Governments would be able to co-ordinate policy in relation to the Barrier Reef at the Ministerial level. The Agreement also noted that “the first section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park- the Capricornia section- should be processed by the Ministerial Council as an immediate task to enable early proclamation to take place”.
Mr Fraser and Mr Bjelke-Petersen also announced that as sections of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are proclaimed the day-to-day management should be undertaken by the appropriate Queensland authorities, who in discharging this responsibility will be subject to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
That Authority will continue to have the responsibility for: recommending the declaration of marine parks; developing zoning plans and plans of management of parks; and arranging for research and investigation relevant to marine parks.
The Prime Minister and the Premier confirmed that it was the policies of their respective Governments to prohibit any drilling or mining which could damage the Reef.
The development of the Ministerial Council is an initiative which is entirely consistent with the approach to an appropriate sharing of responsibilities between the Governments of the Commonwealth and of the State of Queensland.
Proposed Proclamation of the Capricornia Section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
The principal item on the Agenda of today’s meeting related to the Capricornia Section of the Marine Park.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority had previously selected the area encompassing the reefs and shoals of Lady Elliot Island and the Capricornia and Bunker groups for consideration as the first section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. This selection was made because of the proximity of this area to southern capital cities, because of its importance in the fields of commerce, recreation, tourism and science, and because the area is generally regarded as one of the best known sections of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Ministerial Council examined a report received from the Marine Park Authority concerning the proposal and agreed to recommend that action to enable proclamation of the Capricornia Section as the first stage of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park should proceed immediately.
The Marine Park Concept
The marine park concept has come into being as a result of concern for the conservation of marine environments. The scale, diversity and complexity of the Great Barrier Reef is unmatched by any other marine environment in the world and therefore a marine park designed to allow reasonable use while conserving the Reef will differ, at least in some respects, from other models already in existence elsewhere in the world.
The processes of declaration of the Capricornia section of the Marine Park is but a first step. Ministers today agreed that the development of detailed Zoning and Management Plans directed towards long-term administration of the Marine Park should be set in train.
The Zoning Plan for the Capricornia section is to be prepared by the Marine Park Authority. That Plan will be directed towards minimizing the effect of clashes of incompatible activities on the Park and giving extra protection to those areas which need it. The Authority is to place public notices in the national press advertising its intention to prepare the Zoning Plan and calling for public submissions. All submissions which the Authority receives as a result of this action will be examined carefully and will be taken into account in preparing a draft Zoning Plan. The draft Plan will then be published so that members of the public are aware of the detailed nature of the Authority’s proposals and are able to comment on them. The draft Zoning Plan will be open for comment for at least one month.
Following this procedure, the revised Plan will be submitted to the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council for consideration. The recommended Zoning Plan, together with representations from the public, will then be formally submitted to the Minister for Science and the Environment for his review, approval and subsequent tabling in the Parliament.
The Council also recalled that Queensland authorities are to be assigned the day-to-day management role of any declared marine park. In this regard the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act makes specific provision for the Commonwealth Government to make arrangements with the Queensland Government for the performance of functions and the exercise of powers under this Act.
The appropriate Queensland authorities will in this context be subject to the oversight of the Marine Park Authority. However the very close consultative arrangements which have developed between Queensland and Commonwealth authorities in this unique area will ensure that Zoning Plans and Management Plans for the Capricornia section are developed and implemented in a context which will ensure the conservation of a unique feature of Australia’s and Queensland ‘s heritage.
The Council members agreed that the questions of the matters which are involved in the day-to-day management of the Marine Park should be the subject of examination by officials for consideration at the next meeting of the Ministerial Council. Other related issues here include the scale of costs to be involved in the day-to-day management arrangements and the sharing of these costs between the Commonwealth and Queensland Government.
The Council decided that Commonwealth and Queensland officials should examine the possibility of complementary management regimes in areas of the State adjacent to, or likely to affect the Marine Park. This examination will coven
the proclamation of terrestrial national parks and marine parks under Queensland legislation; (it) the suitability of legislation, both Commonwealth and Queensland, Tor establishing a uniform management approach, particularly with reference to the difficulties of law enforcement at the interface between the two jurisdictions; and
consultative mechanisms in the development of proposals.
The Ministerial Council also agreed that the present scope of co-operation between Queensland and Commonwealth officials on issues relevant to the Reef should be maintained and expanded.
The Council also decided that: the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority will undertake its functions with the maximum practicable use of Queensland Government and private sector services commensurate with efficient operation; the Authority should develop a strong corporate identity in keeping with both Commonwealth and Queensland commitments to protect the Great Barrier Reef; the Authority will pay particular attention to its planning and research functions as required to achieve the establishment, control, care and development of a viable marine park (in particular in order to declare and zone further sections of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park); and the Authority will co-ordinate the provision of advice on research relevant to the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council.
The Committee also considered the possible nomination of the Great Barrier Reef for inclusion on the World Heritage List. They were aware that this issue had been the subject of correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premier and that the Premier had indicated that, in his view, only those areas of the Reef that have been assessed and surveyed as having prime ecological significance and which are considered suitable for declaration as Marine Parks should be included on the World Heritage List.
Ministers decided that before taking a decision on the question of nomination of the Reef for inclusion on the World Heritage List, they would like to study the implications of nominating the Great Barrier Reef- or sections of it- for inclusion on the List.
Ministers agreed that this matter should be studied by Commonwealth and Queensland officials with a view to presenting a report to the next meeting of the Ministerial Council.
In relation to the Great Barrier Reef Consultative Committee, the Ministers noted that the Minister for Science and the Environment was to announce the membership of the Committee at the conclusion ofthe meeting in terms of the attached statement. The Council agreed to refer matters to the Consultative Committee through the Minister for Science and the Environment.
– Finally, I must not let this occasion pass without mentioning the success of the initiative of creating the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council. We believe that in a matter of such importance as the Great Barrier Reef, major decisions need to be considered at the ministerial level by both governments. The Council has provided an appropriate mechanism to ensure the such consideration can take place. Furthermore, the very amicable meeting of the Council showed that the proper approach to issues where the interests of the Commonwealth and the State overlap is to engage in reasoned discussion. This approach is in sharp contrast to that advocated by the Opposition, which has consistently argued that the Commonwealth Government should ride roughshod over the important and legitimate interests of Queensland in this most important matter.
The decision to progress the question of establishment of the Capricornia section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is, however, but a first step. There are many important matters which require early and detailed discussions so that we can have a fully operational marine park. I am confident that these issues will be speedily resolved and that the Marine Park will be an efficiently operating entity which will further serve to ensure the preservation of a unique feature ofthe heritage of Australia and Queensland. I move:
– The Opposition is pleased that the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster) has given the Senate a full explanation of what took place in the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council meeting last Thursday and an opportunity to discuss it in the Senate. That process should be encouraged because it is the only way in which the Government will be able to overcome the suspicion that it is not genuine in relation to protecting the reef. We certainly are not persuaded by the results of this meeting that the operation of this Ministerial Council is anything other than a sell out to Queensland interests. It was an extraordinary remark that the Minister made when he said that the relationship between the Commonwealth and Queensland governments on issues concerning the Great Barrier Reef has continued for some time. It is remarkable to describe the acrimony which has existed between the two governments on this issue as a ‘relationship ‘. Certainly it is not a relationship which ought to be encouraged.
I am not being over critical of the Government by referring to the suspicion which we continue to harbour that it does not have the interests of the reef at heart. The Senate will recall that the decision of the Government to act on the minority report of the royal commissions occurred only because of a persistent and prolonged attack by the Opposition during the month prior to that decision being reached. The actions and the statements of Commonwealth Ministers during that month gave rise to the suspicion that the Commonwealth is not genuine it its attitude to the reef. Day in day out we had the spectacle of the Minister for Science and the Environment being under siege because he failed to inform the Senate fully in relation to government intentions. The more he attempted to do that the more evidence came out, particularly written evidence from the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman), indicating that there was a very strong lobby within the Government in favour of drilling on the reef prior to the carrying out of any long term research. It was only a disclosure by the Opposition of this attitude on the part of Government Ministers that eventually forced the hand of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to announce that long term research would be carried out before any drilling on the reef would be permitted.
The Minister for Science and the Environment said tonight that the decision on 4 June to place a ban on further exploration in the reef region was the result of the Government’s examination of the royal commissions’ report. Let me remind the Senate that that report was brought down in 1974. Between that time and May 1979 the Government gave no consideration to the report. On 28 May the Minister for National Development, in his famous background briefing to journalists, informed them that he had received authority from Cabinet to prepare the appropriate submission. On 31 May he told the Parliament that he had prepared a submission which had gone to the Government for decision and on 4 June the Prime Minister announced that decision. There is no doubt what caused that very speedy decision by the Federal Government. It was the consistent pressure from the Opposition which led to that result. Because the decision was the result of Opposition pressure there is still the suspicion that the Government is not genuine. That was confirmed by the establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council which gave the Queensland Government significant control over the operations of the Marine Park Authority.
The Minister admits that that authority provided an avenue for consultation beween the two governments, but that was not enough for the Queensland Government. As a sop to that Government the Commonwealth established the Ministerial. Council. Clearly the establishment of it and the handing over of the day to day administration of the marine park to the Queensland Government mean that the Commonwealth is abrogating its responsibilities because of the attitude expressed by the
Queensland Government. Let us make it perfectly clear that we are not against proper consultation on this issue between the two governments, but we are against handing over authority to the Queensland Government when it has indicated already its firm intention to drill the reef at the first available opportunity. I refer again to the debate on 30 May in which I drew attention to the expressed attitudes of the Queensland Government. For example, on 27 February this year the Premier of Queensland said:
Nobody is going to suggest we are going to drill on the reef: But there is a tremendous lot of water and area where there is no reef. Most of our reef is under water and even if there was a blow-out it would go on top of it and it would not be affected.
The attitude of his Mines Minister, Mr Camm, was also quite unequivocal. Once again I quote his attitude to the reef. He said:
We want to keep faith with the companies we have encouraged to come to Australia to assist us in the development of our mineral resources.
Those statements were not made years ago. They were made this year- 1979. Yet weeks later the Queensland Government was prepared to enter into an agreement with the Commonwealth concerning the management of the reef region. There can be no doubt that neither of these two gentlemen has changed his mind. They intend to drill the reef and the Commonwealth is giving them every opportunity to do so by transferring effective control to the Queensland Government. As an example let us look at the communique issued following the meeting. The communique points out that the Ministerial Council considered the possible nomination of the Great Barrier Reef for inclusion on the World Heritage List- a quite laudable proposition. But the Council did not proceed to take any action because of the objections of the Premier of Queensland to doing this. Let me remind the Senate that the family companies of the Queensland Premier have commercial interests involving oil drilling in Queensland. Yet we still allow that man’s private interests to dictate what is being done on a matter of great national significance. Until last week the Queensland Government was still playing politics with the reef by threatening to refuse to support the establishment of the Marine Park because of the dispute with the Federal Government over marlin fishing near Cairns. Clearly the Queensland Government has no genuine interest in establishing marine parks as they can only inhibit its scope for dilling the reef.
There are plenty of other reasons why the Opposition is entitled to be suspicious about this document and the Federal Government’s intentions. The dubious actions of the Minister for National Development, which were brought home to us again quite recently as a result of his late night discussions at a certain restaurant here in Canberra with certain journalists, were confirmed even after the announcement by the Federal Government that exploration on the Great Barrier Reef would not be permitted until the conclusion of long-term research. Even after the announcement of that decision the Minister for National Development still permitted the carrying out of seismic surveys within the reef region and only the public disclosure of that activity forced the Government to take action to prevent continuation of this work.
I want to refer briefly to some of the specific issues arising from the statement of the Minister for Science and the Environment. As I have indicated, we are alarmed at the day to day management of the Marine Park coming within the control of the Queensland authorities. At this stage we are not told which authorities will have that responsibility, but we know that it is unlikely that they will get much support, particularly in conservation matters, from the Queensland Government. We have to look only at the destruction of the coastline from Coolangatta to Fraser Island, which has been permitted by the Queensland Government, to appreciate the risk involved in handing over management of the park to that Government, notwithstanding anything contained in the zoning plan. It is also a matter of concern that the zoning plan will not be made available to this Parliament until after the Ministerial Council has approved it. We in the Opposition, and in fact the whole Parliament, would have to find this most unsatisfactory. I believe that the Government should reconsider seriously before accepting that procedure.
To protect the reef it is essential that that zoning plan comes to this Parliament prior to its being approved by the Ministerial Council. It is also a matter of concern to us that no details of the long-term research to be carried out have yet been made available to us. The Senate will recall that the Chairman of the royal commissions was adamant that long term research into the effect of oil spills be carried out before any thought is given to permitting drilling in the reef region. The Government has now accepted that proposition but has allocated only a paltry sum of money towards carrying out that research. We call on the Government to make plain what the research program is to ensure that people who have the interests of the reef at heart are able to judge whether that research is adequate.
The Minister’s statement gives us no indication of the boundaries of the Capricornia section of the marine park. This is of some concern to us, particularly in the light of the disclosure that those boundaries are being manipulated for the benefit of the permitees. This disclosure came in the letter from the Minister for Housing and Construction, Mr Groom, to Mr Newman on 20 October last year, in which it was clearly indicated that the boundaries of the park had been recommended on the basis that the activities of the permits would not be hindered. I refer again to the debate in this chamber of 24 May in which full details of that letter were disclosed to the Senate.
The last point concerns the issue of the Capricornia section of the Marine Park. That has been fought out, but it has taken a long time. But what about the rest of the reef? When will the Government make some decisions in relation to marine parks in other sensitive areas of the reef? Until we get some positive assurances on these aspects, the Opposition will continue to be concerned about the future of the Great Barrier Reef and, in particular, the genuineness of this Government in its proclaimed statements of support for protecting the reef from any possible harmful effects as a result of drilling.
– In general, the Australian Democrats approve of the basic sentiments expressed by the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster) in this statement providedSenator Wriedt made this point- that those sentiments are supported by concrete facts; in other words, provided that the plan which emerges for the Great Barrier Reef is one which is definite and not merely, as so much of this statement is, an utterance of generalities. For instance, we applaud the statement at page 3 which reads:
Both the Prime Minister and the Premier in their joint agreement confirmed that it was the policy of their respective governments to prohibit any drilling on the reef or any drilling or mining which could damage the reef.
I suppose that the word ‘could’ is there with intent because it does imply that that would take into account the views which have been expressed both in debates and in this place and in the media in which experts have said time and time again that it is extremely plain what could damage the reef. So I would say that we could not have a situation in which there was any oil exploitation, no matter how well intentioned it was, no matter how genuinely it was felt somewhere that it was to be incorporated in some sort of zoning system. Frankly, we do not trust the word ‘zoning’ very much when it appears in this statement. That is because oil spills, well head breaks and accidents of that sort do occur with monotonous regularity in all parts of the world. Nobody wants them to occur, nobody likes to predict that they will occur. They are not allowed to occur with malice or any particular desire to destroy ecologies or the environment, but they happen. Every time they happen we are told that it will never happen again. Then it happens again.
If it happens in a large area of the Atlantic or in some other place where there is time to control the spills, not so much damage is done. But in the Great Barrier Reef area, we will only have the time up to the next low tide because once large areas of the reef, which virtually are exposed at low tide, are exposed to either oil in its natural form or oil which has been treated with dispersants, we know from what marine biologists have told us over and over again that there will be damage and that it is not possible to get into those areas with anything bigger than a rowing boat and not even that. There is no question of taking the vessels, booms and the like into the reef area to clean up a spill. Once a spill occurs there it stays and goes on doing damage for months and years, perhaps decades, afterwards. The sperm of the coral is affected by oil in its breeding procedures. That is known already from experiments conducted overseas. One would hope that that will be confirmed by experiments conducted in Australia. We know enough about the matter to realise that damage could occur quite readily. I am a little concerned at the Minister’s words at page 4 of his statement. I would like to hear them spelt out a little further. The words to which I refer are these:
It might be helpful to the Senate if I mentioned the marine park concept- a concept which is certainly not familiar to most of us. A marine park differs substantially from a national park which typically protects the natural landscape and allows only limited human use.
Frankly, I cannot see how a marine park is so categorically different from a national park. After all, both have a regulated and controlled recreational use. Surely that is one of their prime functions. Hence, at page 5 of the statement we see these words:
What might be defined as ‘reasonable use’? What will the designs be? Those are matters on which the Australian public will seek reassurance from the Government and I think the public will need that reassurance to be given in the form of a detailed explanation. These comments are not intended to be merely carping. What I am trying to convey is that every activity proposed for the reef will need to be defined precisely at the proposal stage so that it can attract public debate and consideration. I do not see that as imposing any limitation on the rights of the Queensland Government or, indeed, of this Government; I see it merely as an earnest of the desire of Australians to protect what is a world asset which is in our hands for protection.
The Minister’s statement that the public will be extensively consulted is very welcome to the Australian Democrats. I am quite sure from the feedback we have had that he will find plenty of people who will want to be consulted. I suggest that there will be a very lengthy period of consultation and the people requesting that consultation will want to know exactly what is going on. I note that the final plan will be submitted to this Parliament. I tend to support Senator Wriedt ‘s point of view. I think that it is not really good enough to come to this Parliament with a final plan; rather, I think it would be courteous and respectful to this Parliament to come along with some proposals and at least let us express our views on them. One tends to find that the legislation and plans which are brought forward by the Government are immutable. No matter what discussion takes place, once the Government has committed itself to a course of action or a Bill it does not change it very readily.
Finally, I turn briefly to the communique of the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council, the terms of which have been incorporated in Hansard. I refer particularly to what seems to me to be a curious sentence which appears at page 3 of the communique, which states:
That Plan will be directed towards minimizing the effect of clashes of incompatible activities on the Park . . .
I would have hoped that the plan would be able to do rather more than simply to attempt to minimise the effects of clashes of incompatible activities on the park. It should be possible- indeed, it seems to me that it is very necessary- to make sure that no such clashes of incompatible activity occur. The world ‘incompatible’ is very strong. It involves all sorts of implications if it is allowed merely to go at that. In other words, one would assume from that that there may well be clashes of incompatible activities on the reef and that we would have to wash our hands of them after making a jolly good try at resolving them. That is not good enough, for our money. The other points I wish to raise relate to page 6 of the communique. They have already been referred to briefly by Senator Wriedt. The communique reads:
Those words imply to me that areas of the Great Barrier Reef will be neither national parks nor nominated for inclusion in the World Heritage List. Certainly that possibility is implicit in those words. The views expressed by the Premier of Queensland- that is his statement; it is his view that that should happen- cannot alter the facts. I sometimes think that the Premier of Queensland believes that by saying something for long enough and often enough he can alter facts, but that is not the case. It is a fact that the ecology of the reef is a total concept. In the view of experts, there cannot be any question of picking out bits here and bits there and turning them into national parks which may be used in a variety of zonings- again, I am not quite sure what ‘zonings’ means- and then apparently allowing unfettered exploitation of the bits in between.
I believe that that suspicion is what has created the persistence with which certainly the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Democrats continue to attack this matter. We are worried and frightened that that is really what is intended. I believe that the whole of the Great Barrier Reef, its waters and its contiguous land services should be declared a national heritage, that they should be a national park. We would then have created the largest and grandest marine national park in the world and, I think, we would be regarded as being a people of great vision and stature and as having done something of value to the world. I hope that on this point the Government and the Minister will take a very firm line with the Queensland Government. That certainly is a responsibility of the Government and the Minister to the Australian people. They will be looking to him for that. I think that the reef should be nominated for the National Heritage List. It should also, in itself, be a great marine park.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– On behalf of the Opposition I move:
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– The purpose of the Albury-Wodonga Development Amendment Bill is to amend the Albury-Wodonga Development Act of 1973. The Bill seeks to alter the membership of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation from five to eight members and to provide common membership of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation. At present the Corporation is made up of three full time and two part time members. It is an example of co-operation between the Commonwealth and New - South Wales and Victoria which are also members of the ministerial council. It was agreed that these objectives could best be achieved by extending the membership of the Corporation to include the mayors of the towns of Albury and Wodonga as ex-officio part time members of the Corporation.
It might be recalled that the Whitlam Government came to office in 1972 on the basis of an acceptance of the principle of taking energetic Commonwealth initiatives in respect of decentralisation. All political parties have, in their platforms, support for the principles of decentralisation. What, political parties do about decentralisation when they get into government I think is relevant. The establishment of active decentralisation bodies in rural areas in various parts of Australia was one of the most important steps that was taken by the Whitlam Government immediately it came to office. The AlburyWodonga concept has to be regarded as the most innovative, the most important and the one upon which most Government resources have been applied in the intervening years. It is a very valuable experiment and exercise in cooperation between governments which from time to time have different attitudes and different philosophies on what can and should be done concerning the development of decentralisation policies. The legislation that we are debating weakens that concept and takes steps to alter the philosophy that was behind the urban and decentralisation objectives and strategies of the Labor Government from 1972 and 1975.
The legislation makes provision for a prominent businessman to serve on the Corporation in order to build up its membership. The addition of the mayors of Albury and Wodonga and the prominent businessman bring the composition of the Corporation to eight members. The prominent businessman who has been selected, Mr Russell Prowse, is a well known banker from the Bank of New South Wales. We know a great deal about Mr Prowse. He has been a very prominent spokesman over the years about a whole series of public issues in this country. I do not think he would expect me to say anything more than what I say: He is regarded as being an ultra conservative in his approach to economic matters. He espouses extreme private enterprise attitudes. I think the appointment of Mr Prowse, whilst I have no doubts at all about his competence and his capacity to serve the philosophy or objectives of this Government, is in many ways a regressive step. This person has had commercial links over, the years and the organisation to which he belongs has been very active in the field of real estate and land .development in the post-war years.
We have heard a lot about inflation over the last decade or so. I think it has to be recognised that perhaps land is the commodity in Australia whose fictitious value has increased more than that of any other commodity. For example, at the end of the war in Sydney and Melbourne ordinary blocks of land could have been purchased for approximately $100; prime areas would have attracted an extra $50. Today those pieces of land in Sydney and Melbourne are priced well in excess of $20,000 to $25,000. In proportion, inflationary values of land have gone up many times greater than the cost of building. One would expect that the Government, which has made something of a thing about inflation since it came to office, would be concerned to maintain the vigilance, the diligence and the activities that were so much part of the Whitlam administration’s attempts to ‘try to curb the excessive growth in the value of land which has been a characteristic of the post-war development. For example I recall Tom Uren’s speaking about exploitation of the people of Australia by inflating the price of land. In 1970 he stated:
The greatest financial corporations in Australia, backed by the great Tree enterprise banks, all of whose directors and managers appear prominently in Who’s Who and the New Year’s Honours List -
Those people have profited by the lack of government intervention in the area of land development.
Of course, it is the banks and companies such as the Australian Guarantee Corporation, Associated Securities Limited and the Finance Corporation of Australia that have been actively involved. As far as I am able to gauge, while the stockmarket is a constantly changing picture, at the present time the Bank of New South Wales has 76 per cent of the shares in Australian Guarantee Corporation. Those three subsidiaries of the banks have played a very significant part in buying land and speculating in the value of land. Yet Mr Russell Prowse, the direct representative of the Bank of New South Wales, whose subsidiary is Australian Guarantee Corporation, has been placed on this Corporation as a result of the Government’s recent decisions. It is interesting to note that in every stage of Australia ‘s development, where population and growth have accelerated excessive speculation in land and land development has appeared in New South Wales and in particular in Victoria.
Honourable senators might care to examine at some time an interesting book written by a Miss Sandercock and published recently in Victoria. It deals with various land scandals there and with the way in which the ordinary people of that State have been fleeced as a result of activities carried out in conjunction with conservative governments and land development companies. We know how in recent times the Victorian Government has been plagued by the misuse of the resources made available in the form of Federal funds for the establishment of land commissions- the Housing Corporation in Victoria- to realise the objective of the Whitlam Government to provide land at a reasonable rate, free of the speculative private gain factors which have been a characteristic of New South Wales and Victorian conservative governments from the last century to the present time.
This legislation seeks to abolish the Consultative Council which hitherto was composed of 1 6 members and which, to use the terms of the second reading speech of the Minister, is to be abolished because it causes friction within the community. I put it that it is a good thing that we we have advisory councils operating at the community level, particularly in the case of AlburyWodonga, because it gives the ordinary citizen an opportunity to understand what is happening to his region, and enables him to put forward ideas to the public instrumentality involved, in this case the Corporation. It is an example of participatory democracy, which I believe should be the cornerstone upon which governments operate in respect of all development that takes place in regions throughout Australia.
During the years that I served in local government I set out deliberately to establish citizen groups to assist in the town planning of the big shire of which I had the honour to be leader for nine years. I set out to involve citizens in advising the council on the way in which development ought to proceed within the municipal boundaries. I am pleased to say that the Whitlam Government adopted that approach, not because of my experience but because of the general principle of citizens participating in these matters. The growth centres that we hope ultimately will appear at Albury-Wodonga will change materially the living conditions a well as the environment of those two important cities. Therefore it is proper that Albury-Wodonga should not have the concept imposed upon it from above but should be provided with an opportunity for its citizens in an advisory capacity, and in a debating and argumentative capacity, to participate in the decisions that ought to be made in respect of the region in which they live. We make no apologies for defending the principle that governments ought not just to dictate to citizens what should happen within their region but ought to set out to establish the structures and institutions that will enable citizens to participate and to understand the motivations of the Commonwealth Government with respect to AlburyWodonga and what was in mind with respect to the co-operation of the Victorian and New South Wales State governments. It is only on the basis of such co-operation and good will that citizens will accept changes in planning concepts. It is only by co-operation that the private sector will respond to the encouragement that governments give in respect of these matters, and it is only by co-operation that three different governments can produce a finished product that will make Albury-Wodonga- or in a broader sense, decentralisation- a living reality in respect to the strategies being pursued by the Federal Government. lt is another manifestation of this Government’s elitist approach that it has abolished this citizens’ group because there was friction and debate and differences of opinion regarding the way in which the advisory committee sought to convey its views and represent the opinions of the citizens of Albury and Wodonga on the subsequent development of that important project. The Commonwealth took the initiative to establish the Corporation and the advisory committee precisely because it was Commonwealth Government initiative that had made the impact on our major cities which created the problems of demand for land and over-centralisation. The policies pursued by national governments and to some extent by State governments have contributed to the problem. Yet these manifestations, which have been much more evident in the 1970s than they were in the 1960s and 1950s, need to have the understanding and the involvement of ordinary citizens so that they might comprehend the reasons why governments have to take the actions that they have taken with respect to decentralisation. Decentralisation becomes an integral part of the policy of stopping the urban blight or the urban spread. We have all recognised that the tremendous, unplanned growth of our capital cities in the post-war years has been to the detriment of citizens, to the detriment of public authorities, and to the detriment of the environment. Government action is necessarycoming too late, perhaps, but better late than never- to try to redress the grave mistakes or omissions that have been characteristic of conservative governments in the post-war years.
It is a matter for great regret that this Government has taken steps to reduce the Commonwealth’s financial involvement and commitment on the other side of the coin as far as urban development is concerned- the pursuit of an active policy of decentralisation, not as a gimmick but in a way that provides opportunities for accommodation and jobs in an environment that is far better than the congestion which is a characteristic of our major cities. The way in which this Government has applied itself to decentralisation and to Albury-Wodonga shows how hypocritical it has been in its support for not only the principles of growth centres but also urban and regional communities. It flies in the face of the commitment which the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made in his policy speech of 27 November 1975, when he said:
We will continue urban programs. We are the people who can work with State and local Government to overcome the problems caused by rapid growth in the cities and in new expanding suburbs.
If we examine the Budgets for every year since then we see that there have been major cuts in Federal funding of growth centres. Now the Government has taken the next step to further reduce the effectiveness and involvement of the local citizens in the Albury-Wodonga Corporation. We know that the Prime Minister has dismantled most of the urban programs that were entered into by the Whitlam Labor Government.
He has set about implementing their complete destruction. Very few of those programs remain intact. We know the disastrous position that exists in north Queensland and the OrangeBathurst area as a result of the policies that have been pursued by this Government. Those policies are fundamental. What this Government is doing in respect of this Corporation, and what it will obviously do in respect of all other similar decentralisation projects, is to bring into the planning a greater involvement of private rather than public funds. That is the concept which it supports.
As we well know, Mr Fraser ‘s new federalism has meant the withdrawal of the Australian Government from any real inter-relationship between State and local government in urban and regional programs. I invite honourable senators to look at the commitment of the Labor Government to decentralisation. It had a policy of anticentralisation, of anti-centralism, because for so long Liberal Party Governments had allowed market forces to dictate the development of even greater centralisation in our capital cities. More than 60 per cent of migrants who came to Australia between the end of World War II and 1972, a period of over 25 years, settled in the cities of Sydney and Melbourne. It was that overcentralisation which created the real problem and provided the basis for land prices to spiral and rocket. We had to examine the overall programs in an endeavour to achieve some sanity in the development of our cities and to raise the standard of living within our urban communities. That is what the Labor Government set about trying to do in 1 972.
The average population growth in Australia between 1950 and 1970 was 1.9 per cent, representing an increase of 1.1 per cent by natural growth and .8 per cent by immigration. If our population had continued to grow at that rate from the 1970s through to the turn of the century we would at that point have had 23 million people. Taking the figure for 1972 as a base, even if we were equal to the task of achieving decentralisation and could slow the growth of our major cities, the population would increase by a little over one million. If we look at other countries and at what they sought to do in this regard we note the very active policy that was carried out by the Labour Government of the post-war years in the United Kingdom. To some extent it was pursued by the conservative governments in the intervening years. That country had the best achievement of any country. The Government of the United Kingdom was able to slow up the population growth of its major cities by about 1.25 million. If we could achieve that situation in Australia between 1972 and the year 2000 we would have to house about nine million or 10 million people in our existing cities. What a horrible picture it is for the average Australian to contemplate- that in our major cities we would have such an increase in population and congestion. It would simply be madness because, on the basis of the post-war experience, we know that most of those people would reside in Sydney and Melbourne.
The former Labor Government of this country wished to carry out several programs. First, we had to slow down the population increase. We wanted to work towards an objective of 1.1 per cent increase or thereabouts from natural growth and immigration combined. More importantly, we wanted the cities to be rational places in which to live. It was essential to establish active decentralisation, not merely as an objective of a political party, as part of its policy, but in actual legislative form. We wanted to achieve that in several ways. We wanted to try to stop the overcentralisation of what we call the central business districts of Sydney, Melbourne and other major capital cities. We wanted to develop in the cities what we call sub-metropolitan centre areas. We wanted to build within our cities rational public transport systems, replacing those that now exist and which, in the year 1979, everybody recognises to be nothing more than hopeless messes. At present, in the morning, public transport travels empty from the cities, returns to the cities packed with people and, at night, does the reverse. In other words, our cities are geared to a peak-load system.
Our Labor Government obtained agreement with some State governments for the implementation of policies which would have changed that picture. Our first important initiative was the formation of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation. Our study revealed that there were in the central business district of Melbourne 18,000 too many Commonwealth public servants. The great proportion of these would have been diverted to selected sub-metropolitan centres in Melbourne, as well as to other selected growth centres such as Geelong and AlburyWodonga. That was the pattern that we would have adopted. Some Commonwealth public servants would have been transferred to other selected growth centres such as Bathurst-Orange. We know that all of that came to a disastrous end in 1975 when the program ceased. The free market forces and the inadequate and incorrect policies and philosophies of this Government came into operation. Those policies have been continued. The present Government has undermined completely the whole program of anticentralisation and has also scuttled what it calls selective decentralisation in every shape and form.
After two years of negotiations between the Commonwealth public servants, the planners and the Hamer Government of Victoria, we were able to reach agreement on where development in Melbourne should occur. By June 1976 the Commonwealth had invested $90m in AlburyWodonga. Of that amount $79m went directly to the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation. We invested in land, just like the private sector did, just like the banks did, and just like their subsidiary companies- the Australian Guarantee Corporation Ltd, Associated Securities Ltd and the Finance Corporation of Australia- did. The latter two, of course, invested so badly that they are in dire economic straits today. That shows that the private sector is not competent and able properly to carry out that task, which is the task of governments.
We invested in land so that we could stop the land speculators. Honourable senators opposite support land speculation. They were supporters of Associated Securities Ltd, the Finance Corporation of Australia in Adelaide and the enormous speculation in land. These organisations tried to reap extra profits from the young people of this country but eventually, of course they showed their incompetence. They have had their fingers burned. But somebody has to pay for that mistake. Someone has to pay for the misdemeanours of the private sector speculators. That is now reflected in the tremendous price which young people have to pay these days for land in order to build a home for themselves and their families. We now know that it is becoming increasingly impossible for young people to get anywhere near the $20,000 that is required in round figures in order to purchase a block of land, least of all to erect a cottage of some sort on it and to furnish it.
Commitments to the Albury-Wodonga growth centre were made by the Labor Government when it was in office. Up to 30 June that investment was $90m. The Fraser Government, in its first year of office, made only $19m available to the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation. In the same year it made available $1,850,000 to local government in the area. It had made many millions of dollars available previously because it knew of the strain that was being placed on the local councils. One of the reasons why the local councils are to be represented on the Corporation by their mayors is that the growth that has already taken place in Albury-Wodonga has placed tremendous stress and strain upon the resources of local government instrumentalities. The Prime Minister said that the Government would continue its urban programs. Did it do so? In 1977-78 it cut back the funds to the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation to $5m. What did it give to local government in the area? It did not give local government one extra penny. In the following year, 1978-79, the Government allocated a further $5m- a mere pittance- to the Development Corporation to carry out its programs. Again, it made no money available to local government.
The amendment which the Opposition has moved represents a constructive criticism of the Bill. At least the Government has not completely destroyed the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation. For that, I suppose, we can be thankful. To do so would be a repudiation of the agreement that it entered into with the New South Wales and Victorian governments.
– Who wrote all the stuff you are reading now?
– When a federal Labor government is re-elected it will be able to give the Development Corporation the spirit it needs to carry out its programs. I suggest to those Government senators who are interjecting that they should talk to the citzens of AlburyWodonga and see what they think about this Government. Every time I have visited those cities I have been asked by the Press, by the leading citizens ofthe towns, by the Corporation, and by the businessmen whether the Federal Government will maintain its interest and its commitment to that area. When the Labor Government was in office from 1972 to 1975, it entered into the spirit of active decentralisation in that region, as did many other people. Unfortunately those people are now seeing a meek and mild government that would like to cut its losses and get right out of an active decentralisation policy in that region. I hope that the few remarks I have made in regard to the Development Corporation will lead to a better understanding of the Corporation in the Parliament. Sometimes I wonder whether I can get it through the thick-headedness of some members of the government parties. I can only hope that by continually raising these matters in the Parliament a little bit of light will be shed some day upon the thinking of Government senators and that they will recognise that this Government is not meeting its commitment and is undermining public confidence in the AlburyWodonga project.
I would only hope that the debate will ultimately have the objective of ensuring that AlburyWodonga will again take off, that it will be a success and that it will show to the over-centralised areas of Sydney and Melbourne that decentralisation with Federal Government backing will work, that it is for the Federal Government to have the initiative to back up the resources and to have the guts, the courage and the commitment to support a decentralisation program and, in this case, the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation. Only then will decentralisation as an integral part of proper economic and social development in this country succeed against the over-centralisation and the greed of the free market forces which have created the sort of problem that we are seeking to arrest.
– I second the amendment that has been moved by my colleague Senator Gietzelt. In response to the motion moved by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney) that the Albury-Wodonga Development Amendment Bill 1979 be read a second time, Senator Gietzelt has moved:
Leave out all words after ‘That’, insert ‘the Senate declines to give the Bill a second reading until it is re-drafted to include the following:
the Government’s 1973 Election commitment to give financial and moral support to the future of the growth centre;
the provision of proper transport and communications links to Albury/Wodonga;
provision for the discouragement of private development capital and land speculation, following restructuring of the Development Corporation;
the re-establishment of a Consultative Council to include broad representation from the Albury/ Wodonga community;
a firm undertaking by the Government to transfer relevant Government departments to Albury/Wodonga from over-centralised Melbourne to assure the future of the growth centre; and
support by the Government for existing manufacturing industry in the growth centre and the encouragement of new industry there’.
In short, this is a Bill to approve the AlburyWodonga amendment agreement and to implement its provisions relating to the structure of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation. The three governments involved- the Commonwealth Government, the Government of New South Wales and the Government of Victoria- agreed in 1973 that a new growth complex should be developed as a joint project. That agreement was approved by the three governments; the Commonwealth Government at that time being a Labor government, the New South Wales Government at that time being a Liberal government and the Victorian Government at that time being a Liberal government. I would therefore assume insofar as politics are concerned that at that time- in 1 973- there was a bipartisan approach towards the development of this growth centre. The agreement was approved and signed by the respective governments. It was signed, I think, in January 1 973, about six weeks after the election of the Whitlam Labor Government. That agreement was put into force. The responsibility for the development of AlburyWodonga was vested in three corporations to be established by legislation of the three respective parliaments. In practice, whilst there were three corporations, the three corporations acted as one.
After a period of some 5V4 years an amendment to the agreement was signed on 4 September 1978. That amendment provided for an expansion in the membership of the Development Corporation from five to eight members of whom three members were to be full time members and five were to be part time members. Of course, included in the membership are to be the mayors of Albury and Wodonga. As my colleague Senator Gietzelt has indicated, the amended agreement also abolishes the 16 person consultative council that was established under the original agreement. As I have said, the amended agreement was signed some 13 months ago in September 1978. This Bill was first presented to the House of Representatives in May 1979, some nine months after the amended agreement was signed. It passed through the House of Representatives in the last sessional period, somewhere towards the end of June. It is now before the Senate for ratification, some 1 3 months after the amended agreement was signed. Might I say that there seems to have been no great hurry on the part of the Government to have the legislation ratified or enacted by the Parliament. I rather feel that that is axiomatic of the present Fraser Government’s approach to the future development of the Albury-Wodonga complex.
I represent the State of New South Wales and I have visited Albury from time to time. I have quite a feeling and empathy for the development of Albury-Wodonga. Indeed, when I was the Minister for the Media in the Whitlam Labor Government, I had the honour to establish in the city of Albury the first Australian Government bookshop to be established in any provincial city of Australia. Since that bookshop was established and since the Fraser Govrnment has come to office, unfortunately that establishment has been closed down. I was in Albury a couple of months ago with the Premier of New South
Wales. He opened a very large shopping complex at Lavington, one of the suburbs of the area. The shopping complex is very impressive. Indeed, it is a very large shopping complex built from start to finish in a period of about six months, which is a great credit to the skills, effort and energy of Australian workers. Despite the problems caused by constant uncertainty of future support for the Albury-Wodonga concept, especially on the part of the present Federal Government, the people of that area are now coping magnificently with the development of the concept.
It is true that the Commonwealth Government has now committed itself to $5m being made available per annum for the next five years. It is true that that commitment has now overcome some of the great uncertainty and deep frustration that has existed over the future planning of that area. But there is still uncertainty about how long it will be that that centre will continue to receive $5m a year. There is still uncertainty about how much that area will receive for road development and maintenance. This was one of the topics that was taken up by the people in Albury-Wodonga with the Premier of New South Wales when he and I were there, from recollection, on 30 July last. There was still concern about the likely employment prospects for many people who in the early period had been attracted to the area because it showed it had a future and because there was vision, hope and aspiration. But now because of the downturn in the economy as a result of the policies of the present Government there is concern about future employment opportunities in the district.
Everyone talks about decentralisation, but few governments, other than Labor governments, seem to do anything about it. As my colleague Senator Gietzelt said, the Whitlam Labor Government spent about $90m on the development of this great complex, this great growth centre, between 1972 and 1975. After the dismissal of the Labor Government, at the 1975 Federal elections, Mr Fraser in his policy speech on 27 November of that year, had this to say:
We will continue urban programmes. We are the people who can work with State and local government to overcome the problems caused by rapid growth in the dues and in new expanding suburbs.
One would have thought that with that policy having been uttered, the Government would have carried it out. In relation to the policy that it has pursued so far for the destruction of Medibank, and so far as its policy of overcoming unemployment is concerned, this promise is another one that can be added to the long list of broken promises of the present Fraser Government. Whilst that was in November 1975, 12 months later the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, Mr Newman, announced that the Commonwealth Government would maintain support for the activities of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation by providing $21m in loan funds under the existing financial agreement. The Labor Government had provided some $90m over a period of three years. Mr Fraser said that his Government would continue the concept of growth centres. Twelve months after he gave that explicit undertaking to the Australian people Mr Newman announced that the Commonwealth Government would maintain support for the activities of the Corporation by providing $21m in loan funds under the existing financial agreement. Mr Newman went on to indicate that no reliance was to be placed on that level of Commonwealth funding in future years and that any contribution would be conditional upon the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria each making contributions which together would equal that of the Commonwealth’s contribution. In the fourth annual report of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation for the financial year 1 977 at page 7 it is stated:
After a period of intensive review, the Commonwealth Government’s decision to support the Albury-Wodonga growth centre as the national pilot project in selective decentralisation was heartening. However, public controversy related to the funding issue continued to undermine AlburyWodonga ‘s nationwide image as a dynamic growth centre. This, in turn, has severely handicapped the Corporation’s efforts to attract new industry to the area with several firms hesitating to proceed with previously expressed decisions to invest in the growth centre. Despite these difficulties, assurances of continuing support from all three governments now demonstrate that the funding issue will be resolved and that the project will develop as a joint endeavour by the partner governments as was originally intended.
Regrettably, because of the niggardly and parsimonious attitude adopted by the present Federal Government, the amount of funding made available has been drastically reduced. What is the amount of the funding today? In the interim report of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation, and I understand the final report was tabled in the Senate today, we find this statement:
The affirmation by the Commonwealth Government of a minimum annual commitment of $5m for the next five years, created a needed confidence and surety in the project.
Over a period of three years there was a funding of $90m from the Whitlam Labor Government; a promise in 1975 by Mr Fraser to continue a commitment to the development of growth centres; a statement by the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development in September or November 1976 of a loan of $22m and thereafter an amount of $5m for each of the next five years. That is the way in which the people of Albury-Wodonga have had to tackle the problem, bearing in mind the niggardly attitude that is being adopted by this Government. As a result of that drastic downturn in funds, revised targets have had to be looked at. I quote again from the interim report of the AlburyWodonga Development Corporation for the financial year 1 977-78. The report reads:
The Ministers - that is the Ministerial Council established by the three governments- determined that Albury-Wodonga ‘s population objective should be 150,000 by the turn of the century, thus halving the earlier target of about 300,000 in the same time-span.
In the vision of the Labor Government what was to be a great inland city of some 300,000 people at the turn of the century, has now been cut down to a city of a mere 150,000. 1 emphasise that not only those within that city secure the benefits of a decentralised city or town, but also those within an area of 100 miles around that town. We have to look only at the development of this city of Canberra to realise the prosperity that Canberra has given to Queanbeyan, Cooma, Goulburn and all of the other towns that surround this area.
– At the expense of the taxpayer.
-At the expense of the taxpayer! Are not Goulburn, Queanbeyan and Yass and all of these places part of this nation? Is not the honourable senator’s State of Queensland part of this great nation? Does the honourable senator not believe in the development of inland cities and towns that will mean something that is great for the future of the Australians who are growing up today? The statement by Senator MacGibbon is typical of the attitude of the members of this Government who sit on the Treasury bench for the time being. What I have said is that as a result of the reduction in funds brought about by this Government, the original concept of a city of 300,000 people on the banks of the Murray River between New South Wales and Victoria by the turn of the century has now been cut to 1 50,000. The interim report continues:
The Corporation recommended and the Ministers decided that within the framework of the reduced population target, development would concentrate initially around Thurgoona, immediately north-east of Albury, and around the existing City of Wodonga. Significant development at Baranduda, the new city location, some 9 km south-east of Wodonga, could not be expected for several years unless a major employer sought to locate there earlier . . .
The earlier program of providing basic infrastructure to service Baranduda, a program well under way when this decision was taken, was deferred.
Because of the attitude which has been adopted by this Government, there are considerable unemployment difficulties in the great complex of Albury-Wodonga today. Just let me cite some figures from the last Budget Papers, from Budget Paper No. 7, Payments to or for the States, the Northern Territory and Local Government Authorities 1979-80. In 1975-76, the last Budget of the Whitlam Government, there was an $800,000 grant and a $34.3m loan made available for the Albury-Wodonga complex. In 1 976-77, the first year of the Fraser Government, there was a mere $300,000 grant and a $20.3m loan. The following year the system was changed, and in 1977-78 there was an amount of $5m. In 1978-79 the amount of $5m was made available to New South Wales, and in 1979-80 the figure was $5m, but that amount was to be divided between the States of New South Wales and Victoria.
So far as growth centres in total are concerned, the amount that was made available to New South Wales, according to page 175 of the document entitled Payments to or for the States, Budget Paper No. 7, in 1975-76, and that was the last year of the Labor Government, was $69,218,000. In the first year of the Fraser Government an amount of $43,714,000 was made available, and in the next year, 1977-78, that amount had been reduced to $25,640,000. In 1978-79 that figure had been further reduced to $24,822,000 and the estimate for this year is $27,197,000. Even ignoring the effects of inflation between 1975 and 1979- from recollection inflation over that period was about 30 per centthe amount that has been made available by the Commonwealth Government for the development of growth centres in Australia is about onethird of that which was made available by the Whitlam Labor Government.
– But what has private enterprise put in?
-My friend Senator Kilgariff interjects and asks what private interest has done. Because of the great problems and uncertainty which exist so far as funding of these areas is concerned, there is hesitancy on the part of private enterprise to engage itself in the development of these areas. The only hope that this area has is because of the enlightened policies of the New South Wales Minister for Decentralisation, the Honourable Jack Hattarn, who comes not far from the Albury area and who has embarked upon a policy of subsidising existing businesses that will retain employment there. Indeed, the Albury Border Morning Mail only last Friday carried the heading ‘Industry “needs skilled labour” ‘. It was pointed out in the accompanying article that there was a desperate shortage of skilled metal tradesmen in Albury-Wodonga. Mr Noel Divall the personnel manager at Borg-Warner (Aust) Ltd, said that the company could employ 20 skilled tradesmen immediately. There is the situation; a vacancy is available. But people will not go there. Enterprises will not be established because of the uncertainty of the attitudes of the present Government. On the figures available- as at last August- this is a great growth centre, a centre that had the aspirations of hope for the future. It was going to be one of the great inland cities and one of the great regional areas of this great nation.
Last August, the latest month for which figures are available- 1 ,963 people were unemployed in the city of Albury. There were 62 job vacancies and approximately 31 people unemployed for every job that was available. Also, 809 male and female juniors were unemployed. They were waiting, registered and looking for work but there were only eight job vacancies available. That means there were approximately 101 unemployed young people in this so-called great growth centre for every job vacancy. AlburyWodonga is a beautiful part of Australia. It is a magnificent area on the banks of the Murray River and despite all the critics it is one of the monuments to the vision of the Whitlam Labor Government.
– You will not get many votes there.
-Yes, we will get a lot of votes down there. It is interesting that my friend, Senator Messner from South Australia, should interject because for the first time ever at the last State election in New South Wales, a Labor candidate, Mr Mair, was elected as the State Labor member for Albury. He is doing an outstanding job. I hear a few of my friends opposite laugh. If they follow the reports in the Wagga Wagga Advertiser and the Albury Border Morning Mail, they will see that Mr Fife, the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, who is the local member for that area, obviously is concerned about his political future, having regard to the number of his ministerial colleagues that he is taking to the area. I suggest to honourable senators that when the next election takes place, whenever it might be, they have a look at the figures. My colleague, Senator Messner, is quite right when he says that we of the Labor movement will get a lot of votes down there.
I congratulate those people who are part and parcel of the Albury-Wodonga complex who have worked so assiduously for its development. I hope that notwithstanding the frustrations that they have had to face to date they will continue with their determination to develop this growth centre as one ofthe great areas of Australia. The decentralisation of this great nation will prove to be the real impetus for the development of Australia in the years to come. I have great pleasure in seconding the amendment that has been moved by my colleague, Senator Gietzelt.
– As the Government hopes to have the Albury-Wodonga Development Amendment Bill passed through the Senate this evening I will not extend the second reading debate very much longer. It appears from the attitude of the members of the Opposition that they are not opposing the proposals contained in the Bill itself. I am pleased about this because I think that the proposals make some obvious improvements in the administration of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation and despite the abolition ofthe AlburyWodonga Consultative Council will provide encouragment for more advisory committees of local groups with expertise in the area to advise the Corporation and thereby involve people in local government affairs in the way that Senator Gietzelt approves. The Opposition has taken the opportunity provided by the debate on this Bill to raise what were its policies when in government in relation to development of AlburyWodonga and has suggested that the Government has not maintained a commitment to that development.
The Government rejects any suggestion that it is not maintaining a commitment to this development. In fact, it has committed $5m per annum over a five-year period to the development. The Government regards the Ablury-Wodonga development as an important project in the policies of decentralisation and an important experiment to which it is certainly committed. However, there are obviously different views as to how that commitment can be best achieved. The view of the former Labor Government- apparently it is still the view of the Labor Party- was that development can take place by pouring millions of dollars into the purchase of land and erecting some public buildings. That is the Labor Party’s concept of decentralisation development.
The Government’s view, however, is that to achieve satisfactory development in this area, one must create real demand for people to obtain employment. That can be achieved only by the developmen t of industry in the area. Industry, in fact, is developing in the area and we are getting a steady, realistic investment and a realistic growth. Already several major new industries have been established and there are plans for other developments. I need refer only to the Australian Newsprint Mills Ltd and Moore Paragon Australia Ltd which is already engaged in large extensions of its operations there. There is now a steadily assured, realistic development in the area and the Government is committed to continuing with its assistance. Its overall target of development has been estimated on a more realistic basis than apparently the Labor Government’s planning indicated. The funds that have been committed to the growth centre have been tailored to the realistic estimates of what the development is likely to be. I hope that, despite the criticism in the amendment moved by the Opposition, this Bill will be passed by the Senate and that the amendment will not be acceded to, thereby holding up its passage.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Immigration- VIP Flights- Australian Fishing Zone
– Order! It being 10.30 p.m., under sessional order I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Honourable senators will be aware that over a period I have insisted that the Government ‘s broad immigration policy needs constant monitoring to ensure that, however we categorise people who are suffering from economic or political suppression and kindred problems, we have an even balance in our intake of immigrants. Some weeks ago, at the request of the Labour Council of New South Wales and of the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australasia, I raised a matter concerning a Bolivian citizen, Roger Guttierrez. I know that the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs ( Mr MacKellar) has knowledge of that case. The important thing is that at the moment Roger
Guttierrez is an inmate of the Villawood Detention Centre.
Subsequently I received a communication from the vigilance officer of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union of Australia, Bob Galleghan. It concerned a Ghanaian citizen. I have allowed the Minister to scrutinise the document. It traces the history of a seaman on a foreign ship who was seeking some redress. He had the assistance of the maritime unions in the Port of Sydney. They had a victory, but when the ship left Australia and got to distant shores this seamen suddenly was struck off the ship’s complement. I said that he was from Ghana. He was a rigger. He finally came back to the only country in which anyone had done anything for him with respect to human rights. He worked for several years as a rigger on the Sydney waterfront, being employed by the Jubilee Engineering Co. Pty Ltd. I have a petition covering four pages, signed by his work mates and the manager of the company, quite apart from his own union comrades and members of several other unions which are involved, asking that he be allowed to remain here. I thought it was rather significant that the eulogistic reference from the manager stated that during this period of employment he was found to be sober, punctual, reliable and honest. It also referred to his work skills.
The Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union supports this man. The matter comes down to a consideration of the ratio of immigrants we take from various countries under our evenhanded policy. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard my letter to Mr MacKellar which expands considerably what I have said; a covering letter from the vigilance officer of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union, Mr Galleghan, to me; a letter from the union giving the applicant’s history going back to 1978; and last, but by no means least, the petition.
The documents read as follows- 9 October 1979
My dear Minister,
PLEA FOR RECISION OF DEPORTATION ORDER AGAINST GHANIAN NATIONAL GEORGE ONUS BREN YA MADE BY FEDERATED SHIP PAINTERS AND DOCKERS UNION AND JUBILEE ENGINEERING CO PTY LTD, BALMAIN, NEW SOUTH WALES.
The attached documents unquestioningly tell the tale of a person who has been grossly victimised by overseas authorities for seeking to redress harsh maritime conditions.
It is significant that aside from the solid trade union backing not confined only to trade union officials but rank and file members (vide attached petition) his employer also makes a strong plea for retention of his services.
Whilst Australia is under pressure to bear heavy responsibility for victims of various South East Asia form of persecution, you have frequently assured me that other nationalities with a reasonable case would receive justice as well.
Last year at the behest of the New South Wales Trade Union Movement, three cases were dealt with favourably by you and this point of time I have raised the case of a BOLIVIAN and now a GHANIAN. If both are accepted, aside from sound job grounds plus potential victims of future overseas victimisation, they will only be two in the welter of statistics which heavily favour our South East Asian intake.
I could of course raise the Refugee Seamans Convention aspect on the latter case but I feel World Shipping blacklists circumvent the Convention referred to.
Accordingly, I believe this request and the former one from the F.E.D.F.A. and N.S.W. Labor Council, involving the BOLIVIAN National, merit an affirmative response.
Honourable M. J. MacKellar, M.P., Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600.
5th October, 1979
Attached hereto please find official letter from the Union, one from the Company and petition from all workers in the yard.
BOB GALLEGHAN Balmain, 4th October, 1979
Senator A. Mulvihill, Shadow Minister for Immigration, Commonwealth Parliament Offices, Chifley Square, Sydney 2000
George Owusu Brenya first came to our notice when members of our union worked aboard the Greek-registered ship DIMITRIS P. LEMOS, during May/June 1978. He drew our members’ attention to the scandalous conditions under which he and the rest of the crew were obliged to work and live.
Mr L. Symes, of the International Transport Federation and the Greek Consul were advised and they went aboard the vessel on 30th May, 1978. As the result of their investigations and representations, the Captain was fined $1000 by the Greek Shipping Council for failure to provide even minimum standards for shipboard work and living. This is an extremely high fine, within our knowledge and experience of such cases. The conditions complained of included: no refrigeration, air-conditioning or even fans; damaged chairs, badly damaged floors; worn-out linen; substandard food. As well, it was found that the vessel was undermanned and the cargo gear was completely condemned and had to be replaced by our members. This information may be verified through Mr L. Symes or the Greek Consul.
Arising from this issue, when the ship arrived at Qatar in the Persian Gulf, Mr Brenya was summarily dismissed, put ashore and advised that, so far as his employer, KYAM Shipping Company (based in London) was concerned, he would would never be employed again. He was obliged to make his own way back to his home in Ghana.
There is no shipping industry worthy of the name in Ghana, other than a very small coastal and fishing fleet. Even in this miniscule industry, he was denied employment.
Our information is to the effect that Mr Brenya has been blacklisted through the KYAM Shipping Company which is purportedly a recruiting agency in Ghana for flagofconvenience ships. Through this agency, men are sent to all parts of the world to man flag-of-convenience vessels. In this way, Mr Brenya was recruited to pick up the DIMITRIS P. LEMOS in Greece. Despite the appalling conditions he stayed with the vessel, trading around the world, for some eleven months until his dismissal.
Mr Brenya ‘s people are subsistence farmers and, therefore, quite unable to assist or in any way sustain him. By reason of this, and his extreme difficulty in obtaining employment, he turned to the one place where, possibly for the first time in his life, he had been befriended and assisted- Australia.
On his arrival here, he was once more in touch with those of our members who had helped him and his crewmates. Our members did not hesitate: by reason of his skill as a ship’s rigger (a class of work for which there is a shortage of capable men), a job was found for him in a ship repair yard as a casual ironworker. He proved such an invaluable employee, capable and conscientious, that his employer offered him a permanent position, which he accepted. He has been employed there ever since and, in fact, his job is still open to him if the immigration problems can be overcome.
By reason of our knowledge of the man as a pleasant, industrious and capable person of sober habits, we seek your assistance to gain him the right to remain in Australia and eventually obtain Australian citizenship.
Other considerations apart, we are anxious to have any deportation order revoked because of the uncertainties in Ghana where a recent coup suggests that people like Mr Brenya may justifiably fear for their lives.
Your early advice would be appreciated.
The Hon. M. J. MacKellar, M.H.R. Minister for Immigration Australian Parliament Offices. Sydney.
We, the undersigned citizens of Australia and employees of Jubilee Engineering Co. Pty Ltd, Louisa Rd, Birchgrove, N.S.W., herewith petition and respectfully request that you exercise your powers as Minister for Immigration in order to permit Mr George Owusu Brenya to remain in Australia and have the opportunity of becoming a citizen of our country.
We have known Mr George Owusu Brenya ever since he commenced work with Jubilee Engineering and we are confident that he would make an upright citizen and conscientious worker.
– At the same time that I make this plea for both these people, I think it is significant to note the terminology with regard to political refugees and those people who want political asylum. It will be agreed that neither the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs nor the Department of Foreign Affairs are very sure about it. If anyone took the trouble to read the proceedings of Estimates Committee C they will have noted that on page 503 I asked some searching questions about a citizen of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a girl who appeared in a bikini in the Press and later went on to bigger things in the centrefold of Penthouse or a similar magazine. I am quite candid about this matter. I ask the Minister whether he can equate the work skills of that girl as a ‘model’ and the skills or a rigger or auxiliary plant attendant in a power station. The Minister, Mr MacKellar, made a classical comment when he was addressing the National Press Club. He said:
The Government, in deciding who should be allowed entry, has to take account of Australia’s humanitarian and international obligations . . .
I have mentioned those things. Then he went on to talk about the kinds of skill and about experienced workers. I think it will be accepted that riggers, particularly those who have served at sea, have certain essential skills.
Recently the Minister issued a Press release in which he stated that he had created a body called the Australian Refugee Advisory Council. It is quite laudable but it is oriented towards the problem that exists in South-East Asia. When I looked at a list of its personnel I noticed that none of them would be competent to put up a case for somebody from an African country, such as this painter and docker from Ghana, or the Bolivian from Latin America. The Minister may say that our commitments are much more to South-East Asia. I am not going to debate that issue; I simply make this appeal. Very often certain people criticise the role that the trade union movement is playing, but these two cases have the imprimatur of Mr Barrie Unsworth, Secretary of the Trades and Labour Council, and his assistant, Mr John McBean, and the weight of at least 10 unions. We are asking only for these two cases to be treated in an evenhanded fashion.
The Minister would be aware that about nine months ago a package deal was agreed to when the Amalgamated Metal Workers and Shipwrights Union, the Federated Rubber and Allied
Workers Union of Australia and the Australian Workers Union brought forward three cases. They were finally approved after protracted negotiations. I am fairly sanguine that I can get a fairly reasonable reply on these two cases. I am probably the only senator who has been to the Villawood Detention Centre. I do not criticise the amenities there but about 70 people were there at that time. Some had been involved in trade union activities and some had ethnic support. But nobody is abusing the system. It is accepted that people who have not grounds to be converted from tourist status to permanent residence status should be there. But this Government knows that in a moment of weakness it was dazzled by that USSR girl in a bikini. There is no question about that. If the Government accepts that- it cannot turn back the clock- I think I am entitled to say to the Minister that I want this Ghanaian and this Bolivian to be given reasonable treatment. They have proved themselves already in the Australian community. Anybody who saw the television segment about the exploitation in tin mines in Bolivia will know the sort of life that the chap I am talking about will have if he goes back there.
As honourable senators will gather from the sound of my voice, my fire power is lacking tonight. For that reason I simply ask that these two cases be given reasonable attention. I say to the Minister that the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales kept its part of the bargain six months ago when it put up three cases. It was not an avalanche of applications. Unless the Government agrees to these cases, I am fairly certain that when the next quarterly statistics come out there will be no Ghanaian or Bolivians included in them. If we are going to give evenhanded justice, I feel that these two cases should receive maximum sympathy.
– I do not wish in any way to confine the adjournment debate to one speaker, but I want to respond to Senator Mulvihill and to assure him that I will bring these two cases to the notice of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar). Senator Mulvihill has argued them persuasively. I think that the cases are known to the Minister and I will see whether I can get an early answer for the honourable senator.
– I wish to refer again to a matter which 1 referred to on 30 August, the last day I was in the chamber prior to going away on parliamentary business. During the afternoon of that day, 30 August, Senator Carrick tabled in the Senate the manifests for special flights of the Royal Australian Air Force. I took the opportunity to speak about that document immediately it was tabled in the Parliament. I pointed out some of the things which I thought were not in conformity with the guidelines for people who are allowed to travel on VIP aircraft. I found out on my return, on reading the Hansard record, that Senator Martin had seen fit that evening to make comments concerning the matter in the Senate in the adjournment debate. I do not blame her for that, but one of the criticisms of me which she made was that I had not advised her that she was one of the persons I planned to talk about because she was a passenger on that aircraft. Most honourable senators would know that, once a document is put down in this chamber, it is physically impossible to have a quick look at it and then inform someone of an intention to mention his or her name. Had I done that, the opportunity for me to talk about the issue would have passed. But I will repeat some of the points I made on the afternoon of 30 August. In part, I said:
Ever since I have been a member of this Senate it has been my understanding that the only members of the Parliament who were entitled to travel on VIP flights were members of the House of Representatives if a VIP flight were operating within their electorate and there was a Minister on board.
In saying that I meant that the only persons who were allowed to travel on VIP aircraft, apart from Ministers of the Crown and the other people mentioned in the document which was tabled on 6 March 1973 and to which I referred, were back bench members of the Parliament. I went on to state:
I have always understood that honourable senators, in particular, were not allowed to travel on VIP aircraft within their State or without it, unless- as has often been said- there was an airline strike or something of that nature and a special aircraft was put on to ferry the senator back to his or her State. Similarly, I understood that members ofthe House of Representatives were not permitted to travel on VIP aircraft unless that aircraft was travelling within that member’s electorate and there was a Minister on board.
I went on to point out the names of some of the passengers who were listed in the manifests which had been tabled in the Senate. I referred to Senator Martin and Senator MacGibbon, who also spoke in the adjournment debate on the night to which I referred earlier, as having travelled on that aircraft. I referred also to the Premier of Queensland, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, and the Deputy Premier of Queensland, Mr Edwards. I referred also to Mr Katter, who is a member of the House of Representatives.
– Was the
Senate candidate, Mrs Petersen, on the aircraft?
– I did not notice her name on the manifests. I did not bother to look for it. But at that time I do not think there was any mention of Mrs Petersen becoming a Senate candidate because I do not think that all the turmoil between the two parties in Queensland had seen the light of day. As Senator McClelland would know, it is only in recent weeks that that matter has been brought to the attention of the electors in Queensland in particular. The National Party in Queensland has now brought into the open its fight with the Liberal Party of Australia as to who will be endorsed on its Senate ticket. That is another matter which no doubt will be discussed in this place at length when we know whether Mrs Petersen will be a candidate. Apparently, because I mentioned these matters, Senator Martin and Senator MacGibbon took the view that I was having a direct shot at them, as the saying goes. I think it is well known in this place that the two persons I have always made a point of referring to concerning the use of VIP aircraft have been the previous occupant of Government House at Yarralumla and the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who made great statements during the 1975 general election campaign that Mr Whitlam, the then Prime Minister, was overusing VIP aircraft and made claims about all the things he would do to curtail the use of those aircraft. We well know that that was another election gimmick that he put up to the people and they fell for it. He misled the people. We know that today it is costing the taxpayer far more for the use of VIP aircraft than it ever cost the taxpayer when the Australian Labor Party was in government. Senator Martin stated, as recorded at page 503 of the Senate Hansard for 30 August:
I was quite unaware that Senator McLaren was to make this allegation so I was not present in the Senate to give my response at that time. I therefore have to take the next possible opportunity, which is the adjournment debate, to set the record straight about something on which Senator McLaren was absolutely in error.
I claim that I was not in error. I have read a copy of the document which Senator Martin said she was able to obtain from the Minister for Defence, Mr Killen. I have had a good look at that document. I did not obtain a copy of it from Mr Killen today; I got a copy from the Records Office. I will put on record the date on which it was tabled in this Parliament. Senator Martin went on to claim again that I was completely in error. She said:
He has taken a long-standing interest in the VIP special flight manifests and speaks with the apparent imprimatur of an expert on the subject in this chamber.
I do not think that I have ever claimed to speak with any expertise on VIP aircraft. If honourable senators care to peruse the Hansard record they will see that all I have done has been to criticise what in my mind has been the unfair use of VIP aircraft. I do not claim to be an expert. Senator Martin said:
I want to place on record the fact that he is quite wrong in his assertions about those special flights.
She went on to say:
Therefore on a trip which the Prime Minister undertakes he is entitled as his own approving authority to take whomsoever he pleases on the aircraft.
I again dispute that the Prime Minister has that right, having checked the document which was tabled in this chamber on 6 March 1973 by the then Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, Senator Bishop. Senator Bishop tabled the document in this place on the third sitting day of the Parliament after the election of the Labor Government in December 1972. Parliament sat for two days in the previous week and on the first possible occasion in the next week- namely, Tuesday, 6 March- Senator Bishop put down a document dated 1 March 1973. So immediately upon assuming office we set about tabling in this Parliament a document setting out the rules and regulations pertaining to the people allowed to use VIP aircraft. I shall read the comments made at that time by Senator Bishop.
– A great Minister.
– I agree wholeheartedly with Senator McClelland; he was a very good Minister. Senator Bishop, on presenting the paper, sought leave to make a short statement in connection with the paper and leave was granted. He said.
The Government recently gave consideration to the question of rules for the use of Royal Australian Air Force VIP aircraft for VIPs and VIP party travel, following which the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) stated that the rules would be tabled when Parliament sat. I now table these rules. There are some points which I should specifically mention. Essentially these rules are the same as those which were drawn up and applied under the previous Government. Those rules were the subject of a statement in the Senate on 30th September 1970 by the then Minister for Air, Senator DrakeBrockman, in which he summarised their provisions. The rules which I have tabled amplify the previous rules in 2 respects. First it is made clear that a request is not to be made to an approving authority for VIP aircraft travel if alternative forms of transport are available.
Those words are very pertinent to the remarks I made in this chamber which were followed by remarks by Senator Martin. Senator Bishop continued:
Second the previous rules said that passengers carried as members of a VIP’s party would normally be limited to his wife, personal staff and departmental officials connected with the official party. The new rules add that if a request is made for travel by a member of a VIP’s family other than his wife it will be referred to the Prime Minister for consideration.
There is a final point I should make to avoid possible misunderstanding. As has been made clear in the past, the rules provide guidelines. They are not intended to include specific references to all circumstances in which travel on VIP aircraft may be approved nor are they intended to be inflexible. There may be special circumstances in which approving authorities will need to exercise discretion and applications in those cases will be examined on individual merits. Such matters will be handled by the Minister for Defence in consultation with the Prime Minister.
Senator Bishop made that statement on tabling the guidelines. He outlined that only in special cases would dispensation be given for members other than Ministers to travel on VIP aircraft. So it would appear that very special circumstances prevailed on those three days when Senator Martin, Senator MacGibbon, Mr Katter, Mr Petersen and Mr Edwards travelled round Queensland, no doubt electioneering. If those circumstances are to be classed as special circumstances, I expect that during the next Federal election campaign a request by members of the Labor Party to travel round our States with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) will be classed as special circumstances. Particularly in South . Australia, as senators we ought to be entitled to travel the length and breadth of South Australia campaigning, as did Senator MacGibbon and Senator Martin with the Prime Minister, Mr Petersen, Mr Edwards and Mr Katter in Queensland on the dates mentioned in the manifests.
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. The honourable senator is misinformed; we were not electioneering.
– There is no point of order. You may make a personal explanation later if you wish, Senator MacGibbon.
- Senator MacGibbon said that he was not electioneering. I do not know what he was doing. He has not read the speech made by Senator Martin which gives conclusive proof that he was electioneering. A whole group of Press people were present. Senator Martin accuses me of not mentioning that Press photographs were taken and displayed all over Queensland. I did not mention that. I did not know at the time that the honourable senator was on the aircraft. I did not know until I saw mention of it in the manifest. That is one of the good things about the manifest. When it is tabled in the Senate and in the other place we can all see who are using these aircraft for party political purposes. That is what happened on that occasion. That is why Senator MacGibbon and Senator Martin rose in the Senate and objected to my divulging to the public at large that they were passengers on the aircraft. Senator Martin’s speech shows that that is exactly what the honourable senators did. 1 would not think that people like BjelkePetersen and Edwards would be wasting their time by not electioneering in Queensland. The whole thrust of Senator Martin’s argument is trying to dispute what I said related to paragraph 1 of the rules and guidelines concerning VIP flights which were laid down in the Senate on 6 March 1973 by Senator Bishop. Paragraph 1 of the document entitled: ‘Rules for the use of RAAF VIP aircraft for VIP and VIP party travel ‘ reads:
As I said earlier in my speech, the two people who are most criticised are the GovernorGeneral and the Prime Minister. The document continued:
Are their own approving authority and are responsible for approving persons travelling as a member of their party.
That is the peg on which Senator Martin hung her argument. I think it was a very flimsy argument. Paragraph 4 ofthe guidelines states:
A request is not to be made to the approving authority for VIP aircraft travel if it is clear that appropriate connections can bc made by other forms of transport to enable the commitment to be mct.
Why could the people not have travelled to the places mentioned by commercial aircraft as is designated in these rules and guidelines which were laid down in the Senate and which were so freely quoted by Senator Martin? Three days were involved and Senator Martin and Senator MacGibbon travelled from Rockhampton to Gladstone to Emerald to South Blackwater to Gregory to Norwich Park to Moranbah to Mackay to Port Hay to Mackay to Winton and to Brisbane. Surely if the honourable senators wanted to put up a logical argument Senator Martin would have come into the chamber and said that on those three days no commercial aircraft were operating out of those airports. There again we find that my argument was quite correct. I repeat that at no time was I intending to criticise either ofthe two honourable senators for travelling on the aircraft. I am criticising the Prime Minister for his use of that aircraft for party political purposes. Paragraph 8 of the guidelines states:
When an aircraft is approved for VIP travel, the other passengers carried as members of the VIP’s party will normally bc limited to the VIP’s wife, his personal staff and departmental officials connected with the official party.
How can we clearly see that Senator MacGibbon, Senator Martin, Mr Katter, Mr Petersen and Mr Edwards were connected with the official party, unless of course they were electioneering. There is no other way that they could be connected with the official party. They were using the aircraft for party political purposes. Paragraph 10 relates to a point I made in my speech on 30 August. It states:
Persons accompanying a VIP on a VIP aircraft may also include:
where a Minister or Leader of the Opposition is using a VIP aircraft to visit a particular area, it is in order for him to be accompanied by the local Federal member for that area:
Nowhere in these guidelines is mention made of a senator travelling on a VIP aircraft. The guidelines refer to a local federal member. My interpretation of that is that the person involved had to be a member of the House of Representatives. Of course Mr Katter travelled on that aircraft but the flight encompassed a far larger area than the electorate of Kennedy. Again there was a breach of the regulations setting out the people who are allowed to travel on VIP aircraft. I do not think that I need to quote any more from that document. What I have said is conclusive proof that what I was getting at on 30 August- in the haste that I had to have a look at the documentwas quite correct. In fact people are being allowed by this Government to travel on VIP aircraft. The Prime Minister is allowing members of Parliament to travel on VIP aircraft. He is allowing members of his own Party and members of his coalition partners in the States to travel on these aircraft for nothing else but purely party political purposes. If that is to be the rule of thumb for the use of VIP aircraft the Opposition will certainly be making requests, when the date of the elections is announced, so that honourable senators in each of the States can travel on the VIP aircraft which is lawfully allocated to the Leader of the Opposition during the campaign.
If anyone wants to take my argument further they can note that I also made mention of the fact that a Western Australian senator travelled on a VIP aircraft through the Northern Territory and down to Canberra. Nobody with any stretch of imagination could say- even if he wants to argue- that a Western Australian senator could be classed as a local federal member when he is flying over the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales to get to Canberra. Again I say that what I said on 30 August was quite correct. I think what I said must have hit home very hard because Senator Martin and Senator MacGibbon endeavoured to justify their passage on that aircraft. I say again that I was not criticising their passage. I am criticising the misuse of VIP aircraft by the Government. Every time I get the opportunity in this Parliament I will draw this matter to the attention of the electorate at large.
– I wish to speak tonight on a matter of some importance to Australia. I apologise for taking the Senate’s time at this late hour. The matter to which I refer will come up for final signing and agreement on the 1 7th of this month. I feel that it is advisable at this time to put a point of view before the Parliament. Basically it relates to the Australian fishing zone about which Mr Sinclair made a speech in another place on 25 September 1979. The Australian fishing zone, which is 200 miles in extent, will provide protection for Australia’s fishing rights. One of the obligations to the declaration of the zone is that we will have to sell or negotiate with other countries for the rights or resources we are not using. Once upon a time all those resources were part of the high seas and were used around the Australian coast by fishing fleets of foreign nations.
The advantages of the declaration of the Australian fishing zone are many. It provides, first of all, a source of income for this country. It becomes a commercial venture. If properly handled it will provide a lot of research knowledge on fish stocks and fish movements that we do not- have. Not the least of all it will provide a policing action for us. The fishing fleets that we license to operate in the zone will exercise some policing and some intelligence gathering activity for us. The point of relevance in my talk tonight relates to the fishing agreement with Japan which presumably involves the whole of the Australian fishing zone for which it is said a licence fee will be charged of $ 1.4m a year.
My point of concern is that the Japanese long liners will be allowed to operate in the marlin breeding grounds off the north Queensland coast. Long lining involves the use of considerable lengths of fishing line. The fishing line is dropped statically. It can range in length from 10 miles to 20 miles. It is even rumoured that it can be up to 50 miles in length. It is supported below the surface of the water by glass buoys. The line is identified by radar reflectors. The fishing hooks which are baited with shark bait or some other bait are suspended from the line beneath the water. It can run, as I said, for great distances. There can be up to 20,000 hooks on the long line itself.
The characteristic of long line fishing is that the line is sometimes put out for two or three days before it is recovered. In those cases, of course, the fish are nearly always drowned. They are dead when the parent vessel comes back to recover them. So, there is no opportunity for the parent vessel to release a species of fish that is protected or it is wished to protect if it is inadvertently caught. That is really the critical feature of long lining. It is a non-specific way of operating. The Japanese are not fishing specifically for black marlin off the north Queensland coast. In fact, they deny that they have any interest in this species at all. But it is rumoured from fishermen who know the area and who have been on Japanese fishing boats that at certain times of the year up to 40 per cent of the catch on the Japanese long liners is black marlin. Furthermore, if one looks at the economic returns for the Japanese fish market, one will see that black marlin enjoys a premium price on that market. So it is certainly not an economic loss to the Japanese fishermen. It is perfectly true that long liners have been operating for many years off the Queensland coast and therefore it is perfectly valid to say: ‘What is different? Thay have been doing it for years. What is the problem? We are now going to get some money from it’. Later I will cite a few figures on long lining and the catches taken and show that there has been a decrease in the catch, based on Japanese figures.
The three aspects that I would like to consider in relation to this matter are, first of all, the black marlin and its life cycle; secondly, any evidence that exists of management problems of the stock of fish; and thirdly, the value to Australia of the black marlin industry. The black marlin is one of the bill fish family, which includes sail fish, blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, white marlin, and the swordfish. The black marlinMakauira Indica- is the biggest of all the bill fish, but unfortunately it exists in the smallest numbers. It has the smallest bio-mass of any of them. It is a migratory fish, and not much is known about its life cycle. However, there is evidence that it spawns between July and December on the seaward side of the Barrier Reef. The area that seems to be favoured for spawning extends from about 200 nautical miles north of Cairns to about 200 miles south of Cairns on the eastern side of the Great Barrier Reef. That is the only known breeding ground of the black marlin. There may be others, but we are not aware of them yet. The characteristics of this species are that it has a very small bio-mass as opposed to some of the other marlin species. There are very large numbers of some of the other marlin species- the blue and the striped marlin- and the statistics available from Japanese fisheries sources show that there is no significant change in the catch of some of those other species but there is evidence of a significant decrease in the black marlin catch.
That brings me to the second point I wish to raise: Is there any evidence of over-fishing? We have certainly seen signs of over-fishing of whales, and that subject has been discussed in this Parliament within the last 12 months. We do not want to move into a position with the black marlin similar to that of the whales. The first evidence of over-fishing is to be found in the report of the Food and Agriculture Organisation for 1977, which shows that the Japanese take of black marlin, which was 2,200 metric tonnes in 1971, was down to 772 metric tonnes in 1976, or about one-third of the catch five years previously. Any harvesting, whether on land or sea, is subject to variation and seasonal takes vary, but the accurate figures, based on Japanese sources, are as follows: From 2,200 tonnes in 1971 the catch went down to 1,800 tonnes in 1972; 1,500 tonnes in 1973; 1,483 tonnes in 1974; 1,289 tonnes in 1975; and 772 tonnes in 1976.
There is no variation. It is a straight line progression and it is all in the one direction. There has been a very severe decrease in the catch. The total Japanese bill fish take for the Japanese market is around 400,000 fish annually, or about 40,000 tonnes. The research division of the Fisheries Agency of Japan showed that for the period from 1970 to 1976 Japanese long liners took 24,500 black marlin from the West Coral Sea. Significantly, 19,000 of those fish taken between 1970 and 1976 were taken from the area in which the Cairns game fishing fleet operates.
The second point of evidence of over-fishing is to be found in various research organisations around the world. I wish to quote from the 1978 newsletter of the United States Department of Commerce National Marine Fisheries Service at La Jolla- the South- West Fisheries Centre. This is a very well known marine research facility in the United States. As to the results of the 1977 Pacific bill fish angler survey the newsletter states:
An average of 1 .2 fish per angler day was recorded for the period from 1971 through 1974. Since that time the catch rate has declined to about the 0.6 level in 1975-76. This represents about a 50 per cent reduction in catch rate from the 1971-74 level.
Later on it states:
Angler catch rates have declined in recent years and it is possible both commercial and sport fishing is impacting on the stock of black marlin, which is not large, in comparison to the bio-mass of other bill fish species in the Pacific such as the striped marlin, the blue marlin, black marlin, sail fish and swordfish.
Recapitulating, 24,500 fish were taken by long liners in the West Coral Sea and, by contrast, recreational fishing off the Queensland coast takes fewer than 200 fish a year- 200 a year against 24,000 in a five-year period. Although 200 fish are taken, probably 1,000 fish are caught and brought to the ship’s side and then released. Of that 1,000, 500 are tagged and 500 are released without tagging. The third point in relation to over-fishing is in the simple rule of thumb on which fisheries research people operate; that is, if more than 1 per cent of tagged fish are caught it is taken to be a sign of over-fishing. According to Japanese records for 1978, 14 tagged black marlin were captured by .their long liners; that is, 14 out of 500 fish that are released annually. It is a figure signficantly higher than 1 per cent. I believe there is evidence of over-fishing of the black marlin and, most significantly, this over-fishing is taking place in the breeding grounds. It is therefore far more potent because it is getting the breeding stock.
Finally, what is the value to Australia of the black marlin industry? Cairns is the capital of black marlin fishing in the world. There are no other known sites where black marlin can be caught in such numbers. I have mentioned that fewer than 200 fish are taken each year, but in excess of 1,000 are caught and released. It is not true to say that we need only 200 fish a year to provide an industry. We need something like 1 ,200 fish to supply the sport industry. By way of comparison, the famous marlin fishing grounds used to be Cabo Blanco, Peru, where between 1950 and 1960 34 fish in excess of 1,000 lb in weight were caught. In Cairns more than 50 fish a year exceeding 1,000 lb are caught. It is a far more prolific fishing ground for black marlin sport fishing than has existed in the world before. From the point of view of capital investment, there are at least 40 vessels working out of Cairns or in the region and 120 fishermen on charter boats, to say nothing of the motels and the service industries that support this business. Boat hire alone is estimated to cost $ 1.25m a year. So we are looking at an industry with a capital involvement of many millions, and certainly it is earning Australia many millions of dollars a year through tourists from- overseas. Certainly it is earning considerably more than the $1.4m in licence fees that we will get from the Japanese. As I understand it, under the licensing agreement the region between 14 degrees 20 minutes south and 1 8 degrees south from the reef out to a distance of 12 nautical miles to the east will not be used by long liners. That is not an effective reserve for the fish stock. At sea, 12 nautical miles is a very short distance and permitting fishing on the borders of that area off the Great Barrier Reef, using long lines, will result in no protection at all being provided for the breeding stock. There is agreement between the interested parties in Australia- the game fishing organisations, the amateur fishing organisations and the fisheries bodies- that a region running from 13 degrees south to 1 8 degrees south and extending seaward for 100 nautical miles beyond the 200-metre isobath line is the minimum that we require. I believe that would provide adequate protection for the black marlin stock. It would preserve and enhance a very important industry for Australia.
Very considerable public support for this move is building. Obviously, at present that support is most intense in Queensland but, if the daily papers of Sydney and Melbourne are any guide, it is also a very real issue in those cities. I believe that most Australians are concerned about preserving our resources. That is a very legitimate concern. We have made it clear that we will not tolerate people drilling for oil on the reef, and if we are concerned about the damage that drilling might bring to it we should certainly be concerned about the living resources, or biomass, of the reef. Certainly, the black marlin is part of that. We have been concerned about whales and other endangered species and, in the light of the figures that I have quoted, as to the decrease in the Japanese catches of black marlin from 2,200 metric tons to 772 metric tons over a five-year period, we have evidence that black marlin also is an endangered species.
I realise that the negotiations seeking agreement with the Japanese Government have been quite difficult and protracted; that to arrive at the agreement that apparently has been reached has taken a great deal of work. However, upon probing the matter it becomes quite clear that, first, the biological implications for the black marlin were not appreciated; that this was an endangered resource was not appreciated. Secondly, I do not believe that the extent to which
Australia benefits from this industry was appreciated. It is time that we restudied the agreement and renegotiated with the Japanese. In doing so we will preserve not only Australia’s interests but also the long-term interests of Japan. Japan has a market for this fish and is interested in catching it. If the species disappears Japan will lose that market so, as much as has Australia, it has a vested interest in the resource.
Any country that declares a 200-mile fishing zone gains rights and also accepts responsibilities. One of those rights is access to the fish resources and one of its responsibilities, to the world at large, is to preserve and manage those resources intelligently.
– The comments made by Senator McLaren concerning the VIP aircraft fleet will be brought to the attention of the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) and undoubtedly will be taken into account by him.
Senator MacGibbon has given us valuable information. Certainly honourable senators from Queensland will appreciate the depth of the research that he has undertaken concerning the run of black marlin off the coast of that State. The matter appeared to be one that would come up last week at the Ministerial Council on the Barrier Reef. It was being raised in the Press, as undoubtedly it still is. There is concern among people involved in the sport in Queensland because the black marlin provides great benefit in terms of fishing resources. I am unaware as to whether the black marlin breeds in the area. I understand that there is no scientific authority for the assertion that black marlin breed off the Queensland coast, but certainly they do run there.
– They spawn there.
-No scientific authority will declare that. However, it is a matter of importance and certainly I, as a Minister on that Council, will be all the more alerted to the situation by the comments of Senator MacGibbon and will see to it that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Nixon) takes the facts into account in the course of his renegotiation with the Japanese.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.15 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 27 March 1979:
Which women have been appointed by the Executive Council to: (a) judicial; (b) diplomatic; and (c) statutory, positions during the terms of the: (i) McMahon; (ii) Whitlam; and (iii) Fraser, Governments.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am informed that the records of the Executive Council are not kept in a form which would readily permit the extraction of the information sought by the honourable senator and that Executive Council documents do not reveal with certainty the sex of all appointees.
However, with regard to judicial appointments I can inform the honourable senator that no woman were appointed to judicial positions during the McMahon government. During the Whitlam government, Justice Mary Gaudron was appointed to the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and Chief Judge Elizabeth Evatt to the Family Court of Australia. During the present government, Justice Kemeri Murray, Justice Margaret Lusink and Justice Josephine Maxwell have been appointed to the Family Court of Australia.
With regard to diplomatic appointments, the Honourable Dame Annabelle Rankin D.B.E. was appointed as High Commissioner to New Zealand during the McMahon government. During the Whitlam government, Miss R. L. Dobson was appointed as Ambassador to Denmark. During the present government Miss M. E. King M.B.E. was appointed as High Commissioner to Nauru and Miss R. L. Dobson as Ambassador to Ireland.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 6 June 1 979:
– The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Lusaka: Mr Tony Eggleton (Question No. 1774)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 2 1 August 1979:
Was Mr Tony Eggleton officially deputed to hand out the Prime Minister’s press statements during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Lusaka during August 1979; if so, what qualifications does he have to act on behalf of the Prime Minister.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Mr Eggleton was included in the Australian delegation to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Lusaka, as a consultant. One of the many tasks performed by Mr Eggleton, in support of the Prime Minister’s role at Lusaka, was briefing of the Australian press party.
Mr Eggleton is very well suited to and qualified for this role. He had also previously been a consultant to the Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in June 1977 and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting in Sydney in February 1978. He has worked as Press Secretary for four Australian Prime Ministers. For a number of years he also occupied with distinction the position of Director of the Information Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 21 August 1979:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1)and(2)Six-
Not all members of the official party, however, departed on 26 July aboard RAAF B707.
The official party for the Prime Minister’s visit is listed below. Those members of the official party who left Australia on the RAAF B707 are indicated with an asterisk.
The Right Honourable Malcolm Fraser, C.H., M.P., Prime Minister
The Honourable Andrew Peacock, M.P., Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Honourable R. V. Garland, M.P., Minister for Special Trade Representations
Prime Minister’s Personal Staff:
Mr D. Tronson, Principal Private Secretary
Mr P. Georgiou, Senior Adviser
Mr D. Barnett, Press Secretary
Mr O. Lloyd, Assistant Press Officer
Miss A. Cleverly, Assistant Private Secretary
Miss A. Bayliss, Assistant to the Press Secretary
Miss R. Robinson, Assistant Private Secretary
Mrs A. Derham, Personal Secretary to Mrs Fraser
Mr A. Eggleton
Dr J. Ray, Physician
Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs:
Mr J. P. McCarthy, Senior Private Secretary
Ms M. Amancic, Assistant Private Secretary
Office of the Minister for Special Trade Representations:
Miss C. Wallace, Personal Secretary
Detective Inspector G. Davidson
Detective Senior Constable P. Dodkin
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet:
Sir Geoffrey Yeend, C.B.E., Secretary
Mr A. T. Griffith, A.M., Special Adviser
Mr J. R. Holdich, First Assistant Secretary
MrG. F. O’Regan, Assistant Director
Department of Foreign Affairs:
Mr M. J. Cook, Deputy High Commissioner, London
Mr A. D. Campbell, First Assistant Secretary
Professor O. Harries, Head of Policy Planning
Mr D. W. Evans, Assistant Secretary
MrB. G. Hunt
Department of Trade and Resources:
Mr L. P. Duthie, Deputy Secretary
Department of the Treasury:
Mr J. D. Moore, First Assistant Secretary
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 21 August 1979:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 23 August 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
by State and electorate. Costs shown relate to the present approved capital costs, together with the approved Commonwealth subsidy and subsidy paid to 30 June, 1979.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 23 August 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Statistics showing the composition of these prosecutions by category of offence are not available.
The Department of Social Security does not have statistics in respect of prosecutions under the Crimes Act, instituted by State or Commonwealth Police, including prosecutions relating to the fraudulent negotiation of cheques.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 30 August 1979:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I ) TAA decided on 24 April 1 979 to reduce its trading hours at its Melbourne Cargo Receiving Depot. TAA has advised that the decision to reduce the hours of operation of the Depot was based on the fact that there was little demand for the operation of the facility at the original trading hours.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 30 August 1 979:
What have been: (a) the total costs between I March 1978 and 31 August 1979; (b) travel costs, both (i) international and (ii) within Australia, between I March 1978 and 31 August 1979; and (c) courts costs since the present hearings began in Sydney, incurred by the Commonwealth Police in respect of the alleged Greek fraunds in New South Wales.
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I have been informed by the Acting Commissioner, Commonwealth Police that the Commonwealth Police do not itemise or apportion operational costs to individual inquiries;
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 30 August 1979:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Handicapped Persons (Question No. 187S)
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 30 August 1 979:
When will the Minister answer the letter sent to her by the Darwin and Districts Spastic Association, concerning reductions in the grants to handicapped persons schemes and the amount the Association is likely to receive Tor 1 979-80, so the Association can budget its resources for the year.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The letter sent to me by the Association on 9 August 1979 was answered on 2 1 September 1979.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 12 September 1979:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1), (2) and (3) No consultants were employed by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal during the year 1 978-79.
Preservation of Aircraft ‘Kookaburra’ (Question No. 1906)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice, on 1 2 September 1979:
Did a Sydney businessman, Mr Dick Smith, who located the wreckage of the aircraft ‘Kookaburra’, forced down in the Tanami Desert in 1929, claim, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 1979, that the Northern Territory administration had done very little to preserve the aircraft; if so, what action is proposed by the Federal Government to preserve the aircraft, in view of its importance as a vital part of Australia’s aviation history.
– The Minister for Home Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I have read the report in the Sydney Morning Herald of I September 1979 concerning the wreckage of the ‘Kookaburra’ aircraft, and noted the comments reported to have been made by Mr Dick Smith.
The remains of the ‘Kookaburra’ are protected property under the Northern Territory’s Native and Historical Objects and Areas Preservation Act and, as such, arrangements for their preservation and display are matters for the Northern Territory Government to consider. 1 am informed that the remains, except for the aircraft’s engine block which is on display at the Central Australian
Aviation Museum, are securely stored in premises in Alice Springs occupied by the Northern Territory Museums and Art Gallery Board pending the construction of a diorama in which they are to be displayed.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 12 September 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Royal Australian Air Force: Trainee Stewards (Question No. 192S)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 1 2 September 1979:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Males, 355, females, 123.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 1 2 September 1979:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 13 September 1979:
Royal Australian Navy, to allow them to carry and operate Lamps III anti-submarine helicopters.
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 1 8 September 1979:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
My understanding of the position is that admission to a recognised hospital for either inpatient or outpatient care is based on an assessment of medical need.
Clearly, there are instances where, because of workload pressures, a particular hospital is unable to provide a service. However, I know of no general pattern in any State of refusal by recognised hospitals to provide outpatient services nor am I aware that particular hospitals are following the practice described by the honourable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 18 September 1979:
What percentage of tax sharing entitlements funds was given to (a) local government: and (b) local government in New South Wales, in each year from 1 977-78 to 1 979-80.
– The Acting Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
New South Wales received 36.6345 per cent of the amount in 1976-77. With effect from 1977-78 it is receiving 36.4977 per cent of the amount.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 18 September 1979:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 19 September 1979;
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The laboratories in Western Australia (Kalgoorlie) and South Australia (Port Pirie) are small and do not have specialist medical pathologists on the staff; in these centres the local hospital or the State health authority is responsible for the performance of autopsies.
In Tasmania where the Commonwealth operates laboratories in Launceston and Hobart, the majority of autopsies are performed by State pathologists from the Launceston General Hospital and the Royal Hobart Hospital. The Commonwealth pathologist performs autopsies for the Hobart Repatriation Hospital.
In those centres in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, where the larger Commonwealth laboratories are situated, non-coronial autopsies are routinely performed, if required, by the Commonwealth pathologist. However, in some situations the local hospital has its own arrangements and only calls on the Commonwealth pathologists for expert advice and for support services, e.g. histopathology, microbiology.
As far as possible in these centres, autopsy services are provided when required and on occasions when there have been problems in this regard (e.g. if the pathologist is on leave), steps have been taken to overcome the problem by providing visiting pathologists from other Departmental laboratories, from metropolitan hospitals or where staffing arrangements permit, by recruiting additional staff.
– On 6 June 1979 (Hansard page 2717) Senator Kilgariff asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Productivity, a question without notice concerning an article about the Nomad aircraft which appeared in the Canberra Times of that day.
The Minister for Productivity has provided the following information:
The Canberra Times article makes reference to a fatal accident which occurred at Avalon in 1976 during an experimental flight in a Nomad with a modified tail-plane. The modification was designed to improve the short take-off capability of the stretched version of the Nomad, the N24.
Production aircraft in use around the world do not have such a modification. The modification work was not proceeded with as it has been established that the excellent short field characteristics of both the N24 aircraft and the standard N22 aircraft amply meet the requirements of operators.
Nomad aircraft are in use on regular passenger-carrying services and in other applications in a number of countries including Australia. The Australian Department of Transport, the United States Federal Aviation Administration, and other authorities have granted certification of airworthiness to the Nomad. The Australian and United States certifications were granted after the respective authorities had conducted critical and intense evaluations of the aircraft’s flying qualities and design characteristics, with particular attention to flight safety standards laid down by those authorities, standards which are acknowledged throughout the world to be most rigorous.
Sales and sales prospects of Nomad continue to improve and the number of staisfied customers placing repeat orders leads the Government to be confident that the aircraft is proving attractive to passengers and operators in service. We expect to achieve continuous improvements in the aircraft’s operational effectiveness, including safety, by the progressive introduction of design modifications, as is indeed the case with all aircraft throughout their life in service. The Honourable Senator may confidently expect to see Nomad used increasingly in scheduled services as well as in general aviation.
Ranger Uranium Mine
-On 29 August 1979 Senator Wriedt asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources, the following question, without notice:
Is it correct that the Government has approached Australian and overseas corporations seeking an expression of interest in the purchase of the Government’s share in the Ranger uranium mine? Is it correct that the Government has mentioned a figure of $240m as being the value of its interest? Will the Minister provide the Senate with an explanation as to how that figure has been reached?
The Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I wish to stress the point made by Senator Durack that the Government has not made a decision to dispose of its interests in the Ranger Uranium Project. All that the Government has done is announce its preparedness to examine proposals for the acquisition of its interests in the Project.
Prior to my announcement on 6 August 1979, the Government received approaches from companies interested in acquiring its interests. I approached one Australian company on this subject, but then came to the view that it would be better to open the matter up publicly to all interested companies and organisations. This view was accepted by the Government.
The capital cost of the Ranger Uranium Project is presently estimated to be approximately $320m. The Australian Atomic Energy Commission’s contribution to the capital cost of the project is estimated to be in excess of $2 30m, excluding interest on borrowings, representing 72’/i per cent of the total capital cost of the project. I made it clear in my announcement of 6 August 1979 that the Government would only consider disposing of its interests to companies equally dedicated to, and demonstrably able to finance the appropriate share of, the complete development of the Ranger Project. Accordingly, any companies interested in acquiring the Government’s interests would be required to assume obligations for$230m absolute minimum.
Ranger Uranium Project
-On 29 August 1979 Senator Coleman asked me, as the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources, the following questions without notice:
I refer to the Australian Government’s decision to sell its share of the Ranger uranium project and the discussions which the Government has had with a number of companies concerning the sale. Without wishing to ask him to reveal any confidential information as to the price, et cetera, I ask: Under what terms and conditions is the Government offering its share of the uranium project to these companies? Specifically, is it proposed that the Government will receive a lump sum in full payment for its share of the project?
Senator Coleman also asked me the following supplementary question:
I am quite sure that if the Government has had any discussions at all, it must have determined whether in actual fact it intends to ask for a cash lump sum or whether it intends to permit the sale of its share of the Ranger uranium project to be done over a period of years. That is the question that I asked the Minister. I am sure that he should be able to answer it.
The Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
I stress that the Government has not made a decision to dispose of its interests in the Ranger Uranium Project. All that it has done is announce its preparedness to examine proposals for the acquisition of its interests in the project. After that examination, it will decide whether or not to dispose of all, part or none of its interests in the project and the basis of any disposal.
I have made it clear to all companies and organisations which have formally expressed an interest in submitting a proposal to acquire the Government’s interests in the Ranger Uranium Project that I am prepared to receive proposals which contain alternatives or options for consideration by the Government. The Government is, therefore, prepared to examine a variety of proposals, including those which may involve a lump sum payment or some other form.
-On 13 September 1979 (Hansard, page 657) Senator Gietzelt asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Health, a question without notice concerning the variation in prices of proprietary pharmaceuticals from chemist to chemist.
The Minister for Health has provided the following information:
I am aware that prices for proprietary pharmaceuticals and for different brands of a pharmaceutical preparation can vary significantly from chemist to chemist.
Other than for pharmaceutical benefits, the Government has no power under the National Health Act to control prices charged by drug manufacturers or chemists for proprietary pharmaceuticals.
The Trade Practices Commission does not come within the scope of the Health portfolio and I am unable to comment regarding what relief the Commission could provide to bring about some standardisation of prices to those pharmaceuticals which are not pharmaceutical benefit items.
National Health and Medical Research Council
-On 13 September 1979 (Hansard, page 665) Senator Coleman asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Health, a question without notice concerning the National Health and Medical Research Council ‘s activities in respect of health education and promotion.
The Minister for Health has provided the following information:
In view of the high priority placed by Council on prevention of disease, both a Health Education (Standing) Committee and a Community Health Promotion (Standing) Committee have been established. Both Committees work closely together and maintain close liaison with the Department of Health on the formulation of recommended policies aimed at encouraging healthy lifestyles in the community.
There is an essential difference between the two Committees, however, and that is the target group.
The Community Health Promotion (Standing) Committee investigates the problems of creating awareness amongst the practising medical profession and the necessity for a preventive approach to health problems by doctors and other health care professionals engaged in primary health care.
The major target group is therefore the health care professionals themselves.
The Health Education (Standing) Committee on the other hand examines the problems of arousing community and individual awareness. The objectives are the effective communication to members of the public of health information and the motivation to adopt healthy lifestyles.
The terms of reference and membership of the two Committees arc as follows:
Community Health Promotion (Standing) Committee
Terms of Reference
To inquire into and advise the Council through the Medicine Advisory Committee on:
the goals of health promotion in the Australian community;
appropriate strategies of health promotion;
the role of health care professionals in preventive medicine.
Dr N. A. Andersen, representative on Council of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (Chairman)
Professor G. Andrews, Department of Gerontology and Community Medicine, University of Sydney
Mrs D. E. H. Cavaye Laywoman on Council
Associate Professor P. Eisen, Senior Staff-Specialist in Psychiatry, Flinders Medical Centre, South Australia
Professor M. Kamien, Professor of General Practice, University of Western Australia
Professor J. G. P. Ryan, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Queensland
Dr P. Stone, General Practitioner, Melbourne
Dr R. Pigott, Health Commission of New South Wales (an educator)
Dr T. Beard, Commonwealth Department of Health (co-opted member)
An officer ofthe Commonwealth Department of Health (Secretary)
The Committee may co-opt a nurse when required.
Health Education (Standing) Committee
Terms of Reference
To advise the Public Health Advisory Committee on matters concerning health education of the public.
Mr A. J. Rae, Headmaster, Newington College, Sydney (Chairman)
Mr J. T. Carr, Executive Officer, Health Education Council, Western Australia
Dr C. O. Fuller, Principal Medical Officer, Environmental Health, South Australian Health Commission
Ms C. Hawken, Capital Territory Health Commission
Dr F. S. Soong, Health Education Specialist, Department of Health, Northern Territory
Dr D. Sawyer, Health Commission of Victoria
Dr D. A. Smith, Department of Health, Queensland
Dr R. Piggott (nominee of Community Health Promotion (Standing) Committee)
An officer of the Commonwealth Department of Health (Secretary)
-On 24 May 1979 (Hansard, pages 2089-90) Senator Bishop asked the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans ‘ Affairs and the Minister for Health a question without notice concerning research into the occupational hazards of workers using the herbicide 2,4,5-T. The Minister for Health has provided the following information:
There have been reports in the media concerning claims by workers using the herbicide 2,4,5-T that ill-effects have resulted. Such claims would be dealt with in the channels of Workers Compensation in the States and Territories and my Department has to date not been involved.
Concerning ex-servicemen who may have been exposed to 2,4,5-T, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has advised as folllows:
The media has given some coverage to reports that a number of ex-servicemen have sought the assistance ofthe Returned Services League in support of claims for exposure to the herbicide 2,4,5-T. A number of inquiries have been made but only one claim has been lodged. This claim has been investigated and awaits determination by a Repatriation Board.
If any veteran suspects that he is suffering ill-effects from contact with the herbicide 2,4,5-T while in Vietnam, or for that matter considers that he is suffering any disability arising from service in Vietnam, he may lodge a claim for compensation with the Department of Veterans ‘ Affairs. Each such claim will be thoroughly investigated and determined by an independent statutory authority set up under the Repatriation Act.
On the question of information related to occupational hazards, the Medical Division of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is gathering reports on the nature and effects of the herbicide. ‘
The Department of Employment and Youth Affairs has no further information but the function of collating and analysing such data is primarily the responsibility of the National Health and Medical Research Council in the Commonwealth sector.
The National Health and Medical Research Council which reports to the Minister for Health has kept the health aspects of the use of 2,4,5-T under review for many years. In particular, the Pesticides and Agricultural Chemicals Subcommittee of Council has examined extensive toxicological data on the herbicide and also extensive data on residues in foodstuffs which may result from its use. A special Working Party of Council has examined aspects of the use and safety of 2,4,5-T. Its conclusion that no further restrictions on the use of this herbicide were warranted was re-endorsed by Council at its 87th Session in June 1979. The Occupational Health Committee of Council has considered 2,4,5-T exposure and agrees with the Working Party that further restrictions are not warranted.
Although the Department of Health itself has not carried out studies of occupational exposure to the herbicide, the officers of the Department are continuing to study scientific literature both from Australia and overseas. Routine biological monitoring of 2,4,5-T spray operators is carried out by State health authorities. Personal protective clothing for spray operators to reduce der.. .al exposure is indicated. There is, in addition, monitoring of the chemical itself for the contaminant dioxin (TCDD). The chemical used in Australia corresponds to the recommendations of the National Health and Medical Research Council as to the dioxin content.
Overseas sources of information include the following:
The Joint Meeting of Experts on Pesticide Residues of the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.
The World Health Organization Data Sheets on Pesticides.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The British Industrial Biological Research Association.
In addition, information on pesticides is exchanged with the relevant authorities in other countries such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
-On 30 May 1979 (Hansard, page 2315) Senator Mcintosh asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question without notice concerning the Government’s contribution to the Common Fund. The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As the honourable senator will be aware negotiations on a Common Fund have been continuing within the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) for some time. In March this year agreement was reached on the fundamental elements of the Fund and work has commenced on the technical details of the eventual agreement that is necessary to translate these elements into a working institution. Among the many questions yet to be resolved is the level of financial contributions to be made by individual countries.
The fund will consist of two accounts called the First and Second Windows. It has been agreed that contributions to the First Window which will fund stocking operations will be mandatory, while contributions to the Second Window which will fund other commodity measures will be on a voluntary basis. Targets of $US470m for the First Window and $US280m for the Second Window have been set.
The basis of assessing contributions to the First Window has not as yet been determined and we are not therefore in a position to provide an estimate of what Australia’s share might be. At UNCTAD V I pledged that Australia would make an effective contribution to the Second Window and urged other countries to do likewise. The question of pledges’ to the Second Window is under discussion with other developed country governments.
An interim committee of the negotiating conference on the Common Fund has been established, to resolve outstanding issues including that of the Second Window. Three sessions of that committee are scheduled before the end of the year, by which time the scope of the activities of the Second Window and an appropriate cost sharing formula may have been decided and countries will be better placed to assess the appropriate level of their contributions.
The Government will continue to participate in discussions and negotiations leading to the adoption of a detailed agreement for a Common Fund, which it sees as a valuable instrument in achieving stability in international commodity trade.
Excise on Spirits
– On 5 June 1 979 (Hansard, page 2610) Senator Teague asked me, as Minister representing the Treasurer, a question without notice concerning the excise on spirits. The Acting Treasurer has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The honourable senator will be aware that the Government has before it for consideration two reports from the Industries Assistance Commission, relating respectively to Spirits and Spirituous Beverages and to Grapes and Wine. When the Government has completed its consideration of the reports its decisions in relation to the Commission’s recommendations will be made public.
Heads of Government Meeting in Lusaka: Mr Tony Eggleton
-On 23 August 1979 (Hansard, pages 176-7) Senator Sibraa asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question without notice concerning Mr Eggleton ‘s flight itinerary on his recent visit to Africa where he accompanied the Prime Minister, and how many times and for what purposes has Mr Eggleton travelled on VIP aircraft and who has paid for such travel. The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Mr Eggleton accompanied the Prime Minister on his recent visit to Africa as a member of the Australian delegation to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Lusaka. He was included in the delegation as a consultant because of his special knowledge of and expertise in Commonwealth matters. Mr Eggleton ‘s itinerary for the visit to Africa was as follows:
There was no charge raised for travel on the B 707 for any members of the official party accompanying the Prime Minister.
Mr Eggleton ‘s travel and accommodation expenses were met in the same way as those expenses of other members of the delegation. Apart from these expenses Mr Eggleton provided his services without remuneration.
In relation to previous travel by Mr Eggleton, details of passengers carried in RAAF Special Purpose aircraft have been tabled regularly in the Parliament by this Government. The most recent occasion was on 30 August 1979 (Senate Hansard, p453).
On other approved occasions on which Mr Eggleton has travelled on RAAF Special Purpose aircraft and charges have been raised, e.g. during election campaigns, those charges have been recovered from the Liberal Party.
Public Health Funds
-On 28 August 1979 (Hansard, page 271), Senator Watson asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Health, a question without notice concerning possible profits made by public health funds. The Minister for Health has provided the following information:
The health insurance funds are registered under the National Health Act and are non-profit organisations. Any surpluses which these funds may have available at the end of an operating period must be retained in the funds as reserves or used to pay future benefits.
The contribution rates which are charged by the health funds must be approved by the Minister for Health after examination by the Registration Committee which is established under the National Health Act. In approving the rates, regard is had to the financial operating experience of a fund and the level of reserves held to ensure that contribution rates are set at reasonable levels.
Health funds are required under the Act to submit detailed financial statements, including income and expenditure statements and balance sheet, to my Department within three months ofthe close of each financial year. These details are included in a comprehensive financial report entitled Operations of the Registered Medical and Hospitals Benefits Organizations ‘. As required by the Act, the report is tabled by the Minister in both Houses of Parliament. The financial operations of health funds are therefore subject to wide public scrutiny.
In addition to the lodgement of statements with my Department, organizations generally produce annual reports which can be made available to contributors in a number of ways, e.g. attendance at annual meetings, examination of copies at counters of offices of funds and the provision of reports or summaries of such reports on request. It would be unnecessarily costly to distribute reports to all members and it is considered that the present arrangements provide sufficient scope for interested contributor members to obtain financial information on their health funds if they desire it.
-On 29 August 1979 (Hansard, page 344) Senator Gietzelt asked me, in my capacity as Minister representing the Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Treasurer, the following question without notice:
Is it a fact that the Lusaka declaration on racism and racial prejudice, which the Australian delegation helped to draft, contained these words:
We re-affirm that it is the duty of all the peoples of the Commonwealth to work together for the total eradication of the infamous policy of apartheid which is internationally recognised as a crime against the conscience and dignity of mankind and the very existence of which is an affront to humanity.
Consistent with this statement, will the Federal Government therefore decline to pay export market development grants to those Australian manufacturers whom it is suggested will participate in the trade fair to bc held in Johannesburg next October.
I have already replied to the first aspect of this question and the Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answer to the second part of the honourable senator’s question:
Under the Export Market Development Grants Act grants are paid to exporters who incur eligible expenditure on the promotion of their exports. The Act makes no reference to the country in which the market promotion takes place. In keeping with the practice of successive Australian Governments there is no intention to vary the coverage of the scheme.
– On 11 September 1979 (Hansard, page 512) Senator Watson asked me, as Minister representing the Treasurer, a question without notice concerning Budget documentation. The Acting Treasurer has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Information relating to the Budget is presented in a series of 1 1 Budget Papers. A list of the titles of the 1 1 papers is provided on the inside front cover of each paper.
Budget Paper No. I, which contains the Budget Speech and six attached statements, presents the main Budget information in a format intended to meet the needs of the majority of readers. The other papers provide a variety of specialised and detailed information which should be of assistance to those who wish to examine particular aspects more closely.
The presentation of the contents of Paper No. 1 has been standardised on the present basis since 1974-75. Immediately following the Speech there is a list of the titles and page numbers indicating where the several Statements appear. As the content of some individual Statements has been increased over the years to make them more informative, separate tables of contents have been included at the beginning of these longer Statements (in Paper No. 1 for 1979-80, this applies to Statements 2, 3 and 4).
The sequence of material within Paper No. 1 is thus clearly recognisable. It is also relevant that, because of the very tight timetable under which Budget Paper No. 1 is prepared, it would be a practical impossibility to prepare a detailed index for that paper.
The other 10 Budget Papers have also been standardised in general content and format for a number of years. A table of contents (or summary index) is included in most of those papers (the exceptions being Papers Nos 2 and 3, which embody the Appropriation Bills, and two very short papers, Nos 8 and 1 1 ). A perusal of the contents pages provides a ready guide to the sequence in which the information is presented. lt has been found practical to include extensive indexes in the two largest of the other Budget Papers- No. 4 Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure, and No. 7 Payments to or for the States. The Northern Territory and Local Government Authorities. In the case of Paper No. 4, the index provides cross-references to the Appropriation Bills (Papers Nos 2 and 3) and to other relevant documents presented during the Budget session.
In the circumstances I do not consider that provision of further indexes to the Budget Papers is necessary or appropriate.
Mr Iwasaki: Land Purchases
-On 20 September 1979 (Hansard, page 863) Senator MacGibbon asked me a question without notice concerning Mr Iwasaki- Land Purchases. The Acting Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The terms of the Government’s foreign investment policy approval was the subject of a press release by the Treasurer on 30 July 1 978. This decision: limited the land to be acquired by Iwasaki Sangyo Co. (Aust.) Pty Ltd to the boundaries set out in the Franchise Agreement between the company and the Queensland Government; and required that Federal Government approval be obtained before the company acquires, makes any arrangements, signs any contracts, or negotiates to acquire any additional land in any part of Australia. lt is the firm intention of the Government that Mr Iwasaki, his companies and his agents, should comply in full with the terms and conditions of the foreign investment approval, and they have been reminded of the terms of the approval.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 9 May 1979:
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(a) Departmental records show that on two occasions members received car transport in Queensland at government expense in the circumstances outlined. Details are: 6 April 1979 from Dalby to Miles 30 April 1 979 from Warwick to Toowong.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 28 May 1979:
What was the time, or what were the times, on which the first two Members referred to in the answer to Senate Question No. 1581 used Commonwealth car transport on 25 April 1979 and to what place or places did they travel in that transport (see Hansard, 23 May 1979, page 2045).
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Departmental records show the following information:
The car provided for Mr J. C. Hodges, M.P. left the depot at 0245 hours and collected Mr Hodges at 2 Valerie Street, Clontarf, Qld on an ‘as directed’ basis. The car returned to the depot at 0650 hours having travelled 108 kilometres depot to depot.
The car provided for Mr P. F. Johnson, M.P. left the depot at 0530 hours and collected Mr Johnson at 143 Ennogera Terrace, Paddington, Qld and proceeded to Gaythorne on an ‘as directed’ basis. The car was released at 1240 hours and the driver returned to the depot at 1300 hours having travelled 55 kilometres depot to depot.
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 2 1 August 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The ‘Schools’ Priority Index Survey’ relates solely to Victorian government schools and its development and the subsequent use to which it is put is the responsibility of the Victorian Minister of Education. On 12 July 1979, the State Mininster provided a revised list of Victorian government disadvantaged schools which were being proposed for 1980 and the ranking of these schools on the Index. Watsonia High School is not included on this revised list. Nor has this school ever been a declared disadvantaged school since the Schools Commission’s Disadvantaged Schools Program commenced in 1974.
State Governments do, however, report to the Schools Commission on projects that have been funded through the Capital Grants Program. The Victorian Government reported that during the 1974-7S triennium and during 1976 amounts of $ 1 196 and $1050 respectively were expended on library projects at Watsonia High School.
These are the only identifiable amounts to have been paid to this school from Schools Commission capital and recurrent grants. As the school has not been placed in any category of the Victorian Schools Priority Index Survey, it is not practicable to make the comparison with a similar nongovernment school, as requested by the Honourable Senator.
asked the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 22 August 1 979:
– The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Assistant Secretary- Department of Aboriginal Affairs; Assistant Secretary- Department of Administrative Services; Assistant Deputy Crown Solicitor- AttorneyGeneral’s Department; Deputy Registrar- AttorneyGeneral’s Department; Assistant Secretary- Department of Education; Consultant- Department of Education; Assistant Secretary- Department of Finance; Assistant Secretary- Department of Foreign Affairs; Assistant Director-General- Department of Health; Director of Special Health Services- Capital Territory Health Commission: Assistant Secretary- Department of Home Affairs: Director (2 positions)- National Library of
Australia; Assistant Secretary- Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs; Assistant SecretaryDepartment of Industrial Relations; Assistant SecretaryDepartment of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; Assistant Commissioner (2 positions)- Public Service Board; Assistant Director-General (3 positions)- Department of Social Security; Director- Department of Social Security; Assistant Statistician- Australian Bureau of Statistics.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 29 August 1 979:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The decision as to which Act and section are used in prosecutions is primarily a matter for Commonwealth law authorities who conduct prosecutions on behalf of the Attorney-General. The nature of the charges brought will depend on the circumstances of each particular case.
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 1 1 September 1979:
How were the last annual statistics on the Aboriginal infant mortality rate for the Northern Territory compiled, and who was responsible for the delay in making them available to the public.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The information sought is provided in my reply to you subsequent to your Question Without Notice of 30 August 1979, which reply appears in Hansard 1 3 September 1 979, page 668.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 1 1 September 1979:
Will the Attorney-General, in the interests of freedom of information, table the Paper embodying the Joint Review of Public Assembly Laws, referred to in his press release of 9 July 1979; if not, why not.
– As the honourable senator will know, the Joint Review was tabled on 25 September 1979.
Australian Capital Territory: Report on Canberra City Wastes (Question No. 1891)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice, on 12 September 1979:
– The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am informed by my Department that:
1 ) (a) Recommendations 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 1 8, 1 9, 20, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30 and 3 1 of the Report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, Canberra City Wastes have been implemented.
Recommendations 14, 16, and 23 have been implemented in part.
Recommendations I, 2, 6, 9, 12, 21 and 27 have not been implemented.
Of the recommendations implemented in partRecommendation 14 regarding the handling of waste paper for recycling in Government offices has been partly implemented in all Departments. The contractor to the Department of Administrative Services removes all waste paper, with the exception of highly classified papers, from Government offices.
Bulk collections of cardboard and paper are recycled but the paper removed from individual offices is frequently not acceptable to the paper recyclers because of its degree of contamination with other wastes.
Recommendation 16 regarding the shredding of all classified waste paper from Government offices has been partly implemented. In addition to the occupants of Cameron Offices, 19 other departments and authorities utilize the waste paper shredder for the destruction of lesser classified paper. Highly classified wastes will still be incinerated because of security requirements.
Recommendation 23 regarding domestic garbage collection being done by community partnerships or employees of the Depanment of the Capital Territory has been partly implemented. Contracts for the north side of Canberra were negotiated for a further three years in July 1 979 and were allotted to partnerships. Renewal of contract on the south side was partly in keeping with the recommendation inasmuch as it was negotiated with the same contractor thus providing a continuity of employment for workers in the industry, at least for the ensuing year. Expressions of interest will be called early in 1980 to test the feeling for zone contracting on the south side of Canberra. The Department of the Capital Territory cannot in the present circumstances employ workers to collect domestic garbage.
(a) Recommendation 1 has been rejected.
Recommendations 2, 6, 9, 12,21 and 27 are still under consideration.
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 12 September 1979:
Did the Australian National University Report for 1976, page 10, state that ‘the calls for higher payments to fund the employer’s eventual liability for pensions under the new Commonwealth Superannuation Act, which were put to the University by the Government in the year’s closing days’ could be ‘actively damaging and destructive*? If so, what action has been taken on this matter since that report.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Yes. The statement relates to advice the Australian National University received from the Government Actuary concerning the rate of contribution to be paid by the University to its Superannuation Provision in respect of its liabilities under the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme.
The initial advice received from the Government Actuary was that the University should increase its contributions to meet the accruing cost of the employer part of the benefits under the Superannuation Act 1976 from 2Vt times members’ contributions (which was approximately 16 percent of salaries) to 25% of members’ salaries. Such an increase, for which no specific provision had been made in the University’s budget, would have had a serious effect on the University’s operations.
The matter was satisfactorily resolved in June 1977. This followed further advice to the University from the Government Actuary in which the Actuary advised that should the University finance its superannuation liabilities under the Superannuation Act 1 976 by funding the flat-rate pensions and meeting the capital cost of pension increases as they arise, then this would have the effect of reducing the immediate contributions to much closer to 1 6% of salaries than 25 per cent of salaries.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 12 September 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 12 September 1979:
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 12 September 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The houses are rented to employees. The rentals are:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing and Construction, upon notice, on 12 September 1979:
– The Minister for Housing and Construction has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(a) The defects to be remedied include:
occasional use of half bricks where full bricks should have been used;
asked the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on 13 September 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The SETI project would have to compete for time on the telescope with other projects on the usual criterion of scientific merit. It might hope to obtain perhaps 3 per cent of telescope time. In addition, the Division would need to consider whether any additional source of funds and manpower might be better devoted to its astrophysical programs. The benefits of a SETI program at present would be most likely to accrue from the development of novel research instrumentation and perhaps from analytical contributions to search strategies.
The cost of developing special equipment for a SETI program might be largely avoided by borrowing from overseas organisations. However, manpower additional to current resources would still be required for an effective program.
CSIRO does not propose to make funds available for this purpose.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 12 September 1979:
What action is proposed to waive the requirement of the Department of Social Security for elderly pensioners over the age of 75 regularly to fill out entitlement review forms, in view of the low probability of any change in the income or marital status of these pensioners, and in view of the savings of paperwork within the Department which would result from the waiving of the requirement.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Entitlement review forms are not sent to pensioners over 70 years of age unless the pensioner has disclosed income details in order to be considered for Consumer Price Index rises or fringe benefits.
Prior to the suspension of the annual review in 1974 the Department did vary the frequency of reviews according to the agc of the pensioner and other factors. All forms are currently being issued on an annual basis and no change is contemplated at this time.
Federal Funding of Children’s Refuges (Question No. 19S4)
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 19 September 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 19 September 1979:
What action has been taken in respect of the recommendation of the Working Party on Library Services in its report of April 1 979, that the Australian Bureau of Statistics investigate methods of improving the statistical coverage of handicapped people with particular emphasis on the print-handicapped.
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Australian Bureau of Statistics proposes to conduct a national survey of handicapped persons in early 1981. The recommendations and views of the Working Party on Library Services are being taken into account in the planning of this survey.
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 25 September 1 979:
Did the Australian Broadcasting Commission program AM of 20 September 1979 include an explanation by the Queensland Minister for Aboriginal and Island Affairs, Mr Porter, of why approximately $3m had been returned by the Queensland Government to the Federal Treasury over a period of time; if so, is the Minister satisfied with Mr Porter’s explanation, and if he is not satisfied what action is proposed by the Government to examine urgently the possibility of providing only direct funding to all Queensland Aboriginal communities and organisations.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I have seen a transcript of comments made by Mr Porter, the Queensland Minister for Aboriginal and Island Affairs, in an interview broadcast on AM on 20 September 1979 but these comments did not explain the under-spending on particular programs for which the Commonwealth had provided grants to Queensland Government Departments in the last four years. The Government is not considering the termination of State Grants to Queensland, which provide for some important and useful services for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 25 September 1979:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
and (2) Since August 1973 nursing home proprietors have been permitted to charge a bed retention fee during a patient’s absence from a nursing home. It is considered reasonable that nursing home proprietors should be able to charge a Tee up to the daily rate approved by my Department Tor keeping their facilities available for patients who are temporarily absent. As the honourable senator would appreciate there is very little, if any, abatement of costs during a patient’s temporary absence from a nursing home and a proprietor is dependent upon the approved fee to meet the continuing costs. A bed retention fee could only be charged where a patient or relative has specifically requested a proprietor to retain a bed.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 October 1979, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1979/19791009_senate_31_s82/>.