31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
- Mr President, I inform the Senate that the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Groom) left Australia on Sunday, 21 October 1979, to attend a conference of South Pacific Labour Ministers at Apia. The Minister for Administrative Services (Mr John McLeay) will act as Minister for Housing and Construction until Mr Groom’s return on 26 October 1979.
-I present the following petition from 1 80 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the very survival of mankind is at stake, with the stockpile of nuclear weapons able to kill every person on earth 24 times over and with conventional arms of increasing sophistication having enough destructive power to destroy most life on earth.
Noting that, while millions starve, expenditure on the arms race is $1,000 million per day for the World, and $7m per day for Australia; and noting that the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has listed ‘peace and disarmament’ as a theme for the International Year of the Child; and further noting that a reduction in expenditure on arms could contribute in both developed and developing countries to the eradication of hunger and disease and to the provision of more adequate housing, education, health services, economic security and social welfare for all people:
In the interests of children in Australia and around the world, particularly in developing countries, and as a matter of highest priority during the International Year of the Child,
We call upon the Australian Government to give political leadership both nationally and internationally in working towards-
1 ) general and complete disarmament under effective international control;
the establishment ofthe Pacific and Indian Oceans as nuclear-free zones; and
3 ) the disbanding of all nuclear bases. and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present on behalf of Senator Gietzelt, who is otherwise occupied on parliamentary business, the following petition from 17 citizens of Australia:
The Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of New South Wales respectfully showeth:
That as citizens of NSW and parents of State school children, we are most concerned that the quality of education available in our schools be of the highest possible standard.
We believe that this can only be achieved if adequate Federal funds are provided. The recently announced policy of direct cuts to Government schools for 1979 must have an adverse effect on them.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should arrange for
. Withdrawal of the Guidelines to the Schools Commission for 1979 and acceptance of its recommendations for Government schools.
An increase of a minimum of 5 per cent in real terms on base level programs for 1 979.
Restoration of the $8m cut from the Capital Grants for Government Schools
Increased recurrent and capital funding to Government schools. and your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– A petition has been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled: The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the National Women’s Advisory Council has not been democratically elected by the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is not representative of the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is a discriminatory and sexist imposition on Australian women as Australian men do not have a National Men’s Advisory Council imposed on them.
Your petitioners therefore pray:
That the National Women’s Advisory Council be abolished to ensure that Australian women have equal opportunity with Australian men of having issues of concern to them considered, debated and voted on by their Parliamentary representative without intervention and interference by an unrepresentative ‘ ‘ Advisory Council ‘ ‘.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Senator Chipp.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. As United Nations Disarmament Week commences tomorrow, can the
Government indicate what initiatives it proposes to take to highlight the need for arms control and disarmament, which the Minister for Foreign Affairs described at the recent United Nations Committee on Disarmament as the greatest problem facing the world today?
– Similar questions have been asked of me by honourable senators in recent weeks. I have directed the substance of those questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I will do so with Senator Wriedt ‘s question and see whether I can get an early answer for him.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, relates to Vietnamese citizens seeking to migrate to Australia. I ask the Minister: Has any progress been made in reaching agreement with Vietnamese authorities to allow Australian immigration officers to conduct necessary interviews with these people within Vietnam? Will the Minister advise what steps have been taken to reach such agreement which would allow Vietnamese applicants to undergo normal migrant processing procedures?
– I understand that the Vietnamese authorities have not agreed to date to allow Australian migration officers to interview persons seeking entry to Australia for residence, nor is it possible for applicants to undergo other normal migrant procedures such as health examinations within Vietnam. The Minister is hopeful that the combined efforts of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Australian Government will soon result in an arrangement which is acceptable to the Australian and Vietnamese governments. I am not able to say what steps have been taken, but I think it can be understood from what I have said that all efforts and negotiations have been undertaken which would permit the normal arrangements to be undertaken as soon as possible.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport: Is it a fact that a few weeks ago the Department of Transport granted a licence to Air Tasmania to fly between Sydney, Flinders Island and Tasmania? Is it a fact that, as a result of the granting of this licence, Air Tasmania went ahead and spent thousands of dollars getting air terminals and putting out advertising material to conduct this service? Is it also a fact that last week the Department of Transport withdrew this licence without warning? If so, could the Minister give us some reasons for this behaviour by the Department?
-The matter raised by the honourable senator is not within my knowledge. I will seek a reply from the Minister for Transport.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs whether he is aware of the fact that the annual returns under the Bounty (Books) Act recently tabled here show that over $lm was paid by way of bounty to Griffin Press Ltd, a subsidiary of the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper? Is the Griffin Press the largest publisher of pornography in Australia? Have several of its recent publications been denied bounty under the guidelines written into the Act when it was last amended? Does the Government believe that the payment of bounty on locally published pornography amounts to a proper use of taxpayers funds?
-The short answer to Senator Puplick ‘s question as to whether the Government believes that the payment of bounty on locally published pornography amounts to a proper use of taxpayers’ funds is no. As I understand the position, Griffin Press Ltd is not a publisher but a printer and is the largest claimant under the Bounty (Books) Act 1969. Until a recent amendment to that Act, which I think was made earlier this year, there was a loophole in the entitlements to bounty provisions which enabled a company to claim in respect of books which, if they had been imported, would have been prohibited imports on the grounds of their pornographic content. However, section 88 of the Act now provides that a bounty is not payable in respect of a book which, if it had been imported, would have been a prohibited import. Therefore, the Act prevents the payment of bounty on the type of publication to which the honourable senator referred. The Act prohibits payments now and the company has been denied payments since then as a result of that provision.
-My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Does his Department have charge of the matters involving four Australian uranium companies which are currently subject to litigation in the United States and on whose behalf the Attorney announced on Monday that Australia had intervened? Has his Department consulted the Department of Foreign Affairs on the wider implications of this issue for relations between Australia and the United States? What was the machinery for this consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs? Is it an effective method of safeguarding the full range of Australian interests?
– The Government’s response to the problems that have been presented by the Westinghouse anti-trust proceedings in the United States is primarily my responsibility but is carried out in very close consultation with the Department of Trade and Resources, the Minister for Trade and Resources and the Department of Foreign Affairs. As I announced at the weekend, what is known as an amicus curiae memorandum has been lodged in the United States Court of Appeals, which is hearing an appeal in respect of an order made by a judge in these proceedings against the four Australian companies concerned. The preparation of that memorandum was certainly undertaken in consultation with the departments I have mentioned.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. Would the Minister elaborate a little further with respect to that part of my question which asked whether the method followed so far could be an effective method of safeguarding the full range of Australian interests?
-That is certainly the object of the exercise and I believe we are doing all that we can in the circumstances.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry by saying that no doubt the Minister has heard of an outbreak of a disease in northern Tasmania that is affecting both pigs and cattle. Can the Minister give the Senate uptodate information relating to this disease and its possible implications for Australia?
-Certainly senators from Tasmania, indeed all honourable senators, will be interested to know that on 22 October the chief veterinary officer of the Tasmanian Department of Agriculture reported to the Director of the Bureau of Animal Health that there was a possibility of an exotic disease in a piggery near Launceston. A veterinary practitioner had reported sickness in pigs to the Tasmanian Department of Agriculture a few days earlier. During intensive investigation by the Depanment of Agriculture over the weekend it was found that a number of pigs had developed vesicles, that is fluid filled blisters, which are always suggestive of a number of exotic virus diseases in pigs and which can be confused with foot and mouth disease.
Approved Australian plans for dealing with suspected exotic animal diseases of this nature require immediate slaughter of susceptible animals. The Tasmanian Minister for Agriculture has approved immediate slaughter of all the pigs and cattle on this property. The Minister for Primary Industry has indicated that he agrees with that action. Compensation will be paid to the owner under long-standing agreements between the Commonwealth and the States. Specimens from affected pigs are being sent immediately to the World Reference Laboratory in the United Kingdom for examination. The Veterinary Consultative Committee of the Australian Agricultural Council is meeting in Launceston today to make recommendations to Commonwealth and State Ministers on any further action which is deemed necessary.
-I ask the Minister for Social Security whether it is a fact that her Department in Darwin is so short of office space that the interviewing rooms have been removed to provide greater counter space? Is it a fact that clients no longer have privacy and can be overheard by others who are waiting for an interview? If these are facts, what steps are being taken to resolve this untenable situation?
– I will need to refer that matter to the Director-General of Social Services to obtain information with regard to what steps are being taken to improve the office space of the Department in Darwin. There is a shortage of space and there are difficulties within the Department. Lack of privacy is something that would certainly concern me and the Department. I will need to make inquiries as to what the uptodate position is and as to whether alternative accommodation can be found.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Transport say what progress has been made towards establishing a national code of safety relating to the conversion of motor vehicles to operate on liquefied petroleum gas? Is the Minister aware that, among others, I made representations to him following an approach by an executive of General MotorsHolden’s Ltd earlier this year, and that I expressed the concern of the motor manufacturing industry in this matter? Has the Minister noted an accident which occurred at Newcastle yesterday in which a taxi driver was burned following an explosion of LPG in his vehicle, which I believe highlights the urgency for Government action in this matter?
-I did see the report of the accident to which the honourable senator referred. It reminded me of the matter which he raised with me earlier in the year. I would suggest, however, that whilst this matter is very important and whilst it is receiving attention, the fact that there has been a single accident ought not, I think, cause undue concern. Frequently there are fires in motor vehicles which are powered by petrol. The fact that one has occurred with respect to a vehicle powered by liquefied petroleum gas is not in itself perhaps all that surprising or worrying.
The Commonwealth does consider it essential that there be uniform safety standards and uniform legislation covering LPG powered motor vehicles. The Australian Transport Advisory Council ‘s Motor Transport Group has supported the establishment of a uniform nationwide system for regulating LPG powered vehicles, but it is not considered necessary to draw up new Australian design rules for such vehicles. The Government will maintain its effort to encourage the use of these vehicles in major urban areas for reasons relating to the conservation of fuel. The honourable senator may be assured that the Commonwealth will continue to take a very active interest and watch this matter very carefully.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Minister will be aware of a report now published in the United States, written in mid- 1 975 by William Colby, the then Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, on the overall United States intelligence requirements up to 1981. This CIA document judged that South Korea could develop a nuclear weapons capability over the next decade. Does this mean that this Government will now review its intention to allow sales of uranium to South Korea?
-I will refer that question to the Minister concerned.
-Is the Minister for Science and the Environment aware of recent studies in the United States which indicate that anti-pollution devices installed in smoke stacks to clean air are discharging highly charged electrical particles into the atmosphere? Is this new kind of pollution likely have an adverse effect on rainfall plant or animal life? Are electrostatic precipitators installed in chimney stacks at coalfired power plants in Australia? Is any study of their effect on the environment being undertaken?
– I am not familiar with the study to which the honourable senator refers. I am of the opinion that some companies have installed the system that he mentioned with the intention of reducing pollution. I was not aware that any problem was likely to occur after that electrostatic precipitation had taken place. My recollection is that such a fitting was installed recently on the Mount Isa smoke stack. I am not positive on that point but I recall going through my office some paper work that discussed that matter. However, since the honourable senator has put the proposition, as I understand it, that some environmental hazard is created by the installation of that equipment, I will have the matter looked into.
-Is the Attorney-General aware of paragraph 22 of the Australian memorandum submitted to the Court of Appeals in Chicago in the case involving the four Australian uranium companies referred to earlier? That paragraph states that the Australian Government is concerned that the effect of a judgment for damages against the Australian defendants and the continuing enforcement of that judgment may constitute a serious irritant of indefinite duration to bilateral relations between Australia and the United States. I ask the Minister: Does that statement represent the considered position of the Australian Government? Has it been communicated to the United States Government?
– The memorandum to which Senator Wriedt referred is one which has been submitted to the Court of Appeals in the United States to impress upon the court the seriousness with which the Australian Government considers its proceeding to assess against
Australian companies what would be treble damages in the suit that has been instituted by Westinghouse against them and others. It is based upon the view that international comity would require that American anti-trust laws be administered in a way which does not reach out to conduct which has been alleged to be entered into outside the United States by companies that are not nationals of or resident in the United States. Therefore, this outreach of American anti-trust laws to affect nationals and residents of other countries does have very serious implications for those other countries, including Australia. At this stage the litigation is still proceeding. No decisions have been made. What we are seeking to point out in that paragraph of the memorandum to which Senator Wriedt referred is the fact that if courts in the United States do not have regard to these matters and pronounce treble damages or make judgments which award enormous amounts of money, they naturally will continue to cause great irritation and concern.
These matters have been brought to the attention of the United States by the Australian Government on several occasions. A little over a year ago I was involved in discussions on these matters with the Department of Justice in Washington. Prior to that we had had a long series of discussions on criminal proceedings that were being contemplated under the United States anti-trust laws but which, fortunately, have not been proceeded with. We have brought to the attention of the United States, by way of a note to the State Department, the circumstances of this memorandum, the concern we have about it and what we hope to do. When I was there a year ago we tried to persuade the United States Government to intervene in these civil proceedings and to put to the United States courts the proposition that the courts should have regard to these international considerations when they are hearing civil suits under the anti-trust laws.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, arises out of very serious allegations made by Dr Arnold Mann in the letters column of the Canberra Times on 16 October last. His allegations included assertions that tax may not have been paid on moneys collected as fees for services rendered by some salaried medical officers, including Dr Mann, the money having gone into trust funds which themselves may not have been validly constituted. In view of the specific and very serious nature of the assertions, will the Treasurer confirm the accuracy, as they affect tax, of the matters alleged to be facts in Dr Mann’s letter? Will the Minister advise the Senate whether there appear to be arrangements operating in hospitals not properly satisfying tax and trust obligations.
– I have seen the matter referred to by Senator Baume, but as it relates to the income tax affairs of individual taxpayers the secrecy provisions of the income tax law preclude the Commissioner of Taxation from divulging or communicating any information about it. I will direct the remainder of Senator Baume ‘s question to the Treasurer in case he has any further response to make.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs and, by way of preface, refer to the $56,000 grant to the Australian Amateur Athletic Association. I ask: In view of the Association’s fixation with female sprinters, what pressure will the Government impose on the AAA to ensure that girls who are endowed for field games activities are given a grant to facilitate the utilisation of Eastern European coaches? There seems to be a sort of double standard and I would like to believe that the money will be put to better use by importing Eastern European field games coaches to train those girls who weigh more than 12 stone.
– I am unable to convey anything useful to the honourable senator. I am not sure about the weight. I do not know where the measurement would start and finish.
– I am underplaying the weight aspect.
– I think I should refer the question to the Minister for Home Affairs. There are several parts to it and I am not familiar with the matter raised. I will see that it goes to the Minister.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. I do not want to be misquoted. The Minister will know, if he reads the Melbourne newspapers, of the athletic Gethsemane that Gail Mulhall has had to go through to become a top athlete. It is about time the Government made a little easier the load of other girls who seek to emulate her.
– From reading some of the Melbourne newspapers, I am aware that Tracey Wickham has made some comments, but I did not think she fell into the category -
– That is another matter.
– It is in relation to girl athletes having to pay. The Minister for Home Affairs has advised me that he is interested in the comments that not enough is being done directly to assist our top athletes.
-No, they have a bias towards sprinters, not field games exponents. That is what I am trying to get at.
-The honourable senator is losing me. I cannot answer that.
-Is the Minister for Social Security aware that New Zealanders are obtaining unemployment benefits in Australia? Is the Minister also aware that some of the recipients of these benefits are on holidays and hitch-hiking in Australia? Do we have reciprocal arrangements with New Zealand for the payment of unemployment benefits? If so, what steps are being taken to stop New Zealand holidaymakers bludging on the Australian community? If there is no such reciprocation, what steps are being taken to stop New Zealanders taking advantage of such unemployment benefits?
-Unemployment benefits paid in Australia are subject to eligibility requirements with regard to taking reasonable steps to obtain work and also are subject to an income test. People who arrive in Australia from New Zealand who do not intend to stay in this country are not eligible for unemployment benefits and therefore those in the category mentioned by Senator Young would not be eligible if they were here for short-term holidays. If they intend to take up permanent residence in Australia and state that that is their intention, they are tested for unemployment benefits on the same basis as all other Australian residents. If there is any knowledge of people who are receiving unemployment benefits and abusing the system, I would be pleased to hear of it. The requirements of the Act are precise with regard to intention to seek work and willingness to undertake work that is offered, and people also are subject to the requirements of the income test. In short, those people who are in Australia as holidaymaker. and who do not intend to become permanent residents are not immediately eligible for unemployment benefits.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and refer to statements attributed to the Minister, Mr Newman, in this morning’s newspapers to the effect that 1 1,400 kilograms of material was transported in seven containers from Maralinga in South Australia in March this year. I also refer to the previous South Australian Government’s statement claiming that only half a kilogram of plutonium existed to be transferred to the United Kingdom and that this was a mass about the size of a small egg. Can the Minister say, firstly, whether only half a kilogram of plutonium was transported? Secondly, what other material was transported and what was the quantity thereof? Thirdly, what was the weight and composition of the containers holding all the materials? Can the Minister also give an assurance that there were no dangerous by-products from the experiments and that no contaminated Maralinga soil was transported?
– I think I can assist with part of the question asked by Senator Elstob. The Minister for National Development issued a Press statement on 22 March in conjunction with the then Premier of South Australia, Mr Corcoran, saying that approximately half a kilogram of plutonium, previously buried at Maralinga, had been repatriated to the United Kingdom. The containers removed from the burial pit at Maralinga contained approximately half a kilogram of plutonium. The plutonium was dispersed in salt within the containers, and the total weight of the material in this form was about 3,600 lbs, or 1,630 kilograms. These containers are illustrated on page 27 of the Department’s annual report for 1978-79, which was tabled on 11 October 1979.
After removal from the burial pit, the six containers were grouted with cement and placed inside specially constructed transport drums supplied by the United Kingdom authorities. The drums were then filled with concrete. The gross weight of the six drums, including the concrete, was 1 1,770 kilograms. In addition, a box of miscellaneous equipment supplied by the United Kingdom for use in the packaging operation was also returned to the British authorities. This box included items such as radiological protective clothing, air filters for drums, some hand tools and a drum collar. This container weighed approximately 1 50 kilograms. The method of packaging and transport was specified by the British authorities. I will refer the remainder of the question to the Minister for National Development.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Education who represents the Minister for Foreign Affairs, relates to the presence of the King of Tonga in the parliamentary building today reminding us of the relationship of Australian educational responsibilities to areas of the Pacific and in particular the University of the South Pacific in Fiji which I have had the opportunity to visit. Because of the importance of the University of the South Pacific to the total educational program in the area, can the Minister give an indication as to whether Australia is meeting the requests of the University of the South Pacific? Are there any plans for particular contributions to the total program of what we call the USP?
– Since the 1975-76 year the Government has pursued a policy of increasing assistance to the whole South Pacific region. In the triennium ending 1979-80 aid increased sharply over the previous triennium, to a total of $28.5m in the current financial year. This level of aid will be maintained for the next three years. The University of the South Pacific has had a key role in the economic and social development of the region. Its faculties reflect the priorities of the region- education, natural resources, agriculture and social and economic development. The University also provides, on request, extension services to countries in the region. Financial support comes from South Pacific and other governments, including Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, from United Nations agencies and from private foundations.
In the current year the Australian Government has provided assistance, including a contract signed in July for the construction of a new building for the School of Social and Economic Development to be completed by the end of 1980 for $2. 66m. The building will provide accommodation for administrative, teaching and residential purposes. Until sufficient local teaching staff is available it is necessary to attract well qualified people from overseas. So over the last five years Australia has provided a grant-in-aid of $550,000 for salary supplementation. An amount of $300,000 is provided for scholarships to Third World countries. For this year only a special grant of $500,000 has been provided for research and development. In return the University is involved, mainly in a consultative role, in the conduct and co-ordination of education programs provided by the Australian Government, through universities and colleges of advanced education, to several South Pacific countries.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for Transport aware of remarks made by the Chairman of East- West Airlines (Operations) Ltd, Mr George Harrison, that the Federal Government is determined to restrict the growth of the company? Is it a fact that this country-based free enterprise company paid over $2m in government charges last year? Is the decision to grant a licence to Ansett Airlines of Australia to duplicate services between Sydney and Maroochydore in Queensland- a route built up over 10 years by the East- West company- another example of the Government’s so-called free enterprise airline policy?
-I will refer that question to Mr Nixon for reply.
– I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications to the 25c Australian Christmas 1979 postage stamp. Is the Minister aware that this stamp displays, among other national flags, the Yugoslavian flag with the red star? Is it a fact that the present Yugoslavian Government does not believe in Christianity and the Christian Christmas, allegedly because to these people Christmas is not a holy day? Is the Minister aware that the depicting of this flag on an Australian stamp, particularly a Christmas stamp, could be offensive to those Yugoslavs who now live in Australia and to those many millions of Christians in this country?
– This matter was drawn to my attention by a constituent of mine of, I think, Yugoslav origin. The fact that it was drawn to my attention in the way in which it was drawn to my attention bears out that the answer to the second part of the honourable senator’s question is yes; it could be offensive to some people, because it certainly was offensive to my constituent.
– You are pretty poorly informed on the matter, or you have not read the facts.
– If the honourable senator would let me answer the question it might help him to judge the issue. In any event, the issuing of stamps is in the hands of the Australian Postal Commission. Before the Senate recently was the matter of a stamp for the Association of Apex Clubs of Australia. After representations from both the public and the Government, the Postal Commission acceded to a request to issue a commemorative stamp for Apex. That underlines the fact that the issuing of stamps and what is shown on them is not a matter which is within direct government control.
I will refer the matter to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications for comment and no doubt he will send it on to the Postal Commission. But 1 make the point that it seems quite clear to me that there would be still many people in Yugoslavia who profess Christianity. I would have thought it was in a proper spirit of Christianity to hold out the hand of friendship to all countries. I really find this sort of selectivity a little puzzling. Some of my constituents do not agree with me and, apparently, nor does Senator Bonner. On that basis, I will refer the matter to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications.
-Did the Minister for Science and the Environment notice statements in the media this week that Japan plans to spend $35,000m, no less, on a huge plant to develop alternative energy sources and that her investment in solar energy, geothermal power and coal conversion is expected to create 300,000 new jobs in Japan between now and 1990? I ask again- I raised this matter before: Will the Government now actively consider a similar program for Australia, especially in labourintensive solar appliance manufacture and installation, which would provide a two-pronged attack on both unemployment and the present excessive use of oil fuels?
– I did not notice an article which suggested an expenditure by Japan of $35,000m, but I accept the honourable senator’s claim that such an article was published. Indeed, I have noted a number of articles which currently are appearing in American newspapers and some European newspapers which suggest that governments are finding it wise to invest to a considerable extent in alternative energy sources. I do not know of any particular finding being made by any country as a result of its expenditure of very substantial amounts on solar energy equipment. For instance, a year or so ago we were spending a few million dollars on solar energy research and the United States of America was spending, I recall, some $200m.
I am uncertain about what has been produced as a result of America’s research. However, I know of the quality of researchers which Australia has on the job, particularly in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Water heating equipment which has been developed by that Organisation and which has been added to over the years as a result of research undertaken in universities and other places of research, is in use throughout Australia and, indeed, has been adapted in many other countries. As a result we in Australia are leaders in the field. Undoubtedly, much more needs to be done. Over the weekend it was made known that a Federal Government department is involved in the development of photo-voltaic cells. That approach has great attraction because it does not attempt to use the heat from the sun for solar energy projects; rather, it utilises light. If money is spent in that sphere it may be very profitable to this country.
The honourable senator will know that this Government set up a committee of experts to study the way in which we should develop our research effort on alternative supplies of fuel. The comments of that committee and, if I recall correctly, of Senator Jessop’s committee, indicated that solar energy research should take its place among other areas of important research.
– That was Senator Thomas’s Committee, and 1 was on it.
-Senator McLaren has helped to solve the matter for the honourable senator who raised the question. This is a subject which attracts each one of us, but we in Australia, by way of the usages of the Senate and the development of expert committees, have found that solar energy should be encouraged in line with other research that we have undertaken.
– I have a supplementary question to ask. I hate to take the time of the Senate, but I think the Minister, probably through a fault of mine, has not quite got the point that I wanted to make. The vitally important point is that the endeavour of the Japanese and people elsewhere is concerned particularly with techniques which are labour intensive and which attack unemployment. When will we in this country adopt that course?
-When one has the responsibility, such as the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of” this country have, of looking at the problem of employment, I imagine that it would be a very simple matter to become financially irresponsible and to find many areas where labour intensive, unproductive methods could be used. That is the key to the matter. I do not doubt that this country could adapt very quickly to labour intensive methods which in fact would be uneconomic or non-productive. I am uncertain what Japan intends to do. I suppose that in some countries where there is a very high population it is necessary that they do not go for scientific methods and that they use labour intensive methods instead. However, I think that in this country we need a balance and I am confident that the Australian Government is achieving it.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister aware that insurance companies and, thus, their policy holders are required to contribute a major portion of the cost of financing fire brigades in Australia although many policy holders live in areas not serviced by fire brigades? Is the Minister also aware that the Western Australian Government is acting to remove this burden from policy holders in that State? Will the Minister endeavour to persuade all State governments to take action similar to that being taken by the Western Australian Government so that people who live in remote areas are not required to pay a cost for which they receive no return?
- Senator Thomas asked three questions. In reply to the first question, I am aware that insurance companies, through their policy holders, contribute a major portion of the cost of financing fire brigades in Australia. As to the second question, I understand that the Western Australian Government is acting to remove this requirement from insurance companies in Senator Thomas’s State. As to the third question, the funding of fire brigade services is a matter which traditionally and constitutionally rests with the States. Consistent with the Government’s policy on CommonwealthState relations generally, the Government does not believe that it would be appropriate to intervene in the funding arrangements of States in this area. Nevertheless, Senator Thomas has raised an important matter which, I think, points to a very progressive step by the Western Australian Government.
– I ask the Attorney-General: Has the working party on rape law reform in the Australian Capital Territory submitted to the Attorney-General recommendations for new legislation? When will the Attorney-General make known the nature of the changes which are to be made to rape legislation in the Australian Capital Territory? When will the new legislation be ready for the Parliament’s consideration?
-Following the report of the Royal Commission on Human Relations an interdepartmental working party was set up to report to me concerning the recommendations of the royal commission in relation to reform of rape laws as they apply to the Australian Capital Territory, that being the area with which the Government was concerned. I have had a report from the working party and very lengthy discussions with my departmental officers in relation to this matter. As a result of those discussions instructions were given to prepare a Bill for a draft ordinance amending the substantive law. I am informed that the drafting instructions have been delivered and that the draft of the Bill has now been received. The matter of the actual draft will be discussed further. When I am satisfied with it, it will be submitted to the House of Assembly for its consideration.
-My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer the Minister to an article in today’s Hobart Mercury entitled ‘Unfavourable Terms of Loan Admitted’. I ask: Is it a fact, as reported in the Mercury, that the Tasmanian Government might have to repay $18m on a Commonwealth Government loan of $680,000 provided to develop Tasmania’s forestry industry? Is there any truth in the reported comments of anonymous accounting sources to the effect that the Tasmanian Government would be paying 42 per cent interest a year to service the loan? Has the Minister any information on this matter to set at rest the concern of Tasmanians who may have read this report in the Mercury!
-In my brief I do have some information on this matter. I am advised that, in response to a request by Tasmania and in the context of its consideration of the Callaghan report, the Commonwealth agreed to provide the equivalent of $136,000 per annum by way of loan over a five year period for, firstly, the establishment of up to 2,750 hectares of eucalypt plantations on former farmland or sites dominated by scrub and waste species; secondly, the reafforestation and rehabilitation of eucalypt forests in the west-coast region; and, thirdly, the thinning of blackwood regeneration in the northwest region. The terms and conditions, which were negotiated with the Tasmanian Government involved, included Commonwealth loans to bear interest at the long-term bond rate and repayments of principal and payments of interest deferred for an initial period of 20 years, repayments of principal and payments of interest to commence after an initial period of 20 years and continue for up to 40 years from the time such payments commenced, and a provision made for the $136,000 to be adjusted annually after the first year to maintain its value in real terms.
The loan basis adopted is consistent with the arrangements for revenue earning projects. In this connection. I understand that the Forestry Branch of the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industry has established the Tasmanian Government’s royalty returns to be in excess of $35m. The 60-year repayment period in this instance- it was 35 years for the most recent softwood forestry agreement, 15 years before repayments commence and 20 years thereafterreflects the time taken for hardwood to yield a return on the investment. Of course the State is perfectly free to accelerate payments if it so desires. Whilst the figure of $ 18.3m for total payments to the Commonwealth may appear high relative to the amount lent, it has been checked with the Commonwealth Actuary. It is derived from the capital repayment holiday and capitalisation of interest over the first 20 years coupled with the extended 40 year repayment term thereafter. The Commonwealth Government has recently offered- and the Tasmanian Government has accepted- loan funds up to $100,000 per annum for a four-year period for the establishment of eucalypt plantations on marginal farmland and a program of purchase of such land on the same terms and conditions as the $136,000 per annum program.
– My question also is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask: Is it not true also with respect to the question that he has just answered that the Tasmanian Government originally sought a grant from the Commonwealth in respect of its afforestation program? Is it not a fact that, being refused a grant, the Tasmanian Government sought much more favourable conditions than those offered? Is it not true also that there is no other agreement of this nature with Tasmania, or to my knowledge with any other State, which would require such an enormous repayment program for the amount of the loan?
-As to the third part of the question, the advice from my brief is that recently the Commonwealth Government offered, and the Tasmanian Government accepted, a program on the same terms and conditions as those which apply in respect of the $ 1 36,000. So as to that part of the question it appears that there are precedents. I am not aware of the actual background, except that my understanding is that this loan arrangement grew out of the Callaghan report, which was an initiative of this Government. I draw the attention of Senator Wriedt and of the Senate to the fact that the Actuary has indicated that basically these are terms and conditions which are suitable for the length of the loans concerned.
– My question to the Minister for Social Security refers to proposed changes to the Child Care Act 1972 and the proposed introduction of a children’s services Bill to deal with a range of services provided for children. Can the Minister say what stage has been reached in the preparation of this legislation and whether it will, in fact, be introduced in the International Year of the Child?
– I am hopeful on present plans, that legislation will be introduced during this session, but there is a need for consultation with States and a commitment that it should lie on the table for some time for a response from the community. So, if it is introduced during this session I would not anticipate that it would be passed during this session. However I am hopeful that I will be introducing it during this session.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether restrictions have been imposed on borrowings by the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia and specifically whether that Bank’s borrowings will require Loan Council approval or be otherwise restricted by the Loan Council. What is the reason for these restrictions? Is it to protect the Primary Industry Bank of Australia from the lower interest and other charges which are available from the Commonwealth Development Bank?
-Senator Walsh is seeking information of a technical and policy nature. I ask him to put his question on notice.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Science and the Environment. He will recall that recently I asked him a question concerning the voting by the Australian delegate to the International Whaling Commission on a proposal by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for a permit to take 1,508 sperm whales in the 1979-80 season in the southern hemisphere. The Minister advised that our delegate had voted against that proposal. Is the Minister able to give the Senate any information as to the result of that vote?
-My Department has been informed by the Secretary of the International Whaling Commission that the result of the vote on the proposed amendment by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was: Three in favour, 16 against and three abstentions. Therefore, the USSR proposal failed to gain the necessary majority and was lost.
– I ask the Minister for Education: Is it a fact that the Government has cut Commonwealth post-graduate awards by 9 per cent in the current year? Is the single rate for post-graduate students now $4,200 per annum, only half the value that it had a few years ago? Is it a fact that a survey which was conducted this year showed that 45 per cent of post-graduate students had no supplementary income above their awards? How does the Government expect mature men and women to survive on an amount ofless than $ 12 a day?
-I take it that Senator Primmer ‘s question is referring to the value of the awards and not the number of recipients. There has been in recent times no cut in the value of the awards. On the other hand, there has been no increase for the coming year. What did happen was that after this Government came to office, I think in 1 977, very substantial increases were made in the value of the awards, particularly in the most important area of spouse allowances. The awards were adjusted very substantially beyond the inflation rate. In our time we have made very significant adjustments.
I should point out that no means test is applied to these awards. It is true, however, that a year ago the Government brought these earnings under taxable income. To that extent, those persons who exceed the taxable income, of course, pay tax. I have to say that the value of the award is reduced by that amount. I am not aware of any survey of any substance at all which shows the figures that Senator Primmer has indicated. The whole question of post-graduate research, including the Williams Committee recommendations, is heavily before the Government. The matter will be kept under review.
-In order that the Australian fishing industry and those associated with it may be as fully informed as possible, can the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry undertake to raise the question of having monthly progress reports on all joint venture fishing feasibility studies summarised and included in the publication Australian Fisheries? I also ask the Minister whether he would agree that there is great importance at this stage in keeping the Australian industry fully informed on the progress of those investigations if it is intended that there should be an increased Australian participation in the development of the new fisheries.
-The honourable senator puts forward a very sound proposal. Undoubtedly that is in the interests of gaining knowledge for Australia as to the outcome of feasibility studies of fishing, not only in the waters surrounding his own State of Tasmania but elsewhere around the Commonwealth. He makes the point of a monthly report. I will put that proposition to the Minister for Primary Industry. I would agree with Senator Archer that it is of great importance that by the use of these feasibility studies Australia gain the greatest information that is available on resources in our waters.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The United States of America is considering the possibility of establishing facilities for the storage of spent nuclear fuel on a number of islands in the Pacific. As this proposal is opposed by the countries of the South Pacific, what attitude does the Australian Government take to it?
– I have no first hand knowledge of any detailed proposal of the United States to dispose of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear wastes in any particular area of the Pacific. Therefore, I cannot respond in that regard. The Commonwealth Government has, of course, laid down the most rigid controls that exist in this world with regard to the disposal and handling of any nuclear or fissionable materials. Since I do not know of any particularity, I will refer the substance of Senator Georges’ question to the Minister concerned and seek an answer.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer seen the advertisements in the national Press by a supplier of office equipment which invites people to purchase those machines at normal retail prices and thereby gain a free trip to Hong Kong? The advertisements state:
All payments are tax deductible for business purposes. You are also eligible for 20 per cent investment allowance as an additional tax deduction.
Is this not an infringement of the Income Tax Assessment Act insofar as the cost is inflated to cover the cost of a trip to Hong Kong, this cost then being fully tax deductible and claimed for depreciation, thereby reducing a legitimate tax liability? Are the purchasers also gaining a taxfree benefit in return?
– I have seen a number of different advertisements in various media suggesting that if one undertook a particular contract for office equipment one could get all sorts of allegedly free trips to the East. Not only the Americans but also Australians have underlined one thing, that there are no free luncheons. Senator MacGibbon is quite correct in indicating that the cost of such alleged fringe benefits and free benefits must be paid for in part of the payment of the leasing or for the acquisition of the machines concerned. He points out that it is suggested that these are covered by such government taxation concessions as the 20 per cent investment allowance. I am not fully alerted to that. Senator MacGibbon asks whether there are infringements in this regard. I think the matter is of sufficient importance for me to refer it to the Treasurer, to ask the Treasurer to put it under study and to seek his comments.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Will the Minister give an assurance that the Government will not further pursue its efforts to bring about the closure of South Australian country rail services? Can the Minister confirm or deny that there is in existence in South Australia a memo to country station masters to the effect that they should not encourage business at small country stations?
-The question of the closure of South Australian rural lines frequently comes before the Senate. All honourable senators by now are aware that the matter is governed by arrangements between the Commonwealth and the State which were entered into by the previous government of which the honourable senator was a supporter. Those arrangements include the requirement of consultation when lines are being closed. I assume that both governments in consultation are concerned with the sorts of issues which are concerning the honourable senator and by the economics of the operation. It is well known to all honourable senators that the railways concerned lose substantial amounts of money. I am not familiar with the particular memorandum and I am not able to confirm or deny its existence. I will seek further information on that.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. I refer to the stricter work tests that have been operating for the past fortnight. Under these new rules, where an unemployed person refuses work he may lose his unemployment benefit. With this in mind, will the Minister consider raising the present limits on income that a person can earn from S3 and $6 respectively to $20 a week?
– This is not a new proposal, as has been indicated around the Senate. The question raised by Senator Watson is one that has had consideration from time to time. With regard to a review of the free area of income that may be earned before unemployment benefit is decreased, I have no announcement that I can make with regard to any imminent change to the level that was set as a result of the considerations of this year’s Budget. I will consider the question that was raised by Senator Watson to see whether I can make a response to him that may be satisfactory from his point of view.
-On Wednesday and Thursday of last week Senator Wriedt asked me several questions in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for National Development. These questions concerned specific advice to the Government on problems in Iran which might indicate increasing uncertainty in supplies of oil to Australia and whether the Government had evaluated that information. There was some question of my speaking to the Minister for National Development and to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. As Senator Wriedt had been dissatisfied with the answer that I provided on Thursday -
– I am never dissatisfied with your answers.
– I am glad the honourable senator was not. I thought he sounded dissatisfied with the answer. I said that I would speak personally to both the Minister for Foreign
Affairs and the Minister for National Development in relation to his question. I now wish to inform the Senate that I have done so and that as a result of my speaking to the Ministers I have an answer to provide to Senator Wriedt ‘s question. However, as Senator Wriedt and the Minister for National Development have addressed each other through Press releases since then, the answer may be a little academic. I am wanting to put the record straight concerning my own participation in the matter.
I am advised that our Embassy in Iran has kept the Government fully informed of political developments there and and of developments within the Iranian oil industry. The Government has received a specific communication. It was referred to by Senator Wriedt and, I think, portion of it was released by Senator Wriedt in a Press statement on Thursday afternoon last. That matter has now been cleared up. A specific communication in the terms he referred to has been received by the Government. The Government is well aware of the uncertain political situation in Iran, but it should be remembered that Iran accounts for only Vh per cent of Australia’s crude oil requirements and that imports supply only 30 per cent of our total demand for crude oil. The outlook for oil supplies in Australia is kept under constant review by the Oil Supplies Advisory Committee and, as I said on 18 October, the outlook for imported oil supplies for early 1980 will be assessed in November this year.
It should be emphasised that supplies of oil for the last quarter of 1979 are assured. It is false to suggest that there is a declining availability of oil in Australia. Imports of crude oil and feedstocks in the September quarter this year were 20 per cent higher than in the same quarter of the previous year and indigenous production of crude oil for the remainder of 1 979 is estimated to be about 7 per cent higher than for the same period last year. Clearly the Government’s record during 1979 has been one of careful management.
– by leave- The statement does not really give any answer to the question. The percentage the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) gave of Australia’s oil supplies from Iran is correct. We depend to that extent on Iran. I was seeking from the Minister the implications for the other countries that Iran supplies with oil. This is the issue. It is not a question of the percentage supplied to Australia. If, for example, there is a sudden downturn in exports from Iran, its major customers, such as Japan and the United States, will have to look elsewhere for their supplies. They will look mainly to Saudi Arabia, and Australia, as the Minister has just indicated, gets 31 per cent of its supplies from Saudi Arabia. What happens to our supplies from those countries if that eventuates. That is the real question. Perhaps the Minister can again redirect the question to the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman) so that I can get a substantive answer.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) by leave- Now that Senator Wriedt has made his concern crystal clearapparently it was not before- I will redirect the question. I hope that one day before the Senate rises at the end of the session we will get an answer that satisfies Senator Wriedt.
-On 11 October, in a question without notice, Senator Primmer asked when an announcement was to be made by the Government concerning proposals for the restructuring of Asia Dairy Industries (HK) Ltd. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Nixon) has provided a response which covers two pages. I seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
ADI is a Hong Kong based wholly owned subsidiary of the Australian Dairy Corporation (ADC). It was established under Hong Kong law in 1964 primarily to provide technical and management expertise to the ADC’s joint venture recombined dairy products plants in Asia (Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Hong Kong) coupled with the supply of raw materials to the recombining plants and to provide stable long-term outlets for surplus Australian dairy produce.
Two major aspects of the operations of ADI have prompted suggestions for a restructuring of the future role of the Company. These are a declining export availability of Australian skim milk powder and qualifications placed on ADI’s sphere of activity by the Australian Dairy Produce Act 1924, as amended, which restricts the extent to which ADI can diversify its activities.
In this respect, in August 1979 the Minister for Primary Industry received a proposal from the Corporation for a new charter for its wholly owned subsidiary company, ADI. The Government has also received proposals and suggestions for restructuring ADI from dairy industry organisations including the Australian Dairy Farmers’ Federation.
The Government also has before it a report to the Minister for Primary Industry on an inspection and audit of the accounts and records of ADI carried out by the AuditorGeneral at the Minister’s request under Section 63P of the Audit Act 1901.
In requesting the Auditor-General to report on the activities of ADI the Minister indicated that the information available from the audit would be of considerable assistance to the Government in making a decision on the various options available in respect of the future structure and activities of ADI.
The audit examination has pointed to various deficiencies in the management and operation of the Company and its dealings with the Australian Dairy Corporation. In this respect the Minister for Primary Industry is now awaiting advice from the Corporation on the findings and recommendations of a Management Committee which was established following the Corporation meeting of 26 September 1 979, to examine all aspects of the Auditor-General’s report and observations as they relate to the operations and procedures of ADI.
The Minister has been advised by the Chairman of the ADC that the Management Committee’s recommendations are to be considered by the Boards of the Corporation and of ADI later this month. Upon receipt of advice from the Corporation as to the outcome of these deliberations, the Government will be in a position to make a decision on the future role and operations of ADI.
-On 20 September Senator Gietzelt asked me a series of questions relating to grants made by my Department to Jaxone Pty Ltd. I have here a document showing the questions and a series of answers to them. I seek leave to incorporate the document in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
No. The following grants under the Special Work Project scheme have previously been made to one of the principals in Jaxone Pty Ltd (Stuart Partnership): 1976- 77: $6,633 on 7 March 1977 to employ and train an Aboriginal in stud duties for 12 months; 1 977- 78: Two grants totalling $37,932 on 7 September 1 977 to employ and train four Aboriginals in plant propagation and gardening for 12 months.
A grant of $34,783 was made to Jaxone Pty Ltd in November 1978 to employ 14 Aboriginals on cash crop projects and the development of an almond growing project, subject to interdepartmental review six months after commencement of the project.
The grants listed above to Stuart Partnership provided for the employment of 14 Aboriginals for varying periods in the five positions in 1977-78.
Three Aboriginals have remained in employment with Stuart Partnership since the grants expired in 1 978.
Three Aboriginals were employed for varying short periods totalling 14 man weeks in April and May 1979 by Jaxone Pty Ltd.
Yes, part of the grant of $34,783 was used to buy cattle.
I am informed that the Area Officer concerned bought, in October 1977, one Murray Grey stud cow in calf from a Holbrook company through Mr P. Stuart, the principal concerned, acting as agent, and has since had the cow and its calves on agistment on Mr Stuart’s property. I am advised that the Area Officer has had no other business association with Mr Stuart.
The Department has arranged for ownership of the cattle, which have increased in number and value, to be transferred to an appropriate Aboriginal organisation.
Senator A. T. Gietzelt, Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600
-Senator Colston last Thursday asked a question without notice concerning arrangements for Australian Broadcasting Commission broadcasts in Queensland with the introduction of daylight saving in other States. I partially answered that question and sought further information from the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Staley). He has informed me that virtually all radio and television programs, including news and public affairs programs, will be broadcast at the normal Queensland times. The daily1 p.m. television news bulletin from New South Wales and Sunday programs from that State from the commencement of transmissions until 4 p.m. will be telecast or relayed live to Queensland and will thus be seen one hour earlier than normal. Radio and television live broadcasts of sporting events from other States of course will relate to time of broadcast from the originating State.
-On 16 October, Senator Mulvihill asked a question relating to the audit of the Seafarers Retirement Fund and its perusal by the relevant Senate estimates committee. I had some information but had to seek further information on that part of the question. I am now advised that the Fund is not operated by the Commonwealth or by a Commonwealth instrumentality and its operations therefore are not subject to perusal by a Senate estimates committee. The trust deed contains provisions for audit of the accounts of the Fund, and that is carried out in accordance with Victorian law, which the trust deed adopts as the law governing the Fund.
-Mr President, I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Last Saturday, 20 October, the Canberra Times, in the column on page 2 headed ‘The Week’, contained two separate references to myself, along with three other senators of other parties, being absent without being paired from the vote on the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill which took place in the small hours of last Friday morning. Since the clear inference can be drawn from that reference that my absence was the result of either some neglect of duty or, alternatively, some more exotically motivated desire to abstain, I take this opportunity to correct the record. While Senator Rae, Senator Chipp and Senator Mason no doubt can speak for themselves, the truth of the matter as it concerns me is very prosaic. I would certainly have welcomed the opportunity to continue speaking and voting against this obnoxious piece of legislation, but unfortunately I became ill and went home during the dinner recess. That departure was with the knowledge and consent of my party Whip.
– Indeed, the approbation.
– I repeat Senator Chaney, it was with the knowledge and consent of my party Whip, but regrettably it took place after the agreed number of pairs for the evening had been filled. As a result I did not feature on the pairs list. I would be grateful if that correction could be included in the record.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) On behalf of the Minister for Education, Senator Carrick, for the information of honourable senators, I present an index to the report of the Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the annual report of the Attorney-General’s Department 1978-79.
– by leave -I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
The appearance of the report is very much to be welcomed. It has long been sought after and has been the subject of questions as to its progress and preparation for some time now. I think I can say from my own experience of working with the Attorney-General’s Department in various capacities that it is a highly professional and competent Department, at least when it is stretched by a government willing to give it something challenging to do. It is appropriate that the Department should have the opportunity to display its wares in a report such as this, an opportunity to demonstrate the very wide range of activities in which it is engaged. However, I do not wish to be thought to be conceding that the report is especially informative on matters that are in any way contentious or the subject of larger political interest. Although the Opposition, as usual has had only a short time to scrutinise the report before it was presented, there is a handful of matters to which I direct the Senate’s and in particular the Minister’s attention as being pretty unsatisfactory in this respect. For example, on page 28 of the report there is a very short reference to the Sixth United Nations Crime Congress the substance of which is:
Australia has participated in the deliberations of each Congress and was to have hosted the Sixth Congress in 1 980. That Congress is now to be held at another venue.
That is an extraordinarily uninformative statement and does not amount at all to any justification for the highly unfortunate, unwarranted and, I would believe, unconscionable decision of the Australian Government, after very large sums of money had been spent on initial preparation for that conference, to abandon it simply because of the prospect of a visit from a Palestine Liberation Organisation delegation.
The second matter that needs to be mentioned is that in this report there is no mention at all that I can find of the current status of the Criminal Investigation Bill. That was something which was recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission in 1975, which was brought in in legislative form in 1977 and which is of significance and importance to the Australian community, but this report, which might have been expected to give some account of the progress of this legislation along with the other matters it gives attention to, appears to be quite silent on that subject. Again the report in its discussion of administrative law developments, is quite uninformative as to the reasons why the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act of 1977 has still not been proclaimed two years later. It is quite uninformative and offers no help at all to us in understanding what likely additions there may be expected to the jurisdiction of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. These are the kinds of quite central questions relating to the administration of the portfolio of the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) on which one would hope that this report would be forthcoming.
Similarly in the area of legal aid the report is cursory in the extreme, giving nothing at all by way of the financial detail that would be needed to have any kind of proper evaluation or understanding of national legal aid in this country. Nor is there any revelation in the report of the guidelines that apply in legal aid, conciliation and arbitration, environmental and other public interest matters, although one would have thought that a report such as this would have been an admirable opportunity for the Government to lay down, in visible and readily accessible public form, the kinds of guidelines that are operating informally in this area. Again the section of the report in relation to the subject of judicial administration is of such derisory length and detail that arguably it might have been better omitted altogether. That is regrettable, given the controversial character of the whole question of court administration under this Government, particularly with regard to High Court administration and the discussions to which that has given rise over the last year and, in that context, with regard to the decision, which has now apparently been taken by the Government, to vest independent powers of administration in the High Court in that body of judges itself.
The final matter to which I refer is the references on page 48 and subsequent pages of the report to the activities of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. The operation of this supposedly co-operative and consultative committee of the nation’s Attorneys-General was the subject of some very stringent criticism by the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs in its recent report on reforming the law. In that report points were made about the long history of shelving, buck-passing and petty point scoring engaged in by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General and the total failure of that body to develop the kind of effective consultative and co-ordinating machinery that is so necessary if uniform law reform proposals are ever to get off the ground in this country. Again this report is no more than a purely formal and, for that reason, quite misleading statement of what that Standing Committee is up to.
These are some of the more obvious areas where the report is uninformative or unhelpful. I do not want to sound too churlish about it because it is perhaps unreasonable to expect that the Department would be any more forthcoming than the Minister is when subject to questioning, as he has been, on all these matters when very little, with respect, has been forthcoming from him. But I and the Opposition believe that departmental reports of this kind make a very important contribution to freedom of information. It is important that they be taken seriously by departments, that they not be regarded as a purely formal exercise and that they should always err on the side of giving more information rather than less. It cannot be said that the report of the Attorney-General’s Department is especially adventurous in that respect for the reasons I have mentioned and, in fact, for a number of other reasons as well. I repeat, finally, that nonetheless the report is welcome in its appearance. We hope that it will be the first of many, and in future rather more informative, reports from that Department. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on sporting and recreational equipment.
– Pursuant to section 83 of the Repatriation Act 1 920, I present the annual reports of the four War Pensions Entitlement Appeals Tribunals for 1978-79.
– Pursuant to section 10 of the Science and Industry Endowment Act 1926, I present the audit of accounts of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund for the year ended 30 June 1979.
-by leave -I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the text of a statement by the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr
Groom) on the revised consultative arrangements with the building and construction industry.
– Pursuant to section 43 of the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975, I present the annual report of the Australian Heritage Commission for 1978-79.
-by leave -I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the working group report on the national communications satellite system 1979, together with the text of a statement by the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Staley) relating to the report.
– by leave- I move:
I would like to make some comments on behalf of the Opposition with respect to the statement made by the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Staley). My colleague in another place, the honourable member for Melbourne, Mr Ted Innes, already has had the opportunity to make some comments reflecting the views of the Opposition on this matter; but I wish to add a few points to what he said. First of all, although the Opposition is pleased finally to have some indication from the Government of its intentions in regard to this very new piece of technology- namely, a communications satellite- we can only express again our disappointment at the content of the statement made by the Minister and, indeed, at the response of the Government to the report of its working party on the matter.
Unfortunately the Minister’s statement is characterised by the same hyperbole, irresponsibility, imprecision and self-contradiction as have characterised most of his statements on the communications satellite. Although Mr Staley told the Parliament and the public that he was bringing down a decision which would launch Australia into the space age, in fact the statement contains very little clear indication of what services can be expected if that technology is developed and, indeed, what the cost will be. The Minister in making his hyperbolic statement about launching Australia into the space age is choosing to ignore, for the purposes of his own rhetoric, the very real and established opportunities that Australia has already to benefit from satellite technology. As any regular viewer of television will know, already it is not uncommon for Australia to receive the benefits of international satellite technology by way of satellite reports of important world events in Europe and the United States of America. This is an established source of broadcast material for both commercial and national television networks. There is nothing new about communications satellite technology in that respect. Similarly, the Overseas Telecommunications Commission has been engaged for many years in activities involving the use of international satellite technology. Of course, Mr Staley ‘s Government has already made a decision- I believe it is in the process of implementing this decision- that part of the international satellite Intelsat will be leased by the Australian Broadcasting Commission in order to bring national ABC television broadcasts to selected parts of outback Australia.
All of these developments the Opposition has agreed with and has welcomed. It has already been established very firmly that satellite communications technology can and indeed does bring useful services to the Australian public. So, it is really quite ludicrous for the Minister for Post and Telecommunications to get up and claim that what he said in his statement will launch us into the space age. That launching, such as it is, happened some years ago. As I said, the Minister’s statement is characterised by this sort of exaggeration and overstatement. For some time, both in the Parliament and outside it, I have attempted to make the point that the Minister has been irresponsible in making the imprecise and extravagant statements he has made. He has raised expectations of people, particularly in outback and rural Australia, that all their communications problems will be solved very cheaply, efficiently and speedily by this domestic communications satellite system. For the responsible Minister for telecommunications to give that impression to people who have very serious communications disadvantages is, I suggest, a serious irresponsibility.
If one had listened with reasonable care to the Minister’s statement one could have reasonably assumed that in the year 1984, a date chosen by the Minister without a blush, all problems would be solved. I notice that my colleague, Senator Coleman, from Western Australia, agrees with me. The Federal Opposition and, in particular, the elected representatives from rural and outback Australia, are very well aware of the communications needs of outback Australia. The Opposition has long argued for an improvement of the situation. I have been arguing that Telecom Australia, for example, should be in a position to accelerate its plans to bring telephone services to rural and outback Australia. But for the Minister to get up and give the impression that in 1 984 all problems will be immediately solved and solved at a very low cost does not help the situation. The confusion caused by the Minister’s various exaggerated and unfounded statements is vast. It has done nothing at all to aid rational debate on this matter. It has, of course, done nothing to aid the rational bipartisan development of a communications policy. It seems to me that we should have such a bipartisan policy on developing communications services for the outback, but it is impossible for us to develop such a policy while the Minister continues to make these outrageous statements.
If we look closely at the Minister’s statement we will see that what he claims is that he has made an ‘in principle’ decision to proceed with the communications satellite. What does an ‘in principle’ decision mean? We certainly cannot derive its meaning from the Minister’s statement. If we look very closely at his statement we will see that at this stage the Government is committed to only one thing. It is, not a communications satellite or telephone service for the outback or anything else, but simply a new bureaucratic structure to be named a national satellite project office and set up within the Department of Post and Telecommunications. That is the single real commitment which is contained in the Minister’s statement.
The Federal Opposition has no objections to this project office being set up. The job of this office will be to look further at the development of social and employment aspects of the technology. But the setting up of the office is an admission by the Government that it in fact does not know enough to come to a decision. The Opposition does not argue that the setting up of the project office is not a useful operation, but it is really all that the Government has committed itself to. It will be simply another piece of bureaucracy to look further at the question. That is a far cry from assuring the people of outback Australia that they will get telephones tomorrow, which is virtually the impression that Mr Staley has tried to give. Similarly with cost, if we look at the statements that the Minister has made we will see that there is a degree of selfcontradiction and, of course, ultimately a degree of inconclusiveness about cost. At one point in his statement he said:
We have critically evaluated the real costs involved in a decision to establish a system to meet the particular needs and circumstances of this country.
Of course, the Department of Finance and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet disagree with that statement. They, in fact, have put in dissenting reports on costing and profit from the working party report. Yet the Minister claimed that there has been a realistic costing. Later on, though, he contradicted himself. Having claimed that there has been a critical evaluation of the real costs, and after giving a speculative budgeting description, he went on in the same statement to say:
I would reiterate the indicative nature of these projections on capital and revenue flows. As already pointed out, more definitive projections will be subject to planning activities and assessments of the satellite project office.
So they ought to be. They ought to be subjected to more planning activities and assessments, but that statement contradicts the statement, which he made a couple of pages earlier, that the Government knows the real cost. The Government does not know the real cost. Even the working party report, on which this statement is based, did not establish the real cost.
It would appear that the cost of the satellite is to be borne to a large extent by public users; that is, Government departments and agencies who will pay the satellite authority for use of the satellite. That, of course, is a reasonable method of funding the innovation. However, when we get down to which government departments have a real need to use satellite facilities, we have a very short list indeed. We have the Department of Transport, Telecom Australia itself and as I mentioned, OTC. There is also some mention of commercial broadcasters and the ABC. Although the Minister claims that there will be enormous benefits in the delivery of health and education services through a communications satellite, there has been no mention of either the Department of Health or the Department of Education or, for that matter, the Schools Commission, and no details at all have been given as to how these Departments could use the technology to improve their services.
A very particular area of confusion to which the Minister appears to contribute every time he makes a statement on this subject, is the cost to the consumer for the ground station that he will need in order to receive services off the satellite. I think it was only two weeks ago that the Minister, Mr Staley, when addressing a meeting in Meekathara, said that the cost of the ground stations to the individual customer would be in the vicinity of $450. Yet in his statement a couple of weeks later he said that the same piece of technology has been costed at $1,000. Mr President, that is a difference of over 100 per cent. Whereas an individual user, a farmer or person living in a remote area, might be able to afford $450, he might not be able to afford $1,000. In such a basic area as the cost of the ground station, for the Minister’s costing to be varied by 100 per cent in a period of two weeks does not inspire confidence. It does not inspire the confidence of the Opposition and I suggest that it does not inspire in any of the potential users confidence that the Government actually knows what it is about and can put forward a realistic and properly costed proposal.
Another very disturbing aspect of the Minister’s statement is the way in which he dismissed the fears which have been expressed about the displacement of employment. Telecom Australia is Australia’s largest employer. Fears have been expressed by Telecom management, as well as by the unions covering the employees at Telecom, that if a communications satellite is to proceed, the workload for Telecom will be quite seriously reduced and many jobs will disappear. This is a quite reasonable expectation and many submissions to the various inquiries into the communications satellite have demonstrated that the fear is very well founded. There is a weil demonstrated shrinkage in the growth rate of employment in Telecom and that shrinkage, of course, would increase if many of the functions currently performed by Telecom were to be taken over by a communications satellite. In a time of record unemployment which is also structural unemployment, at a time when the Government is desperately looking for scapegoats as a cause of unemployment and is desperately seeking to find training schemes and other ways of absorbing the unemployed so that they do not show up in the unemployment statistics, it is surprising, to say the least, that the employment displacing consequences of communications satellite technology have been given so little consideration. The Minister gives one sentence to this all important aspect in his statement. He says:
There have been some expressions of concern about possible effects of a domestic satellite on employment in Australia. Both the task force and the working group considered the matter carefully. In the light of overseas experience, reports by both groups of officials concluded that a domestic satellite system would have no net adverse effects on employment.
That may be the case, but we would like to see evidence that that is the case, and I consider it totally unacceptable for the Minister to dismiss this all important matter of employment with such cursory treatment.
– Are you against the satellite?
– The honourable senator asks whether I am against the satellite. It is very difficult to find a rational answer to that question. The answer is that the Federal Opposition is in favour of any genuine improvements to the communications situation of rural and outback Australia. What it is against is a proposal which either will be too costly for the individual customer to take advantage of or will impose a disproportionate burden on the taxpayer and on the public users of the system. What the Opposition is looking for is evidence that we have a system which will bring the services which are needed at a cost that the consumer and the taxpayer can bear. We have no such evidence to date. Of course the Opposition is not opposed in principle to satellite technology. There would be no rational reason to be opposed to any technology in principle.
– You have no alternative.
– The alternatives are there. Alternatives have been spelt out by a number of Government agencies.
I should like to take the opportunity to make some comments on the report of the working group on which the Minister’s statement has been based. Again I stress the question of cost. I do not think it is unreasonable for the Opposition to be dwelling on the matter of cost. At a time of such economic cutback and restraints, at a time when we cannot get adequate funding for any of the social programs that are needed in the community, it is not unreasonable to ask the Government when it is proposing to spend some hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars on a new development that the costing be justified. If we have a look at the report of the working group on the national satellite system, we find an even less convincing argument for use of a domestic satellite in Australia than, say, the report of the Task Force- the White report- that preceded it.
In attempting to answer the many questions raised by the report of the Task Force the working group report demonstrates how little real demand there is for satellite use, that is, beyond the demand by people in outback areas. Also, in addressing itself to the question of cost, it reveals that by 1982 even a basic satellite system will cost the public sector in excess of $325m, and it underlines that that is not the total cost to the community. Although it does not attempt to quantify secondary costs, it does suggest that these may exceed $ 100m, and these would be for such needs as frequency re-allocation, interface with the terrestrial network, and so on. Nor does it include costs to be borne directly by the users of the service, especially those in remote areas who are expected to pay the full costs of the television ground stations and who will be expected to meet part of the costs of the telephone ground stations. The report also stresses that its cost estimates are predicted upon a plus or minus 20 per cent margin, and their optimistic economic assessment is based upon the Government requiring only 5 per cent interest on equity capital. A more realistic factor of 10 per cent interest is also considered in its models of economic performance.
The question whether 5 per cent or 10 per cent is charged upon capital is central to the apparent viability of a satellite system, for five per cent would represent a very large subsidy compared with the nominal market rate of 10 per cent. At 5 per cent it is estimated that a satellite system, including remote telephony, would be just breaking even at the end of the working life of the first generation of satellite. The report continually admits that it lacks the precise knowledge on which to base firm economic predictions, even on such crucial matters as the level of true demand for telephony services in remote areas.
On page 1 13, the report states:
A detailed survey of the likely level of demand in isolated areas should be undertaken before embarking on a program to provide the services.
Demand for these services, of course, is dependent upon costs. But costs cannot be delivered until firm services are identified. However, one point is clear. On page 1 1 3, the working group suggests that the Government should consider:
Whether a charge of, say, $1,000 per annum or more, or an $8,000 initial contribution was warranted to reduce the burden on Telecom’s resources.
Apparently Telecom is to subsidise the remote services. That leads back to Telecom’s fear reported on page 1 6 of the report, where it says:
Telecom is anxious that the introduction of a satellite system will not be a factor causing an increase in basic telephone charges as the average customer would obtain little or no benefit.
The question remains whether the creation of the excess telecommunications capacity which a satellite represents will lead ultimately to higher telephone charges. The economic case for the satellite is not established by the working group, and its findings suggest that Australia’s experience with satellites would be no more profitable than Canada’s.
In Canada, the seeming viability of the satellite, even after seven years, is achieved only by a price fixing traffic regulating agreement- the Telesat Agreement- among the private telephone companies and heavy government use of the satellite by the Canadian Broadcasting Commission. But the Canadian low cost direct broadcast satellite for remote telephony remains the system’s strongest selling point. The Canadian technology to which I am now referring, and about which the Minister is so enthusiastic, is not proven in normal operating conditions. It is a technically inferior system because technical performance has been traded off against costs. It operates in a high frequency band width which is prone to rain interference. Also there is no guarantee that the system will be free from other forms of interference in the future.
Satellite use is governed by an international convention and the Plan for Satellite Use which came out of the 1977 Conference on Satellite Broadcasting. Low-powered direct broadcasting is, as noted, prone to interference and would be blotted out if any other country embarked on a high-powered direct broadcasting service. Japan is planning such a service. Therefore, on page 78, the working group states:
If transmit powers of 20 watts were to be utilised, it is considered that it would be most difficult to obtain the agreement of administrations which might be expected to offer freedom from interference to earth station reception in Australia if the low power services employ the same nominal orbital positions as those assigned to Australia in the Plan. Consequently, any such use would most likely be on the basis that there is inadequate protection from interference from transmissions from other countries operating in accordance with the plan.
The point of that reference is to say that, if we embark very quickly on the cheaper lowpowered service and then Japan moves in to a high-powered service, we might find that the broadcasting potential of the system is destroyed and that once again people in the remote areas are deprived of adequate communications. We do not yet have a system which is suitable to provide the services which are needed. If we did, there is no doubt that the Opposition would be supporting it. But if we go into a low-powered system whose broadcasting ability will be wiped out by a Japanese system in a few years, I do not think we are doing the people in the remote areas any service at all, and also we are engaging in an unjustified expenditure of taxpayers money, starting at somewhere in excess of $300m.
The subsidy for remote services is crucial to the viability of the satellite authority, and it is its most attractive selling point. Telecom has suggested that, if it is a Government priority to provide these remote services and, if they are to be provided by satellite, there are alternatives, and, as he was asking about alternatives, perhaps Senator Archer could pay attention to this aspect. Two alternatives exist. They are: Either leasing further time on Intelsat or joining in a regional satellite scheme. Both would lower cost and lessen the duplication and wastage of capital that would come from Australia having its own satellite. These alternatives remain to be fully explored.
Given all of the predictions about cost, and even technical feasibility, of a low-powered, lowcost direct broadcasting service to remote areas, both the Department of Finance and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet dissented. I would have thought that the Minister, in bringing down this report and making this statement, would have offered some comment on that dissent. It is all very well to make speeches about launching Australia into the space age and uniting Australia through the availability of commercial television into one cohesive nation, but when both the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Finance dissent the general public and the Opposition have very good reason to say that the Minister’s statement is unsatisfactory.
I conclude my remarks- I hope that there will be further opportunity to debate this matter in the Senate- by quoting from an editorial in the Australian Financial Review concerning the Minister’s statement. It concurs with, and expresses fairly clearly, the sorts of reservations and worries that the Opposition has with regard to what the Minister pretends to be committing the Government to. The editorial states:
The Federal Government’s satellite proposal is as unsatisfactory as the discussion which has surrounded it and the decision-making process from whence it has sprung.
A decision in principle in favour of a satellite communications system, announced yesterday by the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, Mr Staley, completes a process begun more than two years ago by the Packer organisation.
The Packer-commissioned Bond report contradicted a detailed study by Telecom Australia which concluded that a communications satellite for Australia was not cost-justified.
Placed against the vast expertise of Telecom’s internationally recognised technical staff, the report of an American consultant engaged by a vested interest may not have been expected to carry much weight.
One can only concur with that judgment. The editorial concludes:
More than a third of the projected use of the satellite is allocated to an Australian Broadcasting Commission starved of funds and in a state of almost constant conflict with the Government to preserve its programming levels.
Either there are undisclosed plans for a massive injection into the ABC’s programming budgets or someone somewhere is being optimistic about potential satellite usage.
Despite two years of discussion, there has still been no demonstrated need for a satellite; to show that it can- at less than a huge cost- do anything not possible by existing technology.
It is the responsibility of the Government to show that there is a cost-effective case, that the services provided can be provided by satellite only and that Telecom’s plan for extending telephone services in the conventional way is less satisfactory and cost-effective than is the satellite proposal before the Government makes even an in-principle decision. I hope that the establishing of the National Project Office with a charter to explore the whole issue more firmly will provide some of the answers. In the meantime I say that the Federal Opposition, anxious as it is to see improved communications in outback and rural Australia, cannot regard the working party report as a basis on which a decision to proceed with the communications satellite should be made. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted. (Quorum formed). Debate adjourned.
-Mr President, I seek leave to table further additional information received by Estimates Committee C.
– I table the additional information and seek leave for it to be incorporated in the Hansard record of the Committee ‘s proceedings.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Navigation Amendment Bill 1979.
Lighthouses Amendment Bill 1979.
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.
The following Bills were returned from the House of Representatives without amendment:
Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees Amendment) Bill 1979.
Seamen’s Compensation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1979. ( Quorum formed).
Debate resumed from 8 June, on motion by Senator Chaney:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– May I suggest that, by leave of the Senate, the second reading of this Bill and of the Migration Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1979 be debated cognately.
– I indicate on behalf of the Opposition that it does not agree to that proposal.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- As the suggestion is not agreed to, that course will not be followed. We will debate the Migration Amendment Bill.
– The purpose of this legislation is basically that of controlling the entry of people into Australia. Australia, Canada and the United States of America are the three major countries which would have the most complications in this regard. I commence by noting the reference by the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Groom), as recorded at page 2096 of the House of Representatives Hansard, to those in the community who actively encourage the circumvention of immigration laws. In both the second reading speech of the Minister and that delivered subsequently in the Senate by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney) there was passing reference to the responsibilities and obligations of carriers. The Government could deal with the wrong-doings of unscrupulous travel agents in a more clear-cut way. I do not think there is an honourable senator here who at times has not found that a travel agent has misrepresented our immigration laws. In such cases people find themselves in serious trouble. Having paid commission to a travel agent, they often ask honourable senators to carry out what I would call a mission impossible and try to make a case to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) for some form of clemency. It does not matter which party happens to be in power; there is no Minister who cannot be relied upon to make a personal evaluation and make the ultimate decision. Unscrupulous people relying on this fact, seem to batten on to people’s hopes, aspirations and misfortunes.
I do not speak in general terms. Honourable senators would be aware that in this chamber well over 12 months ago I indicted an organisation known as the Five Dock Travel Agency concerning a Chilian national, Roberto Arroyo. The only information that I have been able to get from subsequent Estimates Committee discussions, questions and adjournment debates is that Mr Arroyo is to remain in Australia and that no punitive action is to be taken against the travel agency.
I have approached this matter with a strictly bipartisan attitude. I have expressed criticism and irritation to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs via the Minister for Social Security, Senator Guilfoyle, but I have been equally vocal when I have complained to the New South Wales Minister who is responsible for the New South Wales Travel Agents Registration Board. I say that because I know that in the 1973-74 era, when Frank Stewart was a Minister in the Whitlam Government, strong efforts were made to bring in much more stringent legislation covering travel agents than was introduced subsequently. It is true that State governments have created State registration bodies.
I will not amplify too much the case which involved the Chilian national and another one which involved the Summerland Travel Agency and an Italian national, Francesca Nigra, but with my innate courtesy, I did mention to the Regional Director of the Department in New South Wales yesterday that I was far from happy with the case of the Italian girl. It illustrates the difficulties which we encounter and which lead us to ponder whether this legislation will meet the needs of the time. This girl came to Australia on a tourist visa. I think people who know the ethnic geography of New South Wales know of the heavily concentrated Italian community in the area from Leichhardt right through to Five Dock and Concord. This girl went to this travel agency, which does advertise extensively, in May. The usual palaver ensued about the travel agency getting her an extension to her visa. Her family is highly reputable. I know that the girl was anxious to remain here only until some time in November. I think there was a wedding involving the family which she wished to attend. Less than a fortnight ago it was discovered that a member of the staff of the much vaunted Summerland Travel Agency had left and that for at least a fortnight nobody had examined the file. It was found that the girl’s passport was in the file and that a blow had not been struck in respect of her extension.
I cannot express too much my amazement at why the special reports branch of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, the Commonwealth Police and the various State travel agency registration bodies do not get together more. In the last 48 hours a Press release has been issued by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and his counterparts in the various State governments. It mystifies me why there is such a mood of appeasement in our policy towards these crook travel agents. I use the word ‘crook’ to throw against these people the greatest insult I can. Only a minority of travel agents are at fault. To encourage people to come to Australia, they say: ‘If you get a return ticket from a distant country we will see that you get permanent residence’. I know that with the tight employment position in Australia we cannot have blatant contravention of our laws. I do not know of any case in which we have dealt with people who incite this form of deception.
The fact of the matter is that the situation is always lopsided. We find that many of these people are suddenly apprehended. They might find themselves at Villawood Detention Centre or its equivalent in other States. Many others are tracked down at their work area. I would be the last person to argue about how the employment position can get out of focus with our intake of migrants. I will have something more to say to that later.
I emphasise that the theme that flows through the second reading speeches of the Ministers in both chambers is not as specific as it might be. Many of us would like to believe that the Hon. Michael MacKellar could telephone the Hon. Ken Booth, the New South Wales State Minister, and suggest that one or two of these agencies should be rubbed out. They are utterly unscrupulous in some of the lurks that they attempt to perpetrate.
I repeat that I am not making carping party political criticism. I had the honour to serve with a very fine Minister, the Hon. Clyde Cameron. This was the time when the Labor Government acted effectively in relation to airlifts of people from Cyprus. We struck a zone of X kilometres from the war zone. That was the area which constituted a valid political refugee area. I know of one travel agent in New South Wales who tore up every rule in the book. He lied and cheated to try to get a few people into Australia. Quite honestly- I say this respectfully to the Minister- I would not mind if relatives tried to get people out of an area of turmoil, but it was not a question of kinship. That travel agent was after his excessive profit by cheating and lying.
I have pretty strong views on this matter. I hope that in her reply the Minister will not merely mouth platitudes about this Bill and the people who seek to cheat and circumvent our laws. Can we get some assurance that in future Mr MacKellar will see that on the agenda of the meeting with the State Ministers is included the subject of a two-pronged attack on these crook travel agents. I have looked at that agenda, and to me there are a lot of unnecessary things on it.
So much for the negative aspect of this Bill. The Australian Labor Party shadow Minister, the Hon. Moss Cass, spoke on another matter in the other House. I hope that whatever we contemplate here in a genuine tightening up on the cheats in no way inhibits the rights of the Minister, the trade unions, ethnic associations or church groups to raise the case of a person who comes here as a tourist and, while he is in Australia, something happens in his homeland to create a different situation. The latest area of dispute is Iran. One woman’s son was a conscript in that country or he was addicted to the army way of life and he found himself in the Shah’s bodyguard. We would not be playing party politics or arguing ideologies by raising the case of that woman. Obviously, she would be a victim of the principle of guilt by association. If she went back to Iran I am certain that life would not be easy for her.
I would say that in most of the cases that honourable senators from New South Wales have raised we have had a reasonable response from the Regional Director in Sydney. I would like a specific assurance that the Bill will in no way inhibit the rights of a member of a trade union, an ethnic group or anyone else to utilise the functions of the Committee on the Determination of Refugee Status in the case of people such as the woman from Iran, or a tourist from any other country where a civil war breaks out overnight or a coup d’etat takes place. That Committee has a very delicate role to perform. Whilst we have every right to tighten up on any person who is trying to cheat, I would like a specific assurance that the Bill will in no way deny the right of a genuine person to seek political refuge.
Mr Groom’s speech in the other place dealt with the role of migrants in our work force. I do not think that anybody questions that they have a role to play. I have some concern about a matter on which I sought information at the Estimates Committee hearings. In broad terms there seems to be a tendency for the Department of Industrial Relations, the Department of Productivity and the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to do their own thing with job expectancy statistics. I say that in a respectful tone to people such as Senator Sim and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Andrew Peacock, who frequently talk about whether tariffs are too high. I cannot emphasise that point too much.
I was at Villawood Detention Centre last Saturday to look into several cases. I casually asked about the outflow of South East Asian refugees. I say respectfully that the sooner these people go into industry and become taxpayers the sooner we remove certain burdens that we accept as signatories to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. At the same time, when we want to lower our tariff barriers or suggest that we are going to do so, we are limiting job opportunities in the textile, clothing, furniture and other light industries, including the tyre industry with which I dealt at great length the other night. These are areas in which one does not apply to political refugees the skilled job category criterion or anything like that, for obvious reasons. If, on the one hand, we say that we are going to meet our obligations through the United Nations, it is obvious, on the other hand, that there will be a conflict if we carry out this idea of limiting the work force in secondary industry. Most of us can look at some particular plan two or three years after it has been implemented and know the number of people who are not needed.
In the engineering industry ten years ago there was a famous demarcation dispute between the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association and the Federated Ironworkers Association about the use of a string crane which involved a crane with a capacity up to X tonnes being operated from the floor rather than having an operator up in a crane cabin. That is only a small example. Since then there have been examples in many other areas. It means that the semi-skilled worker intake will be diminished. One cannot have one’s cake and eat it. School leavers will miss out on being apprentices. We have some Australians, including post-war migrants, who are in what we call a reconstructed industry. I am thinking of the 700 people at the Firestone tyre company who are being boarded out, to use a polite term. Some will go to other rubber firms, such as Goodyear, and some will not. We have to place those people in employment, as well as the refugees.
Let us go beyond the refugees and look at those people who come under the definition of family reunion’. While it is argued that we prefer people under 1 8 years of age and those over 55, we know that because of humanitarian considerations- every member of parliament is probably guilty or culpable of this, whichever way it is looked at- we make a case for people who fall between those groups. Because many of those people have limited skills- this is not said in a derogatory fashion- it is difficult to place them in the work force. I make that point very strongly because I feel that there has been a lack of candour by the Government in grappling with the problem. Even if the Government announced tomorrow that it was going to embark on a project equivalent to the Snowy Mountains scheme, one knows that the job could be done with half the work force that was used previously due to better earth moving equipment and those sorts of things. I emphasise that point very strongly.
I have attended with the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs seminars at which people have said that Australia is a large country whose potential is unlimited. The potential is unlimited to a degree but we should not be fooled by technological changes. If a trade unionist were to express concern about how many people can come into the country he would be accused of being a Luddite by some honourable senators opposite. I had a talk the other night with the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Mr MacKellar. It was preceded by discussions with the Storemen and Packers Union. I heard Senator MacGibbon - I am not being provocative- say that South Vietnamese refugees were more diligent, more work intensified and were more aware of the work ethic than other people. We got into a very complex situation. One story was that when they joined the Storemen and Packers Union other people were anti-union, non-union or whatever one likes to call it.
It does not matter what industry one talks about, there has to be a limitation on the number of people brought into the country, lt is obvious that in the canning industry, for example, more automation will be introduced over the next few years. Therefore, whether we talk about refugees or Australians, the number of manual jobs will be diminished. I would just like to believe that we can argue at Geneva and other places of the United Nations that if we take a fair number of refugees from South East Asia, we cannot lower our tariff barriers any further than we have done already. In the case of the rubber industry, if we exclude from importation another one million tyres from Taiwan and South Korea, we may save the jobs of the 700 people at Auburn in New South Wales to whom I referred earlier, as well as those of many post-war migrants or their sons. One cannot deal with these problems on a compartment basis.
The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs says: ‘Let us strike a target’. I would like to know what the Minister for Industrial Relations, Mr Street, feels about it. The other day when the Honourable Ian Macphee, the Minister for Productivity, left the meeting at which we were trying to find job placements, I do not think he went all the way with the proposition put by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Andrew Peacock. A man with the compassion of Senator Grimes appreciates fully what is involved, as I think does the Minister at the table. The statements we get remind me of the United States Marine Corps saying ‘Gung ho’ and in they go. Life does not work that way. We cannot go back on promises made to people who have been here five years.
Recently I met a top electronics man who was allegedly a political refugee from Rumania. When he came to this country he thought he could walk into the second top job at Comalco- I can assure honourable senators that I am not a friend of Comalco- but he got the fifth top job. He still thinks he is being discriminated against. I do not think he is. I do not think he was a victim of communism in his country at all. I think that he was one of those people who are hard to get on with. I am not moralising about political refugees. But the officers from the Minister’s Department know that when they are dealing with personality- that is what immigration is all about- it is pretty hard to stick to set rules. I think Mr Groom in the other place got carried away when speaking of fixing a particular target.
In relation to the other point I want to deal with, I got a promise from Mr MacKellar. I listened to what Senator MacGibbon said about whether the Queensland Branch of the Storemen and Packers Union has a closed book to some people. It is not an easy situation. I can think of one or two other countries in which the number of unemployed is pretty high. It is in those situations that people look at where one was born, one’s colour, religion and those sorts of things. That is something that has to be dampened down. I have spoken to John McBean, the Assistant Secretary of the Labor Council of New South Wales, about Standard Telephones and Cables Pty Ltd. I have raised that matter in the Senate also. The responsible Minister- not Senator Guilfoyle- gave an answer but I was only partly convinced that what the Minister said was right. I warn the Government that it has to have fairly constant consultation with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Labor Council. Even though the paid union official might be the best in the world, when it comes to a question of stability in a factory around Redfern, the person concerned says: ‘Will I or someone else get it?’.
I am thinking now about the Printing and Kindred Industries Union and the unskilled woman between 35 and 45 who works on a press. As the things are guillotined she has to make many trips to pick up things and carry them somewhere else. I know that all of this is mundane to some people, but this is what industrial relations is all about. That woman feels she will have to do a little bit more. It is people like her who pay the salary of the union secretary. The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has to convince these particular people that whatever policies are endorsed at the United Nations they should not dispossess people. Looking at it from the point of view of the Liberal philosophy, as these people are put out of work or displaced, they get behind with their hire purchase payments and then the private enterprise economy goes up the spout. These are some of the problems one is faced with.
I want to go a bit further and deal with the procedure. One talks about the imprint on a passport if the visa holder can expect an entry permit. What is the situation in regard to white collar crime? I have been involved in the case of Flynn from the Gold Coast. Other people have been involved with these sorts of people. How do they move? What relationship has Interpol with the Australian consulates and immigration offices all over the world. Recently a gang robbed a bank in Paris. A Miss Cormack was involved. She was an Australian. Somebody said she had a British passport and then it was said that she was an Australian. I say this against the socialist Government of 1 972-75. 1 have quoted Mr Cameron, a man whom I value as a friend and whom I regarded as an excellent Minister. I am sure that Senator Bishop as a South Australian will not mind my saying this. I vigorously oppose the handing over of passport controls from the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. On the subject of documentation- I want to dish out criticism fairly- when the Labor Government was in power some Filipino girls were conned into coming to Australia as textile operative trainees. A high-ranking officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr Henderson, was a foreign officer in Manila and he was responsible for the subsequent muck-up. I am trying to be fair and to offer criticism right across the board. As a matter of fact, I am being judicial. I am pointing out the magnitude of the complexities of a law which we are trying to implement.
I ask the Minister, when speaking in reply, to tell me how effective Interpol feedbacks are on white collar criminals. I have asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs questions on this aspect and have ultimately received answers. However, they have never been complete answers. In the case of the gang which robbed a bank in Paris, I was told that it was thought that two members were Australians with British passports.
I refer now to clause 9 of the Bill which relates to the responsibility of travel agents regarding information about non-Australian ticket holders. I notice that there has been only a passing reference to this provision. At the Committee stage perhaps we will receive more information. In respect of Taiwanese and Indonesian ships, in the main their masters maintain fairly effective discipline, but some people do disappear. I wonder whether we really take on the Taiwanese and Indonesian governments or whether, as I suspect is the case, sometimes we play favourites. We go easy with some governments which we think are on our side. I would like to know what we do.
Clause 12 refers to deportees meeting the costs associated with their deportation. I will not name some of the ethnic groups involved, but sometimes a nod is as good as a wink and often a family will prevail on a person to overstay. I refer the Minister to publications of the American Federation of Labour Congress of Industrial Organisations concerning the restaurant catering industry in San Francisco and other places. It deals with families using a sort of conscripted labour. I want to be assured that, if it is discovered that the law has been broken in this respect, a person will not be prevented from going before the Committee on the Determination of Refugee Status simply because he comes from a country where totalitarianism prevails, whether it be under the far Left or the far Right. I know of two cases that are before that Committee and in one of the cases, which the trade unions in Sydney have recently taken up, the person has been here for three years. The Minister has asked why, when the person had been here only a month, he did not then say that he was from a South American country which completely negated democratic rights? Some people feel that they are only a statistic and that if they go along for three or four years perhaps, with God’s mercy, they will not be found out. This is what I have been told by Senator Grimes.
– If he is on your side you are all right.
– This is one of the cases going before the DORS Committee this week. Perhaps this speech will have an important effect on the outcome. If there is a conspiracy and, say, a restaurant tries to get a chef on the cheap, the restaurant owner could be punished. This could also apply to a family with a fruit shop. I would not like to think, however, that in this situation the individual was just the ham in the sandwich. I know of several cases which came to light when the honourable Clyde Cameron was Minister. I know of a person who went up to Weipa for three or four years. He had been a drop-out from the civil engineering department at the University of New South Wales. After chalking up six years in that arduous country, and in terms of his contribution to our national development, I thought that that chap was entitled to permanent residence, and he got it. This is a difficult area and I would not like to believe that we took a similar approach to conspirators who were only after cheap labour.
Many of the au pair girls in Britain are ruthlessly exploited and I know that the Government and the Opposition there have never encouraged the situation. But when family reunions are sought we are always a bit sceptical about the conditions which will apply. I know that perhaps some undue preference has been given to people who come here on a work visa from English speaking nations. I know of such a case involving a United Kingdom librarian. Certainly it would be good for both countries if the librarian could spend a month in each of the States. I know also of a boy who came to Australia after having been employed in the royal stables in Britain. He went to work at Bart Cummings stables at Randwick and after a month decided he did not like it. He surfaced about nine months later as a laboratory assistant. This seemed to be all right because he was a United Kingdom national. Some members of the Greek community pointed to him and asked: Why did he get away with it? These are some of the complexities with which the Department has to grapple. I want to be quite clear in regard to the tightening of documentation and the stamping of entry permits at Australian ports. I want to be fairly clear, in view of our tight employment situation, of the conditions applying to Commonwealth nationals. I know that there is a limit on the number of people who can be brought in. The policy of the Nestles company is quite encouraging. Under the Commonwealth of nations concept, it will employ an accountant from Sri Lanka and say that he can go right to the top. A person does not have to be born in Britain or Switzerland to go to the top. I do not know whether this chap will go that far but sometimes I would like to be sure of just what the situation is.
I would like to wind off on a few other matters. In fairness to the Minister’s advisers, on Estimates Committee C, under the chairmanship of Senator Walters, we received some statistics in relation to work visas. Some people in our cosmopolitan population believe that others receive favouritism. We know this happens in respect of voting but that is not such a sensitive area. In the speech of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the House of Representatives a figure of 57,000 illegal migrants was given. I would like to know when an overstayed tourist becomes an illegal migrant and how effective and up-to-date are the records in order for the Government to reach a figure of 57,000? It is an interesting point and I would like to know how the figure is arrived at. When it is found that people have overstayed governments sometimes insist on instant deportation and I know also that sometimes the people go voluntarily. As a result travel agents may get an extra cut because a ticket has expired and another has to be issued. I am particularly interested in people who are told to go after they have been detected as having overstayed. Is there anything in the legislation that negates action by a trade union to see that, in addition to a penalty being imposed on the employer for breaking the immigration laws, the employer is also prosecuted for underpaying the person concerned? This, in effect, would involve a double penalty. I leave it at that. There may be a few other things I can pursue at the Committee stage after hearing the Minister’s reply. (Quorum formed).
– Earlier today, I asked a question of the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick), in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, relating to our relationship with educational and other matters in the South Pacific. As I recall, in his reply the Minister gave some indication of the funds that were being expended on educational and other matters within the South Pacific which enabled people to make determinations not only as to their vocations but also in relations to their movement in this world, a world where movement is very readily available and of which we in Australia are very much a part. Therefore, it is not without significance that the Senate this afternoon is considering the Migration Amendment Bill, which relates, among other things, to the well-being of people who are entering Australia and to their circumstances, whether they be cultural, educational, commercial or social, of their remaining within this country.
The BUI proposes to amend the Migration Act to give effect to recommendations made by a joint management review, which comprised a consultant, a Public Service Board member, a departmental member and a member on exchange from the Canadian Employment and Immigration Commission, which in 1978 inquired into migrant entry, control policies and the procedures related to that. The review was not related to our own policy, and essentially its recommendations dealt with the control of migrant entry. As the Bill and second reading speech point out, it refers to the matter of penalties for offences under the Act and the provision of new penalties related to migrant entry control.
Every honourable senator would have had experience of people who have sought admission to this country, arrived here and, in one way or another, made some progress in Australia. They find themselves outstaying their permits and seek to remain here thus provoking a set of circumstances which is neither desirable for relations with other countries nor in the interests of the people concerned. The second reading speech does well to point out that the Bill is a timely initiative of the Government to provide responsible and effective regulation. It is very important that, with all the good will in the world, the Government of a country such as ours should act with a degree of responsibility and effectiveness in the regulation of entry into Australia of people from overseas.
Everybody in the Senate is well aware of the quite magnificent program of immigration that has taken place in this country over the last 25 years. We are all very well aware that the character of the Australian community has changed and that there has been some considerable amendment to immigration policies with the volume and nature of movements of people coming into and moving out of Australia. All of that has been affected by a great number of conditions, not the least of which have been the changing conditions in other countries which have increased the attraction of Australia for many people. It is apparent to those of us who have worked closely with the field of immigration that the task of control and admission, of allowing people to remain or otherwise, has become extremely difficult. As the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar has said, the Act is a 1958 measure being tested by 1979 circumstances, and the speech admits that the Act has been found wanting.
It is always a problem for governments of any day to work out in legislative form just what regulations for entry and residence should be, whether the regulations should reflect the needs and desires of the people coming to this country and wishing to remain here, or whether they should reflect the attitudes and interests of the community. Of course, we must take into account the degree of protection necessary for the Australian community in relation to the entry of people from other countries. We must also take into account the protection of the people who seek and eventually obtain entry. There is a range of areas in which it is important that the Australian community should be protected, sometimes in the economic sphere, sometimes in the trading sphere and sometimes in the social sphere. Governments are called upon from time to time to make very hard decisions to protect the people seeking entry or who have arrived in the country. Having made a decision that it is not in the best interests of these people that they should remain here, the Government has to take the difficult step of removing them from this country.
It is very important that there should be appropriate, effective and proper regulations regarding that movement, and the Migration Amendment Bill before the Senate this afternoon takes that factor, amongst other things, into account. Indeed, we have to take into account that there are those within our own Australian community who very actively promote and encourage visitors to break the law, to evade controls. Such people then find themselves in a prohibited situation which creates difficulties for the Government. As the second reading speech states, people who try to evade immigration controls should have no advantage over those many others who, also being ineligible to migrate to Australia, are prepared to abide by the rules. Individuals cannot be allowed to make their own rules about staying on in this country or taking employment. Indeed, in this world of emigration and immigration, it is a fundamental and internationally accepted principle that every country has the right to determine who may enter and, what is equally important, who may remain within its boundaries.
I was very glad that the second reading speech mentioned what I would call the history of immigration and the Migration Act in Australia. In 1958, when the Migration Act was passed, there were an estimated 1.57 million overseas bom members of the Australian population. Perhaps half of these were pre-war settlers of long standing and the remainder were relatively new postwar arrivals. In total, people born overseas, other than in Europe, including Britain, were of the order of only 160,000. Twenty years after the Migration Act was passed, the overseas-born component has almost doubled to an estimated 2.8 million and includes settlers from every continent on earth. If we go back again to the history which the second reading speech took some time to explain, we see that 20 years ago Australia was seeking migrants very strongly. Immigration restrictions applied mainly to people of nonEuropean origin and the occupational categories which were sought by the Australian community covered the whole spectrum of occupations, including unskilled workers.
I speak on this matter with some feeling and, I hope, with some understanding because for a number of years it was my privilege to occupy the position of Chairman of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council. That Council, consisting of some 28 to 30 citizens representing a wide range of organisations throughout Australia, took a great deal of time to apply itself not only to the Australian needs at that time but also to the needs of the people who came in. Whether they were social needs or economic needs, all members of that Council devoted themselves to the needs of the people who came in- the migrants. Our theme in those days was one of integration rather than assimilation. In addition to helping people to find vocations, occupations and employment and to extend their range of skills, the purpose of this Council was to help those people who came in to become integrated into the community. I think it needs to be said over and over again that there is a very clear distinction between what we mean by integration and what is sometimes meant by assimilation. The worst thing for migrants and for this country would be if the people coming here so completely identified themselves with the Australian community and with the Australian way of life that they lost all distinguishing characteristics and became so totally absorbed into the community that they were not distinguishable in any way from the people already here. In the development of what we now describe as a multicultural society we all have to come to terms with the discipline of not only integrating into a multicultural society but also of making sure that the various streams within that multiculturism are readily distinguishable and equally effective and contribute equally to our total society with all in its interests and potential for progress and development.
While the Bill might be concerned with certain details in relation to who shall enter Australia and what shall happen to them, it raises the question of who shall and who shall not enter Australia. For many years now our policy has involved a particular and principal relationship with the European countries and, I suppose, with the United Kingdom in particular. That policy has served Australia and the Australian community very well but, as the second reading speech points out, there have been many changes since then. Our educational, social and industrial needs have produced new attitudes, new responses and new realtionships. Events within our area of the world have produced a renewed thinking on the part of Australian people as to where the Australian population situation goes from here and the kinds of people who shall comprise the Australian community. Our new thinking has opened up the controversial fields not only of the kind of people that we may seek to accept into the Australian community and encourage to become part of the Australian community, but also of what shall happen to those people in our area of the world who have nowhere else to go and who, even as we speak here this afternoon, are abroad on the highways and high seas of the world looking for a country to receive them and knowing that Australia, with its particular opportunities, is not far beyond the horizon.
I refer in general terms to the refugee situation which the whole world is facing at present. It is a situation of some complexity, with no one having the total answer and with everybody grasping and groping for what might be the next steps. Refugees have existed throughout history. I suppose that in our lifetimes, if I may use a general cycle, we have always regarded them as being over there’. They have been in certain areas of Europe in the last 60 to 80 years. Later we discovered that they existed in what I would generally call the Middle East, then in the African continent and then a little nearer home. Instead of being ‘over there’, they are now ‘over here’. They are literally arriving on our shores. Some of them have gone through terrible experiences and we now call them the boat people. Regrettably some are in the horror camps on the borders of countries in South East Asia. Australia must take the time, as circumstances permit, to give very serious consideration to our attitude to this position and to the effect and influence it will have on our immigration program and on the kind of people we will receive into this country.
What we are witnessing in South East Asia is surely one of the many enforced migrations which have occurred throughout history. These migrations are as inevitable and, if I may say so, as unstoppable as a natural disaster. They impose costs on recipient countries as well as administrative, social and long term economic problems. I think I am prepared to say that they also present a great potential asset for Australia. Australians will get used to- I suggest that they will have to get used to- the idea that refugees will be part of our lives for the foreseeable future. If I read the South East Asian situation with any accuracy at all, they will be part of our lives not only in the foreseeable future but also in the long term. I believe that although the tragedy which is now being played out in the South China Sea is disturbing the complacency of many Australian people, there is no need for us to be unduly frightened of it; rather I think we are being challenged to face a reality that has always been there. I put it as a personal view that we need more people for our own economic salvation and for the development of our country, so that Australia, with all its resources, its skills and, if I may say with some emphasis, its political stability will be able to make a worthwhile contribution to the world as a whole, to our own part of the world, and to the history of our time.
Truly we have a moral problem. I suppose it could be argued that the earth exists for the use of human beings regardless of race, colour or creed. While we claim that we can, should and must determine who shall be members of our Australian community, the question is being asked in this community as to how long we can claim sovereignty over a continent the size of Australia and yet deny access to people whose circumstances are particularly serious. Our attitude to refugees and to boat people- however they may be described- and our attitude to the principle of population building generally will be a test of our sincerity and of our determination to develop Australia, not for any reasons of selfinterest but for humanity as a whole and, as the speeches at lunchtime today indicated, for our opportunity to make a contribution to South East Asia, to the South Pacific and to the world at large.
If we are to remain a country which is open to change we have to look at new circumstances readily and with an understanding of the circumstances which surround us. In this connection we must look at our own activities. If the door cannot be opened fully, there has to be a realistic approach to the matter of admissions so that we approach the situations to which I have just referred with realism and with humanity. If we look at them with realism, we must also look at the movements of people throughout history and, more particularly, at the movements of people which are happening at this point of history. We must look at our own situation, at our population content and control, and at our geographical size and location in this part of the world. We also need to look at the refugee situation with humanity, asking ourselves how long we can stand aside, or whether we can stand aside. We need to share our resources and ensure that they are used effectively. I am sure that the Australian community, recognising its geographical location, will accept its responsibilities also.
I speak in this way a little because of an experience I had just immediately prior to the commencement of the Budget session of this Parliament, when I spent a few days visiting South East Asia, in particular to look at the refugee situation. Because one spends a couple of days among refugees one cannot and should not claim to be an expert on refugees. One can never claim to understand all that is involved and, above all, one can never claim to have all the answers. Nevertheless, when one moves around areas adjacent to Australia and sees -
– But you were Chairman of the Immigration Advisory Council. That gives you a special insight.
-Senator Mulvihill is attempting to engage in conversation with me. He has seen refugees in Europe, as I have. When we find them within a few hours travel of our shores, I think we have to look quite seriously at what out attitude should be and, indeed, at what the Bill which is before the Senate at the moment should take into account. I had some experience in visiting refugee settlements in Europe as far back as the mid-1950s and, more recently, in Vietnam outside Saigon, so what I saw in refugee settlements in Malaysia and Hong Kong was what I expected to see. What I saw gave me no pleasure whatsoever. One was grateful that international agencies were acting on behalf of the world at large to take care of people and to administer such succour and relief then as could be administered. One was grateful also that the people concerned had sufficient initiative and spirit to look forward to the future. But I imagine that what I saw was considerably better than what I understand is taking place within the Kampuchean area at the moment.
I visited the island of Bidong in the South China Sea. Through the kind agencies of our Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur and the officers of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, I was able to visit that island, with its 33,000 refugees, and to move among those refugees for the best part of a day in conditions of heat and humidity which to me were quite indescribable and extremely uncomfortable. Nevertheless, one moved among those people and saw something of the circumstances in which they existed. All of them formed part of that great company of people who survived the journey across the South China Sea and were placed on the island of Bidong, where they were being looked after in an administrative capacity by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and agencies in Malyasia and Kuala Lumpur, such as the Red Crescent organisation, which was carrying out the distribution of food and medical supplies and, indeed, was carrying out an enormous amount’ of detailed work in relation to correspondence and the distribution of the refugees to enable families to stay together if at all possible.
I gained many impressions on that visit. I do not want to go through the details now. Suffice it to say that I was greatly impressed to see that, among the 33,000 refugees, there was a sense of order. The island was divided into a number of districts, with supervisors and with people who administered such justice as could be administered under quite indescribable circumstances. Above all, I was impressed with the attention given to training in the English language. Throughout my tour of the settlements I saw class after class of adults and young people being educated in the English language. Some classes were conducted by educational authorities, some by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, some by the Red Crescent organisation and, I suppose the greater proportion of them by the religious organisations and churches which had already set up their establishments on the island. Those people were not just sitting around and having discussions. They were being educated in earnest. Rows of people had their heads down and pens going working on their English language courses.
All that underlines what I said earlier today, namely, that obviously a message to people placed in that situation is that the English language countries, the English speaking countries, can provide the greatest opportunity for them in the future. Those people hope that they might gain admission to English language countries and English speaking countries and take their place in those communities and be a part of the great immigration program which extends across the world. That message is not lost on me as an Australian as I look at the legislative measure which is before the Senate today and as the Government, or any government of this country, looks very seriously at what our next steps should be concerning the people we admit and the circumstances under which we admit them.
In recent times the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) has indicated something of Australia’s trading relationship with the Third World and with areas in which distressed people are located. The Bill before the Senate reflects a number of things, not only in relation to our intake of refugees and not only in relation to people who might become residents of Australia; it reflects also a number of social and economic issues related to admissions and, more importantly, to Australia ‘s public response.
The matter of entry and control policies has always loomed large in Australia’s development of immigration policies. It is looming even larger today as the Australian community faces a new situation in areas immediately surrounding it. The Bill which the Minister has presented to the Senate represents yet another expression of our concern in relation to entry and control policies. I hope that, in introducing the measures contained in this legislation and other measures, the Government will continue to pursue a policy which is at once humanitarian and realistic. In that way the Government will benefit not only the Australian community but also, in particular, the people who might be fortunate enough to come here.
– I am indebted to Senator Davidson for forcing me now to think twice about the short speech which I would otherwise, with boring efficiency, have had to dispatch by six o’clock. I rise not to canvass the general grounds covered by the Migration Amendment Bill 1979, which have been well covered- indeed, covered with admirable profundity, if I might say so- by both my colleague Senator Mulvihill and Senator Davidson. Rather, I rise simply to draw attention to what seems to me to be a quite serious continuing anomaly in the Migration Act, which regrettably remains uncorrected by this important amending Bill.
The anomaly to which I refer is that part of the present Migration Act which makes it possible for someone who is a naturalised Australian citizen nonetheless to be deported. Provisions in the Migration Act- sections 13 and 14- in fact allow that result. In other words, provisions remain on the statute book which quite intolerably and unconscionably, I would have thought, to all parties represented in this chamber fail to correct the deficiency which was seen and corrected by the
Labor Government in the amendments which it made to the Crimes Act in 1973. Those amendments were the subject of quite considerable debate and favourable attention at that time. Moves were made by the Government to remove certain sections and provisions from the Crimes Act, to which I will refer later. But regrettably that exercise was not accomplished, in my view anyway, with full efficacy and those provisions still remain in the Migration Act which make it possible for someone to be deported even though he is a naturalised Australian. I ask the Government in the course of this debate to think very seriously about removing those provisions. Both sections 13 and 14 refer not to aliens being deported but rather to immigrants being able to be deported in certain circumstances there set out. It is well established that, as a matter of Federal constitutional law, persons can continue to be regarded as immigrants if they are born overseas and have come here from overseas, even after they have been naturalised.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– The point I was seeking to make before the suspension of the sitting was that there are a couple of sections of the Migration Act, not proposed to be altered by anything in the Migration Amendment Bill 1979, which can be read in certain circumstances as enabling someone to be deported notwithstanding that that person has in fact become naturalised. This is because the deportation sections in question, namely sections 13 and 14 of the Migration Act, bite on people as immigrants rather than by virtue of their being aliens. As a matter of law the situation seems to be that the concept of an immigrant is not necessarily one that ceases to apply when a persons becomes naturalised. The terms are not coextensive. A person might be capable -
– They are coextensive.
– The terms are not coextensive; that is the point I am making. It appears that they are not coextensive as a matter of law because a person can go on being an immigrant, as the law now stands, notwithstanding that he has been naturalised. I do not want to bore the Senate with all the details of the case law as it stands. A summary of it can be conveniently found in Campbells and Whitmore ‘s book Freedom in Australia, Second Edition, pages 194 to 196, or any reputable constitutional law textbook. The cases do indicate an awful uncertainty about the definition of an immigrant both in itself and for the purposes of the reach of the
Commonwealth power with respect to immigration. It may well be that there is on the present case law a point at which a person becomes a member of the community or becomes absorbed into the community- as the judges have put it- so that at that point the person ceases to be an immigrant for the purposes of the reach of Federal constitutional power. But even on this view, naturalisation seems simply to be one among a number of criteria which can be weighed and balanced by a court in determining whether that degree of absorption has in fact taken place. If that is right and one then looks at sections 13 and 14 which enable persons to be deported in a whole variety of circumstances, one sees that the criterion of reference is simply the status of a person as an immigrant. Section 1 3 says:
. where an immigrant:
This is even worse-
Again referring to the Migration Act, section 14 (2) says: in the case of an immigrant who entered Australia . . . not more than five years previously:
This is language very reminiscent of the Crimes Act:
Subject to the procedural considerations set out later in the section- . . order the deportation of that immigrant.
The other sections, such as section 14(1), that allow for deportation do so in the context of referring to the subject of that deportation as an alien. If one looks at section 13 and section 14 (2), one sees that the reference point for the operation of that section bites on the status of a person as an immigrant. Admittedly, both of the sections, the provisions of which I read out, do have time limitations built into them, namely, a criterion in each case that the offence or conduct in question took place within five years of the person entering Australia. Of course it is now possible under the citizenship legislation which came in in 1973 for a person to become naturalised not after five years, but after three years. So, one still can have a situation where someone has been in Australia for just three years, applies immediately for naturalisation and, I am suggesting, can be construed as the law now stands as an immigrant for the purposes of federal statute law and for the purposes of the reach of federal constitutional power, and as such be then liable to the impact of these particular sections.
Presumably one is sure that that is not a situation which any government would intend, particularly after the amendments to the Crimes Act in 1973 which were sponsored by the Labor Government and received support from the Liberal-National Country Party Opposition. The amendments specifically removed from Crimes Act offences language which would equally have made it possible, so the argument went, for persons to be deported notwithstanding that they had become naturalised citizens. It might be remembered that the language of section 30C of the old Crimes Act, the section which related to persons who by speech or writing advocated or encouraged the overthrow of the Constitution, and the rest of the things that went with thatthis is very similar to section 14 of the Migration Act which I read out- provided for a person on conviction to be imprisoned for a period not exceeding two years. It went on to say:
Similarly, section 30J, relating to the inciting of industrial disturbances, also contained a provision which said that in addition to any other penalty that might be imposed, if the person in question was not born in Australia, he was liable to deportation. Those provisions and a couple of others like them in the Crimes Act were fairly widely regarded as unconscionable and intolerable in their potential impact and they were removed. The attitude of the then Opposition to the removal of those very specific provisions from the legislation is best conveyed by the opening words of the late Senator Greenwood when he spoke to the Crimes Bill 1973 in the Senate on 22 May 1973. In Hansard at page 1792 he said:
I say at the outset that the Opposition supports this Billsupports it wholeheartedly and supports it consistently with the view which was expressed by me, as Attorney-General, on behalf of the former Government over the last 2 years of its term of office. The Bill seeks to repeal provisions which give to the Attorney-General the power to deport persons who are not natural born Australians- notwithstanding the fact that they may be naturalised Australians- and who have committed certain offences under the Crimes Act. The Bill seeks to assert the principle that ail Australians, irrespective of whether they are natural born or naturalised, have an equality under the law and should be treated equally. With that proposition the Opposition is thoroughly in accord.
The point I am simply making is that it seems to me, on the state of the law at the moment, that it is possible for those provisions to which I have referred in the Migration Act to be read as having exactly the same effect as those now discredited and repealed provisions of the Crimes Act. Accordingly, even though there has not been to my knowledge any instance of the actual use of those powers, any more than there had been any use of the powers in the Crimes Act which were repealed in 1973, nonetheless it would seem appropriate that the attention of the Government was turned to this matter and that some action was taken to amend accordingly the legislative provisions. I appreciate that it is rather late in the history of this legislation and indeed in this debate to be confronting the Minister now with a demand to accept an amendment. It may be that this is a matter on which further consultation or analysis is required. I take that point and simply put it to the Minister that if, after she or the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) has had an opportunity, in consultation with his advisers to look at the points that I am making in order to satisfy himself or herself that I am not stretching too long a legal bow and that there is that possibility of that interpretation, I would be happy if the Minister could give some assurance that, following such an examination, the legislation would be repealed or amended at some appropriately convenient point of time. It may be that the point to which I have been adverting could be resolved very simply by deleting the word ‘immigrant’ wherever appearing in these sections and substituting the word ‘alien’. That seems on the face of it to be a simple solution to the problem to which I have referred. It may be that the Minister has had an oportunity to have a look at this matter during the suspension of the sitting and would be interested in accepting an amendment along those lines.
In any event, the point of my rising to my feet, as I said at the outset of this debate, was simply to draw attention to what seems to me to be an unfortunate anomaly. Whether it has stayed there inadvertently or as a result of deliberate departmental policy, I do not know. Certainly I think I can say that it was not present in the mind of anybody in the Labor Government when the provision in relation to the Crimes Act 1914 was being repealed, but nonetheless there was a possibility of exactly the same results being achieved under the provisions of the Migration Act 1958. But that point having been made, perhaps I can leave it to the Minister to indicate what response the Government has on this matter.
– A number of senators have spoken in the second reading debate, and several questions have been raised by them. Perhaps at the outset I should say that the legislation before the Senate will meet some of the needs of the times by tightening immigration controls and by introducing new penalties and increasing existing penalties. I do remind the Senate that this Bill does not introduce major new measures. The purpose of the legislation is to make essential amendments to the existing legislation, and it will provide a considerable increase in control capacity while new immigration legislation is being developed. Perhaps I ought to make that point again at this stage of my response. This Bill is one that has dealt with a few specific matters, but the Government does indicate that new legislation is being proposed. It is being developed. A number of other matters could arise in that study of what is required immigration legislation for the future.
Senator Mulvihill did raise a number of matters, one of which related to travel agents. I was asked by Senator Mulvihill whether I could give an assurance that the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs would seek to place on the agenda of the next meeting of State Ministers the matter of travel agents and their activities with regard to misleading people who intend to immigrate to Australia. I think I am able to give the assurance that I will draw it to the attention of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and, as this is a matter of concern to him as well as to Senator Mulvihill, I can assure that, if it is appropriate, the Minister will seek to have this matter placed on the agenda for discussion. It is a matter that does require State government consideration, and it would be an appropriate place where this could be considered.
Senator Mulvihill also referred to refugees and political asylum. The amendments proposed in this Bill will not affect immigration policies as a whole.
– That is the function of the DORS Committee?
– Yes. The legislation will not particularly affect the exercise of sympathetic discretion when considering people in refugee situations seeking refugee status or on other humanitarian grounds where special consideration may be appropriate. The people who could be considered as refugees are given a visa overseas and an entry permit is given to them on arrival. When we come to deal with people whom we know as the boat people who come to Australia, they would not have visas on arrival. This Bill imposes a liability for a penalty on the carrier who carries a person to Australia without a visa, whether by a refugee boat or otherwise. Refugees on boats have been given temporary entry permits while their status is being determined by the DORS Committee. Other than the indirect effect outlined above, this Bill contains no specific provisions regarding refugees. A separate Bill is being prepared which would deal with some of the other matters which were raised. But, as far as refugee status is concerned, this Bill does not change the way in which the Government would deal with those who seek refugee status or who, on humanitarian grounds, do require special attention.
I was asked also with regard to Interpol and its effective relationship with the Government. I am advised that visas sought by white collar criminals may be cancelled when adverse information is received subsequent to issue. As I understand it, Interpol information is normally made available to police forces and not directly to the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. But, as I have indicated, visas may be cancelled in situations where adverse information is received through our police force as a result of Interpol action.
Comments were also made with regard to working holiday-maker arrangements. In this instance, they do work on a reciprocal basis. For instance, Australian citizens visiting Britain can obtain permission to work, and certain categories of visitors from Britain are accorded a similar concession in Australia. I say this because some comments were made with regard to British people perhaps having a different opportunity to work from those from European countries such as Greece.
– Does that apply to Canadians as well?
– The reciprocal agreement with Canada would apply also in that instance.
The question was raised when a visitor becomes a prohibited immigrant and when his temporary entry permit expires. I am advised that a visitor may become a prohibited immigrant from the date of his entry if the person has offended section 16 by, amongst other things, not declaring a conviction for a crime with a sentence of one year or more. Another point raised by Senator Mulvihill regarding prohibited immigrants was a question with regard to the source of the estimate of approximately 57,000 prohibited immigrants- figures which were given, I think, at the Estimates Committee. As was explained during Estimates Committee hearings on two occasions this year, I think, Australia has a unique system of matching the passenger cards of all persons entering and leaving Australia, as part of the system of control of international movements. This system identifies a residual group of persons who arrived on limited period visas but who have not departed at the expiration of this period. These are the basis of a departmental estimate of some 57,000 overstayed visitors, and I think honourable senators would be aware that this estimate is subject to many adjustments which may need to be made. For example, an adjustment may need to be made to eliminate mismatching from illegible passenger cards. These adjustments are sometimes difficult, and they are a continuing process. So, the figure that is stated is an estimate, and it is one which in reviewing process could be amended from time to time. But there is no doubt that our illegal immigrants do number many tens of thousands, and that the number is growing.
Perhaps Senator Mulvihill sought more precise information when he asked how effective are the Department’s records. As I have indicated, there are some difficulties, sometimes in mismatching, and for other reasons. But the Department’s records are generally as good as the source data, that is, the passenger arrival and departure cards. The rapid increase in international movements in the last year or two has certainly increased the absolute problem, but it is considered that it has not increased the relative problem. The matter is continually being administered and is reviewed. The figure of some 5 7,000 is an indication of the likely number of illegal migrants.
Senator Davidson made general comments with regard to the Government’s view on the concept of the world being for the use of all people, regardless of their race, colour or creed. The Australian Government does recognise, as a principle of international law, that each country has the right to decide who should enter and remain within its territories. This is not to say that we do not take a positive attitude to the needs of people who seek to live in Australia. We readily accept our obligations to humanity and those obligations which we assume under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. I think that would be a bipartisan approach to refugee problems and immigration. I commend to the Senate some of Senator Davidson’s remarks on what is a very human problem throughout the world.
Senator Evans referred to what he termed as an anomaly in the Migration Act, which allows the deportation from Australia of Australian citizens. As he stated, the Labor Government in 1973 amended the Crimes Act to repeal provisions which enabled the AttorneyGeneralnot the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs- to order the deportation of a person, not born in Australia, who had been guilty of certain offences. The honourable senator outlined the matters which were dealt with at that time. The Labor Government did make some amendments to the Migration Act in 1973 but did not at that time amend the deportation provisions. Those sections, as has been mentioned, are sections 12, 13, 14 and 18. Most of the matters on which I have advice were referred to by Senator Evans and I am able to say to him that at this stage we are not able to propose in the Senate amendments that may deal with the matter that he raised. As I said earlier, the Government is reviewing the whole of the immigration legislation. At that time his remarks will be considered. Perhaps at that time opportunity will be taken to deal with the matter which has been dealt with in the Crimes Act but which still remains in the Migration Act.
I am not at this stage able to deal with sections of the Act which are not before the Senate. Senator Evans’ remarks were timely because of the review of all legislation dealing with migration matters and will be drawn to the attention of the Government. As he indicated, our response to the repealing of certain sections of the Crimes Act was that it was a change that ought to be made. His remarks regarding the Migration Act bear close scrutiny and I hope some response will be made that will remove what is now perhaps not simply an anomaly but a matter which is not expressed in the legislation in the way in which we would wish it to be.
I am advised that the honourable senator’s suggestion that the words ‘alien’ and ‘immigrant’ could be dealt with superficially is not, for a number of reasons, the best way of dealing with the matter. Perhaps this is not the time to deal with that suggestion. However, I give an undertaking from the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar), with whom I discussed the matter briefly during the dinner recess, that the Government would be looking at this question and would be able to make an appropriate response when the new legislation is brought down.
I believe that that deals with the matters that were raised. I hope that at some future time we can have a ready response to an amendment along the lines suggested.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Perhaps I could use as an analogy the rather tough United States legislation to control what are known as the Mexican wetbacks who enter that country illegally. I know that illegal workers among the lettuce growers and those in other agricultural pursuits in the United States have caused many problems. The aspect which I raise relates to someone who has overstayed. I know we have punitive clauses which deal with the individual. In my speech during the second reading debate I referred to cases where workers may have been encouraged- a better word would be ‘exploited’- by a family which conducted a business or restaurant. Are we just to go in and grab the victim? Can we prosecute those who have exploited their relative? If the action taken discloses that the person has been working for a pittance, does it negate the right of a trade union to pursue breaches of the award? The Government may exercise its authority to deport an illegal migrant, but that person may have worked for three weeks or six months and been grossly underpaid. The fact that he is deported surely does not inhibit the right of a union to prosecute, to ensure that when he leaves the country, from Sydney or Melbourne, for instance, he will receive the adjustment to his wages to which he is entitled.
– I wish to reply briefly to Senator Mulvihill’s question. I am not briefed in a general way on what could be a specific problem. I understand that a person in that situation has the usual rights with regard to wages and other matters while he is living in Australia, but I would need to refer the matter and get advice for him.
-Clause 4 sub-clause (b) amends section 6 of the principal Act by inserting new sub-section (6a). Subsection (6) of the original Act provides:
An entry permit that is intended to operate as a temporary entry permit shall be expressed to authorize the person to whom it relates to remain in Australia for a specified period only, and such a permit may be granted subject to conditions.
I would have thought that the term ‘subject to conditions’ would have made that a fairly broad sub-section in any Act. We now have added what seems to be a qualifying sub-section. Under new sub-section (6a) restrictions may be imposed with regard to- the work that may be performed by the holder in Australia, including restrictions on performing any work, or work other than specified work or work of a specified kind, without the permission, in writing, of an authorized officer.
I wonder why, in view of the very broad nature of sub-section (6) of section 6 of the original Act, it is necessary to add this qualifying sub-section. What sort of work is envisaged by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar), the Government, or the Department, when it writes in such a complicated subclause in order to modify the Act in that way? One would have thought that any restrictions on work or anything else would have been completely open to the Government under the original section. It would seem that what is proposed is simply complicating the Act with added verbiage. I seek an explanation of the need to insert the additional sub-section (6a).
– I am advised that at present there is no penalty for failure to observe the undertakings with regard to the work and the prescription of the work. The amendment will authorise the granting of a temporary entry permit, subject to conditions specifically relating to work. Clause 19 will make it an offence for a person to whom such a temporary entry permit has been issued to work in contravention of that work condition, as it will be an offence under clause 19 for a temporary entrant or prohibited immigrant to fail to comply with the restriction as to work. It was considered that a specific provision should be included in the Act to authorise the imposition of work conditions. The conditions on work which may be imposed include restrictions on performing any work, or only a specified kind of work. Should a temporary entrant or prohibited immigrant wish to undertake work or a different kind of work, he should contact the Department and obtain written authority. The reason for this provision is that there is no penalty for failure to observe the undertakings. It was felt necessary to bring in an amendment of this kind to make that perfectly clear.
-The very broad sub-section 6 (6) of the original Act, provides for the Government to lay down any conditions whatsoever, as I understand it, for the authorisation or handing out of a temporary entry permit. Does the legislation mean that only a person on a temporary permit who disobeys the work conditions which the Government may put on can be penalised? As I understand it, from what the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) said, the Government can lay down any conditions for a temporary permit and the person with the temporary entry permit can disobey any of those conditions whatsoever without penalty, except the work conditions. I wonder why it is necessary to single out the work conditions. Why would it not be suitable to impose a penalty for disobeying any of the conditions that are laid down?
– The original sub-section (6) remains in the Act. The proposed new subsection (6a) is an additional requirement. It is not presently the practice to issue temporary entry permits subject to conditions other than in respect of the time during which the holder may remain in Australia. It is simply expected that persons to whom temporary entry permits are granted will observe the policy requirements under which their temporary stay is being allowed. Persons to whom visit visas are granted give an undertaking at the time of application that they will not engage in employment in Australia, but it is not an offence for them subsequently to engage in employment. In the present position there is no penalty for failure to observe undertakings. This amendment will authorise the granting of a temporary entry permit subject to conditions specifically relating to work. The new provision in clause 4, linked with clause 19, will make it an offence for a person to whom such a temporary entry permit has been issued to work in contravention of that work condition.
– I suggest that it may be advisable in the future to amend section 6 to say something like: ‘Subject to conditions relating to work as set out in subsection (6a) or relating to the time of the permit’. I suggest that it is quite wrong, particularly when no penalties are to be provided, to have in any Act such a broad sub-section which gives the Government wide powers to restrict people’s activities in the country.
– There are one or two clauses in the Bill that I want to make some comment on. I say in preface that I appreciate what the Government is doing in trying to define who has a right to legal entry into Australia and who has not. It is quite different from the days when the Egan Kitsch case was submitted. He sought to engage in subversive action by attending a peace conference in Australia. He was not allowed to land so he jumped off the boat at Melbourne Ports and broke a leg. To deport him, authorities made him undergo a Gaelic test. It was decided that he was a prohibited immigrant. The case was taken to the High Court of Australia, much to the concern of the Scottish community. There had been a legal case in England in which it was found that the kilt was not a dress. In Kitsch ‘s case, it was found that the Scottish language was not a language. Therefore, we have a race without a dress or a language. We have changed since those days. Now we set down criteria.
It is appalling that the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs seems very uninformed about Government activities. At the moment I am negotiating with the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) on behalf a man who is in an Adelaide gaol. He is a prohibited immigrant. I am having difficulties with the Minister because, amongst other crimes which this man committed, while he was on a working visa in Australia he drew unemployment benefits. On checking with Mr Sullivan from the Commonwealth Employment Services in Adelaide, who had checked with the Department of Social Security, I found that the man had a full entitlement to those benefits. The Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) stated that in reply to a question today, but officers of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs do not know that. It appears that they are of the opinion that he committed a crime by accepting payment of unemployment benefits. The Department of Social Security and the CES see the situation quite differently.
The first point I want to raise concerns clause 9 and sub-clause (4) of proposed new clause 1 1C on page 5. It reads:
In any proceedings against the master, owner, agent or charterer of a vessel for an offence against sub-section
That is the offence of a prohibited migrant coming into Australia without a visa- evidence that a person who arrived in Australia on board that vessel failed, on his arrival, to produce to an officer, upon demand by that officer, a visa or return endorsement applicable to that person’s travel to Australia on that occasion is prima facie evidence that the person was not, on his arrival, in possesion of such a visa or return endorsement.
The fact that the prohibited immigrant did not produce a visa at the request commits the charterer, the captain or the owner of the vessel to some charge that he permitted someone to enter without a visa. He may have had one. He might have had some dispute with the captain of the vessel and denied that he had a visa. Whilst I acknowledge that the Bill proceeds that it is only prima facie evidence, this provision completely reverses the onus of proof. The captain has to prove that in all respects his passenger was a legal entrant to Australia. I think that we should be guarded in reversing an onus of proof so that someone can be judged guilty of an alleged crime on the say-so of only one individual. 1 now turn to clause 11, which amends section 19 of the principal Act. It states:
Section 19 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting wife ‘(wherever occurring) and substituting ‘spouse’.
Tonight I have asked what is the meaning of spouse’. According to all the advisers it appears that it is someone who is legally married. Section 1 9 of the Act states:
Where the Minister makes or has made an order for the deportation of a person, the Minister may, in his discretion, at the request of the wife of that person, order the deportation of the wife, or of the wife and dependent child or children, of that person.
Obviously if a married man is deported, the wife can ask to be deported with her children too. I take it the intention of substituting the word spouse ‘ is that if the wife is deported, it gives the same right to the husband to ask for deportation too. We have no definition of ‘spouse’ or ‘wife’. The Taxation office uses the term ‘spouse’ and does not consider a de facto wife as a spouse. Although a man is living with a de facto wife, he cannot get the wife ‘s allowance because he is not married. The Department of Social Security considers a de facto wife as a spouse. If a de facto wife is working and the husband is unemployed he cannot get benefits. The de facto is accepted in Department of Social Security.
We use the word ‘spouse’, I take it, for the purpose of the good intention of giving application to the husband. The use of the word itself would deprive a de facto wife of the title we give to a married wife. You, Madam Deputy Chair, should be on the floor fighting for this recognition of the woman who lives in a de facto relationship - this is happening more frequently- and has child responsibilities. The de facto husband who has three children cannot take the de facto wife and the three children with him when he gets deported. I ask the Minister for Social Security in all honesty: After the eulogies she got tonight at the Israeli Embassy in relation to her fight for women.and children, is this right? Surely we do not accept that that situation should be permitted. If we use the word ‘spouse’ I think we should have a definition for it which need not, of necessity, be the dictionary definition; it could be an artificial definition. The dictionary definition and the Taxation Office’s definition preclude forever the de facto wife, who could have had 1 5 or 18 years in partnership with a man, from being deported at the time the authorities check up on the man and decide to deport him. If the couple can produce a certificate of legal marriage early she can ask for deportation for herself and her children. I think we have advanced beyond the stage of the sanctity of marriage, that one is unholy if one is not married at the present time. Therefore, I think that the de facto wife has a right and that that should be provided for in this legislation.
I now turn to clause 24 of the Bill. It reads:
Section 39 of the Principal Act is amended by repealing sub-section (3) and substituting the following sub-sections:
If a person under this section claims, within 48 hours of his arrest and while he is in custody, that he is not the person in respect of whom the deportation order is in force, the person to whom the claim is made shall-
a ) if he is an officer- ask him; or
b ) in any other case- cause an officer to ask him, to make a statutory declaration to that effect, and, if the person arrested makes such a declaration, the officer who asked him to make the declaration shall take him before a prescribed authority within 48 hours after the making of the declaration, or, if it is not practicable to take him before a prescribed authority within that time, as soon as practicable after the expiration of that period.
Therefore, if someone who is arrested claims that there is no justification for his arrest and makes a statutory declaration, his case is then processed before a prescribed authority. Who is a prescribed authority? Can the Minister tell me how we prescribe the authority? Is it a judicial personality? Is it a magistrate? Is it a justice of the peace or is it someone the Minister decides by regulation is a prescribed authority? Do we condone the situation of a person having a right to defend himself against what may be a wrong order for gaoling and deportation only before someone who the Minister decides is a prescribed authority? How do we determine the prescribed authority? Is it to be done by regulation? Has the Senate some right to investigate whether it is a proper procedure that takes place to determine the prescribed authority? Surely we have a greater interest in human rights? I am not saying that the person accused should be let loose having signed a statutory declaration with all the implications under the Australian law. It may not be that he is not the person. At least in the legislation we do not say that he is to be taken before a judicial authority for the purpose of ascertaining whether there is any substance in his statutory declaration which states that he is not the person. He has to be taken before someone. But this legislation does not set out who that someone is. It is someone who will be prescribed. We do not know the method of prescribing. A junior officer of the Department could be a prescribed authority. Surely our justice demands more than that if someone is done an injury.
Clause 27 seeks to insert new section 66D relating to delegation. Proposed new section 66D reads:
I misread this provision and intended to oppose it. I see that the Minister cannot extend his power of delegation to someone else. I take that matter no further. There are two vital questions that arise: Firstly, the power of an individual in the case of wrongful arrest and gaoling and, secondly, the question relating to the spouse, which I think is most important.
- Senator Cavanagh has raised a number of matters. He mentioned, firstly, the matter raised in clause 9 and referred to proposed new section 1 1 A. I draw his attention to proposed new section 11C. He will see the matters referred to and the defence provided in that proposed new section. I think that would deal with the matters that he raised in that earlier question.
With regard to clause 1 1 which deals with the definition of ‘spouse ‘, the Act does not define this to include a de facto spouse. Again, the matter referred to by Senator Cavanagh could be taken into consideration in the review of the Migration Act. He referred to differences in other Federal Acts which deal with these matters. He instanced the Income Tax Assessment Act and the Social Services Act. The Social Services Act recognises de facto spouses, and I think in many other instances, such as compensation Acts and other Acts, they are equally recognised. What has been said by Senator Cavanagh is something that could come into the wider consideration of the migration legislation.
Senator Cavanagh referred also to clause 24 which is related to the arrest of a deportee. The amendment requires the person arrested to lodge his complaint within 48 hours. In relation to the matter that was of concern to Senator Cavanagh, I draw his attention to section 40 of the Act where the prescribed authorities are named. This is not a provision that is enacted by the Minister, but it will be noted in section 40 of the Act that a person who holds the offices of police stipendiary or special magistrate of a territory is a prescribed authority. I think that that deals with the other matter that was raised by Senator Cavanagh.
– I accept the last explanation of the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) concerning the prescribed authorities set out in the Act. I wish to speak on two other matters touched on by the Minister. Proposed new section 11C (1) creates the offence in relation to a master, owner, agent or charterer of a vessel. I am interested in the proving of the offence. The master is prima facie guilty if an individual does not, when asked, produce a visa. It is not a question of the offence; it is a question of the master being deemed partly guilty when someone else is charged with an offence. He is prima facie guilty because of a failure by someone else to do something. I do not think that proposed new section 1 1C clears up the matter.
I am appreciative of the sympathy which the Minister gives to the question of spouses. This is the first amendment brought into the Parliament which introduces into an Act the word ‘spouse’. If it is an evil worthy of consideration in a review of the Act, surely we should hesitate to use the word now. Can we, in the future, rectify a wrong that we may do tonight? We are deciding this issue tonight. The minister agrees that the argument has some validity and perhaps we can consider it in a complete review of the Act. The word is not at present contained in the Act which limits deportation to the husband. This amendment extends the provision to the husband if the wife is deported. No one can justify the use of this word. As lawmakers in this Parliament we intend to insert into an Act a word that no one can justify.
What is our role in the Parliament? Do we hope that we will get a generous Minister some time in the future who will alter the Act? Is the Minister or the Parliament House lawmaker of the Commonwealth? Is the Senate, as a House of review, not responsible for drawing to the Minister’s attention something which we think is incorrect? A word is being incorporated in the Act in a way that does injustice to some people. The Government, with the knowledge that injustice could be done to some people, is prepared nevertheless to pass that law through this House. What is our role in this great universe? Surely we will not let this happen although I do not know what words can be used to overcome the problem. I think that the Government, the departmental officers and the Minister are sympathetic to the matter I have raised. In seeking, in their wisdom, to extend a benefit to someone else in the marriage relationship they overlooked that they were in fact excluding someone else. If the Minister is not in a position to accept the suggestion she should at least adjourn the debate to consider whether the provision can be altered.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Guilfoyle) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– When the question was put that the Bill be now read a second time one of the attendants was drawing my attention to some information required by Hansard. When the Opposition agrees with a Bill, the legislation often goes through without honourable senators knowing. I would not like it placed on record that I voted for a proposal that prevented a woman, with children, from continuing a de facto relationship. I would not like the records of this Parliament to show that I was party to passing a provision that could separate husbands from their de facto or lawful wives and separate fathers from their children at a time when they may need assistance. While I will be recorded in Hansard as having voted for the second reading, I hope that my protest will show that I did not vote for the third reading.
– The question is that the Bill be now read a third time. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary, no.
– No. I ask that my dissentient voice be recorded.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16 October, on motion by Senator Guilfoyle:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition strongly opposes the provisions of this Bill which imposes a fee system on a number of operations including the extension of a visa for a temporary entrant and the conversion from temporary to resident status. It refers to a number of other fee impositions concerning the conducting of English language tests at overseas posts and things of that nature. As I said in speaking to the Migration Amendment Bill 1979, Australia, the United States and Canada have been aware of the fact that expansion called for an intake of migrants. I think that that was a cardinal policy of successive Ministers from the honourable Arthur Calwell onwards. I know that it was said by the present Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) at the National Press Club that a country gears itself on its annual intake subject to economic conditions. If we encourage people in various categories to come to Australia it is questionable whether these charges should be imposed. I know that the Minister will probably cite some countries which impose charges. My information is that no charge is imposed in respect of people moving between European Common Market countries. I understand that in Italy there are no automatic fee impositions similar to those envisaged in the Bill. It is broadly on the grounds I have outlined that we feel that the Bill in unnecessary.
The case to which I am about to refer occurs in the urban areas of Melbourne and Sydney. A young person can be visiting Australia on a tourist visa when an aunt or some other elderly relative is stricken with an illness. By and large the Department is prepared to extend the visa. In some cases the people are on low wages. As small as the prescribed fee may appear at first glance it can play havoc with a household budget at a time when there is the added cost of illness. Perhaps this would be an opportune time for me to ask the Minister in charge of the Bill, the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle), whether there will be any flexibility or whether the imposition of the fee will be automatic. On the other side of the coin, I have known a considerable number of people who have obtained permanent residence and who are involved in commercial pursuits. It may be argued that those people are moving in and out of Australia fairly regularly and have a fairly high income, but they would be the exception to the rule. In the light of the Opposition’s initial objections to the imposition of these fees, I ask whether some flexibility could be given to the Minister or to the regional directors to deal with legitimate applications for a limited extension when a household which does not have a high income is stricken with illness.
The other matter that intrigues me is the question of English language tests at overseas posts; and I know that the test is a vital component of the Numerical Multi-Factor Assessment System, NUMAS. Since immigration was severed from the Department of Labour and Immigration, and some of its functions also went to the Department of Foreign Affairs, many more people have travelled overseas and many post-war migrants have become permanent residents and taxpayers. People who have come to this country to begin a new life are never endowed with financial resources, and the imposition of this fee is simply an attempt to get additional revenue. It is largely on those grounds that the Opposition questions the need for these fees.
In relation to administrative actions, I return to the role of the travel agents. I accept the Minister’s statement that at the next meeting with State Ministers dealing with immigration, restrictions on travel agents will be discussed. If we are not careful, such people will try to set up members of Parliament by using some sort of blind ploy. That is part of our duty and we accept it, but some travel agents are inclined to attempt to live off the efforts of parliamentarians by whacking on a fee. I hope that through our State travel registration boards- and a decision on this would have to come from the next meeting of State Ministers- we will indicate to them that when the Government imposes these charges, as I assume it will, the person concerned will not have to pay an added fee to a travel agent. If a travel agent has had the patronage of a person purchasing either a single or a return ticket, I question what he should regard as fair.
During the debate on the earlier Bill, I referred to one or two rorts attempted in relation to genuine Cypriot refugees, and I know that there are other problems in relation to Lebanon and Latin America. In addition to the two travel agents whom I mentioned, Senator Lajovic would know of another one in Burwood whom I have had to rap over the knuckles because of one of his rorts. I say to the Minister that I hope we will get the message across to travel agents loud and clear. I know it can be said that it is up to the relatives to come into the capital city and do their own thing, but although some people go to their member of the House of Representatives or to a senator, others seem to be conned by travel agents. When considering the scale of charges set out in the second reading speech, I would not like to think that people had to pay another fee on top of that, and I think that matter should be policed.
In relation to NUMAS and the English tests, I wonder whether one of our own people conducts these tests at overseas posts. I know it has been argued that on the Indian continent sometimes we delegate authority to Indian and Pakistani nationals, some of whom are not above playing favourites. That allegation has also been made about Hong Kong. However, when I was in Hong Kong recently with an Opposition party delegation I made some inquiries, and I believe that the allegations are grossly exaggerated. When people are rejected, as for example with all of us when we are playing sport, they are inclined to blame the referee or the umpire. Nevertheless, I would have much more confidence if one of our own officers conducted the English tests in India or Pakistan rather than somebody employed locally, although I am not blackguarding all the local people. To take that a little further, I know that our officers go down to Messina in southern Italy and difficult situations have arisen there. The matter of English tests is an area where we can make or break an applicant, and I would like to believe that it is an officer of the Department who administers the test. If we have a legitimate complaint we can raise it at Estimates committee hearings or in these debates.
– That assumes that officers of the Department are better at English than some people overseas. I do not think I would make that assumption.
-It is the hired mercenaries I am sceptical about. As I have said, the Opposition believes that the imposition of these fees is unnecessary and that there is no need for it. If the Government insists on imposing the fees, we hope that the cost to the individual will not be compounded by travel agents adding a little for themselves and feathering their nests. Those are the Opposition’s objections to the legislation.
-I would like to add to Senator Mulvihill’s words. As he said, the Opposition opposes the Migration Amendment Bill, which is in two parts. The first purpose of the Bill is to apply charges mainly in overseas countries, to intending migrants. As the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) said in the second reading speech, it is to defray the costs of the overseas administration of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. There are also machinery amendments authorising officers of other government departments to issue documents and making it an offence to give an authorised officer false information. Obviously, the Opposition does not oppose those clauses, but, in general, we oppose the main purport of the Bill. We oppose the charges but not the machinery amendments.
The charges are an interesting lot. The processing of an application for the grant of a further temporary entry permit in this country is $20. We seek from the Minister some information as to whether the charge will apply to refugees or to people who might be on special benefits from her own Department. The second charge is for the processing of an application for change of status from a temporary to a permanent resident, which is a charge of $50. One wonders again, in the situation of refugees or others in this country in similar circumstances, why the charge is $50? Is the charge, large as it is, to deter such applications? On what basis is the charge set at $50? Has a work value case been performed? On what basis does one seek $50 from such people? The charge for processing a return endorsement, a return entry visa, is $20 in Australia and $30 overseas. Is that a general charge or is there some flexibility in it? Will people who have been here for many many years, particularly British migrants, have to pay the $20 or $30, no matter what the circumstances, even if they may have gone overseas because of a bereavement or illness of a relative?
The next charge is for conducting English language tests at overseas posts. This will be a charge of $25. One wonders who will have to undergo such tests, what the nature of such tests will be and, as Senator Mulvihill asked, who will conduct such tests. Is this not again discriminatory against non-English-speaking potential migrants, as the Numerical Multi-Factor Assessment System already is? Why should we be putting on a charge for this purpose, particularly in view of the fact, as I will mention later, that overseas we are still spending money on advertising for migrants? There are charges of $20 for processing an application for evidence of resident status, $15 for obtaining information by cable from applicants and clients and $20 for assessing overseas qualifications. We are told that the charges levied in this Bill are designed to save the Government some $4m- about 12 per cent of the administrative costs of the overseas operations of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. The rationale given by the Government in the second reading speech is:
I suggest to the Government that if we carry that sort of explanation through to its logical extreme we will be charging pensioners for processing their pension applications, we will be charging Aborigines for the processing of applications for special assistance that they receive, we will be charging farmers for information from the Department of Primary Industry and from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and we will be charging businessmen for assistance from the Department of Industry and Commerce and the Department of Trade and Resources. I believe that this is a nonsense argument which has just been puthis is a t into the second reading speech to try to give some sort of justification for imposing these charges on intending migrants. The thrust of this legislation is discrimination against intending migrants, particularly poor and nonEnglishspeaking migrants. That may not be the explicit intention of the Government, but this legislation will certainly have the effect of deterring poor non-English-speaking migrants from proceeding with applications to come to this country and to stay in this country because they will find financial obstacles in their way in this regard.
We have had reports from the Government that there is a desire in Australia generally to pursue a policy of non-discrimination in the admission of migrants, but this sort of legislation containing these sorts of charges discriminates on the grounds of the ability to speak English and, of necessity, on the grounds of race. It does what the NUMAS scheme does. It puts out the welcome mat for comfortably-ofT Englishspeaking migrants, who are well ahead under the NUMAS scheme, and it puts nonEnglishspeaking migrants further behind the eight ball by making it more difficult for them to come to this country. I suggest that it will discriminate considerably against people coming to this country at times of crisis situations. We have already had a crisis situation in Lebanon when Australian citizens and people who have been residents of this country for a long time wanted to bring out their relatives from a very difficult situation. We had the overthrow of the Government of Chile which brought about a similar situation. Many of us were assisting migrants to bring out their relatives. Many of them had very few resources to bring their relatives out. I hope that the Government does not intend to carry through these charges indiscriminately and without any flexibility, as Senator Mulvihill said. If these charges are inflexible and if the Minister or the Department does not have the ability not to apply the charges, we will have discrimination against the not so well educated and nonEnglishspeaking migrants, whether they come from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America or anywhere else.
A further point I would like to bring up is that it seems to discriminate against families, unless there is a family rate rather than the individual rate that is listed in the Minister’s second reading speech. One can only assume from the list of charges that it is an individual rate and that each member of a family may be charged individually. We would like some clarification from the Minister on this situation. In this country a lot of money has been put into a publicity campaign designed to entice people here, including skilled workers who may not necessarily be on high wages overseas. Then we introduce legislation such as this and tell such people that they are to pay the bill for the work which is done by public servants in this country to process their applications to come to this country. I suggest that that is a discriminatory and patronising act which certainly shows an ambivalent approach to our oft stated policy of attracting migrants to this country on an equal basis.
One of the charges is for obtaining information by cables from applicants and clients. In view of the fact that the Government has said that this is consistent with the Government’s policy of achieving cost recovery for services provided by the Department, I would like to know of any other department which makes such charges. Certainly one hopes that in future members of parliament will not be charged for making such inquiries on behalf of constituents. Many of us have to do this at various times, almost monthly in my case. Senator Mulvihill sees an enormous number of immigration cases. In his case it would be probably weekly or even more often than that. What is the situation of the migrant welfare groups in this country, of which there are many? Are people who make inquiries on behalf of ill or distressed migrants to be charged $15 a time for trying to serve the members of their community? If they are to be charged, are they then supposed to attempt to recoup that money from clients who may be penniless, unemployed or in some considerable financial difficulty? I just believe that it is quite wrong for a government to levy charges of this type for seeking information by cable because they will fall inevitably on people who are distressed and disadvantaged. In my opinion that should be seen as a genuine welfare measure in this country.
I repeat the question asked by Senator Mulvihill. It is claimed in the second reading speech that similar charges are imposed generally by other countries. I think Europe is mentioned particularly in the second reading speech. On making inquiries the Opposition could not find out which countries, particularly countries from which we receive migrants, make such charges, particularly charges for extensions of visitors’ visas and re-entry visas. I would like to know from the Department how many countries charge for visas and particularly whether they are countries from which we are trying to attract migrants. Which countries are they?
Then we come to the question of language tests. I repeat that the English language test and the provisions of extra points for people who can speak English already put non-English-speaking migrants at a disadvantage; and the migrant community frequently points that out. I would like to ask a series of questions on this matter and I may as well do it at the second reading stage as at the Committee stage. Who overseas will be making decisions on the language tests which are to be given to intending migrants? How qualified are the officers? What objective criteria will they use both to apply these tests and to put on these tests? How different will they be from the English tests for citizenship in this country? Will they be more difficult or easier? We are just adding new problems for intending migrants. I do not believe that we should do that in any way, but particularly when it will cause economic hardship to people who wish to migrate to this country and who initially may well be attracted to this country by our advertising overseas.
The recommendations contained in the report of the Galbally Review of Post-arrival Programs and Services to Migrants were for the spending of some $50m in three years to assist post-arrival services for migrants in this country- about $16m a year. By this measure, intending visitors and migrants will be asked to provide $4m a year to the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. In other words, effectively we will be asking them to pay for a quarter of the post-arrival services recommended by the Government’s own inquiry. As I have explained, the Bill seems to be discriminatory; it is ungenerous; it seems to be inflexible- the second reading speech and the Bill contain no indication that the operation of this legislation will be other than inflexible- and it is based on the principle of taking from the poor and the troubled, from the ones who are least able to pay and who most need assistance in transferring to Australia and who in fact will make a very good contribution to this country when they arrive here. For those reasons, the Opposition does not like this sort of legislation and the Opposition opposes the Bill.
– in reply- Senator Mulvihill and Senator Grimes raised many questions with regard to the Migration Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1 979 with which I think I should deal. Senator Mulvihill mentioned again the matter of travel agents. As I assured him when we were debating the previous Bill, that issue will be considered by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) and I hope that it will be raised with the appropriate State Ministers for their discussion and consideration. Senator Mulvihill and Senator Grimes both raised questions with regard to the charges and the way in which they will be imposed. Both honourable senators asked generally whether there will be flexibility in their imposition. The charges will be applied generally, but there are some exemptions from the charges.
Perhaps at the outset I should say that refunds would be made only when wrongful payment of the charge has been made. There is no provision for remissions but, as I said, there is provision for exemptions. Two categories of people would be exempt. A person who is making a claim for refugee status would be exempt from the charge when that claim is being considered by the Minister and an application is made for a further temporary entry permit. Private overseas students and dependants who are subject to the proposed student charge are exempted from the charge for an extension of permit. Persons who enter under a temporary permit and need an extension while awaiting an answer on their claim for refugee status, as I said before, are exempt also.
The charge for English language testing overseas is basically a charge which is related to the requirements of the Department of Education. It relates primarily to the testing of applicants for entry as private students. The charge does not relate to ordinary migrant selection under NUMAS- that is the Numerical Multi-Factor Assessment System- which was a matter raised by Senator Mulvihill. The testing of private students is a fairly formal process conducted by officers of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, or the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Australian Development Assistance Bureau. Similar tests of applicants for student entry to other countries are conducted by private institutions at cost to the applicants. The assessment of the English capability of applicants for migrant entry is less formal and is undertaken by migrant selection officers. So what we are primarily talking about in this Bill is the requirement of the Department of Education for private students. I think it would be accepted that, in working with the Department of Education, that is a prerequisite of the capacity of a student to undertake the courses for which he wishes to enrol.
Senator Grimes made the general point that the charges will discriminate against poor migrants. I respond by saying that the extension of a temporary entry permit, the application for a change of status and the testing of English language capability overseas will relate to nonmigrants. The major charge falling on migrants will be the charge for re-entry endorsement. That could not basically be regarded as an unfair charge because it will place persons travelling on a foreign passport in the same position as Australian citizens, who pay $25 for their passports. Many, if not most, of the people who will pay the re-entry endorsement charge could avoid doing so by taking out Australian citizenship, for which they would be eligible.
Another question of a visa issue was raised. I point out that there is no charge for the issue of a visa; that is, there is no charge to visitors who apply to come to Australia. Senator Grimes referred also to charges for cables. I think I ought to draw attention to a recent answer by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to a question on notice, in which he assured members of parliament that that charge will not apply to representations which they make on behalf of their constituents. I think that covers the matters raised by Senator Grimes.
As has been said and was clearly stated in the second reading speech, the Bill does relate to some cost recovery of charges relating to permits and other immigration matters. Whilst Senator Grimes claimed that those charges could be the forerunner to the imposition of a charge on other domestic services, I think that ignores the practice around the world of requiring charges to be paid for cables and for many other services provided for people who travel from one country to another. I do not suggest that it is a forerunner to charges which might be imposed by my Department in the administration of the Social Service Act, nor could I imagine that other Ministers would feel that this is a forerunner to such charges.
The Government has given its commitment to the development in policy programs of the recommendations of the Galbally Review of Postarrival Programs and Services to Migrants. I think that in many instances they are proving of benefit in the post-arrival services which we are able to provide. This is a Bill which provides for the imposition of charges, as was stated in the second reading speech. The second reading speech contrasted this practice with practices observed in other countries. I believe that this is a Bill which will allow some cost recovery for the many services which are provided by the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I have two queries of the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle), which arise from remarks she made in reply in the second reading debate. The first refers to the charges imposed for English tests at stations overseas. I was fascinated- maybe I am just becoming suspicious in my old age- when the Minister said that those charges where primarily charges required by the Department of Education for the entry of overseas students. If they are the primary charges, I want to know what secondary and tertiary charges there are; or does the Minister in fact mean that they are the only charges? If there are other cases in which such charges are made, I believe that honourable senators should be notified.
My second query concerns the charge of $ 1 5, 1 think it is, for information sought from overseas by cable. The Minister assured us that that charge would not be applied to inquiries made by members of parliament on behalf of clients. Does this mean that when people from overseas seek information through a member of parliament, they will not be subject to this charge but that if they go somewhere else, such as the Migrant Welfare Service or any of the welfare agencies in this country, there will be a charge? Does it mean that there will be two classes of people: Those who know of or think of going to their member of parliament and those who do not know of their member of parliament and seek assistance from some other agency, particularly a self-help group, of which there are many in the community? If that is the situation we believe that it is a further discrimination in the legislation. I seek information on that matter.
– Another matter which puzzles me follows on from Senator Grimes’ remarks. Probably the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) will recall that during the Estimates Committee C proceedings I referred, for the purpose of the discussion to the lass, a Soviet citizen, who left a Russian ship in Sydney. As I recall, the dialogue between her and the departmental officers was on whether she would receive refugee status or political asylum. Tonight I want to refer to the latter category- political asylum. One case I can think of relates to a time when there was a United Nations force supervising a cease fire in Vietnam. I think that one or two eastern European members of that force sought political asylum- I suppose we could call it that- and they then entered Australia. The Minister referred to the instance of people acquiring refugee status and being exempted from some of the fees. During the Estimates Committee C proceedings the Minister’s departmental officers made it abundantly clear that there are some people who would come into the country under the supervision of the Department of Foreign Affairs and not under the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Do the people who are given sanctuary in Australia at the behest of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) have to pay any fee or are they in a different ball game?
– In regard to one matter raised by Senator Grimes, I said that it was primarily a matter for the Department of Education. The other point I had in mind was that there are certain professional bodies which examine candidates overseas and for whom the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs provides services. This is the other instance, the secondary instance, if one wishes to put it that way. The charge is largely related to private students who would be coming into this country. The second matter raised by Senator Grimes referred to requests by members of parliament. He asked whether others who require a cable inquiry would need to pay the charge. If members of parliament are acting for constituents, whatever service is required will be provided without cost. Where inquiries are made directly to the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs the normal service will be provided free. If there is a formal request for a cable inquiry the charge would apply.
The matter referred to by Senator Mulvihill is one on which I need to seek advice. If I understand him correctly, there will be no difference between charges for services whether the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs or the Department of Foreign Affairs provides the service. In other words if the instance he has in mind is where the Department of Foreign Affairs would need to determine refugee status and the service is provided, it would not matter whether it was the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs handling the matter. There would be no charge in that instance.
– I am sorry to sound pedantic, but could I have a clarification of the charges for cable information? If a migrant welfare organisation or any welfare organisation acting on behalf of a migrant makes an inquiry that requires information to be sought by cable, does this mean that either that welfare organisation or the client will be charged? I think it is an important point. I think it would be quite wrong for this community to have two groups of people: Members of parliament who get things free and legitimate groups, such as welfare organisations, who are charged.
– If I could be precise for Senator Grimes, the practice that will be put into effect is one that is similar to that used in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Where a formal request is made for a cable reply a charge will be imposed. That will apply to all bodies or persons other than parliamentary representatives. In the instance raised by Senator Grimes of welfare organisations making a specific and formal request for an urgent inquiry to be made by cable, the charge would be imposed. I understand from departmental officers that members of parliament rarely ask for a cable inquiry. It must be remembered that air mail is not one way that need take a great length of time. But where a formal request is made for a cable inquiry there will be a charge imposed except in respect of requests from members of parliament, which I mentioned earlier.
– I seek elucidation on another point. I noticed that the table which the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) submitted during the second reading speech states that the processing of an application for change of status, that is, from a temporary entrant to a permanent resident, is $50. To take that a bit further, I refer to applications submitted to the Minister for which there are very strong grounds. A person might have a specific or unique trade skill which is involved with production and the Minister may agree to the application. But then there are other applications which the Minister may feel are in a line ball situation, and they go to the Committee on the Determination of Refugee Status. In fact, the last statistic I received showed that there were about 400 people cleared by the DORS Committee. In cases where the Minister clears a person without referring him to the DORS Committee and in cases where the application goes to the DORS Committee, is the same fee of $50 applied?
– I am advised that there are no exemptions for change of status.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Guilfoyle) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 18 October, on motion by Senator Guilfoyle:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Homeless Persons Assistance Amendment Bill 1979 removes any reference in the principal Act to what is called a ‘prescribed period’ and thus extends indefinitely the operations of the homeless persons assistance program. As such the Opposition is not opposed to the Bill, although it has been critical of the manner in which the program has operated over the last four years and continues to be operated. We will move to the second reading of the Bill an amendment which does not oppose the Bill but which draws attention to the fact that certain assistance under this program to organisations helping homeless persons has not been increased since 1 974 when the legislation was first introduced despite considerable increases in costs since. The period of operation of this Act was extended on two previous occasions pending, we were told, discussions with the States and with the homeless persons assistance advisory committees about the ambit of the program and the future of funding and of administrative responsibilities of the States and of the Commonwealth.
Many organisations and individuals in the community and in this parliament have anxiously awaited the Government’s plans and ideas in relation to the future development of this very important program. This Bill does extend the program, but neither the Bill nor the second reading speech tell us very much about the future of the program, except that some youth refuges will be established under the Youth Services Program in the Office of Child Care, that some homeless people already receive support under the Community Health Program- that is, women’s shelters, and they have done so for four or five years- and that other homeless people receive support from welfare housing and the Family Support Services Scheme. That is not a very enlightening piece of information and it certainly does not give us any idea of what the Government intends to do in the future. We are further concerned that the only capital grants provided for in the Estimates this year are for two projects in the city of Brisbane, both of which were approved last year, and both of which were delayed by local factors in that area. No new projects have been listed, and it seems obvious from the comments that were made during the hearings of Estimates Committee C that, when the Estimates were drawn up, no new projects were being considered. In fact, one doubts whether the Government knew at that time exactly what it would do with this program.
Further, the Bill extends the duration of support for current expenditure in existing programs. But, as I said, no new capital projects are approved, and in fact the level of individual support remains at 75c for board and 25c for meals, as it did when the legislation was first introduced. It is for that reason that, on behalf of the Opposition, I move the following amendment to the second reading motion:
At the end of the motion add, ‘, but the Senate is of the opinion that the Government should legislate for increases, in line with increased costs caused by inflation, in the food and accommodation subsidy paid to those who provide assistance to Homeless Persons. ‘.
The amendment does no more than request the Government to do something about the level of these payments. A considerable problem is faced by people who are assisting the homeless persons. The food and accommodation subsidies have remained the same since the scheme was introduced and no allowance has been made for improvement or expansion. My information is that the advisory committees to the Government under the Homeless Persons Assistance Program have brought this matter to the attention of the Government repeatedly, but to no avail. I would suggest that, if we are fair dinkum about this program and the assistance that we give to people who are taking part in this very important project, we should update it in line with increased costs caused by inflation- or we ignore the program altogether. But we have no definitive statement as to the future of the program. We get no inkling from the Bill what is to happen in the future and what the Government may do.
From the second reading speech- and we certainly get nothing from the Bill- it seems that the future in the most pressing and rapidly expanding area of need, that of youth refuges, will be funded only 50 per cent by the Federal Government in new projects. It would appear that the Federal Government, which has most responsibility in this area for our most pressing social problem, youth unemployment, wishes to hive off the responsibility for one of the most distressing social consequences of youth unemployment, that is, homelessness in our young people. I think it is a matter of great regret that this seems to be the situation. It is an aspect to which I wish to return later.
First of all, I point out that the history of estimates and expenditure under the Homeless Persons Assistance Program is, to say the least, a disappointing one- disappointing to all of us. The history of good intentions can be seen from remarks made by responsible officers at the various Estimates committees over the last four years. The figures of allocations and expenditure each year show the relative failure to get the program moving, to get things off the ground. If one goes through the replies made to various questions by officers of the Department of Social Security on behalf of the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) at the various Estimates debates, we can see what has happened. In October 1976, the officer said:
Although nearly $7m in projects has been committed, the $2.1m will be adequate from the point of view of expenditure this year, and the balance will be available in time for the organisations next year.
In that year, a total of $4.4m was allocated, but only $1.6m was expended. In 1977, we were told:
There are a number of projects which have already been approved. The value of these is about $5.5m which we expect will be spent this year on the projects already approved.
Of the $5.5m allocated, only $ 1.73m was expended. In 1978, we were told:
We envisage that on the outstanding projects there is a need for expenditure of about $6. 7m.
During this year we have arranged to consult with the State governments which are doing work in the area. Arising from discussions which we held, the Government will then make a decision on future funding.
In that year, $3.8m was allocated and only $2.08m was expended. For four years in a row during the occupancy of the present Government, only half the moneys appropriated to provide assistance with shelter for the homeless has been used, despite claims by existing organisations for more help, with emergency assistance particularly, but also with extensions to existing programs. Needs have risen each year, but moneys voted by this Parliament have been unused and have been returned to the revenue. I see no virtue in such a statement when the need and the opportunity to use such funds are obvious to anyone who is interested in the subject at all. We are not talking about expenditure which would cripple the nation. We are not taking about expenditure which would blow out the deficit, and there is no virtue in cutting expenditure in these socially important areas where people are in great need. In four years, of the $17m allocated only $ 10m has been spent. That, I suggest, is a reflection of either appalling estimating or a lack of willingness to move in this area.
As I have said in this place in the past, I am perfectly aware that there are local problems which beset programs for the homeless. These include problems with local governments which are more concerned with property values than with the people who live in their areas and problems with society’s alienation of the homeless. But still I believe that, in four or five years of experience, we should have learned enough to do better, and we should have learned enough to assist people who are doing such a good job in this important area. The working party which made the recommendations to the Government in 1974 to set up this program anticipated an expenditure in the Homeless Persons Assistance Program of about $5m a year, or $ 15m in three years. In that first four years, we had $8m; and there is no certainty what will happen in the future.
When the legislation was introduced in 1 974, the then Minister for Social Security, Bill Hayden, pointed out the contrast between the millions which are spent in this country enforcing laws such as the laws relating to vagrancy- one could add public drunkenness and public nuisance- which harrass the homeless persons who are assisted under this legislation. He pointed out the contrast between that and the pittance spent on providing shelter, rest, nutrition, rehabilitation and counselling for this heterogenous group of people whom we conveniently label the homeless, although it is purely a label of convenience. Gough Whitlam in his 1974 policy speech spoke of the homeless and their needs. As was so frequently the case with him, he had a much broader view. He had a broad vision of a flexible program that would assist in providing shelter and succour for: the young as well as the old . . . the permanently homeless, to the deserted or disturbed woman and her children, to the Aboriginal or teenager in want or distress, to the battered woman or the battered child, to the single parent . . .
That such a broad and flexible program did not develop is a disappointment to me personally and, I know, to many of us. That women’s refuges ended up with the Community Health Program because of impatience with progress at the time- it was done when Labor was in officeand because more funds were available in that area is to be regretted. It is equally to be regretted that youth refuges are now to be largely under the States or the Office of Child Care. It seems that we have not succeeded in setting up a broad, flexible program that can cover a wide group of people in distress whose primary need is shelter, a place to identify with, a place where they can receive support and counselling. It seems that we are to continue to have a program that is based mainly on the group of homeless men who are traditionally supported by the voluntary agencies in this country. It is an important program, but I believe that we could have done so much more if we had widened it and enabled a more flexible approach to be taken. I know that the program includes provision for a smaller group of homeless women and that some youth refuges are to be continued, but from the second reading speech of the Minister for Social Security it seems that the activity is to be confined largely to the group of so-called homeless men. It is they whom I would like to consider firstly.
When we consider this group, which is so often the so-called skid row people in this community, we see an area of considerable need, one in which many fine people in this community have laboured long and hard. I refer to members of the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul, the various city missions and homeless persons groups around the country. They have laboured hard and long to provide shelter, dignity and respect to a group of citizens that society would rather not know about and would seem to continue not to want to know about. Anyone who goes out and talks to such people will realise the truth of the various reports in this country in recent years by those who have studied this group of citizens. One realises that these people are not in fact the homogenous group of drunken dead beats that they were always considered to be in the past; that in fact they are a heterogeneous group with varying backgrounds, problems and outlooks on life, who share a lack of permanent home and a tendency to be mobile. Often this mobility has been forced upon them by society’s attitudes.
I recall that last time we debated this legislation I quoted from the poverty inquiry papers such as ‘Health Studies of Disadvantaged Groups’ and ‘Homeless Persons and the Law’. One could also quote from the Department of Social Security’s paper ‘A Place of Dignity’. All of these papers point out that we have a group which has a consistently higher rate of alcoholism, of general health problems, of respiratory and hepatic diseases, of tuberculosis and of venereal diseases, a high pattern of inadequate or broken schooling- although some are quite well educated- a consistent inability to maintain reasonable personal relationships, a consistently high unemployment rate, a high rate of clashes with the law for vagrancy and other petty crimes. Although this pattern runs through any survey that is done of them, the studies also demonstrate a fact that is obvious to anyone who spends any time with them. They are a most varied group, with varying attitudes to their own condition and to society; they are an interesting group and one that is worth caring for and worth looking after.
The reports show that some are embittered and unhappy in their loneliness and isolation from society, but others prefer their isolated state. Almost all resent the sort of paternalism with which they have been treated so often in the past. Most need shelter, a home base and treatment of their health, nutritional, alcoholism or other problems, but they do not wish to be told how to live or how to conform to society’s ideas of what is proper. They are people who in the past have been neglected or even hounded by society. They continue to be hassled by our laws and to be hindered by our concepts of propriety. Nevertheless, they are a part of our society. They vary from the utterly dependent alcoholic or brain-damaged person to the non-conformist eccentric. They contain the groups that we have all read about, such as Mac and the boys in Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat of Steinbeck’s stories. Those who have traditionally helped them and run the refuges, the Matthew Talbot hostels or Salvation Army homes, those who have provided them with a place with which they can identify, deserve our support. More than that, they deserve an expectation that they will continue to get our support. They deserve some indication of the support that they will get in the future. If you like, they deserve the equivalent of some indicative planning of which we talk so often in respect of economic affairs so that they can do their work with some sense of security and in a satisfactory manner. It is a legitimate function of government in a civilised society to provide such assistance, despite economic difficulties. In fact, it is even more a responsibility of government to provide such assistance in times of economic difficulty, because in those times the numbers of the people they serve increase. Such institutions also deserve community support, not the obstructiveness and difficulties that are put in their way by those who prefer not to see them or prefer to keep them out of sight and out of mind.
When the Homeless Persons Assistance Program was introduced in this Parliament it was praised by honourable members on both sides. One can remember that the then Mr Chipp, now Senator Chipp, who was the shadow Minister for Social Security, was quite in his praise of a government which had at last done something concrete in this area. The program has not done as well as it should have, partly because of society’s general attitude to these people, and partly from a lack of desire on the part of the Government to increase expenditure, even in this worthy area. As I have said, we still remain uncertain as to what is to happen in that regard.
However, two things are certain. One is that the economy will not improve quickly and the other is that our unemployment rate will continue to increase. As this happens, the number of people who can be classed as homeless and in need of assistance will increase. As their numbers increase the contribution by government and society should continue to increase. We cannot tolerate the situation that has existed in the last four years, in which we have continued to underspend in this area. We need to assist the various organisations so that they can advance their programs, overcome their administrative difficulties and make more progress than they have in the past.
We must also look seriously at the other problem mentioned by the Minister in her second reading speech. I refer to the plight of the young homeless, the teenage homeless in this community. This phenomenon is becoming more disturbing as youth unemployment increases. Some eight to ten years ago we did not hear much about it at all, probably because there were very few young homeless in the community, so few that they were just not noticed. More and more people are expressing concern about the increasing numbers involved. In Victoria one hears estimates of between 15,000 and 20,000 people under the age of 1 8 who have no home, who are alienated from their family home. In New South
Wales it is suspected that the number is proportionately similar. In Victoria bands of concerned individuals from various welfare organisations and churches have got together in organisations to co-ordinate activity in this area. In Queensland a survey carried out under the International Year of the Child program has indicated that there has been an increase of some 70 per cent in the number of children under the age of 1 8 who are, in fact, wandering homeless around Brisbane and the other cities of Queensland. In New South Wales the State Government supports refuges and social workers for the homeless teenagers from 13 to 17 years of age. The Federal Government, we are told, through the Office of Child Care, has introduced a scheme whereby a one to one subsidy is going to go towards the States to assist them in this problem.
The problem, as I say, is causing concern to all sorts of people. The Victorian Consultative Council on Social Welfare has produced a report on the result of a survey which indicates that the major causes of youth homelessness are youth unemployment and family difficulties caused by unemployment among other members of the family. It is pointed out that we have unemployed youth eligible for only $36 a week. These people are alienated from their families with little hope of a job. They are in an extremely vulnerable situation. The dangers of drifting into petty crime, vandalism, prostitution and the drug scene are very real. If ever there was a situation where we could have used a flexible homeless assistance program which could have provided funds for interested organisations, skilled organisations and concerned organisations to set up refuges- as some of them did- to support people in this very difficult situation, the Homeless Persons Assistance Program was one. There was no need, I suggest, to set up another program, as it seems, to cut down the Commonwealth’s relative contribution in this area. One could have used this program, as it was meant to be used, to assist this group of people, instead of introducing what is, I believe, in danger of being a very narrowly based program which will restrict the activity of those involved in it.
Whenever we introduce a program for a broad group of people like this, we must make sure that flexibility prevails; for instance, that the artificial cut-off point of 1 8 years is not rigidly applied because there will be many people between 19 years and, say, 24 years of age who are immature and who do not appropriately fit into the sort of accommodation that is usually available for homeless persons, particularly homeless men, in our community today. This program should be closely associated with other programs which help unemployed youth, programs such as the Community Youth Support Scheme, where unemployed and potentially homeless and alienated youths will attend for assistance or to gather with people of their own type. I repeat that I believe the best program would have been an expanded homeless persons program which would have provided the flexibility for handling what 1 suggest is an ominous social problem.
In summing up, I point out firstly, that the Opposition has moved this amendment to draw to the attention of the Government and the community the utter inadequacy of the food and accommodation subsidies available under this program in 1979. The subsidies are the same as were available in 1974-75. In view of the costs and the increasing size of the problem, it is quite ludicrous to find them at the same level. This community can and must afford to increase them.
Secondly, the Opposition would like to point out the unsatisfactory nature of the history of this program, the manner in which expectations have been built up by relatively high appropriations, and how expectations have not been reached by the underspending each year of that amount of money. These expectations could have been satisfied had further programs been approved to make up for those who admittedly had a long lag period and local difficulties in establishing their programs. Thirdly, we wish to express our disappointment that the program is apparently not to be extended to include other groups who could legitimately be considered in the homeless persons area, groups which it was certainly envisaged would be included when the program was first introduced. We express our disappointment that there is not to be introduced into the program a breadth and a flexibility which would have been useful in coping with some of the social problems which we will obviously face in times of increasing unemployment and economic difficulty. We are pleased that the program will continue. We are disappointed that it will not continue in the manner in which it was originally intended. We are disappointed that the Government seems to take it less seriously than those who originated the program and those who praised it when it was introduced considered that it should have been treated.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– The Australian Democrats support the Australian Labor Party’s amendment for the obvious reason that if the Government in these days of continuing cost increases, is to provide the same facilities and assistance as it has in the past, it will have to increase any subsidy or benefit to an organisation which it wishes to assist. This is a basic principle which many times in the Senate this year we have seen the Government either ignore or neglect. I feel it is one principle that the Government can hardly be ignorant of. It seems to me that this Bill amounts to a rather despicable form of cheese paring in that it takes away from those who need the most to benefit those who in fact can manage very nicely. Of course, that is the situation obtaining with the majority of society at present.
I was interested in Senator Grimes’ hope that if we are to operate on this legislation again we will do something more with it. Last year we had a debate which followed very similar lines, I believe, to this one, in which the growing dimensions of the problem were stressed. I find it most disappointing, and the Australian Democrats find it most disappointing, that in the meantime nothing has happened. In effect the Government is perpetuating a status quo situation based on a concept of charity. That is what this Bill does. We do not think that it goes anywhere near far enough. The situation concerning homeless people in this country has changed dramatically and will continue to change with every month that passes because there is no indication to the contrary. Even the latest figures out today show that youth unemployment is increasing. We now have a stubborn backlog, a basic group of people who are now apparently to be the derelicts of this generation. I do not believe that we can afford to have a society in which large numbers of new and oncoming generations who should be taking up their responsibility are derelicts in the sense that they would see themselves as derelicts. I think that is perhaps one of the most important aspects of this problem. The skid row archetype of elderly and frequently alcoholic derelicts no longer obtains. I would say that it is impossible to obtain accurate figures on this, but I would suspect that probably that archetype of skid row derelict is very much in the minority. Most homeless people now are young. The figures which are being guessed at in an informed way by organisations throughout Australia concerned with the problem, tend to support that point of view.
We now have doctors and media people talking about a new disease in our society called the unemployment syndrome. This is a disease fundamentally, I believe, of the homeless young. I think that most of the people who are unemployed, who have homes, who have not alienated themselves from their parents, retain some degree of hope; they probably do not stay unemployed for very long and they get back into work. It is this group of homeless young that we have to consider most of all, and that is the group that certainly concerns the Australian Democrats most at this time.
This disease has been created by the policies of the Government which seems to believe that anything- the sacrifice of the hopes, life and aspirations of tens of thousands of people- is justifiable in the interests of reducing the inflation rate. But we are not really reducing the inflation rate at all. If we were honest with ourselves I think we would admit to ourselves that basically inflation is a means of redistributing wealth in our society as it is in any society. It tends to take money away from the poor and people who do not have a surplus of assets and to redistribute it to those who do. This is a very simple process which is organised basically by the increase in value of equities in property. While that happens there must be a situation where there is this disproportionate and unfair transfer of wealth. Until we recognise that, some sort of control is necessary- perhaps some type of capital gains tax, not like the one the Labor Party brought forward, but one that is honestly indexed to inflation. If we have that control I think we are beginning to be honest with ourselves and I think that a tax such as that might do a lot more good in reducing inflation than any amount of depriving young people of work. That now seems to be the situation- unemployment versus the inflation rate. I do not go along with this idea of keeping people unemployed in this way and saying that sooner or later they will be given work. That is not working; it has not worked out that way at all and I do not see that it ever can.
One aspect of this unemployed homeless situation in the community which is very damaging and very dangerous is what I would like to call the scapegoat principle. It is very easy in any society for those in authority- the Government particularly or the media- to incite generally in the community a feeling of hostility towards a disadvantaged minority. It has happened regularly down the centuries. Anyone who reads history can see this. It has always resulted in incalculable agony and injustice. It is particularly unpleasant- one would hope that one learned through the centuries, but apparently not- to see tendencies in our own society to play on the collective guilt feelings of the majority of our society, who do still get a comfortable income and have profitable work, and turn this into hostility for not just those people who are without work but the most vulnerable and the most disadvantaged of those who do not have work.
It is very easy for society to make a convenient rationalisation and say: ‘These people are dole bludgers; they are lazy and do not want to work; they are enjoying a pleasant surfing life at the expense of society’. These things have been said through the years over and over again. They are a rationalisation of the very justifiable guilt feelings of society. When it comes to government and those in authority encouraging them, I think we are seeing a very dangerous and harmful situation and one I feel that all honourable senators should deplore. I do not think that those things are true of most people who are out of work. I am sure there is a very tiny minority who exploit the situation and that the majority will always be there. The majority want work, or they have wanted work. We are reaching an important point in that regard because it is true that long periods out of work can so attack the morale, will and self-regard of the youthful unemployed especially as to make them virtually unemployable unless some special measure is taken to bring them back into society. I think that is where the Homeless Persons Assistance Amendment Bill lacks imagination. Here we are talking about a group of people who need help urgently, imagination, and some type of assistance to get them back into the mainstream. They are not getting those things. There is nothing in this amending legislation which begins to hint that the Government is even considering those problems.
Many of these young people in this category are among the homeless because the length of time they have been out of work and their own lack of self-esteem have driven them away from their home environment. This is happening to Australians in increasing numbers. I wish that somebody somewhere, perhaps the Government itself, could do an intelligent survey of how many people there are in this category so that we would all know and be in a position to do something about this growing problem and recognise the dimensions of it.
Is there not something more positive that could be done for these people rather than just the making of vague suggestions regarding a retaining program? If we try to analyse the program, perhaps it emerges like this: Many of the homeless are young; they are alienated from their families; they did not do especially well at school; and they cannot find work or they are so demoralised they have given up trying. In many cases they have retreated into a peer group situation such as a commune- a group of perhaps six to a dozen people who are living in the country and who have no real wish or courage left to emerge from that situation. Perhaps in this situation we see a hint of what might be useful for the Government to consider doing. These young people need training; they need a useful work situation that could begin to restore their selfrespect and give them a feeling of being of value to society.
I suggest, Mr President, and to honourable senators through you that this is not something we can expect these individuals to do for themselves, or to do easily as individuals, because I believe that many of them have been so bruised and damaged by what society has done to them after their years of schooling that they are no longer capable of making this effort for themselves. I am tempted very much- I do not believe in compulsion of any sort of organising people in a military way- to the thought of something approximating the Israeli kibbutzim, or some type of youth co-operative which would not be a charity but which could provide motivation to a group of young people who might be induced even by old-fashioned words which perhaps may now be so old hat that they are almost bad words. I refer to such words as ‘idealism’ and patriotism’ and words of that sort that nobody mentions any more because presumably it is regarded as too idealistic even to mention them. We prefer a sort of hopeless cynicism which abandons these young people to their fate.
We have a lot of work that needs to be done in this country. It is ridiculous that we should have large numbers of people wandering around the streets homeless as they are and not able to work. A concept of this sort ought to give a group responsibility for a specific task or area of work and provide incentives. Rather than being State employees, or going out wandering around doing up national parks on some sort of lower salary, the Australian Democrats would rather see a contract with a group for certain work or some group of activity. Ideally everybody in Australia should have work under award conditions. I am coming to very delicate ground here and I am doing it deliberately because I think this has to be considered. Everybody should have work under award conditions. While this remains impossible- at the moment it appears to be impossible- surely some other arrangement seems necessary, and the sooner we have one the better. It is all very well to say that we want an ideal situation for everybody but if we cannot give it to everybody, and if we are going to deprive some people by doing it, what good are we doing? I think something else has to be tried.
This is a special problem and it demands a special answer. I plead with honourable senators on this side of the chamber who are connected with the trade union movement to think about that deeply and realise that those of us making this sort of suggestion are not trying to undermine the union movement; we are not against principles of fair and equal pay, but we see this problem and the difficulties that have come about.
– You just want cheap labour.
– No, Senator, that is not true. I do not just want cheap labour, but I believe young people would rather work and feel they are doing something for their country in a reasonable way than to sit around on their backsides doing nothing for years on end. I think the honourable senator would probably agree with me basically on that.
The Australian Democrats have no basic objection to what the Bill is doing, namely, extending indefinitely provisions of the three year program. We only say that it fails to solve the most important part of the problem. As Senator Grimes has said, the funding is scandalously inadequate. This is another problem to which the Government should be addressing itself at this stage. On figures I have there are an estimated 7,000 homeless people in Melbourne, comprising about 5,000 men and 2,000 women. Up to 1,000 people are sleeping out in Melbourne on any given night under bridges and in parks. In Sydney the problem is probably considerably worse, although it is perhaps not as well recognised because there are not as many people working in that area in Sydney as there should be.
It is a fact, I am assured by people working in the Kings Cross area, that the rate of child prostitution there has increased three to four hundred per cent in the last year. I am speaking here of male and female prostitutes aged as young as 1 1 years. These facts can be authenticated. One has only to go to places like the Wayside Chapel to find out that this is going on. If honourable senators go through Kings Cross on any day of the week they will be propositioned by such young people. The young people are in that position, I would say, through no fault of their own.
They are in that position through the fault of this society. I think that honourable senators would agree that when a problem reaches those dimensions it is time for something more than the introduction of this meagre Bill to be done. That is my basic point.
As it stands, organisations providing free accommodation cannot keep up with the demand. Other organisations which charge for accommodation are now finding that their traditional client group cannot afford even those modest prices any more. For instance, I have had brought to my attention the circumstances of Gordon House in Melbourne which is run by the Hanover Welfare Services. A new building was under construction but it was modified to conform to the higher standards recommended under the appropriate program. The organisation applied for funds for some of the equipment, but missed out when new funding was frozen in 1977. It is now finding difficulty in running economically the upgraded accommodation. These organisations are caught in the middle of a problem for which to them there is no apparent solution.
Let us look again at the subsidies of 75c a day for accommodation and 25c for meals which, as Senator Grimes has said, were calculated by a working party back in 1 972 and which are quite ludicrous seven years later. That 25c would nouite t even pay for a secondhand pie or a hamburger. I am not joking when I mention secondhand pies. I am informed that homeless men often have been fed on unsold pies donated by department stores and the like. In other words, we are feeding these human beings with food which might otherwise even have been rejected by a pig farmer for his own animals. That is what the 25c subsidy means. With food costs and especially meat prices skyrocketing how can this ludicrous figure of 25c towards a meal have any meaning whatsoever? How can the Government have the coldness and hardness of heart to bring forward these subsidies to the public and to the Senate as a serious contribution towards anything of value at all.
Gordon House is an example of an organisation’s providing this quality accommodation for a moderate charge. Its clients were not derelicts but seasonal and casual workers who were used to a standard of work and finance certainly adequate for self-respect. Now large numbers of those people cannot get any work at all. Since nearly all are single their unemployment benefit is not automatically indexed and it stands at $5 1.45 a week. They can barely afford that type of accommodation unless they get an additional handout from some emergency relief agency.
Another example in Melbourne is Ozanam House which provides free services. A report in the Melbourne Catholic newspaper the Advocate of 1 3 September this year stated:
At the end of June the house owed nearly $70,000 because of the number of men needing shelter and rehabilitation and also because of inflation and a shortfall in promised government funds which had not become available.
Finally, at the risk of becoming tedious- I think this is an enormously important problem- I return to the question of homeless young people. According to an estimate in the report of the Victorian Consultative Committee on Social Development Youth Accommodation there could be up to 15,000 young people in Melbourne who are absolutely homeless. Figures have not been taken out, but one suspects that the number could be approaching 100,000 throughout the country. Page 2 of the Minister’s second reading speech shows that in total there are 113 centres approved at present and that these provide overnight accommodation for 3,600 men and women. We are speaking now of a problem concerning tens and probably scores of thousands of people. The figure is increasing every day. These people in Sydney sleep regularly under bridges and in parks.
Part of the problem is the unemployment benefit. Let us have another look at that. For under 1 8-year olds the benefit has been frozen at $36 since 1975. An amount of $36 is not very much these days to keep body and soul together. I know people who spend more than that feeding large dogs. This amount is $33.40 below the poverty line, and we call ourselves an enlightened and civilised society! It is impossible for a person of any age to provide food, shelter and clothing in a decent way on that amount. Those people on that meagre $36 are relatively lucky. One emergency shelter found that 80 per cent of the young homeless people coming to it were not on benefits at all due to bureaucratic complications, fear, shame or confusion. I suggest that we should keep these benefits as simple as possible. Every time they are further complicated, some unfortunate person, through no will of his own, gets himself into strife because he is placed in a situation where his natural shame and fear and wish not to be on the dole is compounded by these extra regulations which have the effect of forcing him into absolute poverty and degradation.
Social consequences were mentioned by Senator Grimes and for the future they are immense. This is not a minor problem; it is one of the most serious and important problems facing our society. Young people are being driven into crime, prostitution, drug peddling and all kinds of squalor. These are not just cliches. Representatives of any organisation working amongst young people will have a long list of facts about all those points. The special youth program which the Minister mentioned in the second reading speech is quite inadequate to meet the needs which are already obvious, much less the needs of the future.
The situation needs a new dynamic exercise of imagination, tolerance and compassion on the part of the Government which it so far has shown no signs of displaying. I think the community would support, even more than it has done in the past, any genuine attempt by the Government to salvage these young lives and to do something about the matter. The Government can do so quite easily. It would not even be very costly. Perhaps honourable senators would like to look more at the kibbutzim idea. I commend it. Right through history young people have been idealists. They will work for an ideal better than they will work for money. There is no doubt about that. Let the Government go to the Israelis and look at the Israeli experience and get some advisors out from the Israeli kibbutzim. A lot of work, as I said, needs doing in Australia. It is quite insane that we should allow the present situation to continue for one moment longer than it need do.
– As my colleague Senator Grimes has already said, we have moved this amendment because of our concern and disappointment that this Bill does not go anywhere near meeting the needs of the community that it is supposed to serve, that is, those large number of people who are classified as and considered to be homeless. A definition of a homeless person appears in Law and Poverty in Australia’, the second main report of the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty of October 1975. It is a very tight definition. It states:
Although there is no universally accepted definition of the homeless population, the following is a useful attempt:
A homeless person falls below an objectively defined poverty line, at least from time to time, and is effectively single permanently, in so far as he is cut off from or has no relatives or close friends. Though he may be receiving some form of outside support, he has few independent resources, often has no immediate means and in some cases has little future prospect of self-support. He is without a conventional home and lacks most of the social or economic supports a home normally provides. The term homeless person’ may include such casual, seasonal or migratory workers who present welfare problems while passing through a community or staying in it for a relatively short time.
As I said, the definition is very narrow. Many more people in the community can and must be considered homeless. We recognise that the figures given in the report that there are between 3,000 and 3,500 homeless people in the inner city area of Sydney alone may have been valid in 1975. The figures are no longer valid. As Senator Mason said, the figures in Victoria now total some 7,000 persons. I think that would be a very conservative estimate. We have no idea of the true extent of homelessness because no one has ever done a comprehensive survey on those people who see themselves as being homeless. I refer, for instance, to those people who come from country areas, perhaps in Western Australia, to the city in search of employment because there is no possible opportunity for them in their country towns where their parents are resident. They come to the city. They gravitate perhaps into a communal-type home or perhaps they have to gravitate to a refuge. Generally, though, there are only women’s refuges. I must admit that there is not the same facility available for young men. No one, to the best of my knowledge, has ever gone around to those people and asked: Do you consider yourself homeless?
When we contacted the Department of Social Security in Western Australia this afternoon we were not able to find those organisations which had applied for and been rejected a grant under the Homeless Persons Assistance Act.
Bounty (Books) Act -Australian Broadcasting Commission: Radio Station SPA Naracoorte
– Order! It being 10.30 p.m., under sessional order I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– On the adjournment this evening, I wish to pursue the matter that I raised by way of a question to the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) at Question Time today dealing with the extent to which public funds are used in Australia to subsidise the printing and distribution of pornography.
Honourable senators will be aware that a piece of legislation entitled the Bounty (Books) Act was first introduced in 1969, the objective of the Act being to provide financial assistance by way of bounty to the printing industry in Australia. It is perhaps worth noting that for almost as long as there have been books in the English language there has been some government support for printing. The first book actually printed in England and in the English language was printed by Caxton in 1477. In 1483, the Parliament of that year passed customs and excise legislation which imposed a tariff on books and imported printed items. The monarch of the day, the somewhat maligned King Richard III, wrote into the legislation that there was to be no customs on those bringing into this realm or selling by retail or otherwise any manner of books, written or imprinted ‘, and that there was to be no interference with ‘the inhabiting within the realm of writers or illustrators, binders or printers of such books’.
On 28 May 1969, the then Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr McEwen, made a ministerial statement in which he indicated that the Government was about to introduce a system of paying bounty to Australian book manufacturers, pending an inquiry and report by the then Tariff Board on the question of long-term measures to assist the industry. He said:
This decision was taken because increasing numbers of books are being printed for Australian publishers in overseas countries. The loss of business to Australian printers has caused serious damage to the domestic book printing and binding industry. Employment has fallen significantly and the Government is convinced on the evidence that this trend will continue unless immediate action is taken.
In September 1969, the Minister for the Interior, Mr Nixon, introduced the first book bounty Bill, which provided for a bounty to be paid up to a level of 25 per cent of the cost of manufacturing a book in Australia. We have amended that legislation on a number of occasions, although there has never been a substantial debate in the Parliament on the book bounty legislation. If one looks through Hansard year by year one will discover a great paucity of debate. For instance, the most significant changes made to the Bounty (Books) Act were made on the last day, indeed in the last hour of the last sitting day, of the last session, and were made without any debate taking place on them, despite the fact that they were of a fairly substantial nature.
The trend in the printing industry in the period since the introduction of the book bounty legislation has been somewhat reversed. There are now over 2,000 premises registered under the Act. The industry employs some 15,000 persons and, in 1976-77, had a turnover of some $28m. The latest returns under the Act, which were presented to the Parliament only a few months ago, show that, in the year 1978-79, the Commonwealth paid out $12,463,000 in book bounty on 47,626,885 books. A number of those payments were of some significance. Some 20 companies received in excess of $100,000 by way of book bounty. Of those, the most outstanding were
Griffin Press, which received $1,151,458, Wilke and Co. Ltd, which received $570,504, and John Sands Pty Ltd, which received $975,886. Of the $ 12m-odd paid out, the majority was for firms in New South Wales and Victoria, as one would expect, and the bounty was paid to some 739 individual producers and printers of books. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table showing expenditure under the Bounty (Books) Act for the years 1969-70 to 1978-79, a table showing the summary of returns by States for the period 1 July 1978 to 30 June 1979, and a table showing those payments in 1978-79 which were in excess of$100,000.
Leave granted. 77ie table read as follows-
-I thank the Senate. I am concerned to examine the problems that one faces in terms of where the bounty is being paid when, in my view, it should not be paid, and where it is not being paid and in fact should be paid. The whole Act came under quite close scrutiny by the Industries Assistance Commission in its report entitled ‘Products of the Printing Industry’ dated 31 July 1978. That report was significant because it indicated a number of things. Firstly, at page 14 the report stated:
The Commission estimates that in the five years from 1972-73 this share -
That is the Australian-produced share of the total market: was equal to or more than 60 per cent.
That figure of locally-produced books accounting for 60 per cent of the market was further reinforced in the answer to a question on notice which appeared in Senate Hansard of 14 September 1978. Senator Chaney provided an answer on behalf of the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch) in response to a question asked by Senator Button. I seek leave to have the text of the question and answer incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice, on 16 August 1978:
What statistics or information are available on the following matters: (a) the incidence of Australian printing reequirements being met by export of work, rather than by printing in Australia, over the past five years; (b) the incidence of importation of printed matter, especially textbooks, rather than the printing of such material in Australia, over the past five years; and (c) any protective measures which are available to help the Australian printing industry.
– The Minister for Industry and Commerce has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
Imports of textbooks are not separately recorded. The statistics quoted do not represent the degree of transference overseas of work which would otherwise be available to Australian Printers. For example, in regard to most books of overseas origin, the question of their being printed in Australia does not arise. The Industries Assistance Commission, in its draft Report on Products of the Printing Industry of April 1978, estimated that Australian book manufacturers held a little over 60 per cent of the market for books the printing of which could realistically be considered as potentially available to Australian producers.
-I thank the Senate. The Industries Assistance Commission reported that new criteria for eligibility under the Act should be established and that bounties should be paid on the following products which were then ineligible for bounty: Books containing advertisements, if of the type which on importation would be admitted duty free; workshop manuals; service manuals and similar books relating to the use or maintenance of machinery; turf, stock and stud registers; statistical publications; Acts of Parliament; conciliation and arbitration awards, determinations and similar pronouncements when not printed by Commonwealth or State government printers.
It further said that the eligibility for bounty should be restricted to those books where there was a run of more than 1,000 copies. This was an attempt to get over the fraud that had been going on previously whereby a manufacturer in Australia set the type for a book, printed one copy, had it bound, registered and applied for bounty, then sent one copy overseas, where it was photographed and printed off those photographic plates. The person in question then received the bounty at 30 per cent of the cost of the typesetting, which may have been a figure of some thousands of dollars. That practice was eliminated by the introduction of a minimum run.
The Commission went on to propose that certain publications should be excluded from bounty, including publications produced by photocopying, scripts for the performing arts, commercial or industrial specifications, bills of quantity for buildings, plant or equipment, tender documents or building proposals, town planning reports, in-house training manuals, books produced by associations or organisations for their own internal use, and other books not published, that is, books not issued or made available to the public.
Fortunately the Government did not pick up the IAC recommendation that excluded from bounty should be publications manufactured by schools, colleges and universities. One would have thought that that would have laid down some fairly strict criteria for the operation of the book bounty. The principal beneficiaries, it appeared, were to be those tertiary institutions which were able to publish, print and have their work recognised as being eligible for attracting subsidy under the Act. This has proved to be only partly the case. To illustrate that point I seek to have incorporated in Hansard a list of payments to educational institutions under the Bounty (Books) Act during 1978-79.
The table read as follows-
-The legislation then runs into a series of problems. I want to deal with those problems. They involve both the problem of pornography that I was previously talking about and the fact that publishers of a number of books on recommendations for drug use are also in receipt of bounty from the Government. The first area of concern is that the Act brings about its own problems by the definition of what constitutes a book. In the absence of Senator Evans I can say that the definition of the word ‘book’ in this Act would do great credit to him. The legislation states:
Book ‘ means a publication that is in book form.
One would have thought that the simple definition ‘a book is a book is a book’ would have done just as well. Lest anybody thinks that that is a simple enough proposition, this matter, needless to say, has been decided in the High Court of Australia in the case of Ambascol Press v. Director, Posts and Telegraphs (New South Wales). The High Court was ruling on a publication which was described in the following terms:
It is a paper-covered magazine consisting of printed and illustrated pages numbered up to 48, fastened together by staples. The staples not only hold the pages together; they hold the cover to the pages. The inside of the cover, both back and front, is used for printing part of the contents of the magazine.
Mr Justice Menzies, in delivering judgment and after describing the publication in those words, said:
It is abundantly clear, merely from a reading of the regulations, that it is not necessary that a publication, to be registrable as a book, must be a book in any ordinary parlance or according to any statutory description.
So one can see that the legislation says that a book is anything that a judge says is a book. This has led to the situation in which a number of very large firms in Australia are able to get their printing subsidised by the Government. For instance, during last year we paid $ 1 3,266 to Rothmans of Pall Mall for publications.
– Did you hear what kind of publication Rothmans put out?
– The publications put out by Rothmans were put out by the Rothmans Sporting Foundation. We paid $24,000 to our own instrumentality, the Australian Broadcasting Commission. One is amazed to see that last year, obviously in order to help a struggling local concern, we paid bounty of $56,944 to the IBM company to help it deal with the problems of its printing bill. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table showing payments to major firms made under the Bounty (Books) Act for the last three years.
The table read as follows-
– The second thing I wish to say is that we also pay a large amount of subsidy to the political parties. The Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party of Australia and the Communist Party all get their policy documents, their conference documents and their platforms subsidised under the Bounty (Books) Act. One might look at this as an example of how far we go already in subsidising political parties. But it is more important perhaps that a large number of books which deal with the use of marihuana are also eligible for bounty. Provided that they do not fall within the fairly loose definitions described in sections 5 and 7 of the Crimes Act, they attract a subsidy for their printing. For instance, the Marihuana Cook Book, which is freely available and which gives a number of recipes for cannabis brownies, for various marihuana drinks, for marihuana salad and things of that nature, is being printed in Australia with the Government’s paying one-third of the cost of the printing under the Bounty (Books) Act. One would have thought that was a fairly strange attitude for a government to be taking, given what it has said elsewhere about drug use and abuse.
It is when we come to the question of pornography and the one-third subsidy for printing pornography that one becomes a little alarmed about the way in which this Act is being allowed to operate. When we last amended the Bounty (Books) Act, which was in May of this year, we introduced at the end of section 8 a new section which provided that ‘bounty is not payable in respect of a book that is a prohibited import’, and so a test is now administered. If in the opinion of the Attorney-General’s Department a book, if sought to be imported, would have been prohibited under section 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, it is now possible for the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs, acting on the advice of the Department of the Attorney-General, to decline to pay bounty on that book. One would have thought that that would have been an end to the matter, but I regret to say that it is not. The largest commercial printer of pornography in Australia is a firm called Griffin Press Ltd of 262 Marion Road, Netley, South Australia. It is owned by the Adelaide Advertiser.
– Have you got a list of the shareholders?
– I am coming to a list of the directors in a minute; you will not be disappointed. Last year we paid to Griffin Press the sum of $1,151,458, and the year before that $985,404. In fact in the period from 1969-70 to 1978-79 the sum of $6,015,467 was paid to Griffin Press. I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a table showing payments to Griffin Press for each of those years.
The table read as follows-
-It is not that Griffin Press or the Adelaide Advertiser is unaware of this matter. Mrs Jennifer Adamson, the Liberal member for Coles and now Minister for Health in South Australia, wrote on 6 April 1979 to the directors of Advertiser Newspapers Ltd. She addressed the letter to Mr John Bonython, Chairman of Directors, and sent copies to the following directors: Sir Arthur Rymill, J. McEwin, Mr E. H. Burgess, Mr B. Macklin, Sir Phillip Jones, Mr P. J. Owens and Mr Brian Sallis. In a debate in the House of Assembly on 2 1 August she presented to the South Australian House of Assembly a copy of her letter which was a plea to the directors of Advertiser Newspapers Ltd to take action to ensure that their company ceased publication of pornography. I seek leave to have a copy of that letter incorporated in Hansard.
The letter read as follows-
Coles Electorate Office, Marco Crescent Arcade, corner Newton and Montacute Roads, NEWTON, S.A. 5074.
Mr J. Bonython, M.A., 1 1 Robe Terrace, MEDINDIE,S.A.5081.
This is a plea to the directors of Advertiser Newspapers to take action to ensure that your company ceases publication of pornography.
The letter is addressed to your home because I believe that the standards which a person espouses in business, professional or public life cannot be judged separately from the standards that person seeks to maintain in home and family life.
Advertiser Newspapers started publishing pornography in 1974 through the Griffin Press operating under the Oceana and Orion imprints. A selection of the current list of titles is attached and includes material which is so depraved that it has been refused classification by the S.A. Classification Board, a Board which has been constantly criticised for its leniency and which, prior to public condemnation, was prepared to classify child pornography. The current titles include ‘Blooming of Tamara’, which depicts the involvement of a 1 5 year old girl in acts of incest and group sex, ‘ Mother ‘s favourite Son’, ‘I Belong to Daddy’, ‘His Loving Sis’ (all depicting acts of incest), and ‘Gay Miss Adams’, featuring a lesbian teacher seducing her female pupils.
A great number of your publications have been classified as pornography, and therefore prohibited imports, by the Commonwealth Government. Many are prohibited under Tasmanian legislation, which automatically prohibits titles relating to incest or suggesting family sexual relationships, and also under legislation in other States. There is, therefore, no question that, according to Australian Commonwealth and State laws the material published by the Griffin Press goes beyond what could be described as salacious novels, into the realm of hardcore pornography. The fact thaty ou, as a director, have consented to the publishing of pornography means that you have agreed to promote material in which all standards are violated and in which sexuality is portrayed in its most warped and brutal forms.
Whatever the cost in financial terms, I urge you to cease publishing pornography. Arguments about diminished profit and employment opportunity within Griffin Press are spurious if they use pornography as their justification. Such arguments imply that any means can be used to achieve economic ends.
Directors may say that as long as the company is operating within the law, supplying a demand and making a profit, they are meeting their obligations. Many South Australians believe there is more to your obligations that that, otherwise we would be operating under the law of the commercial jungle. Despite the regrettably widening net of general statutory requirements, standards of business and public conduct still depend very much on the integrity, decency and conscience of the individuals involved. In the matter of publication of pornography, surely conscience must decree that its publication is indefensible on any grounds.
It is incredible to me that there has not been a revolt by your shareholders over this matter. Perhaps that is because they are not aware of what is going on. If so, they should be told. There is certainly disquiet among your employees, who are no doubt silent because their security and that of their families is at stake.
This letter has not been written without careful consideration. If it comes as an indictment of otherwise honourable and well-respected people, it is a measure of the disgust I and many other South Australians feel that the directors of our State’s principle newspaper could be party to such activity. Your company was founded on high ideals and in almost all fields it has tried to live up to them, developing a history of fine community service and achievement.
I look forward to your prompt reply as an individual and to an early decision by the Board of Advertiser Newspapers to cease publication of pornography. If the Board decides to continue, I and several others will want to raise the matters mentioned in this letter in the various forums available to us.
Sir Arthur Rymill
Mr J.N. McEwin, Ll.B.
Mr E. H. Burgess
MrB. Macklin, O.B.E.
Sir Phillip Jones
Mr P. J.Owens, B.Com
Mr Brain Sallis, B.Ec
-I might add that the third largest recipient of bounty under the Act is a firm called Wilke which is tied up in the same conglomerate organisation. It is amazing that Griffin Press, which in 1970 declined to print the Little Red School Book, is now in the business of being the largest printer of pornography in the country. Mrs Adamson again wrote to Mr Bonython, Chairman of Advertiser Newspapers Ltd, on 27 September 1 979, In that letter she drew attention to the fact that a number of books which are listed in her letter had already been deemed by the Commonwealth Attorney-General ‘s Department to breach regulation 4A of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations and had already been rejected for bounty. She indicated that the entire list of their titles in the cataglogue shown as ‘Future Releases’ and published under the Orion catatogue label had been examined and that the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs had been advised that certain titles of publications, when published, would not be available to attract bounty. Mr President, I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a copy of that letter, which lists the titles of those books, printed by Griffin Press, which already have been refused bounty under the amendments which were made last May and those titles which appeared on the ‘Future Releases’ list of Griffin Press which will be refused payment if it is requested.
The document read as follows-
Coles Electorate Office, Marco Crescent Arcade, Corner Newton and Montacute Roads, Newton, S.A. 5073
Telephone: 336 4740 27 September 1979
Mr John Bonython, Chairman, Advertiser Newspapers Ltd, 121 King William Street, Adelaide, SA 5000.
Dear Mr Bonython,
Further to my letter of 10 August, I have sought information from the Regional Censorship Officer for the Commonwealth and from the Attorney-General’s Department, Canberra, about books printed by Griffin Press for Orion Books.
I am advised that the following titles in the current catalogue are deemed by the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral’s Department, to breach Regulation 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations under the Customs Act:
Cheeky Chicks and Lesbian Licks
It Takes Three
Mother was a Masseuse
The Seduction of Sister Amy
I Need More
Teenage Pleasure House
Aunties Naughty Boys
Against Anna ‘s Will
The Maids Mistress
The Widows Son
The Velvet Cage
Lola ‘s Lusty Auntie
Her Strange Needs
These Orion books printed by the Griffin Press are classified under Commonwealth law as either:
As a consequence these Orion books are not eligible for the book bounty given to the printer by the Commonwealth for the printing of material in order to protect the interests of the Australian printing industry. Whilst I can accept that Directors of Advertiser Newspapers may not have been aware that certain material printed by a subsidiary company had been classified as pornography under State laws, it strains credulity to believe that the Directors were not aware that material printed by the Griffin Press failed to qualify for the Commonwealth book bounty. This situation has financial consequences which should surely have been conveyed to the Directors by the management of Griffin Press. I therefore stand by mystatement in my letter of 4 April that ‘a great number of your publications have been classified as pornography and therefore prohibited imports by the Commonwealth Government . . . ‘ There is, therefore, no question that according to Australian Commonwealth and State laws the material printed by Griffin Press goes beyond what could be described as salacious novels into the realm ofhard pornography’.
If you, as Chairman of Directors, have been told that ‘not many titles are involved’, it appears you have been misled. For the purposes of Commonwealth law the definition of pornography is clearly embodied in regulation 4a.
I also draw to your attention the fact that the following titles from the ‘Future Releases’ section of the Orion catalogue have been examined and the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs, Bounties Section, has been advised that these following titles would be prohibited if imported:
Dirty Jenny’s Diary
Her Secret Kinks
Kitty Loves her Cream
Try Me Out!
Trick or Treat Bride
Tender Young Tease
The Back Door Club
Letting Hubby Watch
Begging for It!
Peach of a Teach
Party Time Wife
Hot Pants Housemother
Presumably these books are either in the process of being, or have recently been printed and therefore, would also have been examined by the management of Griffin Press in the light of your statement that neither you, nor the Board approve of the printing of pornography and are attempting to stop it. It seems strange therefore that you should be permitting printing of books which clearly breach Regulation 4A.
I hope that the Board of Advertiser Newspapers will reexamine its attitude and again I repeat my plea to you to cease printing pornography.
JENNIFER ADAMSON (Mrs) MEMBER FOR COLES
-Thank you, Mr President. Unfortunately, one can indicate that that does not mean that there are not being published on the stock list of Griffin Press a large number of pornographic items which nevertheless will receive bounty or which have received bounty since May. One can look at an impressive list. I select titles at random from an extremely lengthy list. The titles of the following books leave only a certain amount to the delicate imagination: Hot Lady, A Shared Bedroom, Louisiana Lips, Open For Anything, All the Lust I can Get!, Daddy’s Harlot, Succulent Sixteen, Love Whip, Deep Six, Daddy’s Delicious, Continental Bedrooms, Lesbo Swap, Gay Tricks, Private Stock, Loving Hips, Big Bike Girl, Over Sexed and Older Woman’s Colt. All of those are titles of books still published by that firm and still attracting onethird of their cost of production from taxpayers ‘ revenue. So that a budget which is now running at $12m, introduced as I said in order to assist the printing industry to keep people in that industry, to keep members of the Printing and Kindred Industries Union in jobs in order ensure that the printing industry survived in Australia, in order to ensure that it remained a viable commerical enterprise in Australia, has now been perverted in that fashion.
– Is it possible for the public to appeal against a decision to give bounty?
– I am unaware of any ability in terms of public interest or of a member of the public being able to appeal on that basis. By contrast, I draw to your attention, Mr President, the fact that children’s picture books, because of a definitional problem, are not eligible for payment of the bounty. A children’s book is defined as a book which has a continuous narrative and it falls within the category of book, paper or comic which is to be found under Customs Tariff Item 49.01.9 and as such, is not eligible for bounty. A children’s picture book, which is defined by the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs on the Brussells definition as being a book which is a picture book which does not have a continuous narrative, is therefore classed in Customs Tariff Schedule 49.03 and as a result, well produced, locally produced, children’s picture books- educational material; material which has some considerable value and is an important aid to teaching and socialisation- is not eligible for payment of the book bounty. It is an extraordinary situation that under a piece of Commonwealth legislation the most rubbishy pornography can get a subsidy of one-third, yet children’s picture books can be denied any access to government subsidy.
– We get what we deserve.
-I think we get what we deserve when we put forward significant pieces of legislation and do not permit the Parliament to examine or to debate them. When they come into the Parliament on the last hour of the last sitting day, they are debated cognately with the legislation on the bounty for agricultural tractors, people are legitimately able to say that we get what we deserve. In response to the Government Whip, under those circumstances one is tempted to say: ‘ Physician, heal thyself’. I take this opportunity to make an appeal to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Durack), who now has some departmental responsibility as it is his officers who must make a definition of what goods are pornographic and what goods are not, or what would fall under the strictures of Regulation 4A and what would not, to convey to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife) the fact that members of the community feel genuine concern, as do members of parliament that when we introduce the Bounty (Books) Act we did not expect it would be used in this fashion.
Books have been an integral part of human history and human culture since as far back as we can remember. The first book, of some 3,200 years B.C., found at Kish, the 600,000 Babylonian tablets which are in museums around the place, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, or the Story of Si-nuhe and the Harris papyrus have all indicated the extent to which cultures regard the printed word as important. A Spanish conquistadores, when writing of the destruction of the great Mayan library, said:
We found a great number of books . . . and since they contained nothing but superstitions and falsehoods of the devil, we burned them all, which they took most grievously, and which gave them great pain.
Printed books have been with us since the first printed book appeared in the year 868 A.D. I have said already that within five years of the production of the first book in England, English parliaments were providing government protection to the printing industry. We all know from when we amended Customs legislation here at the end of the previous session of Parliament that there is an exemption for all of those goods under the Florence convention- educational and cultural material, books and printed documents which needed to be protected.
I make this appeal to the Attorney-General, who is here in the chamber this evening: This is a most important piece of legislation. It does a most important thing. The 47 million books which received subsidy last year undoubtedly contributed mightily to the development of the Australian nation, Australian culture and Australian awareness. That was what was intended when the legislation was introduced in 1969. It was intended to promote the printing industry and to promote the production of locally printed books in Australia. It was not the intention to have the legislation subverted in order to pay one-third of the costs of the Marijuana Cookbook or to pay one-third of the costs of the sort of pornograph that is being churned out and being churned out with taxpayers’ funds. I was heartened to hear the reply of the Attorney-General this afternoon when I asked him whether it was the intention of the Government or whether the Government regarded it as proper that taxpayers’ funds should be used to subsidise pornography. He said quite clearly and unequivocally that the answer to that question was no. I now ask him to look at this piece of legislation and to put into effect the comment he made so that those people who want to purchase and to read pornography will be perfectly free to do so. I think they ought to be free to do so and I would resist any attempt to prevent mature adults from doing so provided that they do not expect to do it with one-third of the cost being borne by the taxpayers of Australia.
– I wish to raise this evening a matter which I sought to raise last Thursday in the adjournment debate but which, because I was not seen by the Chair, I was not able to bring forward. So I have to do so tonight.
– There was an adjournment debate later; why didn’t you get up then?
-Mr President, at half past ten when you put the question I tried to get the call, but I am not going to go into that now. I am raising the matter this evening.
– You are a phoney, Senator.
– I withdraw that, Mr President.
– I think that Senator Baume ought to do so, too. Before I speak on the matter which I wish to raise this evening, I indicate that I am indebted to Senator Puplick for disclosing in the Senate tonight the name of the real publisher of pornography in South Australia. That is something about which I will talk at a later date because many accusations have been levelled in my State, particularly during the most recent State election campaign, against my Party. It was claimed that we were the purveyors of pornography. I am sure that the people who were misled will be very interested to learn just who are the shareholders and directors of the very company which is publishing pornography. That information has been related to the Senate tonight by Senator Puplick. I will make every effort to ensure that a copy of his speech is distributed to people who have been misled. I will probably say a lot more about Senator Puplick ‘s speech when we have been able to analyse it and have been able to digest everything he said tonight. But I was disturbed to hear one of his remarks concerning the Printing and Kindred Industries Union. He then mentioned pornography. I think he said that it was being printed or that the subsidy was being paid to a company printing pornography to keep many members of the PKIU in an occupation. I would like to just say tonight on behalf of the members of the PKIU that they would have nothing at all to do with the publishing of these documents. They would be employed by Advertiser Newspapers Ltd and the Griffin Press Ltd as has been pointed out, and they would have to do their job. Of course, if they object to publishing pornography and go on strike after last Thursday night the union could run the risk of being deregistered. That is something to which I will refer later.
The matter I wish to raise tonight was brought to my attention last week by way of a letter and prior to that by way of conversation. To put this matter into its proper perspective I intend to read three letters into Hansard. There is nothing in the correspondence which could render my quoting of the contents a breach of confidence. On 3 May this year the Naracoorte District Development League wrote to Mr Duckmanton, the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in Sydney. Their letter reads as follows:
Naracoorte District Development League, a voluntary community group which helps promote Naracoorte, asks the Australian Broadcasting Commission to consider changing part of the callsign of the South Eastern radio station 5MG Mount Gambier-5PA Naracoorte. The league feels the Narcoorte part of the callsign should be 5NA or 5NC.
The letters PA were appropriate and geographically accurate when the transmitter for the station was based at
Penola, 51.5 km south of Naracoorte. At the time, announcers referred to 5PA Penola.
However, the transmitter was moved to Naracoorte several years ago and part of the callsign became 5PA Naracoorte, which is still used by announcers. Local people and visitors continually query and comment on the contradiction of a callsign which does not reflect its geographical base. Oddly, though, no one seems to have formally asked the ABC to consider changing it.
Other ABC regional stations in South Australia reflect their geographical bases in their callsigns: 5MG Mount Gambier, 5PI Port Pirie, 5AU Port Augusta, 5RM Renmark and 5MU Murray Bridge. The callsign of the commercial station in this region, 5SE, stands for South East.
Without a technical knowledge of broadcasting, the league is unaware of any reason for continuing to use an abbreviation for Penola in the Naracoorte part of the callsign. As far as the league knows, radio sets no longer display the callsigns for various States but use kHz figures, so a change to 5NA or 5NC would not seem to create any manufacturing problem. And there have been several new educational and ethnic stations whose callsigns are not displayed on the old radio sets.
The league has no antipathy towards Penola, but feels the callsign should be changed in line with the current location of the transmitter. Incidentally, the league and Naracoorte generally appreciate very much having an ABC regional station to provide a fine service of news, current affairs, talks, sport and music.
J. PEAKE Secretary
On 29 June this year Mr Keith Mackriell of the Australian Broadcasting Commission wrote to Mr Peake, the Secretary of the League. He said:
Dear Mr Peake,
In the absence overseas of Mr Duckmanton, I am writing in reply to your letter to him of 3 May, seeking an alteration of the call sign of the National transmitter 5PA.
Let me first explain that the allocation of call signs is not strictly a matter for the ABC, but rather one for which the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal is responsible. However, the ABC is consulted when decisions affecting call signs are made and our views are given every consideration. In this instance we do not believe the case to be strong enough to make representations for a change.
While your League’s wish to obtain the maximum recognition for your town is understandable, I would point out that from enquiries made by our Mt Gambier office we have not been able to identify any widespread public support for a change in the call sign. In fact, we believe that other areas served by the transmitter would have cause to complain if the call sign is changed as suggested by your League. While it is true that many call signs give an indication of the station’s geographical position there are many others which do not. Frequency, rather than call sign, is becoming increasingly used to identify stations, including those of the national service.
Thank you for your comments about our programs; it is good to know that your League thinks so highly of them.
KEITH MACKRIELL Acting General Manager
On 10 October Mr Peake wrote to me. He said:
Dear Senator McLaren,
Recently the president of Naracoorte District Development League, Mr Norm McMinn, spoke to you about the league’s request that the Australian Broadcasting Commission consider changing pans of the callsign of its South Eastern radio station 5MG Mount Gambier-5PA Naracoorte. The league feels the Naracoorte pan of the callsign should be 5NA or 5NC.
The acting general manager Mr Keith Mackreill replied that the commission did not believe the case to be strong enough to ask the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal for a change. Copies of both letters are attached. Mr Mackreill says many callsigns do not identify the station’s geographical position: the league understands that by far the largest majority of callsigns, particularly in South Australia, do reflect the geographical positions of their stations. Mr Mackreill also says that frequency, rather than callsign, is becoming increasingly used to identify stations: the league acknowledges this statement but also points out that radio announcers constantly use callsigns; announcers on the ABC’s South Eastern radio station regularly say, many times a day, “This is 5MG Mount Gambier-5PA Naracoorte” and it is this very repetition that the league feels continues to mislead listeners.
The leagues hopes that, either by a question in the Senate or by personal representation, you may be able to gain further consideration for this reasonable request for a logical change.
The reason I have raised this matter tonight and quoted those three letters- I have not left any parts of them out- is to bring to the attention of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Staley) the real concern of the Naracoorte District Development League about the call sign used in their area, 5PA Naracoorte. There are no letters in the word ‘Naracoorte’ to justify the use of the call sign 5PA. As the League has said, it should be 5NA or 5NC. I hope that the Minister, having had this matter brought to his attention by my representation of the Naracoorte District Development League will see fit to make a change to the call sign. As the people in the Naracoorte area have said, they are not trying to take anything from Penola, but the transmitter is at Naracoorte. There are many people who go down to the area in that part of South Australia and the call sign is misleading. I think it is a very reasonable request that the call sign be changed. I hope that the Minister in his wisdom will accede to the request made by the Naracoorte District Development League.
– I will draw the attention of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Staley) to the problems which Senator McLaren has described in relation to the radio call sign in the Naracoorte area. I am sure that attention will be given to the matters he has raised. Senator Puplick raised matters which are substantially the responsibility of the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife) whom I represent in the Senate. By question today, Senator Puplick drew my attention to some quite important matters relating to the administration of the Bounty Books Act and also to the fact that it is partly my responsibility because the test of whether the book bounty is paid under the Act, as amended recently, does involve judgments made by officers of my Department in administering regulation 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulation. However, I do not understand Senator Puplick to be criticising the judgment that is exercised by officers of my Department in relation to the administration of that regulation. Rather he is raising problems in relation to the tests by which book bounty is attracted and the administration generally of the book bounty scheme.
I did say in answer to his question at Question Time- he asked today whether the Government believed that bounty ought to be paid in respect of pornography- that the Government did not believe so. Inevitably, of course, the question arises in any of these matters as to what is meant by pornography, and there are very considerable degrees of definition in this area, lt appears from what the honourable senator said that the tying of the book bounty to the tests under the Customs regulations may not be the most appropriate way of providing for a definition of pornography for the purposes of the payment of book bounty. I do not know, without examining the books or having discussed the various titles which apparently have passed the test under regulation 4a. It often happens that titles of publications are used for the purposes of titillation or to create interest in a book. The contents of a book may not prove to be as bad as its title may suggest. However, I believe that the honourable senator has raised some very serious questions in relation to the whole administration of the Act. I will draw the attention of the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife) to the comments which he has made, ask the Minister to take note of them and to provide a reply.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.13 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 6 March 1979:
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 27 March 1979:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 22 August 1 979:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:
What action is proposed to strengthen the Passports Act 1938 to provide for extradition arrangements which enlarge the ambit for prosecution, in view of the growing number of Australian white collar criminals operating with bogus Australian passports.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The forgery of Australian passports and the uttering of forged Australian passports are at present extraditable offences under Australian extradition arrangements. While the Passports Amendment Bill 1979, currently before the Parliament, will significantly increase the range of ‘passport’ offences, most of these new offences will not be extraditable under Australia ‘s existing extradition arrangements.
Consideration will be given at the appropriate time to including ‘passport offences’ in the Schedules of extradition crimes to the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Act 1966 and Extradition (Foreign States) Act 1966. That action, however, would not of itself enable Australia to secure the extradition from another country of a person who has committed a ‘passport offence’. To make these new offences extraditable under most of Australia’s extradition treaties would require amending the various treaties concerned and that would only be possible if the offences were extraditable under the laws of the foreign States concerned.
Insofar as Australia’s extradition arrangements with other Commonwealth countries are concerned, extradition is not governed by treaties but by reciprocal legislation enacted in each Commonwealth country and before Australia could secure the extradition of a person for such offences from a Commonwealth country, they would have to be extraditable under the extradition legislation of the Commonwealth country concerned.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:
– The Minister for Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No. I am advised that the Bureau has not been made aware of any particular problem relating to the reemployment of migrants in the circumstances mentioned.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 22 August 1 979:
– The Minister for Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 21 August 1979:
How many loans has: (a) the Primary Industry Bank of Australia made for the purchase of a first farm since the Bank opened; and (b) the Commonwealth Development Bank made to borrowers purchasing their first farm during the same period.
– The Treasurer has provided, on the basis of information supplied by the Primary Industry Bank of Australia Ltd and the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia, the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Micro-wave Links (Question No. 1781)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 22 August 1 979:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 23 August 1 979:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In the face of higher prices, the aim of the AMLC promotion program is to encourage a higher level of meat consumption than otherwise might have been achieved.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 28 August 1 979:
Has the Australian Ambassador to Moscow checked the type of zoo habitation to be provided for the two western grey kangaroos recently donated to the Moscow zoo as a gesture of goodwill towards the World Veterans ‘ Congress.
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is presumed the honourable senator is referring to the two kangaroos which were donated to the Moscow zoo at the time of the World Veterinary Congress.
The Ambassador himself did not inspect the zoo but Embassy officials have seen the compound at the zoo which affords the kangaroos space to move around and shelter.
The Ambassador and other members of the Embassy staff attended the ceremony when the two kangaroos were presented to the zoo. One kangaroo was sick on arrival and has since died. The other is in the kangaroo compound at the zoo.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 30 August 1979:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I should none the less mention that the report of the National Superannuation Committee of Inquiry included the following passage:
An aspect of the present network of superannuation schemes that has attracted critical comment and caused us concern is the differences that exist between the public service schemes and private sector schemes. In particular, the levels of benefits (for given service and employee contributions) and of employer support appear to be significantly greater in the former’. (Paragraph 3.26 of Part 2).
In this connection I should also mention, however, that whereas private sector (and some State public sector) employees are in a position in most instances to receive their retirement benefits in the form of a lump sum, this is not the case in respect of the employer-financed benefit under the Commonwealth Superannuation Act 1976. This means that, unlike contributors under the Superannuation Act 1976, beneficiaries under most private sector superannuation schemes have the opportunity to arrange their financial affairs so as to take maximum advantage of income-tested social security pensions and of income tax concessions that apply to lump-sum superannuation payments.
Similarly, the implications of those liabilities for the tax burden must also depend on a number of factors. The strength of the tax base at the relevant time and the fiscal policies of the Government of the day are two factors which are of obvious importance.
Task Force on Economic Issues (Question No. 1893)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 12 September 1979:
What action has been taken by the Department of Foreign Affairs concerning Recommendation 276 of the Report of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration, suggesting that a task force on Australia and International Economic Issues should be established.
– The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Increased resources have been applied to the development of Australia’s attitude towards major international economic issues. These are co-ordinated on an interdepartmental basis and there has been a strengthening in their scope and effectiveness over the last few years. No specific action has been taken in relation to the Commission’s recommendation 276.
The views attributed to the Department in the Commission ‘s report are still held, and, in fact, the findings of the Third World Report, the substantial foreign policy implications of domestic policy issues such as those arising from the Crawford Report on the need for structural adjustment in Australian industry, and the conclusions emerging from projections of likely economic development within the Asian/Pacific region which would have important consequences for Australia, such as those contained in the OECD Interfutures Project, would appear to have strengthened the case for examination of the need for arrangements such as those envisaged by the Commision. The efficacy of existing arrangements is under continuing review.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 12 September 1979:
– The Foreign Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Clause 1 7 of the new law deals with renunciation of USSR citizenship, but does not make renunciation a punishable crime. Nothing in our study of the law to date suggests that renunciation is a punishable crime.
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:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 19 September 1979:
– The Foreign Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Assistance for population activities is directed both through bilateral programs and multilateral channels. Currently more emphasis is placed on bilateral projects involving international agencies which are considered to be well equipped to handle population problems and research. Such assistance forms part of Australia’s effort to work towards the social and economic improvement of developing countries.
Australia, under its bilateral aid program, is supporting the First Bangladesh Population Project (1975-80) sponsored by the International Development Association, (IDA). This is an international program designed to expand Bangladeshi facilities for maternal and child health care and for family planning services. The Australian contribution to this project will amount to $2m. This project will be followed by the Second IDA Bangladesh Population Project which is designed to reduce fertility, mortality and morbidity by strengthening the Bangladesh population and health programs. The Australian contribution to this project will be $4m. In Thailand, Australia is provoiding an estimated $2.6m in a co-financing arrangement with the IDA for the expansion of family planning services and the extension of the Thai rural health network. Aspects of other projects, such as those oriented towards health and nutrition, can of course also be considered as involvement in the population sector.
Australia will be contributing in 1979-80 to the International Planned Parenthood Federation ($180,000; and to the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population ($25,000), both Non-Government Organisations. Multilaterally Australia will contribute to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities ($72 1,000).
Since the World Population Conference in 1974, assistance to the population sector is no longer considered to be limited to family planning activities, but instead is considered to embrace activities in all areas that influence population- such as nutrition, sanitation, health, education, the status of women and economic factors. Australia endorses this integrated approach, and in its aid program supports activities in all sectors relating to population matters.
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: (i)-
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 19 September 1979:
What new contracts have been entered into for the sale of Australian uranium since 1972.
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No new uranium contracts have been approved since December 1972.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 2 1 September 1 979:
– The Foreign Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am advised there were no staff members of the Embassy at the meeting at Monash University on 1 2 August 1979.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 25 September 1979:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
For the forthcoming season in the south east every endeavour is being made to ensure that the period of operation and distribution of fishing activities of all approved projects is widened to the greatest extent possible to ensure a comprehensive coverage of the area. Concentrations of squid are believed to occur in the late spring, summer and autumn months.
It is believed that squid jigging during the winter months is unlikely to be productive given the apparent seasonality of the resource and the unfavourable weather conditions. In any event the Japanese vessels involved in feasibility fishing projects for squid in the south eastern area are essentially operating in the Japanese off-season and need to return to their home ports during the southern winter months.
However, feasibility fishing projects for squid are also being conducted in north west and south western waters and a proposal is also being considered for squid feasibility fishing in waters off Northern Territory and Queensland during the late autumn and winter months.
When the results of all these projects are received assessments can then be made on the feasibility of a year round commercial squid fishery in Australian waters.
Foreign Vessels in Australian Waters: Supplies of Distillate (Question No. 1986)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 25 September 1979:
Have the foreign vessels permitted to fish in Australian waters been guaranteed supplies of distillate; if so, will any limits be imposed on that supply.
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am advised that approvals given by my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, for foreign vessels to fish in Australian waters do not contain any guarantees of fuel supplies in the event of vessels calling at Australian ports.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 25 September 1979:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 26 September 1 979:
– The Foreign Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable Senator to a reply given to a question he asked without nonce on 13 September. It will be evident from the details provided in that reply that the Government has not restricted its humanitarian assistance to Kampuchea to one shipload of rice and one planeload of supplies. The Government has responded promptly and substantially in this regard, and has been at the forefront of international efforts to send aid to Kampuchea. The Government is confident it has the full support of the Australian people in its expeditious handling of this pressing humanitarian issue.
United States Defence Facilities in Australia (Question No. 1994)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 25 September 1979:
Did the Prime Minister state at a meeting with the United States Ambassador, Mr Phillip Alston, Jnr, at Parliament House, Canberra, on 7 February 1979, as reported in the publication Inside Canberra, that if Australia did not receive Washington’s support on agriculture in the multi-lateral trade negotiations, the future of the United States defence facilities in Australia could be jeopardised.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
See my answer on 25 September 1979 (House of Representatives Hansard, pages 1454-5).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 1 1 October 1979:
– On 4 April 1979 Senator Gietzelt asked me, as the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, the following question without notice:
Is the Minister representing both the Minister for Trade and Resources and the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs aware of the claim made by the Chairman of the National Energy Advisory Committee, Mr Lynch, as reported in the Australian Financial Review of yesterday’s date that the fuel consumed by road transport could be cut by 20 per cent in little more than ten years by appropriate technical modifications? If so, what steps is the Government taking to assess the validity of the claim? If these fuel economies are possible, what steps will the Government take to ensure that the necessary design changes are put into practice and thereby ensure that the substantial cost savings that would thus be produced in this time of rapidly rising oil prices will be available to the Australian consumer?
The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In his statement on energy on 27 June 1979, the Prime Minister announced the introduction of a voluntary program of national fuel economy goals for passenger vehicles which, by itself, should result in savings of motor spirit of approximately 12 per cent by 1987. This program requires the weighted average fuel consumption of new passenger cars to be reduced from the present level of 1 1 litres/ 100 km to 9 litres/ 100 km in 1983 and 8 litres/ 100 km by 1987. These flow from recommendations of the National Energy Advisory Committee that the automobile industry adopt a target of at least 1 8 per cent reduction in average fuel consumption for new passenger cars sold in 1983. For 1987, the target recommended is 27 per cent. It is expected that the targets will be achieved through increases in the market share of four-cylinder vehicles, more efficient engines and transmissions, lighter cars and so on.
Further, on NEAC advice the Commonwealth and States (except Queensland) will begin on 21 October a national publicity campaign to conserve liquid fuels. This campaign will inform motorists of ways in which they can save petrol.
The honourable senator will also be aware that other Government policies are already having an effect on energy consumption. In particular, our crude oil pricing policy is acting to reduce demand for liquid fuels generally and is also encouraging the use of alternative fuels, such as liquefied petroleum gas in motor vehicles. Realistic pricing of petroleum is fundamental to conservation and will of course act as an incentive to manufacturers to produce more energy efficient vehicles. It is likely therefore that the current trend towards these more efficient vehicles will continue.
-On 22 May 1979 Senator Elstob asked me, as the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, without notice:
We have heard recently of the violence in California following the petrol shortages. I ask the Minister When will the Federal Government formulate a comprehensive energy policy so that Australia will not be subjected to the same kind of violence when existing fuel supplies run low? Throughout Australia there are often surpluses of various crops. In particular, thousands of tonnes of grapes are rotting on the vines in growing areas. Will the Government consider financing and establishing ethanol producing industries, where such surpluses occur, to help the fuel supply, to relieve unemployment and to give growers a return for their produce?
The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government has a comprehensive and integrated energy policy in place. I refer the Senator to my Statement in the House of Representatives of 5 April 1979 on Energy Policy and the Statement by the Prime Minister on Energy Policy of 27 June 1979.
With regard to the establishment of ethanol producing industries, the Government’s energy policy places a high priority on the development of liquid fuel alternatives to petroleum. A number of alternative fuels, including ethanol from crops, show considerable potential as substitutes for petroleum and at this stage a substantial effort is being directed towards detailed assessments of the potential of these fuels, so as to determine the best option which Australia should follow in the future.
In order to use ethanol as a fuel extender on a national basis, production capacities would need to be substantially increased to meet national requirements and the ethanol would need to be available at prices which are competitive with existing liquid fuels. It may be that the best prospects for ethanol will prove to be in selective regional applications
Through the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Program the Government has allocated $4.5m in 1978-79 to projects directed at the production of alternative liquid fuels. Approximately $l.Sm has been allocated to studies of the production of ethanol from a variety of crops including sugar cane and cassava. These studies involve agroeconomic investigations and research and development of fermentation technologies which may be suitable for large scale production of ethanol at economically competitive prices.
Oil Price Increases
-On 24 May 1979 Senator Young asked me, as the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, the following question without notice:
I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development whether he is aware that the price of marker crude in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries group on which the Australian import parity price is based rose by $ 1 .2 1 to $ 1 4.50 in April this year? Is the Minister also aware that surcharges of up to $2.50 have been applied by some oil producing countries which could have a big influence on further OPEC price increases? As these big price rises could increase Australian import parity prices in excess of $2 a barrel and as from 1 July the volume of Australian crude to which import parity will apply will increase from 20 per cent to 35 per cent of production it, will the Government give serious consideration to increasing the current $3 levy a barrel which would add greatly to general revenue and offset some of the unexpected extra profits of oil producers resulting from the greatly escalating price of overseas crude oil?
The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to my press release of 29 June 1979 which outlines the new levy arrangements for oil production from Australian oil fields.
Courier Services and Telegrams
– On 31 May 1979 Senator Evans asked me, as the Minister representing the
Minister for Post and Telecommunications, the following question without notice:
Has the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications had drawn to his attention evidence given to Senate Estimates Committee B in its recent hearings, by the Commonwealth Employment Service, establishing that the overall average cost of the Australia Post courier service in metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas for the delivery of messages is $ 1.90 per message whereas the average cost per telegram is $3.70? Does the Minister accept that that amounts to prima facie evidence that telegrams, like most other Telecom services, are now wildly overpriced?
The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
An agreement was reached earlier this year for Australia Post to provide a national system for the delivery of job notification advices on behalf of the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) wherever delivery services are available. The system utilises Australia Post as its principal means of delivery within metropolitan areas of capital cities and in a few large provincial centres, with other Australia Post services being used in other country areas. Economies of scale permitted the negotiation of rates which proved acceptable to the CES.
The average delivery cost per message would be of the order of $1.90. However, because of the competitive nature of the courier industry, the details of charges negotiated with the CES are regarded as confidential. A comparison between the average rate charged by courier, and the cost of sending a telegram is not valid. The telegraph service involves the acceptance, transmission, receipt and delivery of telegrams throughout Australia. There is no control over the place or time of lodgement of messages, the number or the destination. Conversely, the courier agreement with CES provides for collection of messages from a predetermined point at a set time for delivery within a defined area. For this reason, it is possible for Australia Post courier to schedule the drivers’ daily activities to ensure that labour resources are used effectively. Because of these substantially different operational arrangements, it is reasonable and logical for the cost of delivering CES messages by Australia Post courier to be considerably lower than the average cost per telegram.
Lead Levels in Children
– On 4 June 1979 Senator Elstob asked me, as the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, the following question without notice:
Has the Minister representing the Minister for National Development seen the report of a two-year survey, headed by Professor L. Smythe of the University of New South Wales, which slates that almost a quarter of 1,200 children tested in Sydney had levels of lead in their blood above those found to cause adverse effects on health and behaviour? I also ask whether it is reasonable that large sections of the community be exposed to high levels of lead, carbon monoxide and dioxide and sulphur dioxide, when the remedy is in the Government’s hands- to promote the use of liquid petroleum gas, which contains only minute quantities of pollutants and, at the same time, to bring about huge savings in oil imports and public health costs.
I am aware of the report prepared by Professor Smythe and I would like to point out that this is more properly a matter for the Minister for Health. I would also like to assure the honourable senator that the matter of lead emissions is kept under continuous review by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
The increased use of LPG will decrease pollution levels, particularly in respect of lead. The Prime Minister, on 27 June 1979, announced a number of additional measures the Government is taking to promote the use of LPG. These measures should encourage the increased use of LPG which ultimately could power 10 to 15 per cent of Australia’s motor vehicles.
Aid to Kampuchea
-On 13 September 1979 Senator Mcintosh asked me, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, the following question without notice:
What stage have negotiations between the international agencies and the Kampuchean authorities reached and when can it be expected that the aid set aside by Australia will reach the Khmer people? Also if no such agreement is in sight, will the Government consider giving the aid to the Kampuchean authorities direct, for immediate distribution to the starving people of that country?
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I understand that negotiations between several international agencies and the Kampuchean authorities on the launching of an international relief appeal and program are at an advanced stage. UNICEF, the ICRC, OXFAM and the World Food Program are the international agencies most closely involved.
I further understand that negotiations between the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have received an affirmative reply from the Heng Samrin authorities in Phnom Penh concerning a large-scale international humanitarian operation in Kampuchea. This would involve the establishment of an ICRC and UNICEF office in Phnom Penh. According to a joint ICRC/UNICEF press release of 26 September 1979, the agreement provides for the presence of at least some representatives of both organisations to ensure that relief distribution is both quick and consistent with the principles of impartiality and non-discrimination which have always guided the action of the ICRC and UNICEF. The press release also states that the authorities of Democratic Kampuchea have agreed to relief action on the same principles for the benefit of thousands of civilians stranded near the border with Thailand.
The Government welcomes this promising development, and hopes that it foreshadows a determined international effort to contribute and co-ordinate large-scale humanitarian aid to the millions suffering in Kampuchea.
The Australian Government has responded promptly and substantially to the urgent requirement for relief supplies in Kampuchea. The Government pledged on 12 September 3,500 tonnes of rice for distribution in Kampuchea by the World Food Program at an approximate cost of $ 1.7 million. I understand that one thousand tonnes of rice has already been delivered across the Thai border to needy Khmer civilians. This rice, which was obtained in Bangkok, will be replaced from Australia’s contribution to the WFP. It is hoped that the remainder will reach needy Khmers within the next few weeks. On 28 September, the Government further agreed that $A2 million be provided immediately for the purchase and delivery of essential food-stuffs and medicines for Kampuchea, and, as appropriate, for the airlift of emergency relief supplies. It has already been decided that part of this allocation will be used to purchase an additional 500 tonnes of rice which will be shipped to Singapore with the original consignment of 3,500 tonnes to bring Australia ‘s total grain contribution to the WFP to 4,000 tonnes. I should point out that the Government’s contributions are subject to the understanding that the rice and other supplies reach those civilians in greatest need wherever they live in Kampuchea.
The honourable senator will know from media reports that an aircraft dispatched by the Government to transport emergency relief supplies provided by Australian nongovernment aid organisations left Melbourne on 8 October for Phnom Penh. The aircraft carried 44 tonnes of relief supplies, including milk powder, vegetable oil, sugar and medical supplies. The supplies will be distributed by OXFAM representatives in Phnom Penh to needy Khmer civilians.
Aid to Kampuchea
-On 18 September 1979 Senator Wriedt asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the following question without notice:
Whilst recognising and indeed supporting the Government’s decision to provide 3,500 tonnes of rice to alleviate immediate starvation problems in Kampuchea, is the Government aware that there is an equally urgent need for milk powder and antibiotics in that country? Will the Government take immediate steps, if need be by direct contact with the Kampuchean authorities, to get to Kampuchea supplies of milk powder and antibiotics which in particular will prevent the deaths of many tens of thousands of children in that country?
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Owing to the considerable and welcome interest shown by members of both Houses of this Parliament in this question, several answers have been given which cover all the points asked by the honourable senator. I would particularly draw his attention to the answer given to a Senate question asked without notice from Senator Mcintosh on 13 September 1979 and an answer I gave to Mr Burns in the House of Representatives on 20 September 1979.
Aid to Kampuchea
-On 25 September 1979 Senator Missen asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the following question without notice:
My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to recent reports of a major human disaster in Kampuchea. Is the Minister aware of claims by Dr Jean- Yves Follezou in Paris that ‘for four months the International Red Cross knew what was happening in Kampuchea and what was needed, and did nothing “? I ask the Minister what pressure is being brought by the Australian Government on the International Red Cross to ensure that, within its abilities, immediate relief is made available to this famine stricken nation? Will the Minister also assure the Senate that every effort will be made by Australia to supply as much additional direct aid as possible to the Kampuchean authorities for immediate distribution to those in need?
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I have seen the claims referred to by the honourable senator. However, from my knowledge of the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), I would suggest they are unjust and under-estimate the magnificent work performed by this organisation not only in Kampuchea but in many parts of the world.
The Government has believed it unnecessary to bring pressure to bear on the ICRC to ensure that immediate relief is made available in Kampuchea. The ICRC was among the first to inform the world of the tragic circumstances in Kampuchea and to send emergency relief to Phnom Penh. It, together with UNICEF, was also responsible for initiating negotiations with the Kampuchean authorities for a large scale international relief operation. In view of the situation currently prevailing in Kampuchea, the Government considers that the international agencies offer the only effective means of channelling large scale relief aid to Kampuchea. The Government, through Australia’s diplomatic missions abroad, is in close and continuing touch with international agencies, including the ICRC, concerning the Kampuchean crisis.
For details of Australia’s aid to Kampuchea, I refer the honourable senator to a reply given to a question without notice asked by Senator Mcintosh on 1 3 September.
-On 26 September 1979 Senator Wheeldon asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the following question without notice:
Has the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs seen newspaper reports that there are at present 20 companies of Soviet combat troops in Afghanistan which have allegedly been sent into that country by the Soviet Union in order to defend the Government of Afghanistan against the present insurgency? Does the Minister know whether these reports are correct? Does the Minister know whether there are any Soviet combat troops in Afghanistan? If there are Soviet combat troops in Afghanisatan, does the Government have any views on this matter?
I have seen the Press reports referred to by the honourable senator. These reports have arisen out of comments by a spokesman for the United States State Department on 19 September 1979 to the effect that 400 Soviet troops had been stationed at Bagram air base, 35 miles north of Kabul, and appeared to be providing security for the base. The spokesman added that much of the Soviet supplies for Afghanistan enter through that airfield, which also serves as the centre of Soviet logistical support for the Afghan military.
I have had no independent verification of these reports, but have no reason to doubt their validity. Since the April 1978 coup in Afghanistan, there has been a rapid and extensive build up of Soviet military and economic assistance to that country, and there are now some thousands of Soviet military and civilian advisers stationed there. A significant step in this regard was the signing of the Afghanistan/Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation on 5 December 1978.
In my statement of 27 February 1979 to the House of Representatives I mentioned the Government’s concern about instability in Afghanistan and in the West Asian region. The Government is opposed to the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan and concerned at the implications for the security and stability of the region.
American Defence Facilities
-On 27 September 1979 (Hansard, pages 1025-6) Senator Cavanagh asked me, as Minister representing the Prime
Minister, a question without notice concerning American defence facilities in Australia. The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It has been the practice of successive governments not to release the records of conversations between representatives of the Australian and other governments, and I do not intend to depart from that practice.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 October 1979, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1979/19791023_senate_31_s83/>.