31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Notice of Motion
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to authorise the construction by the Pipeline Authority of a pipeline from Dalton in New South Wales to Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory.
-I present the following petition from 16 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the proportion of pensionable people within our community is increasing at a significant rate. The number of people over 65 years old will rise from approximately 8.5 per cent of the population as it was in 1970 to over 10 per cent by 1990 and about 16 percent by the year 2020.
That technological change is accelerating the trend towards earlier retirement from the workforce.
That the above factors make incentives for selfprovision in retirement years a matter of great urgency if future generations of Australians are to be spared the crippling taxation which would be necessary to fund such provisions from social welfare.
That Australia is in urgent need of locally raised investment capital for national development and that life insurance and superannuation funds are important mobilise rs of such capital.
Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that the Government will forthwith take the steps necessary to:
Remove contributions paid by the taxpayer to superannuation funds from the rebate system and make them a separate deduction from assessable income.
Allow as such deduction amounts necessary to provide the individual with a reasonable retirement benefit as defined from time to time by the Commissioner of Taxation.
Remove Life insurance premiums paid from the rebate system and make them a separate deduction from assessable income also.
Allow such a deduction to take the form of a flat rebate of 20 per cent of Life Insurance premiums up to a limit of $2500.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 34 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we are greatly inconvenienced by the lack of adequate telephone services at Baird Bay, particularly as there are Elderly people who reside permanently in this area. It is a considerable distance from the nearest exchange and in the case of an emergency, the distance required to travel to contact medical or emergency aid is considerable, in view of the fact that a return journey has to be made prior to conveying any patient to medical help.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
The Acting Clerk- Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament
The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth objection to the National Women’s Advisory Council and request the Government to abolish the Council.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Missen.
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should approve that:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Davidson.
-I ask the Minister for National Development and Energy whether he recalls saying yesterday in answer to a question by Senator Douglas McClelland in respect of the price of liquefied petroleum gas:
The fact of the matter is that the Prices Justification Tribunal, by its independent authority, fixed a price.
Does he recall then saying that the pricing of liquefied petroleum gas arises out of a determination by the Prices Justification Tribunal? Is it not a fact that the Tribunal has believed for some time that it is acting under government policy to fix the price of liquefied petroleum gas at export parity? I ask whether the former Minister for National Development, Mr Newman, said in a letter to the Tribunal on 1 6 January last year:
In a situation where the domestic price for a product is well below the export parity price producers have no incentive to develop the Australian market and to invest in the necessary distribution facilities.
Does this not mean that the Tribunal has not been determining prices on the basis of its own independent authority but in fact on the basis of what it believes to be the Government’s policy as set out in Mr Newman’s letter? If the Tribunal is under a misunderstanding with the Government, will the Minister indicate precisely the Government’s policy on the pricing of liquefied petroleum gas and advise the Tribunal whether it is to abide by the guidelines set down by the Government or, in fact, it can reach its own independent decisions on pricing policies?
– I have a clear understanding. According to the advice I have received there has never been a Government directive to the Prices Justification Tribunal to price liquefied petroleum gas at export parity. The Government is considering the basis of liquefied petroleum gas pricing in the context of recent large price increases for liquefied petroleum gas. The Government has already announced, and announced ahead of the Prices Justification Tribunal finding, a subsidy of $80 per tonne for certain utilities. Subsequently the Prices Justification Tribunal increased prices. In the early future the Government will be making a statement on liquefied petroleum gas policies, and that will be made available to the Senate.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. I am not, nor do I believe the Senate is, concerned about the Minister’s understanding. Obviously he has no understanding. We are concerned about whether he advised the Senate correctly yesterday. He is now claiming that it is not his responsibility to answer questions of the nature of the question I have just asked. What the Senate and I want to know is: Did the Government, through the previous Minister for National Development, instruct the Prices Justification Tribunal on the method by which it would fix prices for liquefied petroleum gas? Is the Minister on behalf of the Government disclaiming any responsibility for what his predecessor said to the Prices Justification Tribunal last year? Is that still the policy of the Government or is it not?
– I repeat that my clear understanding is that there never has been a Government directive to the Prices Justification Tribunal to price liquefied petroleum gas at export parity. I confirm that statement.
– I refer the Minister for National Development and Energy to his statement of 28 February 1980 announcing the appointment of seven new members to the National Energy Advisory Committee. Will the Minister inform the Senate why the new members are all people from either a scientific or a technical background? Whilst recognising the useful advisory work done by the Committee on matters relating to the formation of an energy policy for Australia, I ask whether the Minister agrees that environmental and social implications must also be considered when developing our energy policy. Does the Minister agree that by dealing essentially with technical questions the present terms of reference of the National Energy Advisory Committee are too narrowly drawn? If so, will he assure the Senate that consideration will be given by the Government to enlarging the terms of reference of the Committee to embrace the broader questions of energy conservation and alternative energy sources so as to ensure that it is advised of all matters relating to energy development? Will the membership of the Committee be expanded to provide this wider expertise?
-I think it might be helpful if, in due course, I were to make available to Senator Missen the full list of members of the current National Energy Advisory Committee because I think that if he were to peruse that he would see that, taken as a whole, it is pretty well balanced. The work of the Committee demands a good understanding of the broad energy field. In future its deliberations will tend to focus more on the practical application of energy policy measures than they have in the past. This is most often arrived at through working in either a technical or a scientific area, although there are commercial people on the Committee. The membership is not too heavily weighted with technologists and scientists. Members of NEAC also include several economists, a trade unionist and a primary producer. Recent changes have been made in the composition and strength of the Committee to represent wider interests. The Committee is also able to co-opt non-members as necessary. This provides flexibility and access to a wide range of non-scientific, non-technical experts. Environmental and social implications are of course important in developing energy policy. The Government is aware of this and so is NEAC. I mention as examples NEAC’s first and fourth published reports, its proposals for an Australian conservation of energy program and its report on octane ratings and lead additives. These all concern environmental matters. NEAC is currently working on energy conservation in buildings and industry and on recycling of energy intensive materials. If in future it appears necessary that we should add to the Committee people of particular disciplines and skills I would be very happy to do so.
-I remind the Minister for Social Security that on two occasions a fortnight ago I asked her whether she was aware of a suggestion that a document was missing from a file her Director-General presented to the court in the so-called social security fraud case. I hope I do not unfairly summarise the Minister’s answer; it was that she was not aware of this but that she would seek to become aware. Is she yet aware whether a document is missing from that file? If so, what steps have been taken concerning it?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEI recall the question from Senator Button. I have some recollection that it was placed on notice. I will determine the present status of the question and see what information can be provided.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. No doubt the Government is aware of reports from Pakistan that aid is urgently required for the Afghan rebels facing an estimated 100,000 Russian troops in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces. What action has the Government taken to provide medical and nonmilitary help to the injured and homeless in both Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of the atrocities?
-I have no doubt that my colleague in another place, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, can respond in terms of what aid is being marshalled for the refugees who cross the border into Pakistan in particular. I am not aware whether it is possible to provide medical and non-military help within Afghanistan at the moment. I am also not aware what movement, free or otherwise, there is within that State. I had better refer the question to the Minister and seek further information.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. By way of preface, I refer to what was known as the Sweeney declaration, a decision in the Federal Court by Mr Justice Sweeney, which virtually said that although preferential voting was insisted upon in union ballots if a cross was put instead of a number the vote was valid. Does that declaration mean that, henceforth, in any trade union ballot run either by a union or under the Commonwealth Electoral Act the preferential system will be disregarded? In Commonwealth elections, will the marking of a cross constitute a valid vote, whereas figures now are required?
-On 4 March Senator Mulvihill asked me a question in relation to this matter. It involved consideration of a recent decision of Mr Justice Sweeney in the Federal Court in re Gleghorn.
– That is the AJA.
– In relation to an Australian Journalists Association ballot. He specifically asked certain questions which he has repeated this morning. I have had the opportunity of considering the reasons that have been advanced in this case and I am able to answer some of the questions that Senator Mulvihill has raised in relation to the effect of this problem on trade union ballots. The finding of the court was that the returning officers instructions on how to vote were not mandatory and that substantial compliance with those instructions was sufficient. The Court went on to hold that, although the voters in question had not followed the instructions in that they had used crosses or ticks instead of the figure ‘ 1 ‘, they had sufficiently indicated their intention. The decision was expressed to apply only to an optional preference ballot where there was only one position to be filled and only two candidates, and where the relevant union rules do not provide that such votes are informal. A trade union would need to change its present rules only if its terms were such that the decision in re Gleghorn was applicable to ballots conducted under those rules, and it wished to avoid the implications of that decision. The decision would not require returning officers of the Australian Electoral Office to change their practice of giving instructions, subject to union rules, that figures shall be used. However, the decision in re Gleghorn would be relevant to the question whether in similar cases a vote cast by means of a cross or tick was informal. So the situation in other trade union elections appears to follow from union rules. The union can govern and change the rules. In Federal elections this question is governed by section 133 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act and I am giving further consideration to the question whether there was anything said by Mr Justice Sweeney in that case which, although it would not be directly binding, may have some implications for that section of the Act.
-My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. No doubt he will welcome a question from me concerning Telecom Australia because it has been quite a while since I have asked one. I preface this question by saying that on occasions some telephone numbers listed in telephone directories are incorrect and sometimes names that are listed are under the wrong heading in the business section in the yellow pages. Sometimes names are omitted. I give the Minister the example of Hertz Rent-a-Car Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of TransAustralia Airlines, which is incorrectly listed under Kays-Hertz in the 004 directory for Tasmania. Obviously this mistake must cause Hertz some loss of business. Has Telecom Australia considered making directory correction lists available to subscribers so that they will be better served and, if not, will Telecom consider such a move?
– I was not aware that there were mistakes in telephone books, but I suppose it is scarcely surprising that there are some in such large publications. I am also not aware of any suggestion that correction lists might be issued. The suggestion is an interesting one, and I will see that it is referred to Telecom Australia for consideration.
-Will the AttorneyGeneral determine whether any whites who received postal votes in the east Kimberley area have been questioned by the Western Australian police? If none have been interrogated, and in view of the fact that all Aboriginal postal voters have been questioned, will he guarantee that the Racial Discrimination Act will be enforced in Western Australia and that nobody, including Police Commissioner Leetch, will be exempt?
– I will take notice of that question and give consideration to it.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Science and the Enviroment been drawn to a report that following the recent severe bushfires in the Adelaide Hills claims totalling $ 1 . 8m have been lodged with the Adelaide Lord Mayor’s Bushfire Relief Fund which totals only $400,000? Will the Government consider giving assistance to the bushfire victims in accordance with its present policy on natural disasters or some variation of it, in order to ensure that adequate support is provided for those unfortunate people who have lost their homes and property?
– My attention has just been drawn to an article that refers to the problems related to the recent bushfires in the Adelaide Hills and to the claims for damages caused of some $1.8m. The Federal Government takes a very constructive and involved stance referrable to natural disasters, and the circumstances which surround the position in the Adelaide Hills which . rated as a serious disaster will certainly be high in the priorities of the Government. I shall make it my business to highlight with the appropriate Minister the problems of that area.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. It refers to the Government’s three-year program for accommodation for aged or disabled people, but in particular to announcements made in Whyalla by Senator Jessop on behalf of the Minister that an amount of $600,000 or more would be made available to the Whyalla senior citizens committee. The report on the Whyalla news indicated that this amount would be available in the third year of funding. As the member for Grey, Mr Wallis, has been advised only of the first year’s funding and no information is available on the second or third year’s funding, is that information contained in the Press statement correct? Can the Minister indicate to the Senate and to the local people whether that funding will be available in the end of the third year.
I am not aware of what was actually published in what has been referred to by Senator Bishop. I am able to confirm that I had approved a grant for the aged and disabled persons project in Whyalla. The bulk of the projects for years one and two have been announced to Federal members. I had anticipated being in Whyalla in that week when there was a transport strike, and
I had intended to announce that grant myself in Whyalla for the third year, because the people of Whyalla do have a great interest in the project. As I was not able to go because of the indefinite transport arrangements, Senator Jessop announced that program on my behalf.
In the very near future I hope to be able to announce all of the third year projects in the usual way, through the Federal members. The Federal member for that district will be advised in the usual way. If he has not received any advice of second and third year projects, this is because none in his district have been approved. The bulk of the projects has been announced in the normal way. I am able to confirm that grant for Whyalla, and I am sure that it will be of help to that community.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs aware that the famous World War II Dam Busters Squadron of the Royal Air Force will be holding in a few weeks time what will probably be its last reunion in Australia? The British members have forwarded squadron ties, lapel badges and commemorative plaques for members and sponsors such as the Royal Australian Air Force base at Edinburgh, South Australia. Is the Minister aware that Customs officers have seen fit to charge customs duty of $66.86 for 10 ties and 45 lapel badges which had an original purchase value of some £50, and $22.53 for 10 commemorative plaques which had an original purchase value of some £41? Will the Minister take up this matter to see that the moneys collected by Customs will be returned, taking into account the outstanding record of this famous squadron which may be meeting in this country for the last time and which deserves better recognition than this penny-pinching approach to a few squadron articles for its Australian members?
– I do not have any information in relation to the matter which Senator Young has raised. I will refer his question to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and ask him to give his earliest attention to it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Given the current allegations of police harassment of Western Australian Aboriginals who applied for postal votes in the last Western Australian State election, and in the absence of any clear statement from the Minister on this issue, what special steps is the Minister prepared to take to ensure that Western Australian Aboriginals are not prevented, by any kind of intimidation, from voting in the next Federal elections?
– I would have thought that the Senate would be aware of the steps which have been taken by this Government in respect of assisting Kimberley Aboriginals to vote. There has been some discussion of this matter before. In fact there was an electoral education campaign which commenced, I think, early or about the middle of last year, and which was funded by this Government and conducted by the State Education Department in collaboration with both electoral offices. With respect to the problems which have arisen, both with the previous election and with this election, I think that the best solution is to ensure that Aboriginal people are able to vote of their own accord and without need of assistance, thereby removing the possibility of interference with their freedom to vote.
There is absolutely no doubt that this Government is committed to the Aboriginal people having the right to vote. It has encouraged this electoral education campaign. I believe that the Australian Electoral Office has done a very good job in previous elections, and I think I have referred in the Senate before to the note of congratulations that was included in the Maningrida community’s publication with respect to the work of the Australian Electoral Office for Aboriginals. As far as the activities of the State police of Western Australia are concerned, by statute those activities are under the direction and control of the Commissioner of Police. The matters to which the honourable senator has referred have given rise to a series of charges which, no doubt, will be heard by the courts in Western Australia. My understanding is that the defendants will be represented by solicitors. The defendants are not Aboriginals, but the Aboriginal people have access to the Aboriginal Legal Service in Western Australia, which is funded by my Department and which, to my personal knowledge, is watching the situation closely.
– I ask a supplementary question. The Minister did not really address himself to that part of my question which concerned the taking of positive steps by him, as the Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, to prevent intimidation of Aboriginals to stop them from voting. I stress this point because it seems to many people that the experiences currently being undergone by Aboriginals who did have a postal vote may be such that they will be too frightened to vote in the next Federal elections. I would like to hear that some positive steps will be taken to counteract these specific traumatic experiences.
– I think that all honourable senators would be aware by now that a number of individuals have been charged with offences under the Electoral Act and that the allegations are concerned with possible misconduct in relation to postal voting. I have no wish to make any comment on those matters until they are dealt with by the courts. I can assure the Senate that I will be watching the results of those prosecutions closely. I suggest to the Senate that until those cases are dealt with it is a little early to be discussing this matter in detail in this place. I can do no more than assure the Senate that I will keep the matter under close review. At this stage I would suggest that the Opposition is making allegations with respect to police behaviour. There are charges before the courts which effectively make allegations about the behaviour of certain community advisers. I have no intention of making public statements on that matter, and prejudging the matter, until the courts have heard the charges.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, refers to a report in yesterday’s Press of an Australian manufacturing company recalling its product for modification after surveys had shown that, in certain conditions of use, this product could well endanger lives. I ask the Minister: How is it possible for this product to carry the seal of approval of the Standards Association of Australia when it has been found, after use, to be so perilously defective?
-The habit of manufacturers recalling products if they find a deficiency in them is growing and I think it has been a beneficial and proper practice. I will refer to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs the specific question regarding the seal of the Standards Association of Australia being applied to this product. I do not have any details in relation to it.
– I refer the AttorneyGeneral to the report in this morning’s Australian Financial Review that the South Australian Attorney-General has expressed doubts about the constitutionality of the proposed uniform national companies, securities and takeovers legislation. The whole scheme is thought to be in some jeopardy as a result of that expression of doubt. I ask the Attorney: What is the nature of the constitutional doubts that have been expressed by the South Australian Attorney? Is it the belief of the Commonwealth Government’s legal advisers that they have any substance?
– I suppose this question could cover my roles both as Attorney-General and as Minister Representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. The Senate will be aware of the very long, detailed negotiations that have been proceeding between the Commonwealth and the States in relation to a cooperative companies and securities scheme. The first piece of legislation in relation to it has been passed by this Parliament and further legislation is foreshadowed for this session. It has been the view of the Commonwealth and its legal advisers that that scheme has constitutional validity.
The matter will be discussed again at a meeting of Ministers responsible, that is, mostly State Attorneys, and the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. I understand that some of the concerns of Mr Griffin may well be expressed at that meeting. The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs will give consideration to them. Of course, if necessary, further consideration could be given to the matter by me. But at this stage the Government has no reason to believe that the scheme could not or ought not go ahead.
-Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Is the Attorney-General unwilling or just unable to give an answer to the first part of my question, which was: What is the nature of the particular objection that has been made by the South Australian Government?
– I am not familiar with the details of Mr Griffin’s concerns. They may well have been made known to my Department. I have not yet had occasion specifically to consider details. I think it probably would be unwise to canvass them at this stage. A ministerial meeting is taking place and will continue tomorrow. I would prefer not to have any public discussion on the matter until we can give it further consideration.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General, but. perhaps a pan of the question could be directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Can the Attorney advise what stage applications for financial assistance under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1979 by small business operators in the Ayers Rock area have reached? Is the outcome of such applications likely to be favourable in view of the fact that small business operators who retained adequate legal counsel to present their case during the Uluru land claim hearings in order to defend their rights to operate their businesses found the cost of such representation beyond their means? Is it the Government’s view that such financial assistance be curbed, after taking into consideration means tests submitted by the applicants when Aboriginals making land claims under the Act have access to unlimited funds for the engagement of counsel during land claim hearings?
– I have received a number of applications from business operators in the Northern Territory for financial assistance in connection with the land claim in the Ayers Rock area. Under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act, financial assistance may be authorised by the Attorney-General to certain persons in connection with their legal representation at an inquiry before the Aboriginal Land Commissioner. The Attorney-General has to be satisfied that in all the circumstances of the case, including any hardship to the applicant, it is reasonable for the Commonwealth to provide assistance. The Attorney-General’s Department has written to a firm “of solicitors representing several of the applicants, and to one other applicant. In April 1979, the solicitors were requested to provide certain information in support of their clients’ applications but they have not yet responded to that request. I am told also that my Department has written to another applicant and has received some information but there is still not sufficient information available to put a submission to me in regard to this matter so that I can be satisfied that it is reasonable, taking hardship into account. At this stage, I am really not in a position to indicate to Senator Kilgariff what the outcome of my consideration of these applications will be.
The third part of Senator Kilgariff ‘s question is really within the area of responsibility of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I have referred the matter to him. The suggestion that Aboriginal persons making land claims have access to unlimited funds for the engagement of counsel during land claim hearings is not accepted. I am advised that the Aboriginals do not have access to unlimited funds. The Aboriginal Land Council is required to submit approved estimates of expenditure for each financial year and must order its priorities within those limits. Also, the carriage of land claims is not a cost to the public, but a cost against royalty payments derived from mining on Aboriginal lands which would otherwise have flowed to the Aboriginal community.
– I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Defence to a lengthy and detailed interview on the Australian Broadcasting Commission AM radio program this morning, said to be with a former Australian Army officer in Vietnam, to the effect that agent orange was sprayed by Australian Sioux helicopters in Vietnam and that the Australian Army barracks at Vung Tau were regularly sprayed with insecticides from tanks in helicopters which had previously- within a matter of minutescontained agent orange and which in that case would almost certainly have contained the contaminant dioxin. In view of those comments and the statement by the Minister for Defence in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald that he firmly rejects allegations that agent orange was ever used in Vietnam and further that he rejected totally the charge that he or his Department was covering up, will the Government now establish an independent and public inquiry into the use of agent orange in Vietnam and its effects on Australian servicemen?
– I heard what was said on AM this morning. I also heard what was said on AM yesterday morning and on PM last night. The Minister for Defence has made a very clear and firm offer to anyone claiming to possess specific evidence which would contradict his statement in relation to agent orange to present it to his Department where it will be investigated as a matter of urgency. The Minister has made that offer very clearly and firmly. What surprised me in relation to some of the things that I heard on the radio programs was that there seemed to be some reluctance on the part of people speaking on those programs to take up that firm and unequivocal offer of the Minister which, of course, still stands.
– I ask a supplementary question. A point arises from the Minister’s reply which confirms the last point in my question. Does the Minister not agree that this is reason for an independent public inquiry? Surely that is the whole point.
-Until people take up the offer that the Minister has made and provide firm evidence instead of making anonymous comments as one person did on an Australian Broadcasting Commission program I do not think that there is such a need.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy. It concerns the conservation of transport fuels. Is the Minister aware that substantial savings in diesel and petrol fuels may be made by the conversion of fork lift trucks to electric motors using rechargeable batteries? Considering that already half of Australia’s fork lift trucks are electric and that a convincing case can be made for the lower recurrent costs and the safety advantages of electric forks, despite a 20 per cent higher capital outlay, what steps is the Government taking to publicise the savings in petrol and diesel fuels that can be made in this area? Will the Government consider sales tax and other advantages to give sufficient incentives and publicity to begin a massive, even total, shift to electric fork lift trucks?
-I understand that the Battery Industry Association has made a submission on this matter to the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources which is inquiring into the replacement of petroleum based fuels by alternative sources of energy. The Association has also met officers of my Department to discuss these issues. Tax concessions introduced in the last Budget which applied to the conversion of oil fired industrial equipment do not currently apply to mobile plant. Any consideration of a change in this policy would depend on a future analysis by the Government of the information supplied to the Senate Standing Committee. The Government will consider this issue when the field of sales tax exemptions is next reviewed.
The honourable senator will be aware of the Government’s energy conservation program. To date the program has been directed to conservation in transport. In future the program will include conservation in industry, including mobile equipment. The National Energy Advisory Committee has also covered these issues in its report on electric vehicles to which I direct the honourable senator’s attention as well as the effective use of liquid fuels in road vehicles. A very considerable interest is being taken at the research level by my Department and by the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Council in electric vehicles generally. Research is in progress in three universities.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware that in the United Kingdom all advertisements for tobacco products in newspapers, magazines and publications are required to contain the usual health warning? Does the Minister see any logic in requiring health warnings on cigarette packets but not on all other tobacco products and in newspaper advertisements? Will the Government consider providing temporary financial support to sporting clubs which reject sponsorship by tobacco companies?
Senator Gietzelt’s question raises some matters for policy consideration. I will see that they are referred to the Minister for Health and see whether he is able to respond to them. I am not aware of the state of his knowledge of the United Kingdom requirements for health warnings, but I will see whether he is aware of those matters at the same time.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory give an indication of the extent to which European carp have now penetrated and infested the waterways of the Australian Capital Territory, particularly Lake Burley Griffin and Lake Ginninderra? Is the Minister also able to give us an indication of the sort of damage that the carp are now doing in those waterways and lakes, particularly as they affect native fish and introduced species, such as trout?
– I do have some information which is relevant to the honourable senator’s question. The presence of European carp in the waterways around Canberra is proving to be a serious problem. They are increasing rather than diminishing in numbers. I understand that their size varies from some 10 to 20 lb, which should make for attractive fishing. Indeed that is one of the measures of control. There is a program which encourages predatory birds and fish as another means of controlling the European carp in Lake Burley Griffin and Lake Ginninderra in particular. They are useful measures of control, but most certainly they are not proving to be total measures.
The problems that relate to the European carp appear to be mainly in the ways in which they affect the reeds around the waterways, which are havens for wildlife in the area and which, further than that, are sources of breeding for a fish parasite which attacks the trout that are introduced into these lakes. Consequently, the carp are responsible for very considerable damage across quite a wide cross-section of the life within those lakes. As I said, on the positive side, I suppose it can be confirmed that the carp are an important attraction to anglers. But to this point there has been no really viable control of the European carp. Intensive scientific investigation of this problem is being undertaken, particularly in Victoria. It is being observed closely by the Australian Capital Territory, and the results of that research will be implemented in the waterways around the Capital Territory.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for Education aware that construction work being carried out at the Darwin High School is exposing members of the Commonwealth Teaching Service to dangerous levels of asbestos dust? Is he aware also that these officers are not satisfied with the response to their complaints by the Northern Territory Department of Health and Department of Education? Will the Minister have investigations made into this situation, which threatens the health of the staff and the students at the school?
– I am not aware of the situation. Of course, if it were so, steps should be taken to do something about the problem. While Senator Robertson was asking the question I was puzzling as to whether the Commonwealth now has any direct jurisdiction over this matter since responsibility for it has passed to the Northern Territory Government.
– Only for the Commonwealth Teaching Service people.
– Yes. I was in fact looking for ways in which one might link it so as to get a positive result. I will refer the matter to my colleague, the Minister for Education, and see whether, through the Commonwealth Teaching Service, we can find out what the facts are and, if necessary, do something about them.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. How many Chinese students have enrolled with Australian universities and educational institutions following arrangements announced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in August 1978? Have any difficulties arisen in placing students in institutions of their preference? What is the range of studies being undertaken in Australia as a result of the agreement on scientific and technical co-operation between the Australian and Chinese governments?
– My understanding is that since August 1978, when I announced Australia’s agreement to accept and assist with the placement in institutions of up to 100 Chinese students each year under Chinese Government sponsorship, Australia has received documentation on 82 Chinese students whom the Chinese Government has nominated for studies in Australia. Twenty-five of these students had arrived as at 26 March of this year. Chinese students studying under these arrangements are not formally enrolled in institutions but rather undertake ad hoc post-graduate studies not leading to formal qualifications.
It has not always been possible to place students in institutions of their first preference where any such preference has been indicated. The preferences often are based on outdated information or lack of knowledge of the most appropriate institutions. The students, however, have been placed in the most suitable institutions available for training. The Chinese students studying in Australia under the scientific and technical co-operation agreement between the Australian and Chinese governments are all undertaking post-graduate sophisticated studies in aspects ofthe medical and physical sciences.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence inform the Parliament of the likely increase in the number of personnel to be stationed at Townsville as a result of the decision of the Government to upgrade defence forces in the northern region? Is the Minister aware that there is a serious situation in regard to homeless people in the Townsville region and that if the increased number of Service people to be transferred to Townsville are required to compete with local persons in the private housing market the situation will be aggravated? Can the Minister advise whether there are any plans for additional Service accommodation to be considered by State or Commonwealth housing departments?
– I will refer that question to the Minister for Defence and draw his attention to the problem raised by Senator Keeffe.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, refers to the United Nations resolution condemning the Soviet invasion of
Afghanistan and to the demand for a withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. Can the Minister tell us the latest estimate of how many Soviet troops, how many Soviet tanks and how many Soviet military aircraft are now in Afghanistan? Can the Minister tell us whether there is any evidence, and if so what evidence, that the Soviet occupation forces are making any preparations to leave or to stay Afghanistan?
-I will be providing information to the Senate, including information on the nature and quantity of Soviet troops and armament in Afghanistan, in the very near future. I will be happy to do that.
– If I am asked why is it-
– I asked when.
– I said in the very near future. If we are to have an informal dialogue perhaps we can continue it outside the Senate.
Opposition senators interjecting-
-That statement, rather than being aggressive, was in fact an acknowledgement that if Senator Georges wanted further information I would be happy to give it to him. As to the first part of Senator Lewis’s question, I indicated that I would be making available the information regarding the strength of the Soviet Union troops in Afghanistan. I will add to that information concerning evidence that there is no indication at all that occupation is of a temporary nature but that there is every indication of long-term occupation.
– It is in the daily Press. We want something better than that.
– Since Senator Wriedt said that it is in the daily Press and he wants better than that, we will provide better than that for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy. It concerns questions asked earlier today about the pricing of liquefied petroleum gas. In particular, I refer to the Minister’s refusal to concede that the Government has a very strong hand in determining the activities of the Prices Justification Tribunal in respect of LPG pricing. Has the Minister seen in the 1978-79 report of the Tribunal its references to the legislation under which it operates and the amendments which were put through Parliament by this Government in 1 978? In the report the Tribunal draws to the attention of the Parliament that:
A provision is included in the Bill to allow the Minister to issue general directions to the PJT as to any matter which should be given special consideration by it in the performance of its functions in the exercise of its powers.
The Government intends that the Tribunal be employed in this role as a support where appropriate for its policies and, in particular, its anti-inflationary strategy.
Is it not apparent from those extracts from the PJT’s report that it believes that its determinations on pricing are required to reflect Government policy when required to do so? Does the Minister still claim that the PJT is an independent price fixing authority, as he said in his answer to Senator Douglas McClelland yesterday, or is he blaming the Tribunal for the massive LPG price increases?
– I do not recall the precise statements in the 1978-79 report. I have no doubt that the statement mentioned is one of the many factors contained in that report in relation to the terms of reference for the function of the Prices Justification Tribunal- one and not the sole one. I have no doubt that the PJT has a very wide discretion in its fixation and determination of prices. I have no doubt that the PJT had a wide capacity to make a determination of LPG prices. I repeat that no instruction was given by the Government to the PJT. It is quite incorrect rhetoric to suggest that we are blaming the PJT. On the contrary, the PJT was doing its job. All I am doing is recording my knowledge of what happened prior to my accepting my present ministry. The advice I am given is quite clear, that no instruction was given to the PJT.
-Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question to clarify the last part of the answer. The Minister said that no instructions were given to the Prices Justification Tribunal in respect of pricing of LPG. Will he also confirm that no guidelines or communications were issued to the Prices Justification Tribunal by the Government in respect of pricing of LPG?
-In case there is any documentation on this matter that I am not aware of I will take the question on notice and give it my attention. My understanding is, and the advice that I have been given is, as I have stated before, that the PJT was not given any advice as to how it should approach the pricing of LPG. The Tribunal was competent to do it according to its considerations.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry advise of the current position relating to Polish fishing ventures in Tasmanian waters? Has the Minister received recent catch figures from the trawler Denebola”) Has the second vessel involved in the proposal yet started fishing? Do the results indicate a major volume of mackerel in Tasmanian waters?
– I have some information referable to the honourable senator’s question. My advice is that the Polish vessel Denebola is currently operating in waters off South Australia and Western Australia prior to returning to waters in the vicinity of Tasmania. The total catch for the vessel from the commencement of operations in the Australian fishing zone on 22 December to 19 March 1980 was 288 tonnes. The second vessel to which the honourable senator referred, proposed for operation in the feasibility fishing study, has not commenced operations. Surveys undertaken in approved areas of Tasmania have not so far located substantial jack mackerel resources in those waters. However, it should be noted that major known jack mackerel resources occur in south eastern waters where the vessels have not been approved to operate.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy and it follows that asked by Senator Wriedt. Is it a fact that the Prices Justification Tribunal in its report of 1 7 August 1 979 stated:
It was logical and appropriate to price refinery produced LPG by reference to export parity prices.
Did the report go on to quote the letter from Mr Newman mentioned earlier? If so, and if the PJT’s understanding of Government policy was erroneous, as claimed by the Minister, why did the Minister not make any submission during the latest PJT hearings to disabuse the Tribunal of this allegedly incorrect understanding of Government policy? Why did the Minister negligently fail to remedy the situation by exercising his statutory power to convey the Government’s view that LPG need not be priced at export parity pricing?
– I have made no claim that the Prices Justification Tribunal took an erroneous view. I have stated that the advice I have been given is that no instruction was given to the PJT, and I have repeated it. I have not seen the statement in the report of 1 7 August. I will take note of it and see what its implications are. Nevertheless, the advice I have received upon assuming this portfolio is that no instruction was given to the PJT to price at export parity. I cannot qualify that statement because that is the only advice I have been given. I will seek further information for the honourable senator.
– My question was not that such instruction had been conveyed to the PJT. I accept that it has not. My question was: Given the fact that the PJT had indicated its understanding of Government policy that LPG be priced at export parity pricing, why did the Minister during the January hearings into LPG pricing, when he was in office, not convey to the PJT, as he is entitled to do under statute, the view of the Government concerning the pricing of LPG in relation to export parity pricing? Why did the Minister fail to issue that advice to the PJT?
-I will look at the statement in the report and respond when I have seen it.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. From his answers to questions concerning his own portfolio it is becoming obvious that he is not in control of that portfolio. Is it a fact that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister are holding discussions and arriving at decisions about this portfolio and that Senator Carrick is not privy to those discussions? How was the Treasurer able to state on 6 March that the price of Australian crude oil would rise by $2 a barrel on 1 July and that there could be other rises that had to be taken into account as well? Why was the Minister in charge of the portfolio for National Development and Energy not able to tell the Senate on several occasions that the latest $2 a barrel Saudi increase would be passed on on 1 July? Is the Minister being forced by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer along the same path as Mr Newman, the honourable member for Bass, was driven by such behaviour on the part of the Prime Minister?
-As to the first part of the question, it is not a fact that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer are making decisions about my portfolio without consultation with me. The very reverse is true. It is equally true that -
– But they tell the truth and you don’t.
– Order! Senator Walsh, you just said that the Minister does not tell the truth. I heard that interjection. I do not like these surreptitious interjections. Withdraw.
– Could I just make quite clear what I did say? When Senator Carrick was answering a question relating to why the Prime Minister and the Treasurer know what is going on in his Department and he does not know, I said it is because they tell the truth and Senator Carrick declines to. I am not imputing that he told lies.
– You said that the Minister was untruthful, that the truth was not being stated by the Minister. That is most unparliamentary. It is a reflection on the Minister. You withdraw it.
-May I take a point of order? I do not want to question your ruling, Mr President, but I would say to you that you are not giving Senator Walsh an opportunity to express what he believes he said. You are placing an interpretation on words as you heard them. Before anyone is asked to withdraw, he should at least have an opportunity to put before the chamber what he believes he said. He is not being given that opportunity. Surely he is entitled to that much.
– I take a point of order. The point of order I take is that you ruled that Senator Walsh should withdraw those words. No explanation is called for or required. I submit that your ruling should be strictly enforced now, with no explanations from Senator Wriedt or anyone else.
- Senator Walsh has explained. I heard him reiterate that which he had said. Withdraw.
-What I said was that Mr Howard told the truth, that is that oil prices will increase by at least $2 a barrel on 1 July. Senator Carrick has not said that in the Senate. He has refused to say whether they will or will not increase. If that is taken as an accusation that Senator Carrick is telling lies in the Senate, I am quite happy to withdraw it. But that was not what I said. I am just drawing attention to the fact that the Treasurer has told the truth about the way oil prices will go on 1 July. Senator Carrick has refused to say anything about it.
– Have you withdrawn?
-I withdraw any imputation that he has been telling lies.
– I am sorry that I am now about to spoil the total rhetoric. I asked Mr Howard whether the report in the paper was correct. He said that the report about his saying that there would be a $2 rise on 1 July was not correct. The Treasurer himself has not said those things, so there has been an awful waste of rhetoric for an undesirable purpose.
-Yesterday Senator Teague asked me a question regarding Bishop Desmond Tutu. I am advised that he is the Secretary-General of the South African Council of Churches and that he has had his passport withdrawn by the South African Government. I am not aware of the reasons for this. The South African Government has not disclosed them. The effect of the withdrawal of the passport will apparently be to restrict Bishop Tutu to the Republic of South Africa. He will not even be able to visit the so-called four independent homelands nearby.
The Australian Government has, through its embassy in South Africa, already made representations to the South African authorities seeking information about Bishop Tutu’s case asking whether his passport will be returned to him. The South African authorities have undertaken to reply to these representations.
-On 19 February 1980 Senator Watson and I think on another date some other honourable senators addressed a question to me in my capacity as Minister representing the Treasurer. He asked whether the Taxation Office was arbitrarily disallowing deductions for donations over $2 to the Red Shield Appeal conducted by the Salvation Army. At that time I indicated to the Senate that I would look into the matter. Subsequently, I raised it with my colleague, the Treasurer, who took it up with the Commissioner of Taxation within whose administration the matter falls.
The Commissioner explained that, for income tax purposes, donations to the Salvation Army fall into one or other of two main categories. Donations which are paid by the Army into one of its funds, such as the Social Trust which is applied exclusively for benevolent purposes, are allowable as income tax deductions, provided, of course, that they are not below the minimum amount of $2 specified for gifts generally in the Income Tax Assessment Act. On the other hand, donations which are not so applied but which are used, for instance, to meet the administrative expenses of the Salvation Army, are not allowable. This is in keeping with the general position that donations for the ordinary purposes of a church or other religious organisation are not deductible.
In this situation, if the issue of large numbers of queries by the Taxation Office regarding donations made to the Salvation Army and claimed in income tax returns is to be avoided, it is necessary that personnel of the Taxation Office should be able to recognise easily the nature of the donation made in each case; that is, whether or not it is for an approved fund used for benevolent purposes. To this end, the Army authorities in each of the States some years ago settled upon arrangements, the terms of which were conveyed to the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation.
As far as the Red Shield Appeal is concerned, the arrangements in the States of New South Wales and Queensland are that all donations of $2 or more to the appeal are applied to a fund, such as the Social Trust, for use for benevolent purposes. However, in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, the arrangement made is that only donations of $5 or more are to be reserved for such purposes. Donations of less than $5 are applied to whatever purposes the Army sees fit. Shortly stated, therefore, the practice followed by the Taxation Office in New South Wales and Queensland is that all claims for donations of $2 and upwards to the Red Shield Appeal are allowed as deductions, while in the other States mentioned, only donations of $5 and upwards are correctly allowable. I think that may clarify the matter.
– by leave- Yesterday I received a letter from the Minister for Science and the Environment in reply to a question that I asked on 13 November concerning the movement of dangerous substances. I seek leave to have the letter incorporated in Hansard.
The letter read as follows- 26 Mar 1980
My dear Senator,
On 13 November 1 979 you asked my predecessor, Senator the Hon J. J. Webster a question without notice concerning the movement of dangerous substances. Further to Senator Webster’s answer my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Transport, has provided the following additional information.
The transport of dangerous goods by air, and by sea in ships engaged in interstate and international trade is regulated by the Commonwealth Government, and requirements for the transport of dangerous goods by road and rail and in ports is the responsibility of the respective State and Territory Governments. The Australian Transport Advisory Council (ATAC) (comprising Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers with responsibility for transport matters) has been encouraging the development of uniform legislation and regulations for the transport of dangerous goods throughout Australia. To this end ATAC’s Advisory Committee on the Transport of Dangerous Goods has recently prepared a new draft Code of requirements for the transport of dangerous goods by road and rail. When endorsed by ATAC Ministers this Code could form the basis for uniform legislation and regulations for the land transport of dangerous goods throughout Australia. The Code includes classification, labelling, packaging and documentation requirements and is based on the Inter-governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation (IMCO), International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code and the recommendations of the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.
This Code docs not indicate which authorities should be notified of a movement of dangerous goods. This is a matter for the respective State and Territory Governments.
Requirements for the shipment of dangerous goods by sea in ships on international or interstate voyages are specified by the Navigation (Dangerous Goods) Regulations under the Commonwealth’s Navigation Act 1912. Through these regulations Australia has adopted the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code. The Regulations require prior notification to the Department of Transport of shipments of all dangerous goods.
The air transport of dangerous goods is governed by Air Navigation Orders issued under the Air Navigation Act 1920. These orders specify the requirements for classification, labelling, packaging, handling and carriage of dangerous goods by air by adoption of the International Air Transport Association Restricted Articles Regulations. Prior notification to the aircraft captain of restricted articles to be carried in an aircraft is required.
Senator the Hon. Justin O ‘Byrne, Parliament House, CANBERRA. A.C.T. 2600
Because I said that it may mean there were no projects, I thought that I had better clarify that there was involved in the second year of the program a 30-bed nursing home, and I will check whether the member for Grey has been advised properly.
-A few days ago Senator Robertson asked me a question about uranium mining and the suggestion that a top level conference was to be called by Mr Tuxworth, the Northern Territory Minister for Mines. Senator Robertson queried the lack of Aboriginal involvement. I have made inquiries at Mr Tuxworth’s office. It confirms that Mr Tuxworth has called a meeting with a number of people from mining companies, although he has not described it as a top level conference. The conference follows his recent visit to North America, when he was, of course, accompanied by a number of Aboriginals from the Northern Territory. I can confirm that I have not been invited to the meeting which will be held in Sydney on 3 1 March, but I understand that Mr Tuxworth intends to speak with me and Senator Carrick on the results of the meeting.
I am advised that the main business will be on highly technical matters which it is not thought would be of any direct interest to Aboriginals. However, the question of Aboriginal training has been included in the agenda, because Mr Tuxworth wants to put before the companies the information which he and the Aboriginals gained in common on training schemes which are available in the United States. He wants to get the reaction of the companies to those schemes. He would expect to confer with Aboriginals subsequent to obtaining the companies’ reactions. I do not think I need add anything further to complete the answer, but I give Senator Robertson an assurance that both the Northern Territory Government and the Commonwealth Government are anxious to see the maximum involvement of Aboriginal people in positions in this, as in other industries, in the Northern Territory.
– On page 537 of Senate Hansard dated 4 March 1980, an answer was given to Question No. 2066 asked by Senator Mason about the allocation of government housing to members and senators. The answer given stated that a government house had been sold to the Hon. Sir Robert Cotton. It has since been found that the answer was incorrect. The information was provided by the Department of the Capital Territory and the error arose from confusion over Sir Robert’s name and a person with a similar name. A written apology has been conveyed to Sir Robert.
-On 5 March 1980 Senator Keeffe asked me a question without notice concerning delegates-at-large to the National Women’s Advisory Council’s national conference. The honourable senator mentioned in his question that approximately 100 delegates were chosen by a ballot conducted by the Australian Electoral Office. The Minister for Home Affairs has advised me that this was not the case, but that 73 delegates were selected or elected by procedures established by sub-committees of the National Women’s Advisory Council in each State or Territory. I am informed that the Australian Electoral Office conducted elections at conferences in Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. The Australian Electoral Office assisted with some aspects of elections in the Australian Capital Territory. State electoral office advice was sought in South Australia. The Alice Springs conference ballot was supervised by the responsible subcommittee. Delegates from New South Wales and Darwin were selected by sub-committees on the basis of nominations put forward by women of that State and region.
In response to the second half of the honourable senator’s question, I refer him firstly to the reply to Senator Melzer’s question which appears on page 543 of Senate Hansard of 5 March 1980. It is true that the Minister for Home Affairs suggested the names of seven additional delegates-at-large to the Council. I am advised that these names were of women known by the Minister to have particular expertise and experience in public life and in their chosen careers. The Minister considered they were women who could make valuable contributions to conference discussions. The names of all delegates and delegates-at-large have been available from the office of the Minister for Home Affairs since before the conference.
-I have received a letter from Senator Walsh proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the Senate for discussion, namely:
The Government’s suppression of the Auditor-General’s reports on Asia Dairy Industries (Hong Kong) Ltd.
I call upon those senators who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.
More than the number of senators required by
-On 30 August 1979 Bill Hayden asked the then Minister for Primary Industry to give an unequivocal assurance that he would report to Parliament any financial discrepancies discovered in statutory authorities under his control. The answer was evasive. Subsequently it was revealed in the Press, not by Bill Hayden, that Asia Dairy Industries (Hong Kong) Ltd, a subsidiary of the Australian Dairy Corporation, was involved as well as the then Corporation Chairman, Mr Tony Webster. It is possible that other individuals are implicated. The then Minister had known of the investigations at least as early as April 1979. Questions asked in Senate Estimates committee hearings on 21 September revealed that an Auditor-General’s report had been handed to the then Minister one or two days before. The Auditor-General’s letter, appended to the Dairy Corporation’s 1978-79 annual report stated that reports- please note the plural- on the matter had been submitted to the Minister for Primary Industry, who by that time, was Mr Nixon. In Parliament on 1 5 November, he was asked what action he proposed to take arising from those reports. In reply, Mr Nixon stated:
The practices that caused concern to the Auditor-General are no longer relevant.
Clearly, that implied that the matters were of little consequence, and that the subject was closed. When questioned again and requested to table the reports on 22 November, Mr Nixon replied:
The delicate and sensitive commercial report should not be made public.
The inconsistency between those two replies is obvious. On 30 November, I sent a telegram to Mr Nixon requesting that I be permitted to read the reports in his Canberra office on 7 December. In deference to his reference to confidentiality, I guaranteed not to disclose any commercial information the reports may have contained. He replied by telegram on 5 December and refused my request to read the reports in his office because, as he stated:
It would be contrary to proper conduct in such matters to disclose the contents of the reports until full consideration has been given to the question of further action being taken consequent upon the reports.
Not only is that answer inconsistent with his previous replies but also it and his answer to a question in the House on 15 November are mutually exclusive. One claimed that the subject was closed because it was no longer relevant and the other claimed that he could not disclose the reports because consideration was given to questions of further action being taken consequent on the reports. More than three months later, the reports have not been tabled and no action has been taken. As a matter of principle, all AuditorGeneral ‘s reports should be available to the Parliament. So far as I can determine, until now all have been- with the possible exception of one that was claimed to have security implications.
An equally important principle, trenchantly enunciated in recent times by Senator Rae, is that all statutory corporations should be responsible to the Parliament. Why has the Fraser Government thrown these principles overboard? Why has it opted for a prolonged and determined cover-up? Probably I do not know all the answers to those questions, but I do know some. If there were any possibility of the Government coming clean and tabling the reports I would wait until all the information was available. I would have preferred that, but the Government will not come clean. I have no realistic option but to disclose what I know. I know that Asia Dairy Industries paid a first class air fare from Switzerland to Australia for Mr Webster’s daughter. I know that Asia Dairy Industries paid air fares to New Zealand and back for Mr Webster, his wife and family. I know that the Auditor-General declared that those payments were illegal. There are rumours of other and more serious irregularities pertaining to Mr Webster, and to others, which may or may not be true. If they are not true, the Government must take the blame for the fact that those people remain under suspicion.
The Government’s remedy is to table the reports. Refusal to do so will confirm the much more serious revelations of rumour. I have no personal animosity towards Mr Webster; I have no desire to victimise him and I am sure that, quite properly, the Government has no such desire, either. However, there is an important qualitative difference between a reluctance to prosecute and active determination to abandon precedent, to supress, to cover up and concoct contradictory alibis as the Minister for Primary Industry has done. For the Government’s determination to do all those things we must look elsewhere.
As early as April last year the former Minister for Primary Industry knew that there were financial irregularities involving Mr Webster and perhaps others. Under any previous Australian government Mr Webster would have been stood down from his position as Chairman of the Corporation. Why was that procedure not followed in this instance? The reason is that the former Minister for Primary Industry was in no position to cast the first stone. How could he uphold the principle that officials suspected of misusing funds should step down from their official positions? Mr Fraser’s abject failure to maintain the traditional standards of ministerial propriety permitted a compromised Minister to stay in an inevitably compromised office. Mr Fraser has debased the Westminster system as no Prime Minister has done since Robert Walpole. There is no principle that cannot be sacrified
For many months the Government’s task in this cover-up has been made a lot easier by the active participation, or perhaps collusion, of a Melbourne public relations consultant retained by the Australian Dairy Corporation. This public relations consultant, Ronald Anderson, wears many hats, two of which are as journalist and publisher. In these capacities he has been frantically publishing a most interesting series of defences of Asia Dairy Industries and all associated with that company from the Minister down. Some of his readers pay $65 a year for his Primary Industry Newsletter. They could read exactly the same thing for 30c in the Stock Journal. Some people read it free in the National Farmer. Those readers have never been informed that Mr Anderson is actually being paid by the Dairy Corporation. They have been regaled with the most astonishing catalogue of the virtues of the Dairy Corporation, its personnel and the crimes of those who have had the audacity to seek the facts about it. Most notable among those, of course, have been the Leader of the Opposition and me.
This debate is about Asia Dairy Industries and the Government cover-up in relation to that company, not about Ronald Anderson. However, it is not possible for me to deal adequately with this matter without saying something about the role of Anderson. Immediately following Bill Hayden ‘s question which I stress mentioned no individuals, Anderson’s Primary Industry Newsletter thundered:
Are Australian Parliaments to become havens for schemeing character assassination? PIN has been aware for some weeks of the fact that the Auditor-General has been conducting inquiries. PIN found nothing in its investigation to suggest any wrongdoing let alone any misappropriation. After evaluating the information available to it and making some inquiries of its own, PIN concluded that the allegations being made were without substance.
So Anderson pontificated. From that finding the only possible conclusions are that PIN ‘s inquiries were superficial and that PIN is incompetent. But the tone of the whole article was consistent with a desire to intimidate those who would force out the truth. That suggests either that Mr Anderson’s mercenary relationship with the Corporation dictated his attitude or that birds of a feather instinctively flock together. The same phonomenon, might explain his passionate, though irrational, defence of the former Minister.
The Australian Dairy Corporation, and through it ADI, is not the only undisclosed egg in Mr Anderson’s public relations basket. To my knowledge he is a paid public relations consultant of the Australian Dairy Corporation, the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, the Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co Ltd, the Victorian Grain Elevators Board and the Australian Wheat Board. He has received and may still be receiving payments from the Australian Wool Corporation and the Victorian National Country Party. He writes for his own publication and for some newspapers what purports to be objective independent comment about all those bodies, without disclosing his mercenary relationship with them. He also promotes the business of deer farming, in which he has a direct pecuniary interest. One newspaper for which he no longer writes is the Melbourne Age. Anderson, in his column in the Melbourne Age of 25 January, eulogised a submission from the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation as:
It may well have been so. However, the ethical point is that Anderson’s mercenary relationship with the body he was eulogising was not disclosed in either that or any other articles; nor, perhaps more importantly was it disclosed to the editor of the newspaper. Having been concerned for some time about Anderson’s undisclosed conflicts of interest, I asked the editor of the Melbourne Age, through a mutual acquaintance, whether he knew that Anderson was a paid Australian Dairy Farmers Federation public relations man and whether the Melbourne Age had considered its ethical position. I did not, as Anderson has evidently alleged, complain that Anderson was too close to the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation. The editor was reluctant to believe me, as I commonly find is the case with this issue when one first discloses it. The editor asked Mr Anderson whether what I said was true. When Anderson admitted it, he was peremptorily dismissed. The editor obviously shared my ethical opinion. Significantly, Mr Anderson’s rather vicious attacks on me followed immediately on his dismissal.
The remaining newspapers which continue to publish Anderson’s material as objective comment either must be unaware of his multiple mercenary relationships or do not demand ethical standards comparable with those demanded by the Melbourne Age. If they continue to publish his comments we shall know that their ethics, rather than their information, is deficient. Farm organisations such as the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, the Australian Wheat Board, the Australian Dairy Corporation, the Victorian Grain Elevators Board arid Murray Goulburn, might ask themselves whether their credibility is enhanced by their association with Mr Anderson. No doubt, Mr Anderson’s next Primary Industry Newsletter will complain about my alleged misuse of parliamentary privilege. Alleged misuse of privilege has been a recurring Anderson theme for some time. His indignation, however, is highly selective. He was as silent as a trappist when J. B. Petersen called a special oneday sitting of the Queensland Parliament just before the 1975 general election to announce that he had evidence that two Ministers in the Labor Government had received kickbacks on overseas borrowings. Mr Anderson found nothing untoward in that action nor, at least as far as the public record discloses, was he disturbed by Mr Petersen’s subsequent failure to produce any of the evidence which he said he had. Indeed, he did not mention the matter again.
I have stated nothing which is not true and nothing which should not have been disclosed by Mr Anderson. Indeed, if he adhered to the code of ethics of the Australian Journalists Association and Australian Press Council he would not publish comment on any of these matters in the capacity in which he publishes comment. Article 5 of the AJA code, referring to a journalist, states:
He shall not allow his personal interests to influence him in the discharge of his duties nor shall he accept or offer any present, gift or other consideration, benefit, or advantage of whatsoever kind if such acceptance or offer is of a character which may have the effect of so influencing or benefitting him.
This code of ethics is endorsed by the Press Council. Bill Hayden and I are not the only people on whom Anderson has used intimidatory tactics in pursuit of this cover-up. An agricultural journalist, employed by the Australian Agricultural News Bureau, reported with scrupulous accuracy a Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations hearing and was accused by Anderson of multiple serious factual errors. His letter to the journalist contained also a thinly-veiled threat to take action for defamation. It is difficult to interpret Anderson’s letter to this journalist- indeed, I suggest it would be impossible to interpret it- as anything but an attempt to intimidate a journalist into not reporting parliamentary proceedings.
The Anderson saga is a truly amazing story of longstanding, successfully concealed, multiple conflicts of interest and, more recently, the practice of political blackmail. This exposure is by no means exhaustive; I may complete it on another occasion. I mention it now only in self-defence and because Anderson has been a major accessory in the cover-up which is the subject of this matter of public importance. Anderson is not the issue, nor is Mr Webster. As with the Watergate burglary, even the original malfeasance has been overshadowed by subsequent events. The major issues are the Government’s primary role in the cover-up and the sleazy environment in which that cover-up was gestated
The scandals are these: For the first time ever a government has suppressed reports of an Auditor-General ‘s investigation which disclosed malfeasance in a statutory authority. It has withheld from Parliament information to which Parliament has an innate right. In so doing, the Government allows to run wild rumours involving others who may or may not be guilty. The Fraser Government has allowed a person whom the Auditor-General found had improperly received financial benefits to remain the chief executive officer of the Corporation from which he received the benefits. The ultimate reason for this sabotage of the Westminster system is that the Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, knowingly allowed a Minister, too compromised to take proper action, to remain in office. So much indeed for the Government of propriety.
– The Senate is discussing the following matter of public importance:
The Government’s suppression of the Auditor-General’s Reports on Asia Dairy Industries ( Hong Kong) Ltd.
We have listened to Senator Walsh’s comments on this matter which he has raised in the Senate. I will not enter into a discussion which revolves around allegations, unproven to this point, about individuals. I will not relate my remarks to those matters. I believe that an investigation is still being carried out, and it is improper to make allegations and suggestions until the final result of that investigation is common knowledge and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Nixon) is in a position to comment on the investigation which he has sought.
I propose to go as briefly as I can through the matters surrounding Asia Dairy Industries (Hong Kong) Ltd, which matters have brought this matter of public importance here for discussion this morning. Asia Dairy Industries is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Australian Dairy Corporation. It was established in 1964 under Hong Kong law. Its objective was to provide technical and management expertise to the ADC’s joint venture recombined dairy products plants in Asia. In Asia they were to be found in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Hong Kong, coupled with the supply of raw materials to the recombining plants, to provide a stable long term outlet for surplus Australian dairy produce. Two major aspects of the operations of ADI prompted suggestions for a restructuring of the future role of the company. One of those aspects was the declining export availability of Australian skim milk powder and qualifications placed on ADI’s sphere of activity by the Australian Dairy Produce Act 1924, restricting very considerably the capacity of ADI to diversify its activities.
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 received also proposals and suggestions for restructuring the ADI from dairy industry organisations, including the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation. The Minister for Primary Industry also requested that an inspection and audit of the accounts and records of ADI be carried by the Auditor-General under section 63p of the Audit Act 1901. This seems perfectly proper. The purpose of requesting this report on the activities of ADI was that the information made 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 the company. This seemed to be a proper prerequisite in coming to that decision. The audit examination pointed to various deficiencies in the management and operation of the company and its dealings with the Australian Dairy Corporation.
Honourable senators will be aware that the Auditor-General in his supplementary report tabled in the Parliament on 13 November 1979 itemised the principal matters arising from the audit inspection. In general his report indicated that remedial action was required to improve management control over the company and to strengthen accountability. After considering the reports of the Auditor-General the then Minister for Primary Industry wrote to the ADC to ascertain what corrective action was proposed. The
ADC established a management committee consisting of the General Manager of the Corporation, the General Manager of the ADI, the Cor.poration’s financial controller and a representative of the Department of Primary Industry to examine all aspects of the AuditorGeneral ‘s report and observations.
The management committee completed its report in October 1979 and made detailed recommendations for alterations to ADI’s operations and procedures in respect of all aspects reported on by the Auditor. The management committee’s recommendations were endorsed by the board of the Corporation and action has been taken for the implementation of the committee’s recommendations to overcome the deficiencies in managerial and financial control. There still remain, however, some aspects of past expenditure which need further investigation. At this stage, of course, those aspects are confidential. In this connection, the Minister for Primary Industry has written to the Corporation requesting that a detailed examination be carried out in regard to this expenditure and, again, that seems to be a quite proper and appropriate line of action to take. It would not be appropriate or proper to itemise the matters at this stage. All sorts of wild and probably unfounded allegations may be the result. With respect to the honourable senator’s request that the AuditorGeneral’s reports to the Minister be tabled, I point out that such reports to Ministers on inspections of accounts and records as distinct from reports on financial statements by the AuditorGeneral are made on a confidential basis.
The inspection and audit of the accounts and records of the ADI were carried out under section 63p of the Audit Act 1 90 1 . Under the legislation the Auditor-General is required to report to the Minister; there is no requirement for tabling of reports by the Minister in the Parliament. As I have mentioned, steps have been taken by the Minister for Primary Industry and the ADC to remedy certain deficiencies in the managerial and financial control of ADI. However, as some aspects of the report are still under consideration, the Government is firmly of the opinion that the question of tabling the AuditorGeneral’s reports should not arise until all aspects have been properly considered by the relevant bodies. That such an investigation is going on and that the action is proposed seem to be quite proper.
In addition, certain of the matters referred to in the Auditor-General’s reports on ADI are of a commercially confidential nature and could prejudice the company’s competitive position in the event that the reports were publicly available. As I have indicated, the ADC has action well in hand to rectify the deficiencies outlined by the Auditor-General in respect of the. operations of ADI. The Senate can be assured that the Minister for Primary Industry will ensure that all matters are satisfactorily resolved. The Minister will make appropriate comments when all these matters have finally been resolved and when all the queries for which he has been basically and properly responsible have been answered.
I emphasise two or three points. The matters raised in the Audit report to the Minister are confidential. Investigations on some aspects of the Audit report are still being undertaken. It is appropriate that in these circumstances allegations should be kept to a minimum and that the report should be finalised and then proper examination and comments will be made, and proper action will be taken. At the appropriate time the Minister will be saying something about this report. The Minister will clarify the position that has been quite properly investigated at his promotion.
I do not think it is necessary for me to say a great deal more than I have said already. I have briefly outlined the history of the ADI and its involvement in its various exploits. I have outlined the quite proper moves by the Government and in particular by the Minister for Primary Industry to have examined reports of various alleged and reported deficiencies. I have indicated that it is quite improper to be giving some sort of a view on these matters when the matters have not in fact been resolved.
I do not propose to comment on the problems that Senator Walsh has with Mr Anderson, the economist. I assume that is a matter for Senator Walsh to involve himself with. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, personal assaults really do not have any place in the context of this chamber or this sort of debate. We are discussing this morning the circumstances surrounding Asia Dairy Industries. We are discussing the circumstances that surround certain allegations of deficiencies in some of its operations-
– What about the findings?
-And indeed, the final investigation of any of those findings that have made it necessary in the view of the Minister for Primary Industry to carry out a continuing or a deeper investigation. Rather than the Government, the Minister and honourable senators concerning themselves with the following-up of allegations, we should concern ourselves, as we have throughout the course of this matter, with establishing the truth relative to the matter that we are discussing. It is important that the truth be established and revealed. That has been the clear objective of the whole process of the Asia Dairy Industries investigation. I believe that it is unnecessary to take the matter further than it has been taken today. Senator Walsh has made various personal allegations. They are matters for him to live with and for him to solve. He has listened to what I have said referable to the history of this matter. The final parts of the matter are under close examination. When there has been a complete and proper revelation the results of that revelation will of course be made known. I move:
- Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. Today’s Order of Business paper shows, as it did yesterday, that the time set down for debates on matters of public importance is two hours. Now the Government has moved that the business ofthe day be called on. In this instance we have been debating the matter for only 35 minutes. So we are many minutes short of the time allowed for the debate. I wanted to speak on the matter. Now we find that the Minister for Special Trade Representations (Senator Scott) is running away from the issue and has moved that the business of the day be called on. I strongly object to the tactics adopted by the Government.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Maunsell)- There is no substance to the point of order. The time limit set is two hours but the business of the day can be called on at any time. By arrangement with the Whips that procedure was adopted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Report on Removal of the Primage Duty
Senator SCOTT (New South WalesMinister for Special Trade Representations)For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on removal of the primage duty.
-by leave- I move:
I am not certain what is meant by primage duty so it may be necessary for me to seek leave to continue my remarks later. However, I would have thought that at the time of tabling this report we would have had a statement which would have made it easier for people like me to speak to the matter immediately. It is a report on a removal of duty and any responsible government- or any responsible Opposition for that matter- would be concerned with any reduction in revenue from the removal of duty. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted. (Quorum formed). Debate adjourned.
Senator SCOTT (New South WalesMinister for Special Trade Representations)For the information of honourable senators I present the Australian Industrial Research and Development Incentives Board annual report 1978-79.
-by leave- I move:
I want to make some brief comments about the Australian Industrial Research and Development Incentives Board’s annual report at this stage, not so much because of the contents of the report but because it touches on what I perceive as a very important issue- the current needs of this country and the general state of research and development in Australia. Not only bodies associated with research in education or in educational institutions- such as the Tertiary Education Commission- but also bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, have made comments about the state of research in Australia. It is interesting to observe the general pattern of research initiative in Australia and the general failure- one can only generalise about it because there are exceptions which would be noted- of Australian entrepreneurial skill and research conducted in private enterprise within the Australian manufacturing sector. The pattern of government involvement in research and development has been fairly consistent over a considerable period. One generally finds that Australian research scientists in industry tend to be employed by some major companies in periods of economic buoyancy but when the economy is not so buoyant the research activities of major companies are the ones which are cut back first.
I think that it is probably fair to say that over many years this was very much connected with Australian Tariff policy. I think whatever attitude we might have- on the respective sides of this chamber or generally- to the question of tariff policy, it is generally conceded that as a result of our policies over many years, industry has seen itself as not being under any obligation to carry on a number of activities when it can purchase applied research, or the consequences of applied research, from overseas. As I recall the figures, Australia still purchases something like $73m worth of overseas patents a year. The annual figure for exports of Australian design expertise and so on is something in the order of $ 1 m. An extraordinary imbalance exists between those two figures. I think a lot of that is due to overprotection of Australian industry and the feeling that new initiatives, designs, patterns and so on can always be obtained overseas. The point I make in connection with this report is that I think in this Parliament we should face up to the fact that those days are probably gone forever because of the operations of trans-national companies, particularly in their very significant impact in the Australian economy, and indeed on all economies, and also because there is not necessarily any desire or obligation on overseas researchers to provide the results of their research to Australian industries in the highly competitive situation in which they may be found.
I take the view that, if Australia is to make any contribution to its overseas trading position and to its trading relationships with the adjacent countries of South East Asia, which have rapidly developing economies, that contribution must be done very much on the basis of indigenous research effort in Australia. There is argument whether it should be done by Government research initiatives or by private industry. I think that the answer to that has to be that it ought to be done by both. This report of the Australian Industrial Research Development Incentives Board is really a collection of research projects which have been funded in relation to specific matters by this Board over a period; of course there have been previous reports of the same kind. I query whether these intitiatives are sufficient in the current context and in considering the future of Australian industry in the next 20 or 30 years. A lot is said in this place about technological change. The rate of technological change is enormously fast. The implications of that change for Australia are that if we are to develop new export industries which will not only provide employment opportunities but also provide additional wealth in terms of this country’s development, a lot of those new industries will have to be developed on the basis of Australian research simply because in terms of comparative advantage Australia has a relatively high level of resources at this stage in terms of an educated and skilled community.
Stories which are legendary of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation innovations disappearing overseas because there has not been the entrepreneurial skill or courage to take them up in the Australian manufacturing industry, I think, are well known to everybody. The record of failure of the Australian industry to take up many of the developments which CSIRO has made over a number of years is tragic. I only wanted to use this report, which goes to the heart of the problem of taxpayers’ money being provided to Australian industry, to query whether the traditional system which has been adopted and about which this report is concerned has been adequate to encourage the level of research in private industry which we in fact will need in the remaining years of this century to handle the sorts of problems I have mentioned.
There are some classic examples of success. The former Minister for Productivity, Mr Macphee, I think is to be congratulated on the way some of those successes have been handled. One takes the simple example of InterScan, an Australian development which will not only create an export industry but will also employ something like 1,500 people, I think, for probably 30 or 40 years. Then one sees the sort of example of the capacity for success which we have in Australia if industry is properly organised and handled. I think that the whole question of research grants and incentives has to be very carefully looked at in terms of what are future viable industries rather than the sort of acrosstheboard approach which allows any industry that has some sort of research project to be equally treated. If we continue to adopt that across the board approach we might develop more of the total sameness and mediocrity when there are obvious areas of targeted research which are needed, particularly in the private sector. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave- I seek leave to have the context of the statement already made in another place incorporated in Hansard.
On 18 September last year I tabled in the Parliament the report of the Committee on Australia’s relations with the Third World. I commended it to the attention of all honourable senators and the Australian public. I stressed that it warranted their serious consideration and discussion.
In the six months since the report was tabled honourable senators have emphasised to me its continued relevance. They have confirmed my view that interest in it should not be allowed to wane- that the issues it raises are important enough to be subject to continued discussion. There have also been a number of enquiries about implementation by the Government of the recommendations of the report. Its value has been widely recognised.
The Government established the Committee on Australia’s Relations with the Third World because it recognised that the rise of the Third World constituted a change in the international environment which had many implications of critical significance for Australia. The subsequent appearance of the Brandt Commission’s report testifies to the prescience of this step.
The thoroughness and quality of the Third World report itself, and the keen interest it has generated in the media and in informed circles generally in Australia has been especially gratifying. The report has stimulated discussion of issues that are of great concern, and it has created a climate in which that discussion will proceed in clearer and better informed focus. The report has already become a basic text for use in the universities.
The report has also created considerable interest and received favourable notice abroadfrom other Governments and international agencies. Indeed Willi Brandt has specifically advised us that the study was of particular benefit to his Commission. This overseas interest is in itself to be welcomed as a desirable stimulus to discussion of Australia and our region. But it is also to be welcomed because, and I am sure all honourable senators will agree, it is to Australia ‘s credit that a document of this quality, on matters of high national importance, should attract serious and sympathetic attention in important centres overseas. Therefore, I believe the report has already achieved an important result in prompting consideration and discussion about a range of issues of great importance to this country which are directly relevant to our future. But equally important, Mr President, the report was intended as a review of issues and policies to be taken into account in the formulation of the
Government’s own responses to the problems and opportunities presented by the emergence of the Third World. Accordingly, the Government has had the report under close study and already it has been influential in relation to the position we’ have taken on a number of issues under international discussion, for example at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Lusaka last year as well as in other contexts. The thoroughness of the report and the very wide range of issues covered by it required that it be put to careful study by a committee of permanent heads of relevant government departments. The Government has now considered the advice of the Committee of Permanent Heads and I wish to inform the House in broad terms of the result.
The Third World report lists a total of 13 general conclusions about the Third World and advances 92 recommendations. These recommendations have been considered in terms of three broad categories:
First, those key recommendations which propose a broad policy framework for Australia to adopt in approaching the Third World. The Government accepts that those general precepts which recommend the broad approach Australia should adopt on Third World issues, should guide and inform the conduct of our regional relations; our activities in the United Nations and other forums of multilateral diplomacy; our stance on the North-South dialogue and questions of the international economic system; and our aid policy. In doing so, it should also provide a single lens through which to focus our view on a multiplicity of issues affecting the Third World that should be seen as interconnected and not as separate or discrete. In this way we may expect to have a consistent basis for approaching problems of the Third World and to coordinate more effectively our efforts in dealing with them.
Second, other key recommendations on individual issues; and
Third, other specific recommendations.
The latter two categories naturally further subdivide into those recommendations which are broadly consistent with Government policy and those which require further consideration.
The Government has no difficulty in endorsing a number of key recommendations in the Third World report concerning defence, our regional relationships, voting rights in international financial and development institutions, immigration issues and international trade and protection policy which are broadly consistent with Government policy. The Government considers that two key recommendations in the Third World report, those concerning tariff reductions and structural adjustment, and the setting of a target date for the achievement of 0.7 per cent gross national product in official development assistance, and a number of other specific recommendations have far reaching implications and require consideration in the future formulation of policies.
The Government has decided to adopt two measures in order to ensure that the issues raised and recommendations made in the Third World report are not lost sight of in the formulation of Government policies: First, Ministers and their departments will give consideration to those issues and recommendations which fall within their responsibility and take follow-up actions as appropriate. Second, I will report periodically to the Cabinet on developments in Australia’s relations with the Third World and on the implementation of the Government’s response to the Third World report. I will make my first such report within three months. I have also instructed my department to convene an interdepartmental committee, comprising senior officials of the departments represented in the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, and other departments as required, in order to assist in the preparation of such reports.
As will have emerged from what I have said, the Third World report is a document which will provide a framework and foundation for future assessments of policy towards Third World issues- on economic, political, social and strategic questions. I would go further and say that the wisdom of the report’s comments have already been borne out by events. For example when I tabled the Third World report, I made two general observations which I should like to recall now. I observed then ‘The Third World is an object of strategic attention and competition on the part of the superpowers’. The report itself spells this out at some length. I will quote one paragraph, written, it should be remembered, in the early part of 1 979:
Recent events in Afghanistan, South Yemen and Ethiopia have extended Soviet influence in the Middle East- West Asia area significantly, while developments in Iran (and, to a lesser extent, Turkey) have created considerable uncertainty about the stability of the whole region. Given the geopolitical sensitivity of the region, the Soviet Union can be expected to proceed with great caution. But, by the same token, the magnitude of the potential gains to be made there, if combined with the existence of increasingly exploitable opportunities, make it unlikely that it will equate caution with inaction. This, taken together with the West’s ultimate stake in the region, makes the Middle East the most likely area in which miscalculations on either side could lead to a major superpower crisis.
Such a miscalculation, in the form of the naked assertion of Soviet power against Afghanistan, has in fact brought about such a crisis. In view of some of the reactions to that crisis I would particularly draw attention to the point made in that paragraph that caution should not be equated with inaction. To be rationally cautious, in the sense of weighing risks and opportunities carefully, is as compatible with an expansionist policy as it is with a defensive policy: It all depends on how the balance of risks and opportunities comes out.
In the present situation the countries of the Third World have demonstrated by their opposition to and denunciation of the Soviet invasion-as at the Islamic Conference, for example- that capacity to unite in the pursuit of a common cause which by joint action has enabled them in the past, as I observed in September last, to cause countries individually more powerful and wealthy than them to alter their stance on central issues. Unfortunately the unequivocal expression of revulsion by the vast majority of countries of the Third World, as expressed in particular in their massive vote in the United Nations General Assembly in condemnation of the Soviet Union, has not yet led that superpower to remove its invading forces from Afghanistan. But no one can doubt that the point has been registered in Moscow, that it has increased the political cost of the invasion greatly, and that if the countries of the Third World maintain their demand for an independent and non-aligned Afghanistan, even the Soviet Union may at least ultimately rue the damage to its reputation and standing in the Third World.
The second general point I made six months ago in tabling the report was that ‘our strategic environment is a Third World Environment’, intimating that events in Third World countries might exercise a profound influence on the environment in which we live. Again, what has happened in Afghanistan has underscored the point. Afghanistan was a member of the nonaligned movement. Whatever the degree of influence the Soviet Union had over its affairs, that membership signified its aspiration to be independent. It has now been effectively taken over by force by a super power in circumstances where the other super power could not take blocking action. Of course the primary strategic responsibility for the response must lie with the other super power-the United States and its associates, including Australia. That is the basic strategic requirement.
But in the long run a critical political factor is likely to be what happens in the Third World. Will the Third World maintain its stand against Soviet expansionist policies as evinced in the General Assembly vote on Afghanistan? Will Third World countries see that the danger is not just to specific, isolated country, subverted and then invaded by a massive and predatory neighbour? Will they see clearly that, far from conflicting with their non-alignment, opposition to Soviet expansionism is a necessary condition for its preservation? It was partly because of these considerations that after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the Government felt it essential that Australia consult in our region with a number of non-aligned countries.
In concluding I have referred in particular to strategic questions. These are after all topical issues. However, it is imperative that the importance of all the other areas covered in the report should not be underestimated. The document after all embraced many themes and many issues. Indeed its comprehensiveness and balance are among its outstanding features. It is not a document which having been read will be shelved. It will be kept under continuing review. In this context I believe it both proper and useful that the report should be further discussed in this House.
– by leave- I move:
Very similar matters to the subject matter of the Harries report- the Committee on Australia’s Relations with the Third World- will be dealt with in debate on the International Development Association (Further Payment) Bill this afternoon. Therefore I do not propose to go over the sorts of things which will be debated in the course of consideration of that legislation. I wish to make only one or two observations concerning the statement. It is important for the Senate to realise that this is a statement concerning the Harries report. That report was presented to the Parliament last year after deliberation by this committee appointed by the Government and which, I think it is fair to say, was a good and very substantive report covering most of the factors that would concern this country in its relations with the Third World. But I would have thought that the Harries report deserved something better than this sad little document that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) has seen fit to put down in the Parliament. It is not even 10 pages long; it is only nine and a half. This is the Government’s parliamentary comment on the Harries report. If I were one of the members of that Committee, I would feel insulted by the effort that the Minister has made in commenting on the report. It is difficult to convey the significance of that statement unless one has read the Harries report and seen the enormous amount of work that went into it. To find that after six months or so all the Minister can do is put down this nine and a half page statement on that report is, I believe, an insult to the Harries Committee and in particular to the chairman.
The Minister stresses the importance of the report. If he really believes that, then surely after six months he would have made a better effort to bring before this Parliament a more detailed statement. From reading the Harries report, it will be found that it quite properly deals overwhelmingly with the matters which really concern the Third World. The Third World is not overwhelmingly concerned about Afghanistan. We might be, but it is not. It is concerned about economics. It is concerned about trade, poverty, hunger and housing, and those are the things that the Harries report quite properly concentrated on.
I will refer in a moment to the Brandt Commission report which, compared with this statement, makes us realise all the more what an insult this statement is. That is what the Third World is concerned about. But this statement is concentrated on the situation in Afghanistan. We are not here to debate Afghanistan. The Harries report was not about Afghanistan. Certainly the events in Afghanistan had not happened then. There was a reference to the instability in the area, but it was only a small passing reference. The great substance of the Brandt Commission report is concerned with the economics of the Third World. But in this peurile statement the Minister spends most of his time talking about Afghanistan. I would love to know eventually what the governments of the Third World countries think about this Government when they know that this was all that the Australian Government could put down about its own Harries report. I will not argue the substance of what is in the report. It is a restatement of what has been said by the Government over the past two or three months concerning Afghanistan. I will not lower myself to become involved in a debate on that issue when we ought to be talking about the things that really matter about the Third World.
In the very last paragraph of the statement, what does the Minister say? He says this:
Mr Speaker, in concluding I have referred in particular to strategic questions.
That is an understatement. He continues:
These are after all topical issues.
Again, what an incredible thing it is for a Minister, in considering a report of the magnitude of the Harries report, to put down a statement in which he is more concerned about what might be topical issues than about the substance of the report itself. He goes on to say:
However, it is imperative that the importance of all the other areas covered in the report should not be under-estimated.
He dismisses in one paragraph of about 10 lines all those other areas covered in a report comprising 9 ‘A pages. I believe that this statement is a farce and is an insult to the Harries committee and to the Third World. The Minister does not even seem to realise that it is an insult to the Parliament and to his own Government. Mr President, you have had as much involvement and interest as anybody in these areas over the years. I am sure that you would agree with much of what I am saying, and that we would have expected a statement that befitted the report which was presented in this Parliament six months ago.
I made reference to the Brandt commission report, which I will be dealing with again this afternoon when we debate the International Development Association Bill. But just let us consider by comparison the manner in which that report has been compiled. The Brandt commission report, of course, was drawn up by a group of most eminent public figures from around the world. Willi Brandt, the former Chancellor of the German Government, was the Chairman. The commission included the former British Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath, and 16 most prominent leaders from various countries who reflected the whole of the political spectrum, including the advanced and the less advanced nations. That report is probably the most definitive statement on this whole area of the Third World that has ever been prepared. I will not say that it is fair to compare the Harries report with the Brandt Commission report. Both are very fine documents. The Brandt Commission report, I would assume, would be generally regarded as the more authoritative one because of its international nature. Does the Brandt commission report waste its time arguing political partisan positions? Of course it does not. It was above that. This Government obviously is not above that. The Government is more concerned with using the Harries report as a means of advancing its own personal political view on a current issue, that is, Afghanistan.
From reading the statement I am really appalled that that is the best that this Government could do. If this is any indication of how much notice will be taken of the Harries report, then obviously the Harries report might as well be dead and buried now. The Minister says: The Government considers the two key recommendations in the Third World report . . . that is, the Harries report - those concerning tariff reductions and structural adjustment, and the setting of a target date for the achievement of 0.7 per cent of GNP in official development assistance . . .
Those, according to the Government, are the two key recommendations in the report. I would be inclined to agree that they are. What consideration, what elaboration of those two key issues do we see in this statement? Absolutely none! This Government has the temerity to talk about the significance of the 0.7 per cent for development assistance. When it came to office, the percentage of the gross national product of this country being devoted to official development assistance, as requested by the United Nations resolution some years ago, was around 0.6 per cent or a shade over, the highest it has ever been. Under this Government, which claims to be so concerned about the Third World, that percentage has slipped to 0.45 per cent. Had it maintained the level of assistance to the Third World which it inherited from the previous Government, today it would have been allocating something like $300m more in direct official development assistance to the Third World. It is just hypocrisy for the Government to talk about it being a key issue, a key recommendation of the report of its own committee when it knows that it has allowed its assistance to decline so significantly in the space of four years.
I do not believe that the Government is really concerned about the Third World at all. It is evident from this statement that it is more concerned about using the Harries report particularly to grind its own petty partisan political point of view. It is an insult to the Third World, and it is an insult to this Parliament.
– I want to speak briefly to the motion moved by Senator Wriedt. If I may say with respect to my colleague, he has canvassed all the constructive issues which might make Australia’s relationship with the Third World a little better, and discussed some of the positive recommendations of the Harries Report. I speak on this matter because I share his concern about the appalling sloppiness of this document and the difficulties which this Government continues to get into by not embarking upon a serious debate in regard to the sorts of questions raised by the Harries report and by converting what is potentially a serious debate into a very partisan document because of the total failure of an intellectual consistency in what it has been doing in relation to the Third World.
Listening at Question Time today to questions about the treatment of Aboriginals in the Kimberleys and their rights to vote, one would have thought that these issues, as was indeed put in essence by Government spokesmen, were questions for the State of Western Australia, and of no concern to the people of Australia as a whole. They are matters not only of concern to the people of Australia as a whole, but also ones of desperate concern to our position in the Third World. It is the need to have consistency on some of those matters which this Government so singularly lacks and which demonstrates the total failure of this document. As Senator Wriedt pointed out, this publication is a sloppy response, as it were, to the Harries report at a time deemed to be politically expedient by the Government.
One gets the picture that the Third World, in terms of this country’s concern for and deliberation about it, is some sort of trendy aberration, that it is some sort of trendy issue like safari suits or something like that which people sometimes are accused of indulging in. Of course it is a far more serious matter than that, and I want to refer to a couple of comments in this statement which illustrate that point. The Minister says in the statement:
I observed then -
He is talking about some time ago-
The Third World is an object of strategic attention and competition on the part of the superpowers.
– What’s new?
-As Senator Wriedt interjects: What is new? More importantly, what has this Government done about that fact in terms of its aid contributions and so on. Earlier today during Question Time there were noisy questions about refugees from Afghanistan. One would have thought that the proudest boast of this sort of government, the Ministers of which accuse the Opposition of being apologists for the Soviet Union and matters of that kind, would be that the Minister had an instant answer to questions about what we are doing for refugees from
Afghanistan- an instant answer in terms of intellectual consistency. But what does he say? He says: ‘We are not quite sure about the position there, but we will find out and an answer will be provided in due course’. It is absolutely typical of the approach of this document and the approach of this Government.
The other very interesting thing about the document which arouses my attention is the concentration which it gives to the whole question of Afghanistan. The Minister says in the document with great pride that the Harries report was written in the early part of 1 979. In the Harries report which was written in the early part of 1 979, the Government was being warned about possible Soviet expansion and intervention in Afghanistan, South Yemen and Ethiopia. Yet in October 1979, when a senator in this place- Senator Wheeldon- asked whether the Australian Government was concerned about large concentrations of Soviet troops in Afghanistan, the answer he got a fortnight later was this: ‘Yes, we are concerned’. What was done about it? Nothing was done about it until the early part of this year. It was a time for engaging in noisy rhetoric about the Afghanistan syndrome, talking up an issue and not being able to point to a significant response.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) talks about the Third World being an area of superpower conflict. Does not our attitude to aid for Vietnam- the Fraser Government is punishing the Vietnamese, presumably for expelling refugees from that country, by cutting off aidhave a very important implication for Third World countries? We show by that action that we are prepared, as conservative governments have been prepared to do for years and years, to force countries into the Soviet orbit; we are not prepared to continue assistance on the basis of purely ideological, headmaster lines: We are going to punish them for this and that and we are not concerned with the legitimate question of aid.
Questions are asked in this chamber by Labor Party senators, as they have been in the last month or so, about the level of aid which this Government is giving to Mozambique. The answer, of course, is that we are giving an infinitesimal amount of aid. In approximately 12 months time- I do not want to sound in any sense like a doomsday person on this matterwhen Mozambique falls totally within the Soviet orbit, as it will do because the Russians are pouring masses of aid into that country where it is desperately needed, we will be told: ‘Look what the naughty Russians are up to again’. We will not be told what the contribution of this country has been in terms of trying to relieve a very serious situation in that country. So there are lessons to be learnt for the future as well as conclusions to be drawn from the past.
The other point I make is that the Minister rightly states: . . the unequivocal expression of revulsion by the vast majority of countries of the Third World, as expressed in particular in their massive vote in the United Nations General Assembly in condemnation of the Soviet Union, has not yet led that superpower to remove its invading forces from Afghanistan.
Here in Australia we say that we will stop those three Russian judges coming here and we will stop four research scholars going to Russia. Indeed, we may put pressure on our Olympic Games team to stop them going to Russia.
– The university people- to stop them.
– Yes, research scholars. We will stop all that. This action in connection with research scholars is one that the United States has not seen fit to take. We will make this ritualistic, rhetorical gesture when, as the Minister points out, the vast majority of countries of the Third World have expressed their concern by a vote in the United Nations. It is legitimate to ask what that additional contribution from Australia will make towards solving the problem of the people of Afghanistan.
The other important point which emerges from that is that Australia’s response to the Afghanistan crisis was not to go immediately to the Third World countries about anything we particularly wanted to do in terms of a response to Afghanistans but to allow our Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to go to the white anglosaxon club in London and the United States, and, consequent upon a suggestion from Senator Wriedt, also to go on to see Helmut Schmidt in Germany. But the response, of course, was not to take advantage of what I believe to be a major foreign policy mistake by the Soviet Union in terms of its influence and significance in Third World countries, but rather to go back to the old club. Our response was not to go immediately to the Third World countries.
– Didn’t Mr Peacock visit seven of those countries at the same time?
-Yes, he did. I understand that, Senator Carrick, but the big act was in the United States -
– But you said we didn’t do it.
-No, I did not. I was talking about the Prime Minister, with respect. The point I am making is that the big stunt was in the United States. That was where he went to stiffen up President Carter and tell him what to do. Then he went on to see Margaret Thatcher and have a discussion with her about it. Of course, he then went to see Helmut Schmidt, where we were in fact told that it is too serious a problem for Prime Ministers of little countries like Australia to be wandering all around the world beating it up, that they really do not want our assistance on this issue, thank you very much. But the Foreign Minister did go to these other countries.
How one handles these matters is really a question of emphasis. The big stunt the Government put on was to send Malcolm Fraser to the United States. The sort of supplementary activity which seemed to me to be far more worth while was to send the Foreign Minister to the countries of South East Asia, India and so on. Of course, even in respect of the Foreign Minister’s response, the first announcement was that he was going to tell them of Australia’s attitude. The second announcement was that he was going to have an exchange of views with them. The third announcement was that he was going to get their views and bring them back to the Government. That represents a nice change of position.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
-Mr President-( Quorum formed). Before the suspension of the sitting for lunch the Senate was considering the statement made in the House of Representatives by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the Harries report relating to Australia’s relationships with the Third World. In the course of my remarks I have been trying to point out that this statement, which has now been tabled by the Minister, represents a trite, blinkered approach to what is in essence an important document. Whether or not one agrees with all of the Harries report the fact of the matter is that it represents a serious approach to the question to which the Harries Committee addressed its attention. It is extremely sad that such a sloppy little document should come out of the Department of Foreign Affairs regurgitating, as it were, issues in the Harries report. Inevitably, in the context of a Fraser Government, half of the so-called response to the Harries report is devoted to the Afghanistan situation- which is perceived to be of political and electoral importance in the Australian community at the moment- and not to the more serious and positive issues of a wider purport with which the report deals.
Before the suspension of the sitting I commented on the Australian reaction to events in
Afghanistan in view of the sorts of quotations from the Harries report which appear on page 7 of the statement. The Minister drew attention to the fact that in early 1979, when the Harries report was written, attention was drawn to tensions in the area of the Indian Ocean and, particularly, to Soviet expansionism or influence in Afghanistan, South Yemen and Ethiopia. Yet in October 1979, when a question was asked in the Senate about whether this Government was aware of significant Soviet troop movements into Afghanistan, what was the response of the Government? Senator Wheeldon, who asked that question, received the response a couple of weeks later that the Government was concerned. That is a ludicrous situation in the light of subsequent events and in the light of the fact that the United Nations resolved by a very significant majority to condemn the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and so on. That illustrates again the points which we have made in the Senate earlier. Even in 1978 Malcolm Booker in his book entitled Last Quarter almost drew a scenario for events in Afghanistan which, one would have thought, should have been in the minds of members of any responsible government as a possibility that had to be considered but which was clearly not considered by this Government.
I also drew attention to the situation in Mozambique as it is now and made the observation that lessons were probably to be learnt from the past by an enlightened government in view of the massive Russian aid that has been given to Mozambique. I sadly predicted that we might see yet another sort of Afghanistan situation developing there. We would then all go again to the wailing wall in the Senate about the naughty Soviets. Yet at this stage, even looking ahead, it appears that the Australian Government is making very little response in terms of aid in that situation. It is also important, as I have said, to consider the sort of headmaster approach of Australia’s foreign relations and this Government’s attitude to aid to Vietnam. This aid was abandoned by way of punishment, as it were, because of the matter of refugees from Vietnam. The consequences of that action, of course, are very obvious in terms of continuity of relationships between a country such as Vietnam and the Soviet Union. It forces a country such as Vietnam more and more into the orbit ofthe Soviet Union as a country upon which it can rely for regular and consistent aid.
In the final paragraph on page 8 of the statement the Minister goes on to refer to the Third
World countries’ attitudes to events in Afghanistan. Firstly, the statement says that condemnation in the United Nations has not led to any withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by the Russians. It is in that context that I think we quite legitimately query whether the small token gestures we make by refusing scholarships for four Australian research scientists to go to the Soviet Union and other such gestures will, in effect, have any effective consequence whatsoever, if one really attaches significance to the United Nations resolution to Afghanistan. The statement goes on to refer to the view of the Third World countries insofar as they maintain their demand for an independent and non-aligned Afghanistan. The statement reads:
The point I was making earlier was that when a significant and tragic international event such as the invasion of Afghanistan has occurred the major thrust of the response of a country such as Australia under the present Government really ignores the Third World. I said before that the Prime Minister presumably does not even think of going to some of the Third World countries which are legitimately and very strongly concerned about Afghanistan. Instead the stunt took place in the United States of America and in the white anglo-saxon countries. Immediately after the incident the Prime Minister headed off for the United States, then he went to England to see Margaret Thatcher and then, as I said earlier, at the suggestion of Senator Wriedt he went to see Helmut Schmidt.
– The Foreign Minister went to Asia. The Prime Minister could not do the lot.
-I understand that. But what I am seeking to say- and I hope the honourable senator does not regard it as uncharitable- is that the major stunt engineered by the Fraser Government in response to Afghanistan was the Prime Minister’s stunt and the Foreign Minister’s -
– Do you think the Asian trip was another stunt?
– No, I do not say that at all. Please do not -
– You said one was a major stunt. I thought that perhaps you regarded the other as a stunt also.
– There have been dozens of stunts. The major stunt was the Prime Minister’s trip to Washington and then on to London, and so on. The important, significant and sensible foreign affairs effort was in some ways the Foreign Minister’s trip to various non-aligned countries in South East Asia. Even in that context one sees it all starting with the Foreign Minister announcing that he will tell those countries of Australia’s attitude. His second major Press release, from Kuala Lumpur, said that he had come for an exchange of views, and the third major Press release, from New Delhi, said that he had come to sound out the views of those countries. It was an extraordinary volte-face in the way that the whole initiative was announced and the way it changed in the course of the Foreign Minister’s trip. So, there was that sort of tragically sad comment, from the point of view of Australia, in the Indonesian Press, which described our Foreign Minister as a man who walks tall with a short stick. That emphasised the sort of flavour which those countries attached to that trip.
On page 8 of the distributed copy of his statement, the Foreign Minister makes the point that we should have regard to the attitudes of the Third World on a number of issues, particularly Afghanistan. He refers to the Third World ‘s demand for an independent and non-aligned Afghanistan. He goes on to say that even the Soviet Union, as a consequence, may rue the day in relation to its standing in the Third World. I repeat something that I and others have said here on numerous occasions. I believe that that statement about the Soviet Union rueing the day in regard to its standing in the Third World is of profound importance, and it is profoundly correct in relation to what took place in Afghanistan. I would have thought that the intelligent response by Australia to the situation in the Third World, in terms of foreign policy, would have been to capitalise as far as possible on that mistake. The particular question which the Minister raises of the demand by Third World countries for an independent and non-aligned Afghanistan has been treated with massive silence by the Australian Government. The British Government is to be congratulated for promoting the notion of an independent and non-aligned Afghanistan in the context of suggestions made by the Foreign Minister in the Thatcher Government. Really, there has been no positive response from the Australian Government on that issue.
– Or from the Soviet Union.
-Of course not, but I am not responsible for the Soviet Union. I am responsible for encouraging this Government to adopt more intelligent initiatives in foreign policy.
– You are not responsible for sending ‘Nareen’ wool to the Soviet Union either, are you?
– No, Senator. In the second paragraph on page 9 of the circulated copy of the statement, there is an interesting new development, where the Minister states:
That is, to Afghanistan- must lie with the other super-power- the United States and its associates including Australia. That is the basic strategic requirement.
This Government does not seem yet to have sorted out its understanding of what that situation involves. If one goes back to the defence White Paper, which has been often talked about over four years by Government spokesmen, again and again it has been said that the area of strategic concern to Australia is the immediate Pacific region, the South East Pacific and so on. That is the sort of defence situation to which we should make a defence response. Clearly, in the defence White Paper the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and similar areas are recognised as areas of super-power involvement insofar as Australia is concerned. They have been recognised as areas of super-power involvement because under this Government Australia has no means, in defence terms, of being involved even if it were decided that it was strategically desirable that we should be. Of course, that decision has not been made.
In this statement there is the first indication from Mr Andrew Peacock that he is prepared to go along in some way with the Prime Minister’s off-the-top-of-his-head views expressed in the United States and elsewhere that the ANZUS Treaty involves, as he put it, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. I do not know whether that view has come from the Department of Foreign Affairs or one of the whizz kids in the Prime Minister’s Department, because it has that touch of Fraserism about it. Perhaps the Minister for Foreign Affairs has just been affected by the general disease of Fraserism which debilitates this Government. It is a view which has never been articulated by any Government spokesman. I believe that it has never been considered by the Foreign Affairs Department or any senior advisers to the Government. But, that view was suitable for peddling in the Hearst newspapers in the United States. In this document from the Foreign Minister there is the first indication that in some ways the area previously designated by this Government’s defence White Paper as an area of super-power responsibility has now become an area of super-power responsibility, with its associates, including Australia. I point to the slide in foreign policy, and in defence and strategic policy, which is demonstrated in this bland statement. It is certainly there.
The other section of this sloppy statement about which I want to talk appears in the last paragraph on page 9 of the statement. There a series of rhetorical questions is asked by the Minister. He asks:
Will the Third World maintain its stand against Soviet expansionist policies as evinced in the General Assembly vote on Afghanistan?
Will it, indeed? That is a very important question. But, what is the answer? Gertrude Stein, on her deathbed, asked herself a famous question. What is the answer?’, she is claimed to have said. As she died, she asked: ‘But, what is the question?’ The situation we have here is that process in reverse. It is a statement which purports to be of importance about strategic relationships, foreign policy and our relations with the Third World. It ends with a series of rhetorical questions about what the Third World will do.
– It is preaching to them under the guise of questions.
-That is right. As Senator Tate says, it is preaching to them under the guise of questions. I dislike particularly the fact that it is an extremely patronising attitude, which I think is very bad. Senator Chaney is looking at me quizzically. He should consider the point I am making about this statement. It is an extremely patronising attitude if one is dealing with Third World countries. Presumably Third World countries, through their embassies, are seeing these sorts of statements from the Australian Government which end with these rhetorical questions: Will Third World countries maintain their stand against Soviet expansionism; will they see that the danger is not just to specific, isolated countries subverted and then invaded by a massive and predatory neighbour; and, will they see clearly that far from conflicting with their nonalignment, opposition to Soviet expansionism is a necessary condition for its preservation?
Will they see all these things or are these Third World countries stupid? That is the implication of these questions. Will they see these things or are they stupid, naive Asians and Africans who are incapable of seeing them as a sophisticated, capable country like Australia can see where their interests lie and is capable of reading the signs in international events and interpreting them for its less fortunate brothers in the Third
World? That is the shocking implication in that statement. It is one of extreme patronage. In a sense, the Minister provided the answer when he said:
It was partly because of these considerations that after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the Government felt it essential that Australia consult in our region with a number of non-aligned countries.
That sentence describes the Peacock trip in the most bland but also modest terms in which it has ever been described. One would have thought that rather than making an oblique reference to the fact that Mr Peacock went to all these countries in South East Asia the Minister should have told us a little about what he found out and what the results of his trips to various countries were. But the statement does nothing of the kind. The contents of the last, very important paragraph condemn the whole statement. It is a statement of the utmost importance relating to a very important report which this Government has brought down. I congratulate the Government on the conception of the Harries inquiry. One does not necessarily agree with all the findings. There could be a debate amongst us about the findings of the Harries report and the recommendations it makes, but it was a good initiative that the Harries inquiry was commissioned and the report written.
The Government has responded to the report with politically oriented rhetoric about Afghanistan, designed more for the people in the outer suburbs of Melbourne than for any serious consideration of foreign affairs. The statement is filled with silly, patronising rhetorical questions to which no answer is given. That is the thing which condemns the statement most of all. Not only is it quite silly in its content, not only does it give no real factual information about any of the things which one might be concerned about in terms of Australia’s relationship with the Third World, but also it concludes with a paragraph which shows that the Government does not understand in any sense what the relationships of Australia, as a white Anglo-Saxon power in this region, ought to be with the Third World. This lack of understanding is epitomised in the last paragraph. There is a crass insensitivity in the way that paragraph is phrased.
As I have said, there are a number of reasons for criticising this statement. It says nothing about Australia’s foreign aid effort except to record- this statement must be related to other documents- a decline in development aid. It says nothing constructive about approaches to and relationships with Third World countries. It is mainly devoted to making silly political points about Afghanistan which in reality are embarrassing to the Government itself in view of its stance on the matter. On strategic and defence issues it departs from everything that this Government has said, and has been saying for the last four years, based on the defence White Paper. It ignores the sensitive issue of countries being forced into the Soviet orbit by a wrong approach to aid by countries such as Australia which are in competition with responsive countries such as the Soviet Union and countries in the Soviet block. It impinges on defence isues which it should not properly have done. It concludes with a patronising statement about Third World countries and a series of totally unanswered rhetorical questions.
- Mr President- (Quorum formed). The Senate is debating the motion to take note of a statement made in the House of Representatives by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) had the document incorporated in Hansard. Thus far Senators Wriedt and Button have responded. I was about to renew a complaint that I made yesterday that I had not had the advantage of having a document in my hands for two hours before the debate as the Opposition did. But I do not make that complaint because this document contains only 10 pages. I agree that it is a totally inadequate statement concerning Australia’s relations with the Third World and in response to the Harries report. I will be interested to hear what the Government will say in response to the towelling it got from Senator Wriedt and Senator Button. I do not agree that the towelling was justified in relation to the parts of the statement concerning Afghanistan. I have not yet heard either in this chamber or outside what the Australian Labor Party would do if it were in government in response to the action taken by the Soviet Union against Afghanistan.
-Read the debate.
– I have read the debate. I have yet to hear what practical steps the ALP would take if it were in government to ensure that effective pressure was brought to bear against the Soviet Union.
– Tell us what you would do.
– I will tell the honourable senator what I would do. In fact, I have already done so in the debate on the ministerial statement on Afghanistan. The honourable senator should refer to that debate. It is for the
ALP to say what co-ordinated efforts it would make to ensure that there were effective action against the totally unjustifiable invasion of Afghanistan. The ALP has said that the invasion ought to be condemned. I note that over the last few weeks that condemnation has been tempered. This is a matter of great concern, not only to this nation but also to the free democracies of the world.
I have said to the Government, both in a previous speech on this matter and, by implication, in questions I have asked, that the Government has not gone far enough. I take a different view from that taken by Senator Button. I congratulated the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on his initiative in going to the United States and other countries in an attempt to co-ordinate a response from the free world to the invasion of Afghanistan. It is true, as the Minister says in this paper, that the primary strategic responsibility for the response- that is, the response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan- must lie with the other super power, the United States, and its associates, including Australia. Of course, the primary strategic responsibility rests with the United States and other countries, including the member countries of the Co-ordinating Committee on Exports of Technology to Communist Countries. I have asked the Government for further information on what the COCOM countries are doing to cut off the very technology transfers which have enabled the dictators in the Kremlin to keep the peoples of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in a state of slavery and which have enabled the Soviet Union to engage in its expansionist policies internationally. That question remains unanswered.
I have also put on notice a question which still has not been answered, asking what financial arrangements have been entered into with those overseas financial agents with which this Government has and the previous Government had dealings. What financial arrangements do they have with the Soviet Union and with the eastern bloc countries? These are the areas which we should focus upon in making further responses. I disagree that the statement insofar as it relates to Afghanistan is not proper. I agree with the previous speakers that the rest of the statement and the statement as a whole is an inadequate response to the report of the Committee on Australia’s Relations with the Third World, the Harries report. It is certainly a totally inadequate statement on the subject matter to which it purports to relate, that is, Australia’s relations with the Third World. The Minister’s response to the Harries report is a 10 page document.
I do not propose to keep the Senate because this is not the time to extend debate. I did not give notice of my intention to enter the debate, therefore I will keep my remarks brief. I refer specifically to page 181 of the Harries report, which deals with relations with the region, and in particular to recommendation 3, which states:
Our policies towards the region need to pay closer regard to the implications of the rapid changes that are taking place there; to the relationship between our goals and the resources we are prepared to make available to achieve them; and to the continuing validity of the assumptions and attitudes relating to the region which we have accumulated over the years. On the basis of a broad and long-term interpretation of our own interests, Australia should exploit every opportunity for cooperation and collaboration with the region. We should be outward-looking and participatory.
Associated with that, recommendation 1 1 states:
The Australian Government should seek to encourage greater public awareness in Australia of the challenges and opportunities confronting us in relations with regional neighbours. In particular, there is an urgent task to be undertaken in making the Australian public more aware of the implications for us of sustained economic growth and prosperity in parts of South East and North East Asia, and, in particular, in ensuring that Australian business and industry have the best and most detailed information available on the economic life of the region and its prospects.
The Minister’s statement does not deal adequately with the general recommendations that have been made in the Harries report. To my mind, it does not deal adequately with the two recommendations I read. It is clear that determination of the future of Australia lies within our region. The Minister agrees that it is in our interest to develop a close working relationship with the neighbours in our region. I would like to have seen brought together in the Minister’s statement all of the Government’s initiatives which have taken place and which may or may not be proposed to ensure that this objective is achieved and that those recommendations are put into effect. For example, so that the matter can be properly debated, I would certainly like to hear from the Government, its views on the development of close relationships in matters of trade, economics and security in the area. Let the Minister and the Government put down in a paper how that can be properly developed in a co-ordinated manner, not only with the member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations but also with the area as a whole.
I would like to have seen quite a large number of other matters covered in the Minister’s speech. I believe it is essential for the Minister, when he delivers his promised report within three months, to give the Parliament a detailed report of the development of a program to achieve the objectives of those recommendations which are broadly supported and contained within the Harries report as well as those other objectives which are not contained in the Harries report. There are other objectives which I think would meet with the approval of the whole of the community of Australia, one of those being the development of an economic and social grouping within this region with common trade, economic and security policies.
– I too register my disappointment at this paper on Australia’s relations with the Third World, which was presented by the Minister for National Development and Energy (Senator Carrick). The presentation of the report of the Committee on Australia’s Relations with the Third World, chaired by Professor Harries, has been preceded by quite a deal of study. The report contains many recommendations and deals with a number of subjects that the Minister has not touched on. In fact, in the statement he brought down he was really politically pointscoring on the Afghanistan situation. Senator Harradine also took advantage of the report to try to do some point scoring. Surely the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) should have had something to say about the new international economic order. Our defence needs are certainly involved with our attitude towards the new international economic order. Some orderly marketing system obviously is necessary not only for future trade with the Third World and in particular South East Asia but also for defence.
The Minister could have said something on transnational companies. The Harries report said quite a bit on them. I would have liked to hear from the Government its opinion on that part of the Harries report concerning transnational companies and how Australia from its experience should be assisting the Third World nations in formulating their attitudes to transnational companies. Australia’s image has been touched upon by the Harries report. Quite frankly I think our image in South East Asia and throughout the Third World is important.
In 1972 we certainly started to make some impact on international affairs, but since then I am afraid we have started to slip back. I think that Australia is looked upon as a colonial outpost. Australia will be part of this region permanently. It is pretty obvious that we have trouble with our own identity. The sooner we come to terms with the fact that we are an egalitarian society the better. We have to realise that we have a good image in the region. We are here permanently. We are not here temporarily. We are not a colonial outpost. We are not an offshoot of Europe.
It is time that we started to form our own foreign policy and our own image to try to project us into South East Asia.
In the short trip I had recently I found that there are still lingering thoughts in people’s minds about Australia ‘s position in international affairs. I am afraid that we are looked upon as a colonial outpost because we are continually following other people’s foreign policy instead of trying to form a proper one of our own. I think it is rather mean for the Government to take advantage of this report for political point scoring. It is a terrific report. Honourable senators do not have to agree with everything in it; I do not. But it deserves a lot more than the miserable 10 page printed statement which came from the Foreign Minister. I register my bitter disappointment. I feel that there should be a lot more debate on the Harries report and a lot more interest shown in what Australia’s image abroad should be and what it actually is. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Chaney) agreed to:
1 ) That, unless otherwise ordered, the days and time of meeting of the Senate for the week commencing 3 1 March 1980 be:
Motion (by Senator Chaney) agreed to:
That at 8 p.m., unless otherwise ordered, intervening business be postponed until after the consideration of General Business, Orders of the Day Nos 2 and 8 together, 1 and 301 together, 289 and 158.
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent General Business, Order of the Day No. I relating to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare Report on Drug Problems in Australia- Government response, and General Business, Order ofthe Day No. 30 1 relating to the report of the Royal Commission on Drugs being debated cognately.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Chaney) read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The speech read as follows-
This Bill proposes amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act designed to achieve more effective operation of the accounting and audit provisions in respect of organisations registered under the Act. Consistent with the Government ‘s policy of ensuring effective democratic control of organisations registered under the Act and the full and active participation of members of those organisations in their affairs, the Bill provides for appropriate accounting practices to be followed by organisations, the effective audit of their accounts and accountability, including the provision of information, by organisations and their officers to members.
By way of background to this Bill, honourable senators will recall that, following the report in 1976 of the Royal Commission into Alleged Payments to Maritime Unions, the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Act (No. 3) 1977 inserted in the Act a new Part VIIIAA to give effect to the recommendations of the Royal Commission concerning accounting practices and financial reporting requirements for organisations registered under the Act. In his report, the royal commissioner had expressed the view that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and Regulations were not adequate to ensure that individual members of organisations, and the public, were able to establish the uses to which funds were appropriated and the financial state of the organisation. Briefly, Part VIIIAA of the Act requires an organisation to prepare accounts, supply copies of those accounts to members, present them for adoption at meetings, and file them with the Registrar. It does not itself make detailed provision for regulating the accounting and reporting practices of organisations. Detailed provisions are to be prescribed by regulations.
As I foreshadowed in my second reading speech on the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1977, a tripartite committee of the National Labour Consultative
Council was established to consider the necessary regulations. That Committee, during its deliberations, also discussed the substance of the provisions of Part VIIIAA of the Act and, in its report to the National Labour Consultative Council, it recommended a number of amendments to that Pan. Several of those matters had also been the subject of representations to me by the Australian Society of Accountants and the Institute of Chartered Accountants. The NLCC committee has been engaged in long and detailed discussions and the Government has given full consideration to its proposals. Whilst it has not accepted all of the committee’s recommendations, the Government has recognised that a number of amendments to Part VIIIAA of the Act are desirable to make for more effective operation of the provisions of that Part. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation of the work undertaken by the committee.
Mr President, I turn now to the substance of the proposed amendments. The Bill proposes amendments which spell out in more specific detail than at present that, where an organisation is divided into branches, those requirements will apply both to the branches and to the organisation itself and that, in relation to an organisation itself, the accounts are to be the accounts representing the financial affairs of the federal body, excluding the accounts of its branches. It is the Government’s view that such an arrangement is essential in order to provide for the adequate disclosure to members of the financial affairs of their organisations and of the branches of which they are members. The royal commission had this to say on the question of disclosure of information:
It is essential in the interest of democratic control that the financial dealings of an organisation are presented in sufficient detail to allow those members interested to establish the state ofthe organisation’s finances, evaluate its financial administration and satisfy themselves that the financial transactions are in accordance with the rules and the decisions of the membership.
If organisations were to be permitted to prepare only consolidated accounts, it would be extremely difficult for individual members to derive from them any information about the financial affairs of, for example, their branches. In considering the regulations required under Part VIIIAA of the Act, the NLCC committee concluded that the regulations should prescribe the minimum contents of the accounts to be prepared and supplied to members, and that any additional information in relation to those accounts should be available to members upon request.
This Bill proposes amendments which will enable a member of an organisation, upon request made in writing and addressed to the secretary or a member of the committee of management of the organisation, to obtain such information in relation to the financial statements of the organisations as is prescribed. Alternatively, a member will be able to apply to the Industrial Registrar, who will obtain from the organisation the information sought and convey it to the member. Responses to such requests will have to be given within 14 days. Mr President, I have two documents which outline what the regulations will prescribe as being the minimum contents to be contained in the accounts of an organisation, and the additional information in relation to those accounts which is to be made available to members upon request. I table those documents and with the concurrence of the Senate incorporate them in Hansard as follows:
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION TO BE PRESCRIBED BY REGULATION TO BE MADE AVAILABLE TO MEMBERS OF ORGANIZATIONS UPON REQUEST
The additional information in respect of the accounts of an organization which is to be specified in the Regulations is as follows:
Levies and Collections- Purpose of each levy or collection and the amount received.
Donations and Grants Received- Source, purpose (where known) and amount of each donation or grant received in excess of $ 1 , 000.
Other Income- Source, purpose (where known) and amount of each category of ‘other income’ in excess of $1,000.
Levies and Collections Paid- Payee, purpose and amounts of each levy paid.
Salaries and Other Remuneration (including allowances) of holders of offices- Gross salary and other remuneration paid or payable in respect of the holder of each office in the organization falling within the definition of ‘office ‘ in sub-section 4 ( 1 ) of the Act.
Donations Made- Payee, purpose and amount of each donation over $ 1 , 000.
Other Expenditure- Description and amount of each category of expenditure in excess of $ 1 , 000.
Profit or Loss on Sale or Revaluation of Assets- In relation to each asset where the profit or loss exceeded the amount of $1,000:
asset category and description, whether sale or revaluation, and amount of profit or loss; and
circumstances necessitating revaluation (if any). Assets Comprising Loans Receivable- In relation to each loan over $ 1 , 000 granted d uring the year:
name of each office holder, employee, member or entity who was granted a loan (except for loans to members in respect of whom the officer authorizing the loan has certified that the loan is for ‘distress’ purposes), and the amounts thereof; and
details of purpose of such loans, security, and repayment arrangements (except for loans to members in respect of whom the officer authorizing the loan has certified the loan is for ‘distress’ purposes).
Investments Other than Government and Semi-Government:
a ) Total cost and total book value.
For each investment holding which also exceeds 20 per cent of the total book value of all investments (other than Government and SemiGovernment) a description of the investment, its book value and quoted market value (if applicable) at the close of the financial year.
Other Assets- Description and book value of each item which exceeds $ 1 , 000 and which also exceeds 5 per cent of total book value of all assets.
Liability for Loans Payable:
Source of loans received above$10,000 during the year and amount thereof.
Details of purpose of each such loan, security given and repayment arrangements.
Liabilities comprising provision for long service leave, superannuation and accrued holiday pay- Basis of the provisions and accruals.
Other Liabilities- Description and amount of each item exceeding 5 per cent of total other liabilities.
Accumulated General Funds- Description and amounts of transfers to and from Accumulated General Funds during the year.
Special Levies and Collections:
Purpose of special levies and collections, opening balances and amounts received, including transfers from other funds.
Description and total amounts of payments made from such funds for intended purposes.
Description and amounts otherwise paid or transferred out and reference to the approving authority and date of approval for such payments or transfers.
Closing balances and how held in the form of assets.
Special Funds Required by Rules:
Names and purposes of special funds required by rules.
Amounts of opening balances, receipts and transfers from other fund accounts.
Description and total amounts of payments made from such funds for intended purposes.
Description and amounts otherwise paid or transferred out and reference to the approving authority and date of approval for such payments or transfers.
Closing balances and how held in the form of assets.
Contingent Liabilities- Description and amount of each contingent liability exceeding 5 per cent of net assets.
MINIMUM CONTENTS OF ACCOUNTS OF AN ORGANIZATION TO BE PRESCRIBED BY REGULATION
With regard to the minimum content of the accounts, they are to be such as to give a true and fair view of:
the expenditure and income of the organization for the financial year and the previous financial year; and
the assets and liabilities of the organization as at the beginning of the financial year and the end of the financial year.
In relation to the expenditure and income statements, the accounts are to include:
the amounts (ifany ) of expenditure onsustentation and capitation fees affiliation fees levies and collections paid salaries and other remuneration, including ‘lump sum ‘ allowances, of holders of offices falling within the definition of ‘office ‘ in sub-section 4 ( 1 ) of the Act employees’ salaries and other remuneration including ‘lump sum ‘ allowances delegates’ fees and expenses donations fines and penalties meetings expenses office and administration expenses professional fees and expenses property expenses provision for long service leave provision for annual leave provision for superannuation provision for depreciation and amortisation other expenditure
the amounts (if any) of income from- entrance fees and periodic membership subscriptions sustentation and capitation fees levies and collections interest dividends property income donations and grants other income
any surplus where income for the year exceeds expenditure for the year
any deficiency where expenditure for the year exceeds income for the year
the profit or loss on-
sale of assets
revaluation of assets
transfer to and/or from special fund and/or levy accounts
net surplus or net deficiency transferred to accumulated general funds.
In relation to the statement of assets and liabilities of the organization, the accounts are to include:
the following assets (if any)- cash on hand cash at banks accounts receivable loans receivable (including loans to members and/or office holders) pre-payments government and semi-government investments
Other investments fixed assets- real estate, other other assets
the following liabilities (if any)- accounts payable loans payable provision for long service leave provision for superannuation accrued holiday pay other accruals other liabilities
the following items- accumulated general funds levies and collections (funds) special funds required or authorized by or under the rules contingent liabilities levies/collection assets special fund assets.
Where any of the items referred to above are not applicable to the financial transactions of an organization, the accounts are to be required to indicate this fact, ie they should contain a’nil’ entry inrespectof those items.
-I should also like to indicate at this point that, in view of the fact that these matters have been decided after long and detailed consideration by the National Labour Consultative Council, if at any time in the future it proves necessary to make changes to those regulations, those proposed changes would also be subject to consultation through that Council.
The Bill proposes a further amendment to enable the making of regulations which will require a statement by the committee of management of the organisation made in accordance with a resolution of committee of management and signed by two members of the committee, and a statement by the principal officer of the organisation responsible for keeping the accounts. The statements are to be in the nature of certifications in relation to matters concerning the accounts of the organisation, its register of members and observance of the Act, the regulations and the rules of the organisation. The Government endorses the view of the Royal Commission that such statements are necessary in the further interests of adequate disclosure of information. The Bill also proposes amendments concerning the appointment, remuneration and dismissal of auditors to align them more closely with similar provisions in company legislation. The Government recognises that the objects and functions of industrial organisations differ from those of companies, and this has been borne in mind in these amendments. Organisations will now have a choice as to whether they appoint individuals or firms as auditors, and will be able to appoint them on an on-going basis rather than annually, as has been the requirement in the past. The Bill makes provision for remuneration of auditors and for security from dismissal.
Finally, the Bill proposes amendments to redefine the role of the Industrial Relations Bureau in relation to the investigation of the finances and financial administration of an organisation. Part VIIIAA currently provides that where reports are deficient or fail to show the required information, the Registrar shall request the Industrial Relations Bureau to investigate the finances of the organisation. If the Bureau is of the opinion that there has been a breach of the Act or Regulations, it is empowered to refer the matter to the Federal Court. Under the provisions of this Bill the Bureau will be able to investigate only those matters referred to it by the Industrial Registrar, except that if in the course of those investigations the Director and the Registrar consider that there are grounds for further investigation, the Bureau may make such further investigations.
In summary, the provisions of this Bill are designed to remove ambiguity as to the obligations imposed on an organisation, as against its branches, and ensure that terms of a technical nature accord with accepted accounting terminology; require organisations and their branches to provide additional financial information to members upon request; support the making of regulations to implement particular recommendations of the Royal Commission into Alleged Payments to Maritime Unions concerning the contents of organisations’ financial accounts and statements by management committees and principal accounting officers as to the accounts of organisations, that register of members and observance of the Act, regulations and rules of organisations; bring the provisions concerning the appointment, security from dismissal and remuneration of auditors more closely in line with the provisions in company law; and redefine the circumstances in which the Industrial Relations Bureau may investigate the finances and financial administration of an organisation.
The Government is confident that the legislation concerning the accounting practices and financial reporting requirements for organisations and their branches will make a significant contribution to ensuring that the affairs of employee and employer organisations are properly conducted in the interests of their members and will provide members with information to enable them to make informed judgments about the way their organisations are being managed and to take appropriate measures to have any irregularities rectified. The proposals are a further measure in pursuance of the Government’s policy of enabling members of organisations to be better informed regarding the affairs of their organisations and thereby encouraging greater membership participation in the activities of organisations generally. The Bill is, therefore, consistent with the Government’s overall objective of advancing the rights of individuals within organisations and its passage will significantly enhance that objective. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Hayden, nominating Dr Everingham to be a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory in the place of Mr Innes.
Debate resumed from 25 March, on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Bill be now read a second time. ( Quorum formed).
– I want to speak very briefly to the International Development Association (Further Payment) Bill in the absence of Senator Wriedt, who will be following me. The purpose of the Bill is to make an additional sum of $20m available to the International Development Association. The Opposition generally approves the increases which are made available.
– The International Development Association (Further Payment) Bill is a very significant piece of legislation particularly in the light of the recently increased tensions which we have witnessed around the world. I believe it deserves the support of this Parliament and of the Australian people. The purpose of the Bill is to provide for $203m to be made available to the International Development Association, which is an affiliate of the World Bank. It will enable that body to continue to make interest-free credits available for economically justifiable projects in the poorest countries of the Third World. Australia’s contribution will be 1.91 per cent of the $ 12 billion which is sought from donor countries. It will be provided by way of immediately cashable promissory notes and will have very little Budget impact in this country. We heartily support the proposed commitment.
The Bill comes before the Parliament at a time when negotiations between the industrialised and Third World countries about the course of international economic development have largely broken down. The North-South dialogue, as it is called, has obviously run into very real difficulties. I am sure that all of us hope that the momentum which has been sustained over previous years will not be lost. The world has some very urgent economic and political problems to solve. A mutually satisfactory agreement should be reached between the two major groups to share the vast wealth of the developed world, particularly taking into account the very large number of people who are living on or below the subsistence level in the developing world.
Foreign aid is not an electorally popular subject in this country. One or two prominent people in the country have gone so far as to say that we should reduce our foreign aid commitments. In simplistic terms that approach may appear to have some attraction. But it is pertinent that many of the problems that we face today are due to mealy-mouthed attitudes that have been adopted over the years. We have looked at the problems of so many of these countries in a parsimonious manner. The operations of the International Development Agency have borne fruit along with the assistance which has come from other international development agencies and individual donor countries. The developing countries’ share of manufacturing increased from 7 per cent in 1960 to 9 per cent in 1967. But the continuing increase in oil and commodity prices adds difficulty to sustaining that momentum and the projects that IDA is funding really only scratch the surface.
It is significant also that the $203m which we are providing under this replenishment contributes in a small way to the $12 billion total commitment. When we match that with international defence expenditure we realise just how small it is. International expenditure on armaments is running at around $450 billion a year. Thus the equivalent of 4 per cent of annual defence expenditure is to be allocated to people raising or just maintaining their standards of living.
The recent report of the Brandt Commission was referred to before lunch. The Commission was under the chairmanship of Willi Brandt. As I mentioned, it included some very famous international figures such as the former British Prime Minister, Edward Heath. The Commission made the observation that more arms do not make mankind safer, only poorer. The staggering impact of changes in international defence expenditure patterns means that if one half of one per cent of one year’s world military expenditure were allocated to low income countries it would assist them to approach food sufficiency by 1 990. It has been estimated that the cost of one jet fighter would set up 40,000 village pharmacies, and that money for one tank could provide classrooms for 30,000 children.
At the present time there is some complacency and a reliance on the fact that technical change and innovation have enabled the world food balance to keep ahead of population changes. But the prospects look grim. There will be 6 billion people in the world at the turn of the century, as against the present 4 billion. No matter what the precedents are, the sheer demands of a population of this size will make tremendous demands on the world’s food and energy supplies in the next two decades. Even before that time, by 1990 according to the Brandt report, the Third World alone will require about 140 million to 150 million tonnes of food annually, which is nearly twice the existing requirement. There is no doubt that in the developed countries technological advances will increase food production. In some of the developing countries the impact of new technology will increase their capacity for food production. But the money available from the Association and the commercial opportunities for the vast masses who are near starvation are still limited.
There is no doubt that we shall have to alter our life styles. We cannot ignore the fact that Australians are consuming energy at a rate vastly in excess of other people’s usage. For example, one American uses as much commercial energy as three Swiss, nine Mexicans or over 1,000 Nepalese. The solutions extend beyond the sort of assistance which will flow from Australia’s contributions to the IDA. They will flow from a willingness on the part of industrialised nations seriously to consider reacting positively to the problems of the Third World. It is little use relying on the argument that because there is substantial unemployment in the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development we must close our ears to the problems of the Third World. I suggest that if we continue to do so it will be detrimental to alleviating international tension in the long run and will certainly pose one of the most serious threats to world stability. The Harries report of last September, which we dealt with in fine style this morning, states:
As an affluent country at a relatively advanced stage of economic development Australia should be prepared to participate actively in the continuing North South dialogue, but should not seek a leading role.
That of course does not mean that we would not support any action to improve that dialogue. Improvement in the economic and social conditions in developing countries will depend upon the willingness of the industrialised nations to support policies which increase, not restrict, international trade. It is significant that the Brandt Commission established that the loss of jobs in the industrialised countries due to imports from developing countries has been very small in relation to total employment. The Commission’s report, along with the Australian report, argues strongly against creeping protectionism. Both see that total employment benefits will flow from ensuring that international trade is made freer. The freeing of trade, along with the provision of development assistance to organisations such as IDA and persistence with the workable aspects of the new international economic order, will assist to raise the standards of living in developing countries. Such policies must be pursued carefully and thoughtfully, bearing in mind the effects they can have on local industry. The significant part of the Brandt Commission’s report was that after two years’ work the 1 8 members of the Commission, drawn from many countries and covering a wide political spectrum, agreed on their observations as recommendations. Edward Heath said that they:
If we do not heed the recommendations of such an internationally eminent committee and sections of the industrialised world continue to be intransigent about taking positive action which would help the developing countries, we could find that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other groups align themselves with the developing world to force action upon the industrialised nations. That would be prejudical to international harmony. The signs are loud and clear that OPEC countries mean to do exactly this. Nevertheless, we support the Bill. We hope that it might lead to an intelligent and necessary debate about Australia’s economic, social and political relations with the Third World. One would have thought that that debate could have taken place in the Parliament as a result of the statement that came down this morning, but obviously that was not to be. In our position in this country as a major supplier of energy resources we may increasingly become the focus of international attention. We should avoid succumbing to the shortsightedness of those who argue that, because we have domestic problems, we should just look after ourselves and let those less fortunate than we are work out their own destiny.
It is relevant to remind the Senate that, when the Pearson commission reported in 1969, it recommended and secured agreement from many nations that overall net flows to the underdeveloped countries should exceed one per cent of gross national product and official aid should exceed 0.7 per cent of gross national product. In this country, like most others, we have not reached these targets and it should be one of the aims of both political parties to do so over the next five years. So many of the current world problems appear political but they are more economic than political. The great majority of conflicts that have occurred since 1945 have involved the poorer nations. Very few have directly involved the wealthier countries. When the people of any nation cannot get enough to eat or when they lack the basic necessities of life such as housing, hospitals, employment and so on, and when they know it can be much better for them than their current lot, they will work and, if need be, fight to get that better deal. And why should they not? That is the great challenge of the 1980s.
– The Australian Democrats are delighted to see that our share in the replenishment of the International Development Association Fund has been increased. Australia’s share is just over $A200m, 1.91 per cent of the $12 billion target for donors. That sum is equivalent only to Australia’s percentage share in the fifth replenishment. In absolute terms it is a substantial increase over what we provided in the fifth replenishment for the previous 3 year period. The Government has asked for a bipartisan approach to the International Development Association (Further Payments) Bill. The Australian Democrats do not oppose that. But I take the opportunity during the second reading debate to bring in other implications than money that are implicit in this matter. I believe that I am in order, because my remarks will be relevant to this debate, to refer briefly- as the Australian Democrats have not yet done- to the extraordinarily woolly and basically unconcerned statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) on Australia’s relations with the Third World. Senator Button drew attention to page 9 of the circulated copy of that statement. There is a reference there which has a great deal to do with what we are debating in this Bill which is, as he said, the question: Will the Third World maintain its stand against Soviet expansionist policies? I think that is very much a $64 question.
The main issue involved there is: How much worse off can we expect the poorer countries of the world to be made by the Western world, without forcing them violently into the arms of communism? I think that history in the last two or three decades has shown that the main reason for the turn of countries to communism- Russian or Chinese or whatever type of communism honourable senators would like to specify- has been the extreme and growing poverty of those countries which has permitted them virtually no option but to listen to the siren voices of the communists who say: ‘This is what Western world private enterprise does to you. Try our system instead ‘. I think that is an argument that we do not do enough about, and we are doing less and less about it now, as Senator Wriedt said in this debate. He said that all over the world standards of health and nutrition are falling again. Standards of education are falling and the death rate is ominously creeping up again on a planetary basis. Hence it is a matter of attitudes of our own Government towards aid. I must re-state that when one looks at the Minister’s second reading speech on this matter one can see that one does not achieve things just by throwing money at them. I think that this is very much the case where foreign aid is concerned. Often enough by throwing money around worse situations are created than existed before. That is one of the tragedies of the results of the attempts by the Western world to help the Third World in recent decades. I honestly believe that most Australians would agree that we should give more money to worthy causes in the Third World because in spite of our problems we are after all still the lucky country. We still have more than we need really. As I have said our problems are basically bad government, which we will hope the future will remedy. We do not have the intractable, terrible continuing problems that the Third World has where so many people come into a life which is probably going to be short, ugly and brutal and which, even if they do survive the vicissitudes of their childhood, will not offer them very much in the future.
– Are you looking forward to a change of government?
– An Australian Democrat government eventually. It is only a matter of time. Anyway, that is not the subject of this debate; it is just a point I wanted to tidy up with Senator Missen. The point is that it is not really enough for the Australian Government to say merely that it has made a contribution to a fund of this kind. There is an obligation directly on the Government, the Senate and this Parliament to see that the funds bestowed, I believe with goodwill by the Austraiian people, are properly used. Unfortunately that is not always the case. It is even getting to the stage where it is seldom the case.
I had a little experience of this. I was a foreign adviser in Thailand, which was on the whole a good and, I trust, useful experience. But there were aspects that came to my knowledge, particularly in the poor north east region, which were far from happy. I refer to something that honourable senators will probably remember. There was to be a tremendous scheme to harness the Mekong River at one stage. This was going to do wonders for the Third World. I think it was a scheme devised basically in engineering terms and by technical experts who had not stopped to think about the social, historical or economic aspects of what they were going to do. I was living in a town quite close to the first of the tributary schemes, the Nam Pong River scheme. Unfortunately, in north east Thailand, the apparently laudable desire to create a huge irrigation and hydro-electric power dam could only be provided in one of the best areas of rice growing country which had been held by families for centuries and which was prized by them. That particular area does not have any deep valleys. It had a big flat valley with hills around it which was flooded to build this dam and irrigation scheme.
I believe from my current contacts that even now that hydro-electric scheme is running well under capacity because there is simply not the infrastructure in that area for people to use it. It provides lights in a few rich people’s homes in Khon Kaen and a few other similar towns and has done nothing else except two other permanent factors. It drove at least 300 families off land which had sustained them for generations and gave them no land substitute. It simply gave them money. In this case money was of no use to them because they could not buy good land with it. The other problem was that the scheme took a very large labour force away from the villages and got the people to the stage where they had become dependent on the dam construction. The whole economy of that area became inflated. Then, when the dam was completed, there was major inflation, economic dislocation and colossal unemployment because of population increases. Huge numbers of young people were forced out of villages to try to start villages of their own. I have been to those villages and I have been assured by the headmen that as many as six out of ten children born in those villages die before they reach the age of 5. If honourable senators saw those children they would see that that was probably so.
Asian countries have their elites and those elites tend to be self-perpetuating. In many cases they are also corrupt. That corruption can take the form of agreeing that large capital schemes in the poorest Asian countries are a good thingschemes such as dams, cement works, city buildings and so on. But they are not the sorts of things that should be put into those countries and they are probably far more counterproductive than they are productive. These generators are turning over, but nobody has electrical appliances, nobody has electric light. There is no reticulation. Those things are worse than useless.
It is a matter of concern to me and to the Australian Democrats that the Australian Government should make darn sure that these funds about which I am speaking are not committed to this sort of useless stupid project which has not been properly researched by the people who should be doing it. I see a direct responsibility on this Parliament in that regard. The fact that we give away money that Australians have contributed by way of their taxes does not remove our obligations to see that something sensible is done with it. Appropriate technology is absolutely essential.
I had the opportunity to speak to a lot of north-east Thai village leaders about foreign aid during my term in that country. In most cases they regarded foreign aid as being foreigners and a couple of Thais from Bangkok arriving in jeeps, asking a lot of questions, because surveying was very much the fashion, and going away again. The other point was that, having been deprived of land, they feared the foreign aid. In that area the Nam Pong experience was a terrible one and seen as an example for all time of what could happen to people when the West came along and tried to help. The help was very much feared. It was feared so much that no other tributary development scheme of the Mekong has gone ahead. Massive capital works, then, do more harm than good.
What happens when one asks these people what they want? After all they are fairly competent types. They stay alive and run their villages in a fairly law-abiding way in difficult circumstances. I am speaking of the headmen. They know exactly what they want, but nobody is prepared to give them these things. What they want more than anything else, and this may come as a surprise to some honourable senators, is an impervious roofing material. That may seem at first to be of no great importance, but I would suggest to honourable senators that there are probably very few things in the world that are more important than that. A thatched roof will not store water. These communities do not have the means of storing water and are dependent upon water from the ground. That water is always contaminated and causes a huge variety of complaints ranging from amoebic dysentry down to bacillary dysentry and other things which permanently debilitate people. What is needed there, and I suggest that the Government should look at this, is an impervious roofing system with simple storage tanks so that Third World countries can store drinking water in every house. It seems to be no more complicated than having an impervious roof with a gravity fed tank and a tap which turns on inside the house. One would think that simple things like that would get through. I have had dozens of men ask for just that thing. Unfortunately corrugated iron is not good enough. The fastenings that we use to put it on roofs rust out. They do not work well on bamboo purlins. Some other system needs to be evolved. That is the kind of thing which I am suggesting the Government should try to see is done with the money that is put into this agency.
Fencing wire to keep animals in is needed to stop the endless disputes in villages where stock is owned and is so terribly valuable. Even one animal is vital to a family. Better fruit trees, egg breeding stock, bridges capable of carrying vehicles over a stream are needed. Many of these poorer regions have no trafficable roads at all, and the reason they do not have them is that there are only footbridges. The villagers want bridges. They want a school. They are terribly interested in education, but they want that school to be at a basic village level. They do not want to have to have to send their children away to Bangkok, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. They want a good school locally and some form of industry, preferably a cottage industry associated with the villages.
I feel that we ought to have learned by now that we cannot graft modern technology at an advanced level on to a village-type society. This seems to me to be particularly relevant in this debate, because the funds that we are talking about here are, rightly and laudably, destined for the poorest nations. It is only in the poorest nations that we have the gravest difficulty in getting a connection through from their present deplorable plight to a better way of life. I suggest to honourable senators that it is no good giving them dams, cement works and things of that sort. What we need to give them is the next step up, something which can be grafted on to the village society, in consultation with that society and with its concurrence, which will allow it to take the next step through. These things are known. They are known certainly by the people who want them, even if they are not known elsewhere.
One of the problems, and this is another matter concerning this Bill, is that decisions on what aid is to be provided should not be made only by well-meaning experts from the West. This should not happen, especially decisions should not be made by technical experts in relation to dams, cement works or whatever, who by the very nature of their training are specialists. They do not understand the sociology, the economics or the history of the people on whom they are imposing a monstrous incubus as they did with the Nam Pong Dam. There should also be in on the deal people who understand the background other than the narrow technical one. I think this whole question of foreign aid is very important. It may be something of a cliche, as John Donne said:
Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind: so therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.
The message in that famous poem is vital. Here in Australia, as elsewhere, we are involved or should be involved with the rest of mankind, and the best we can do for the less fortunate is barely good enough. I return to the thought that it is not just a matter of trying to solve the problem by throwing money at it. Let us say we have this money. That is good. It is $200m. Surely what we must next ask the Government to do is to try to be a little unconventional for once, to try to change its methods so that it will ensure that that money is spent in the most effective way. I appeal to the Government to take that kind of further action, to interest itself even more than it is doing in the spending of these funds by the International Development Association. I would suggest that the Association itself would probably welcome the idea that a donor nation was taking a very intelligent and detailed interest in where the money was going.
In the interests of donors, that is every Australian taxpayer, and the receivers who certainly need help, I would ask the Government members to take such unconventional steps as to send representatives to organisations such as the Community Aid Abroad which has this type of small individual task overseas. They have done a tremendous job for many years with virtually no money. I suggest that the Government should invite them along and talk to them, and perhaps use some of their people who are not a public servants to go along and talk to the organisation. The Government should get together a consultative group, with the voluntary aid organisations, and allow these people to say things. I think the Government will find that those people have plenty to say. I know that what I am suggesting may rock the boat a little and may seem unconventional. I do suggest that the results that come from it would be of sufficient value in this world to make them worth while.
– I thank honourable senators for their support of the Bill which is, of course, a measure which one would expect to attract in this chamber the support of all parties, and indeed in the other place too. I think a number of points which have been made in the debate are dealt with in the second reading speech, and I do not intend to go over those matters again. I commend the Bill to attention of honourable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 25 March, on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose the Pay-roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Amendment Bill 1 980. As far as it goes, it is a welcome measure because it will give some relief to small businesses in the Australian Capital Territory. The Bill will raise the level of the general exemptions from payroll tax applicable in the Australian Capital Territory. The exemption, in fact, is to be raised from $66,000 to $72,000 per annum. The higher level will apply from 1 January 1980, thus providing an exemption for 1 979-80 of $69,000; that is, on a full year basis.
As I said, this is a small measure to ameliorate the plight of small business in the Australian Capital Territory, and, for that reason, it is not opposed by the Federal Opposition. However, I must point out that the measure really allows for only roughly the inflation rate to be applied to the payroll tax exemption level, and in that sense it does not really provide a new gift to small employers in the Australian Capital Territory but simply keeps their situation much as it has been. Every time there is an amendment made to payroll tax legislation, that amendment seems to take about six months to filter through to the Australian Capital Territory. Employers in the Australian Capital Territory are lagging behind employers in the States with respect to adjustments in this regard.
The debate on this Bill, however, gives me the opportunity to draw the attention of the Senate to the plight of small business in the Australian Capital Territory. It is a plight which is in no serious way ameliorated by the legislation before us. Small business in the Australian Capital Territory is in a very poor state indeed. Many small businesses have closed during the period of the Fraser Government. More will be forced out of business, and many are operating simply by employing members of the family in order to keep a roof over their heads.
– Plenty of them closed during the previous Government’s period too.
-If Senator Rae would like to check the figures, which I do not have with me for the purposes of this debate, he will find that those relating to closures of small businesses in the Australian Capital Territory have increased dramatically since the election of the Fraser Government, although, of course, there were problems beforehand.
– They have, Australiawide.
– I did not mean to be political; it is simply a continuing situation.
– It is a continuing situation and it is a worsening situation. As Senator Cavanagh interjects, there is a serious plight facing small business Australia-wide. I agree that there is. But what concerns me as a senator for the Australian Capital Territory is that the situation here is directly the creation of the Fraser Government. There is no State government here which can take the blame for failing to support small business. There is no local government with powers that can bring income into the way of small business. We have a situation which is the direct responsibility of the Federal Government. In that sense, the Federal Government must accept directly the criticisms coming from the small business sector, and ought to take steps to do something about it.
I suggest- it is appropriate to mention this in this debate- that there is a case for the total abolition of payroll tax in the Australian Capital Territory. The view I hold has been expressed in editorial columns of the Canberra Times. I understand that Senator Knight is participating in this debate, so I would like to draw his attention to what was said in the editorial of the Canberra Times on 1 7 March this year. I would be interested to hear his response to it. The Canberra Times points out that there is a case for the complete abolition of payroll tax in the Australian Capital Territory, and that a strong attack can be mounted for abolition of the tax across Australia on both employment and antiinflationary grounds. The editorial states:
Back in 1970-71 when the Federal Government handed the tax over to the States it was generating about $300 million a year. In 1979-80 it is expected to yield $1,700 million. In the same period in the ACT revenue from the tax probably has doubled, like the rate which now stands at 5 per cent a year, in spite of exemptions, and this year is estimated to yield $ 1 7 million to the Government, $ I million more than it did last year. That is $17 million that could be left in the Canberra economy at a cost of less than $17 million to the revenue. To the extent that it improves profitability it will increase company income tax revenue; to the extent it is paid out in dividends it will be taxed again; to the extent that it is used to employ people it would be partially recouped in the form of personal income taxation and a lower unemployment benefit payout in the ACT region.
Not all of the $17 million would be spent on increased wages, but an examination of payroll-tax returns published by the Commissioner for Taxation in 1 977-78 suggests that a substantial part of it could be: something like 1 ,600 returns a month were made that year, by far the majority of them from service industry such as the wholesale and retail trade; the finance, insurance, real estate and business service groups; the transport group; and the restaurant and hotel group. These, incidentally, are the industries which tend to recruit most heavily among the young. The proposal warrants serious consideration both by the Federal Government and the local business community including, of course, Queanbeyan . . .
It goes on to say that the situation in Queanbeyan is the responsibility of the Wran Government in New South Wales. I endorse the suggestions made in the Canberra Times editorial, and I would like to see some sort of positive reaction by the Government to these suggestions if the Government is seriously concerned about the plight of small business in the Australian Capital Territory.
The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), I might point out, has recently been attracting a lot of media attention to himself by championing the cause of small business on a national level. He has taken up, with a great deal of strong rhetoric, the case of Mr Leon Laidely, who has been characterised by the Prime Minister and by some parts of the media as a small businessman who is the ham in the sandwich between the big oil companies and the big unions. If the Prime Minister is serious- I must admit I doubt it- about his interest in the cause of small business, he need only look at the situation prevailing in the Australian Capital Territory.
Why is it that small business is having such a bad time in the Australian Capital Territory? There are a number of reasons. One of the reasons is the exploitation of small business by big business. The particular way in which small business is exploited by big business in the Australian Capital Territory is by way of rentals. Most small business premises in the Australian Capital Territory are owned and operated by big business, and big business has shown itself to be a very severe and demanding landlord indeed. In many cases where small business people are being required to pay harsh and unconscionable rent increases- often they simply cannot afford to pay- they have shut up shop and moved out. This happens day in and day out in the Australian Capital Territory. Honourable senators need only visit Civic Centre or the Belconnen Mall or Woden Valley retailing centres, not to mention the smaller suburban retailing centres, to see that what I am saying is quite factual.
A particular incident which is being reported in the local media at the moment involves a small businessman, Mr Gus Petersilka, who has rented and operated a coffee shop in Civic Centre and who was gaoled today because of his stand against the rent increases imposed by big business. What we need in the Australian Capital Territory is some sort of fair rent legislation which will allow the owners of properties to increase the rents in a way which is fair and which will prevent harsh and unconscionable rent increases being imposed on small operators who have no recourse to proper appeal procedures.
That is one of the major problems of small business in the Australian Capital Territory. Another, of course, stems from the planning problems of the Australian Capital Territory. Until the election of the Fraser Government, Canberra was a growth centre. In fact it is the most successful growth centre in Australia’s history. On the basis of growth predictions, the National Capital Development Commission, the planning body for the Australian Capital Territory, had planned for an expansion of retailing in the Australian Capital Territory. Now that we have been faced with a no-growth or a restriction of growth policy by the Fraser Government, there is a drastic oversupply of retailing space in the Australian Capital Territory.
– Rational growth would be a better word, wouldn ‘t it?
– It is not rational growth, as Senator Rae has interjected. I do not think it is rational growth when one has a drastic oversupply of retailing, when there are schools which do not have an adequate student population to sustain their services, when there are large areas of serviced land but no case now for going ahead and building housing there. This is not a rational picture. It certainly is not rational in terms of the expectations of small business in the Australian Capital Territory. We have an irrational situation. Some parts of the Australian Capital Territory, as I have said, are desperately oversupplied with retailing. We have other parts where there is still a need for services such as pharmacists and so on. It is not a rational picture and it will not be a rational picture until the Government can give us some real indication of sustainable growth for the future,
– Is the property market not indicating at the moment that, after a period of lull, it is now picking up on a stabilised basis?
– There has been an improvement in the real estate market in the last six months. There certainly has been an improvement but it followed a real crash in the market. People were being forced to leave Canberra because they had lost their jobs. They had to put their houses on the market and they could not even get enough money for them to cover what it cost to set them up. So we are coming from a trough, from a really bad situation, to a situation -
– From a boom to a trough to a rationalised growth.
– We went from a boom to a trough but I do not think there are enough indications that we are going into a period of stable growth. I am happy to see some improvement in the real estate market but it is not a trend which at this stage we can happily characterise as stable and rational growth. I wish we could. The other problem, of course, is the widespread unemployment in the Australian Capital Territory. It is fairly obvious that when we have, as we do in Canberra, one of the highest levels of youth unemployment in the country, one of the highest levels of female unemployment in the country and a problem of adult unemployment- the male breadwinner with dependants being out of work- on a serious scale, we do not have a situation that is healthy for small business. If people do not have money to spend the shopkeepers cannot sell. The very serious situation of unemployment in the Australian Capital Territory is probably at the root of the problems facing small business.
The last Australian Bureau of Statistics survey on unemployment showed a very unhappy picture for Canberra indeed. I see Senator Knight grabbing his pen to make notes to respond to me. He will probably say that again there was an improvement. Certainly it is a fact that the February figures showed a decline in the number of people seeking either full time or part time employment. That decline was from 8,400 in January to 8,200 in February. I hope that decline of 200- and the maintenance of a figure of something in excess of 8,000 people registered as seeking jobs in the Australian Capital Territorywill not be hailed by Senator Knight as an economic boom. In terms of percentages the decline translated into a decline of from 7.9 per cent to 7.7 per cent of unemployed people. That is still higher than the national figure. The number of people seeking full time work declined from 8.2 per cent to 6.4 per cent of the full time work force. From the figures supplied it seems that the number of people seeking part time work has risen from something like 5 per cent of the part time work force to 14.4 per cent. That is more than double the national part time unemployment rate of 6.9 per cent. The unemployment rate amongst Australian Capital Territory adolescents in February remained the worst in the country. Although it declined from 34.4 per cent to 30 per cent between January and February, at 30 per cent it was half as high again as the national average, which was 20.2 per cent in February. It may be safely inferred that the unemployment rate among male adolescents is slightly less than the average rate and that the unemployment rate among female adolescents is higher, which would put the unemployment rate amongst Canberra’s 15-year-old to 19-year-old women at 30 per cent plus.
In the face of those figures and in the face of the relationship between those figures and the Fraser Government policies for the Australian Capital Teritory there is absolutely no cause for saying that the economy in the Australian Capital Territory is on the mend and that we are experiencing a boom or even a mini-boom, although those phrases have become increasingly popular on the lips of Mr Haslem, the honourable member for Canberra. I understand that Senator Knight also has been speaking in positive terms about the local economy.
I do not want to be put in the position of characterising the local economy as being any worse than it actually is but it is in a serious situation. It is a situation which has, more than in any other place in Australia, a direct relationship to Government policy. The Fraser Government imposed staff ceilings on the Australian Capital Territory and thus created a great deal of unemployment. The Fraser Government has cut back and slowed down the NCDC capital expenditure program, which again has had ramifications in terms of unemployment in the building industry and associated industries. The Fraser Government has failed to legislate for proper rent control of commercial premises in the Australian Capital Territory. So we can see very clearly that the Fraser Government should look at the situation of small business and unemployment in the Australian Capital Territory. It should introduce policies and practices to ameliorate that situation. It has failed to do so.
The legislation before us at this stage, the Payroll Tax (Territories) Assessment Amendment Bill, is simply a technical procedure whereby the level of exemption from payroll tax for small business has been increased to keep up with the inflation rate. The Opposition is not opposing this legislation. In conclusion I say that if the
Prime Minister and the Fraser Government really want to pose as the champions of small business with any credibility in this Territory they need to act very fast with respect to staff ceilings, protection of small business and, of course, improving the funds available to the NCDC for capital expenditure.
– I note that the Opposition supports this legislation. I welcome that support. I would like to take up one or two points raised by Senator Ryan in this discussion. Senator Ryan should correct me if I am wrong but I understood her to say that we are only just adjusting our payroll tax exemption levels and related elements now and therefore we are lagging behind other States, most particularly, New South Wales.
– Is that not the case?
-No, it is not the case.
– Well, what is the case?
-The New South Wales exemption levels are increased from 1 January each year. This legislation will be backdated to 1 January. So provisions that will apply in the Capital Territory as from 1 January 1 980 are the same as those that have applied in New South Wales from 1 January 1 980. If there is something to be critical of- I think Senator Ryan will probably share this criticism with me- it is that the provisions did not come into effect on 1 January and that, in fact, they have to be applied retrospectively. That point has been made to the Government and to the Treasurer (Mr Howard). The Treasurer has indicated that he will look at this matter to see whether he can do something about ensuring that legislation is introduced in the Budget session each year so that, in fact, provisions are actually in effect on 1 January. My point is that we are not in reality lagging behind because the provisions are retrospectively applied to 1 January. That keeps the Australian Capital Territory in line with New South Wales, which has been the traditional practice.
I note also Senator Ryan’s reference to the abolition of payroll tax, which is something I would go along with. I think Senator Ryan quoted from an editorial in the Canberra Times that suggested that this tax on employment should be abolished. Is that right?
– Yes, it is $ 1 7m now.
-I would go along with that suggestion. I have said in the Senate before that in my view payroll tax has outlived its original purpose and is, in fact, a clear tax on employment now. It ought to be abolished. The problem in doing that is that with the substantial amounts of revenue involved- and of course there are implications that would apply elsewhere- it is a matter that needs to be looked at very carefully by both the Federal Government and other governments in relation to what programs might be forgone or what other revenue might be raised to meet the shortfall which would result.
– You could try it out here and see how it goes.
– Yes, indeed we could. I go along with that idea, provided the implications of such a decision are well thought through. I would agree that, having reached that point, we could try it out in the Territory. As I think Senator Ryan suggested, it would be of considerable value to businesses, particularly small businesses, in the Territory.
I would like to comment in part on what Senator Ryan said but, more particularly, on what was said by the honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry) in the course of the debate on this matter in the House of Representatives. He referred specifically to an earlier statement by me. I take- the opportunity in this debate to respond to some of those comments. In doing so, at the outset I also respond to something else that Senator Ryan said. It is undeniable that the Federal Government is responsible for what happens in the Capital Territory because, as she quite rightly pointed out, the Territory has no local or State government, and in effect the Federal Government has all executive powers and authority in the Territory. Also, because Canberra is the base of the Commonwealth Public Service, obviously decisions not only about expenditure but also about staffing of the Public Service that might be made by a Federal government will have a dramatic impact. Some of those issues were canvassed in the course of debate in this place last night. Senator Ryan must concede that that argument applied during the three years of Labor government. I ask the honourable senator to correct me if I am wrong, but I think she said that, until the time of the Fraser Government, Canberra was a growth centre.
– I would like to take that claim up, because it was quite fundamental to the comments made by the honourable member for Fraser in the House of Representatives. I would like to look back a little simply to put into perspective what has happened in the Territory. It is worth recalling that in the Budget of 1975, brought down by Mr Hayden, as Federal
Treasurer, the Labor Government cut expenditure appropriations for the National Capital Development Commission. It cut construction programs in the Territory. Most notably, it cut back construction on the High Court and the National Gallery. It imposed staff ceilings. I make that point simply to suggest that Canberra has been through extraordinarily difficult times, but it did not all begin with the present Government. It began beforehand because the Territory, in some respects, ran into a period of unrestrained boom but, in other respects, there was serious economic dislocation.
In that context, it is worth looking also at the NCDC’s annual report for 1974-75, which was produced in August 1975. 1 wish to quote a few sentences. I concede that any quotation of sentences from a document is open to the charge that they are quoted out of context. Whilst there may be other elements in this document that to some extent qualify these sentences, they are very important in their own right. First, the NCDC states:
There was, however-
That is, during 1974-75: a substantial falling-off in private sector investment upon which the Commission relies in order to achieve a proper balance between public and private sector development in the new towns.
I reiterate that there was a substantial falling-off in private sector investment in the Territory in 1974-75. Secondly, the Commission stated:
There are serious implications also for employment in the building and construction industries since a drift of skilled labour out of the private sector might mean an outward migration of such people to other cities.
Again we face that problem now in regard to the construction industry. In regard to the immediate figure there is a problem in ensuring that we hold on to our skilled workforce.
– You could have reversed all that.
– I make the point, Senator, that this was in 1974-75. It did not all begin with the present Government. Thirdly, the NCDC states:
During the year trading conditions for all the major building contractors proved difficult because of rapidly increasing costs, tight liquidity and industrial unrest throughout the industry. There were a number of financial collapses by major firms employed on Commission contracts. They are just three sentences that I have taken from the Commissioner’s report to the Minister for the Capital Territory in 1974-75. 1 have done that only to suggest that, when we are talking about the difficulties that Canberra has been through, many of which it still faces-I have never denied that-we need to have some perspective on the situation. With respect, Senator Ryan, it is not correct to suggest that all those problems began with the present Government and that, until the Fraser Government, Canberra was a growth centre.
-I would stand by that statement.
– Order! I ask honourable senators to direct their remarks through me. They are having a personal discussion across the chamber and that is not in accord with the requirements of this place.
– I apologise, Mr President. In summary, some perspective is needed and it should be realised that Canberra’s serious problem began in the period 1974-75. I mentioned statements by the honourable member for Fraser. He was critical of a statement that I made to the effect that the Government is taking action to ensure a consistent construction program. In the past the Territory has suffered from a construction program that has been subject to very noticeable booms or slumps. It has lacked the consistency that would allow investors to invest with confidence and contractors to carry out their part of the operation with a degree of confidence. Of course, that affects the employment market quite significantly. I reiterate that these problems are not new. Perhaps I could refer to an interjection that Senator Rae made earlier. He said that we have gone from a period of boom into a slump, and are now moving back to a period of uniform, consistent growth which we would hope will ensure confidence both in the general community and, more particularly in the business community and construction industry.
– What about employment? There is no growth in employment.
– I will refer to that shortly. We still face problems, and I have never denied that. Many important projects are being started. One of the significant indicators of an important degree of renewed confidence is the number of private projects in the Territory that are getting under way. Some have already started. There is a new major motel project in Northbourne Avenue valued at about $3m and the construction of what is known as Argyle Square in Reid near the city centre, which I think is valued at about $5m. There is a major housing development on Northbourne Avenue by an Italian company that is making its first investment in this country. There is the redevelopment of the Capitol
Theatre which is to cost $2m or $3m. There are other major housing and construction projects being commenced.
At the same time, recognising the problems that Canberra has faced and the need to establish a consistent growth rate in the Territory, in particular for construction programs, in the interests of retail traders and employment, the Government has also taken action. One could go through a string of projects relating to the construction of, for example, roads in the Territory and an indoor sports centre near the National Athletics Stadium at Bruce. Perhaps the most fundamental initiative that has been taken by the Government is the establishment of the Canberra Development Board, the purpose of which is to attract investment and industry to the Territory.
– That will take a very long time. You have to do something in the short term.
-One has to start somewhere. It is very interesting to note that no such initiative was taken during the time of the Labor Government.
– It was not needed.
– It was after 1974-75. As far as I am aware, there was nothing contemplated that would have provided for this sort of element in Canberra’s future development. That is one of the reasons we ran into serious problems in 1976, 1977 and 1978. The Canberra Development Board is now in existence and it fills what was clearly, particularly in retrospect, a major gap in the Territory. Already it has had some success and we hope that it will attract further significant investment to the Territory. More recently, the Government has announced the refurbishment of West Block. There are many reasons for that. It is a project valued at, I think, $4m or $5m. One of the reasons is to contribute to keeping together the skilled work force in this Territory so that when major projects that are in the pipeline, and to which I will refer later, get under way there will be an adequate workforce available. As was suggested in the 1974-75 NCDC report, we still have a problem in the Territory of holding together a skilled work force until we get major projects under way.
There was one point in particular in the speech by the honourable member for Fraser about which I was and still am curious. He criticised the Government for reducing the budget of the NCDC from $120m to $ 13.6m a year. I have tried to determine- unsuccessfully I must addwhat he meant when he referred to that reduction. Perhaps he was referring to the cash amount of SI 3.6m to be spent on new works this year. In fact, $ 13.7m in cash has been allocated for new works this year. It is pan of the NCDC’s total cash works program this year which amounts to $ 127.7m. The honourable member for Fraser may have got those figures confused. I do not know where he got the figure of $ 120m from. The figure of $ 13.6m to which he referred is presumably the amount to be spent on new works. It is worth noting that in 1974-75 the value of new works in the NCDC budget amounted to $42m. In 1975-76 that figure was $27m. I do not know to what the honourable member was referring. Whilst the NCDC budget has been reduced, it has not been reduced in a way that I believe has been disruptive. The problems we have faced have been due to other factors.
-What about the building industry?
– We have built the buildings that have needed to be built. In fact, we have done rather more than we might otherwise have done.
-What about some health centres? What about the bus interchange in Civic?
– It is interesting that, as far as I am aware, Senator Ryan has at no point defended the Defence Force Academy project which would have been critical to the development of the construction industry in this Territory. The delay in the project- perhaps it has been lost- has had a fundamental impact at a time when the construction industry in the Territory was about to get under way again at what we believe would have been a consistent rate of growth. A major project may have been lost.
– How can you justify it on those grounds?
-I am not critical of the process by which that matter has been decided. I referred to a lack of support from the Labor Party and Senator Ryan for such a major project. Senator Ryan also invited me to address myself to unemployment. This was another area in which the honourable member for Fraser was somewhat misleading. I think he was referring to my comments at the time. Without going into that, I simply say that I recognise that unemployment in this city is a major problem, not just economically but also socially, particularly for young people. We have a long way to go in overcoming that problem. Whilst we have had a serious decline since 1974 when the massive rate of increase in unemployment began, I think it is fair for me to suggest that the situation is now stabilising. I refer to an article in the Canberra Times of 13 March.
Senator Ryan quoted earlier from the Canberra Times. I refer to an article in the Canberra Times of 13 March. It refers to a study conducted on unemployment in the Territory. The concluding paragraph states:
An examination of the employment and labor force figures for the ACT for November, December and January of 1978 and 1979 hardly is conclusive. But it suggests that while the labor force grew by some 2,000 in the period, employment grew by 4,000.
There is much more interesting information in that article. I seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
EASE IN GROWTH RATE OF UNEMPLOYED
ACT job market improves
The deterioration that has characterised the labour market in and around Canberra may be coming to an end. There was a marked easing in the rate of growth of the number of registered unemployed in the Canberra region last year.
The change is apparent in the behaviour of the registered unemployed series in the accompanying graph. Unlike previous years when the series peaked in January and bottomed out in April-May before climbing for the rest of the year, the series declined continuously until October last year.
Not only that, there has been a marked decline in the difference between the year-to-year peaks between January, 1979, and January, 1980.
The difference can be seen on the graph and calculated from the accompanying tables, prepared by Dr Alan Hall, a professorial fellow in the economics department at the Research School of Social Sciences at the ANU.
Between January, 1977, and January, 1978, the number of registered unemployed in the ACT region (that is, based on the returns supplied by the Commonwealth Employment Service offices in Canberra, Woden and Queanbeyan) rose by 2,171.
Between January, 1978, and January, 1979, the increase was 1,501 and between January, 1979, and January, 1980, the increase was a mere 195.
The impression gained by an examinatin ofthe behaviour of the actual numbers of registered unemployed is confirmed by the behaviour of the seasonally adjusted series, shown on the graph by a broken line.
After allowing for seasonal influences on the behaviour of the series, it can be seen from the behaviour of the broken line during 1979 that registered unemployment in the Canberra region oscillated around 7,500 with relatively little variation during the course of the year.
Dr Hall, who pointed out the change in the behaviour of the series during 1979, says the behaviour of the series suggests that unemployment in the ACT might actually begin to decline during 1980.
Certainly the break in the upward trend is very apparent in the seasonally adjusted series.
But the reason for the change in trend is not explained by anything in the charts or tables. If the decline in unemployment suggested by the behaviour of the series for registered unemployment is the result of increased demand, it will be reflected in growth in the labour force, given that the participation rate was reasonably steady during the year (at about 69 percent).
On the other hand, the decline in unemployment could be the result of a reduced supply of labour which would be reflected (given the constant participation rate) in a decline in the rate of growth of the ACT workforce.
In fact, the former seems to have been the case. Unemployment seems to have fallen in the ACT during the past 1 2 months because the rate of growth of employment has been greater than the rate of growth of the workforce.
An examination of the employment and labour force figures for the ACT for November, December and January of 1978 and 1979 hardly is conclusive. But it suggests that while the labour force grew by some 2,000 in the period, employment grew by 4,000.
– I refer briefly to another article relating to unemployment in the Canberra Times from which Senator Ryan drew some of her information in this debate. The article refers to the most recent Commonwealth Employment Service figures. According to those figures, employment during the last year increased by 3,700 and the labour force rose by 1,600. Those figures are slightly different from those contained in the previous article but the net increase of about 2,000 is the same. I seek leave to have this short article also incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
ACT DISTRICT JOBLESS DOWN
There was a substantial fall in the number of registered unemployed in the Canberra district in February, according to figures published by the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs yesterday.
The Canberra, Woden and Queanbeyan Commonwealth Employment Service offices had 8,452 people on their books at the end of the month, compared with 8,810 the previous month. This was a decline of 358, mainly the result of a fall in the number as unemployed (see table).
There also was a rise in vacancies notified during the month, 381 in the case of adults, compared with 217 in January, and 73 in the case of juniors, compared with 5 1 the previous month.
The figures translate into 13 unemployed for every vacancy in the case of adults, and 48 unemployed for every vacancy in the case of juniors.
Between February, 1978, and February, 1979, the actual number of registered unemployed rose by 1970 to 8,379. In the year to February this year the rise was confined to 73.
In seasonally adjusted terms, the movement has shrunk from about 1,700 from February, 1978, to February, 1979, to 64 in the 12 months to February this year. In seasonally adjusted terms, using ratios prepared by Dr Alan Hall, of the Australian National University, the number of registered unemployed in February last year was 7,350. In January it was 7,28 1. In February it was 7,414.
In the commentary accompanying yesterday’s figures the department noted that civilian population aged 15 years and over in the ACT rose by 5,400 in the year to January; the labour force rose by 1,600 or 1.5 per cent to 106,500 while employment increased by 3,700 or 3.9 per cent to 98, 100.
According to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Statistics, the number of people looking for full-time work in theACTroseby 100 or 1.7 percent to 5,900.
– Those figures which were issued this week indicate that there was a reduction in junior unemployment of 343.I agree with Senator Ryan that the problem is not by any means solved or even nearly solved. But I make the point that those figures, along with other indicators available to us, suggest that the situation is stabilising and that we have come through the worst of the difficulties which this Territory has had to face since the Hayden Budget of 1975. Governments have recognised that massive amounts of money pouring into the Territory from federal sources could not be sustained.
There were serious dislocations in the local economy as a result of those funds in any case. We are now getting back to a period of stability and uniform growth. That was the import of the statement I made to which the honourable member for Fraser seems to have taken some exception. There are still problems, some of which are serious. I concede that there are problems for small business people in the Territory. I suggest that the most effective remedy is consistent national economic growth and policies in the Territory with respect to the transfer of public servants, the construction program, federal expenditure and staffing in the Commonwealth
Public Service. From those policies people in business will also be able to enjoy a more stable situation. They will be able to plan their investments and businesses more effectively. The community as a whole will, of course, benefit.
As I said earlier, many of these policies are supplemented by major programs in the pipeline at the moment. I refer to a few of them. The National Biological Standards Laboratory will cost, I think, about $32m. The National Archives will cost in the vicinity of $20m. Within a few years we will begin construction of the new Parliament House which is a massive project. It is one of the greatest building projects that this nation will have seen. The National Museum is to be constructed. I hope that legislation with respect to the National Museum will be introduced in the not too distant future. There was an announcement the other day that the Australian Federal Police headquarters will be built in Canberra at a cost of $ 10m. There is a range of projects which will make a very substantial difference to Canberra. Already, the signs of recovery are clearly and indisputably there.
In view of what the honourable member for Fraser said in the debate on this Bill in the House of Representatives last week, I make the point that this recovery is, in many respects, fragile. It could suffer at the hands of those who are careless in discussing the prospects for this Territory. Because the honourable member for Fraser referred at some length to a statement I made, I shall read a paragraph from that statement which I think has particular relevance to what he had to say. In a statement I made at a conference held on 1 8 March, I said:
But it seems we still have to contend with the ‘knockers’. Some people, even when they acknowledge significant signs of recovery and growth in our local economy, appear to have a destructive instinct- or intent- when it comes to Canberra. They want to talk Canberra down. If they keep at it, no doubt they will have some success in deterring investment, restricting business development- especially for small businesses- and limiting the growth of job opportunities in Canberra. Fortunately they are a small- and often patently self-interested- group. And the signs are now against them.
– Who are they?
-I invite Senator Ryan to read the Hansard record of the speech made last week on this legislation by the honourable member for Fraser and to judge for herself. I invite Senator Ryan also to read tomorrow the Hansard record of the comments she made in this debate today. In conclusion, I welcome once again the Opposition ‘s support of this legislation. Whilst the legislation offers some incentive, particularly to small businesses, there may be some measures of far more significance which could be taken. Perhaps if Mr Wran in New South Wales with his Labor Government were to abolish payroll tax we would do, as we traditionally have done, the same in the Capital Territory. Perhaps he might take the initiative. I understand that, at least at one time, it was Labor Party policy to do so. I am not sure that it still is; there seems to be some confusion. But I do welcome the support of the Australian Labor Party for this measure because I believe that in its own way it will provide some small stimulus to the local economy.
– The Pay-roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Amendment Bill is a non-contentious Bill which appears to have the support of all honourable senators. Both the honourable senators who spoke in the debate chose it as a vehicle to make some remarks on the economic situation of Canberra generally. I have no wish to make any comment on either of those contributions. The only point on which I thought I should make some comment was the suggestion that payroll tax should be abolished in the Australian Capital Territory. A suggestion to abolish a tax is always popular, whether it be payroll tax or any other tax.
There are arguments in favour of removing payroll tax because of its effect on the cost of labour and so on. However, I do not believe that it would be possible to consider the Australian Capital Territory in isolation. Payroll tax is now a tax of the States. It is an important tax. Whilst the figures for the Australian Capital Territory might appear to be relatively small- in 1978, which is the last year for which I have complete figures, the payroll tax collected in the Australian Capital Territory totalled $ 12m and the total collections for Australia came to $ 1 , 439m- the issue of the removal of payroll tax raises very substantial financial questions for the States. I think that all honourable senators would agree that the matter cannot be treated on the basis that Canberra should be a privileged enclave in this respect. I commend the Bill to the Senate and thank the Senate for its quick consideration of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time. ( Quorum formed).
Bill passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 25 March, on motion by Senator Chaney:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator Gietzelt had moved by way of amendment:
At end of motion add ‘, but the Senate:
expresses its concern at the rapid increase in the number of petitions for bankruptcy which has occurred in Australia in recent years;
notes that the proposed amending legislation does not provide for a full reform of the bankruptcy law, particularly in the area of assignments, arrangements and compositions under Part X ofthe Act; and
expresses the view that a broad reference on the question of insolvency and the bankruptcy law should be made to the Australian Law Reform Commission’.
– When I originally was scheduled to speak on the Bankruptcy Amendment Bill I intended to handle the Bill on behalf of the Opposition. Since then, Senator Gietzelt has done so, so it is not my intention to speak very long. But I want to make a few points. Bankruptcy in Australia has a long and a very sordid history, particularly in Melbourne in the 1 890s. Because of the land boom and the racketeering ofthe late 1880s and the early 1890s and the consequential bank failures under the most sordid of circumstances, a number of the leading families of Melbourne entered into secret compositions. A secret composition was an arrangement entered into under an archaic English law which enabled the major creditors of anyone facing bankruptcy to reach agreement to accept a private settlement from the impending bankruptee without the impending bankruptee being dragged through the courts and having all his private assets confiscated by the courts for the purpose of paying off his creditors. In this cosy little arrangement most of the impending bankruptees were each other’s creditors. They held secret meetings, unknown to all the smaller creditors who were ultimately left whistling for their money. They made in private the secret compositions and walked away with most of their assets intact and turned up the next day to do the same thing for their reciprocal debtor creditors.
The list of the secret compositions made in Melbourne in 1892 under this technically legal but grossly immoral arrangement looks like a list of the Melbourne Club in 1 980. 1 select at random the name William Lawrence Baillieu whose great grandson, I believe, now sits in the House of Representatives and is a beneficiary -
– Is Malcolm’s father or grandfather there?
– No, his grandfather is not listed. I will come to him in a minute. The great grandson of William Lawrence Baillieu is a substantial beneficiary of the ill-gotten gains of his ancestors. I am not one who says that the sins of the father or the grandfathers should be visited on the sons or grandsons, but when the sons and the grandsons are enjoying the ill-gotten gains of their ancestors I think that some moral responsibility is transferred to them. I find it more than a little ironic although quite predictable that the list of those who made secret compositions in 1892 looks like a Melbourne Club membership list of 1 980 or, one might say, a House of Representatives Liberal Party membership list for 1980.
Also on the list is Thomas William Clark, whose grandson I think is very prominent in Cadbury Schweppes Pty Ltd and is a friend of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). We also find Charles Walter Derham. Also listed is Josephus Marshall Rylah, another name which is very well known in Victorian Liberal Party circles. Of course the Liberal Party establishment in Melbourne has not changed that much in the last 80 years. Only three years ago that land racketeer, insider trader extraordinaire and tax dodger, the Deputy Leader of the Federal Liberal Party was also shown to have been up to precisely the same tricks that the old clique was up to in Melbourne in the 1880s and 1890s. Things do not really change. When he was found out under the most embarrassing circumstances during an election campaign, the Prime Minister got rid of him for a couple of weeks and then reinstated him a couple of weeks after. Was that not an extraordinary thing to do? This fellow was shown to have benefited from inside knowledge which he had gained from a Liberal Party friend who was a member of a government authority and therefore had access to land zoning plans. Phillip Lynch used this very useful contact to indulge in what was not land speculation but, under the circumstances highly profitable land racketeering. Then of course he arranged his affairs so that he did not have to pay tax on the ill-gotten gains either. That action was serious enough to have him dismissed from the Ministry in the lead-up to the election, but once the election was over he was back again. This fellow Fraser who claims that he will run a government of propriety- we heard a bit today about the consequences of the sort of improper government that he has presided over- lets Phillip Lynch back into the Ministry with a record like that. I suppose we can speculate on his reasons. The one which is most popular among members of the Liberal Party and which is passed around the corridors of this place is that Lynch had so much on Fraser that he did not dare not put him back.
When one reads the history of bankruptcy in Melbourne in the 1890s one finds that although there was no secret composition, there is a fascinating story of the City Bank of Melbourne. It closed its doors in May of 1 893 and left its depositors whistling for a few million pounds worth of their deposits. In April 1893- honourable senators should remember that this was a month before the bank closed its doors- one Simon Fraser MLC told a shareholders’ meeting that the bank was thoroughly sound. There were cheers all round for Simon Fraser. He asked the shareholders not to sell a single share. Simon Fraser, who is the grandfather of this Prime Minister who presides over a government of impropriety, did not, of course, mention that his company, Fraser and Co., had received a £90,000 loan from that bank. Eventually a major inquiry was held.
One point could perhaps be made more or less in mitigation of Simon Fraser ‘s propensity to align himself with crooks, a propensity which his grandson seems to have inherited to a significant degree. If one wanted to be charitable one could say that he had a propensity to be charitable towards crooks instead of looking after his own £90,000 loan. I know that the sins of the fathers should not necessarily be visited on the sons, but as . I said before when the sons inherit the money in my view they also inherit the guilt.
– What will happen to your money when you go?
– I have not acquired it dishonestly. Perhaps the honourable senator could give us an account of how he got his.
– I can but you can ‘t.
– If the honourable senator wishes to speak he could tell us about his friend Urbanchich and how he got his money. A few years ago when the Australian Labor Party was in government we used to hear a great deal from honourable senators of the present Government about the alleged collapse of small business in Australia which could be measured from the number of bankruptcies that were allegedly taking place and so on. As with so much Liberal Party propaganda, when one comes to check out the facts one finds that ironically enough for the years 1973-74 to 1975-76 inclusive the number of bankruptcies was lower than it was in any other year since and including 1969-70. In all of those years bankruptcies were lower than they were in any of those other seven years. In fact, in the last year for which the Labor Party was partly in power, 1975-76, there were 1,900 bankruptcies. The previous year there were 2,061 bankruptcies. Last year there were 3,857 bankruptcies. So bankruptcies have almost doubled since this Government, which purports to be a government which provides conditions that are favourable to industry, came to office.
The important point I make is that the laws of bankruptcy have been abused in the past. In the view of the Opposition a number of the changes which this Bill proposes are in the right direction. Therefore, we will not be opposing the Bill, but we will be moving an amendment to the motion that the Bill be now read a second time. I move:
Compositions; that is interesting- under Part X of the Act: and
As the Government admits in this amending legislation which it is bringing forward it has scratched only the surface of a proper clean-up of the Bankruptcy Act. That is assuming that the Government is interested in a proper clean-up. Even if the Bankruptcy Act was properly cleaned up, the major area of business malpractice in Australia in recent years has not been the area of bankruptcy so much as the trading in securities on the stock exchanges. For example, I mentioned Patrick Partners. That company failed in the way it did not because of weaknesses in the Bankruptcy Act, but because of weakness in the Sydney Stock Exchange- not only in the rules of the Exchange but also in the fact that its rules were not enforced by its members. This tells us a good deal about the self-regulation of stock exchanges, a principle trenchantly espoused, amongst others, by Sir Cecil Looker. He is another friend of Malcolm Fraser’s and a member of the Melbourne establishment who knows all about looking after shareholders’ interests from when he was a director of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd and when he was on the board of Associated Securities Limited.
One can understand why a person such as Sir Cecil Looker, with his record in corporate business, would not want to have someone else looking over his shoulder scrutinising too carefully what he was doing. These amendments do not constitute a comprehensive reform of the Bankruptcy Act. Even if they did, they do nothing at all to touch the area in which in recent times we have seen the major corporate frauds perpetrated- the area of the stock exchange. It seems incredible that almost six years after the major report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, of which Senator Rae was chairman, was tabled in the Parliamentbecause of obstruction in various quarters, all of them associated with the Liberal Party- still no effective legislation has been passed to ensure that the malpractices of 1969-70 are not repeated. On behalf of the Opposition I have moved an amendment in the hope that the Government on this occasion will take the matter seriously and refer to the Australian Law Reform Commission the proposition that a report should be made on reforming the Bankruptcy Act in a comprehensive way. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill.
– I am pleased that the Opposition and the Senate as a whole support the Bankruptcy Amendment Bill 1 980. Senator Chipp spoke on it the other night. He supported it, despite the fact that he referred to some amendments he had wanted to make. He indicated that he did not intend to press them in the Committee stage as he had discussed them with officers of the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs. He felt that by mentioning them in that way he had made his point. This Bill is the result of work by officers of the department responsible for the administration of the Bankruptcy Act. It is many years since this Act was first introduced and passed by this Parliament. Over the years problems emerge and improvements are seen to be necessary. I believe this legislation is a very good example of how problems, particularly in a technical area such as bankruptcy, can be handled within the ordinary Public Service structure.
Contrary to the impression that many people in our community seem to have today, the Government and the Public Service keep legislation under constant review. They are alert to and capable of considering and proposing amendments arising out of legislation. It is all very well to have royal commissions, law reform commissions -
– Senate committees.
– Senate committees, or whatever. They all do very useful jobs. The problem of keeping the law under constant review, keeping it up to date, substantially falls upon the government of the day and the Public Service which handles the continuing administration of the nation. This exercise is a very good example of the work that has been done and can be done. As I have said, the bankruptcy area is pretty technical. In many ways the amendments that are brought before the Senate in this Bill are very technical. Certainly they are quite voluminous but, I believe, very useful and important. I do not believe it is a fair criticism of the Bankruptcy Act to say that it did not do this or did not do that. That is a fault with the second limb of the amendment that has been proposed by the Opposition. Although it is not opposing the Bill, it has proposed some additions to the motion for the second reading of the Bill. The second part of the amendment states that the legislation:
The department that has produced this legislation has this area of the law under review. The department will be giving further and more detailed consideration to whether there ought to be a re-examination of the philosophy of Part X and what amendments should be made to it. I assure the Senate that that is an area which will not be ignored or neglected. The first limb of the amendment expresses concern at the rapid increase in the number of petitions for bankruptcy in recent years. I do not think I need to say much about that. Senator Lewis, I think, in the second reading debate referred to the many and various causes of bankruptcy. These days bankruptcy does not have the stigma it has had. One of the provisions of this legislation tries to meet the social problem and to resolve the conflict between the interests of creditors and the social and very human problems faced by the debtor. That is the basis for reducing the period after which there will be an automatic discharge of the debtor from bankruptcy.
I will also deal with the third point of the amendment which expresses the view that a broad reference on the question of insolvency in bankruptcy should be made to the Australian Law Reform Commission. I do not reject that proposal out of hand but the Government is not propared to accept it at this stage. I have some doubts whether the Law Reform Commission is the most appropriate body to deal with this question. As I said, very sound work has been done in the Department and this Bill is an example of that. I think that that good work can and ought to continue and there may well not be the need for such a broad reference. On the other hand, the Law Reform Commission is heavily engaged in a number of major references. I do not think that it would be feasible for the Commission to undertake this reference at this stage.
The question of a broad reference into insolvency raises the question of the insolvency of companies as well as individual debtors and that is an area which would have to be looked at in consideration with the new administration of company laws. For those reasons the Government does not accept the Opposition amendments. We have taken note of some of the ideas expressed by the Opposition. Particular concern was felt on the matter by Senator Tate, who drew attention to the shortage of staff in the Official Receiver’s offices and the real delays occurring in the administration of bankrupt estates and even the payment of dividends to creditors as a result of it. I can assure the Senate that the Government is well aware of these problems. One of the major purposes of this Bill is to meet the problem of staff shortages and delays in distribution by trying to reduce the volume of administration that is required under the existing legislation. There are two very practical proposals in this legislation. One is to eliminate the automatic need of a public examination or a meeting of creditors. This does not mean that they will not be required on some occasions. It is not necessary that creditors should as a matter of course be at those meetings in many of the smaller estates does add greatly to administration. Those are some examples and there may well be others where this Bill will cut down the need for administration.
There has been and is at the moment a review of management. There is also a proposal to make better use of automatic data processing facilities to assist in administration of estates. Despite the continuing problem of shortage of staff and other matters I have mentioned, there may well be the need for more staff to be engaged. The question of Government staff ceilings is one which is reviewed each year and it is currently under review. The final decision on staffing is made in the Budget context. All I can say is that the Department is aware of the points that have been made by Senator Tate and it has drawn them to the attention of the body dealing with the staff review. Those points will be taken into consideration when staff ceilings are investigated for the coming year and finally in the Budget context. At this stage I am not able to say definitely whether there will be any increases or, if there are, how many. I will draw Senator Tate’s comments to the attention of the Minister. In fact the Department is very conscious of them.
There were quite a number of other matters raised in the debate. I do not think that it is necessary for me to canvass everything that was said. I have mentioned some of the more important matters. I made mention of a matter raised by Senator Evans who asked why the period of three years was adopted as that for which there is an automatic discharge unless there is some application to extend the period. I suppose this is essentially a matter of judgment to reconcile the interests of the creditor, the need to protect his interests and to give some speedy rehabilitation to an honest debtor who has got into trouble and who has been probably punished enough. However, the Government was influenced by the consideration that in some 70 per cent of the estates that it has historically taken two years or more for a trustee to realise the assets and distribute the proceeds. Although I think that the original Bill provided for a two-year period, on consideration and in the light of a number of representations made, the Government felt that perhaps two years was a little too short. On the other hand it wanted to make a significant reduction in the existing period. So, that is how the period of three years was arrived at. I am pleased that the Senate has given its support to this measure. Very useful amendments have been made. I think those amendments will be beneficial and I hope that the Bill will have a speedy passage.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Motion ( by Senator Durack ) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– There are a number of matters, which otherwise I could have taken up in the Committee stages, and in respect of which I believe that further reform is possible in relation to the operation of the Bankruptcy Law, but rather than attempt to change what is already being processed I indicate that I will take the matters up separately with the Attorney-G eneral .
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 18 March, on motion by Senator Durack:
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral)On a point of procedure. At the commencement of the second reading debate, I omitted to suggest a cognate debate on this Bill and the Bankruptcy Amendment Bill. I can assure the Senate that the Bills have been considered cognately.
-The Opposition did know that there was a cognate debate. We were of the opinion that we were taking the Bills together in the second reading but dealing with them separately in Committee. I take it that that is the situation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 1 9 March, on motion by Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I take this opportunity on the first reading of the Customs Tariff (Uranium Concentrate Export Duty) Bill to discuss what the Northern Territory News, in an editorial on 25 March, called ‘Federal Immigration Decisions Unprecedented since Federation’. The words of the same paper, relating to these decisions which were expected to be announced on 1 8 April at a meeting to be held in Darwin of all immigration Ministers, were:
Obviously these two schemes are interrelated. It is apparent that there has been some quid pro quo between the two governments- the Federal Government and the Northern Territory Government. No doubt that Northern Territory Government and the Federal Government felt that the scheme to allow 400 Indo-Chinese refugees into the Northern Territory in a large group might create some reaction from the ethnic groups of the Northern Territory. I believe that the second scheme, commendable as it is, was introduced to balance or placate the ethnic community. I do not say that as a criticism.
I want to look at this family reunion scheme, although obviously much of what I say will apply to both schemes. What then is this scheme which is proposed by Mr Dondas of the Northern Territory Government and agreed to by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Macphee) of the Federal Government? Let me read from the front page article of the Northern Territory News of ‘25 March:
Under the scheme, migrants, who were Australian citizens and had three years’ residence in the NT could bring out brothers and sisters and families.
The sponsors would have to guarantee work and accommodation for the new settlers.
They would also have to guarantee that the new families would stay in the NT for at least three years.
The principal new settler, the brother or sister, would be under 45.
There will be no quota on maximum numbers.
In the scheme a high level of NT decision-making will be featured.
Individual sponsorship applications would be handled by the Immigration Department regional director in Darwin, Mr Les Liveris, under Commonwealth guidelines.
He would be advised by a panel of NT appointees who would check on the general viability of the sponsor, the new families’ chance for employment and permanent settlement in the Northern Territory.
Honourable senators will appreciate that at present there are limitations on family entry. The family reunion at the present time is limited to mothers, fathers, sons and daughters of the sponsors. But within this general limitation there are further limitations. Brothers and sisters are allowed out only if they are the last surviving sibling in that country. So we have the ridiculous situation which I have had on application to the Minister where a brother from China, say, cannot come out because he has a sister living in that country. It is quite clear that the sister, who is married and has a family, whose husband is in business, has no interest in coming to Australia. She has taken her place in that country as part of her husband ‘s family. Nevertheless the brother is not allowed out.
Another situation is that fathers and mothers are not allowed out if they are under the retiring age. I had one rather unusual situation in which a man over the retiring age but whose wife was under the retiring age was told that he could come as long as he left his wife behind. Under the present immigration policy we have no account taken of the extended family that most of us know well in Chinese and other Asian situations. We only see the nuclear family, as we understand it, being attended to. Unfortunately the Minister has said that even when accommodation is available and jobs are available people will not be allowed into Australia unless they meet other criteria. I am not being critical. I am simply stating that that is the present policy, as I understand it, and a good deal of my work in the Northern Territory, as honourable senators will understand, is in relation to immigration and ethnic affairs.
Let me hasten to say that on many occasions the Minister has used his discretion and agreed to my representations. I am grateful for this. I also want to make it clear that I would like to see family reunification wherever possible. I contend, and have done so in this place many times, that this should be almost automatic in cases, firstly, where accommodation is available, and, secondly, a job is available and the job is available not at the expense of a native-born Australian. As I have said in this place before, this is the case with many of the Chinese families or the Timorese families, particularly ChineseTimorese families.
I have a particular interest in the area of East Timor. I make no apology for this. I know that the concern that I have for the people of East Timor is shared by many on both sides of the chamber. But in relation to the East Timorese situation, my complaint has always been that the Timorese people are treated the same as other migrants. I have claimed, and I think the claim has been accepted, that these people are refugees, and as such deserve special consideration. I have also put the point, which has been put by speakers on both sides of this chamber, that these people deserve special consideration because of the debt we owe them as former comrades in arms during the 1939-45 conflict. I do not think that there is any need for me to canvass the arguments which I have put before.
I should like now to look at the proposed scheme, not in any critical sense, because I support the main thrust of the scheme. I have spoken to Mr Dondas about this. I spoke to him last year before he made his announcement. We had quite protracted discussions on the scheme as he intended to introduce it. My only reason for raising this matter now and discussing it on this first reading of the Bill is that there are difficulties. Unless we look at these difficulties and come to some solution in relation to them, the whole scheme might collapse, or at least might suffer. I think that that would be most unfortunate.
The first aspect at which I would like to look is that the scheme would apply only in the Northern Territory. It would not apply in other parts of Australia. I am not a constitutional lawyer, but I raise the question whether this is constitutional. I appreciate that there is no special legislation which is being introduced, so obviously the Constitution cannot be contravened. But there is special consideration being given to one group of people. If this is constitutional I wonder whether it is a good idea. I suggest that that aspect might be looked at.
The second and perhaps more practical point is the fact that the Northern Territory has the highest rate of unemployment in Australia. I have raised this matter here before. If we take into account Aboriginal unemployment and hidden unemployment in the Northern Territory, the figures are astronomical. If we take into account the raw figures that are produced by the Commonwealth Employment Service and the Bureau of Statistics, we see that the Northern Territory has the highest rate of unemployment in Australia. So the obvious question is: Why is the Northern Territory being chosen for the people to settle in? Since it is an obvious question, there is probably an obvious answer. The reason the Northern Territory is being chosen is that it is a Northern Territory initiative. Perhaps there are additional factors. The climate in the Northern Territory is possibly similar to the climate from which some of these people come, but it is fair to say, since we have many Greeks and Italians in Darwin, that the climate will be quite different from the home climate.
Minister Dondas, in his statement, said that we need population in the Territory and that this is one way of getting it. I find it rather hard to j justify the statement that we need population if we have the highest unemployment rate. Certainly, there is no doubt that we have areas in the Northern Territory which we could develop, but finance must be made available if this is to be a viable proposition. This area certainly is one that must be looked at by both governments. Adequate finance must be provided if we hope to settle some of these people, particularly the 400 of whom we speak, but certainly the family reunion people as well. It must be made available if we are to avoid problems. The 400 refugees from Indo-China obviously cannot be expected to bring a great deal of money with them. If they can, then we are using an extended definition of refugee’ and we cannot claim any sort of philanthropy. I realise that my colleagues in Austcare will challenge me on this point, namely, that a refugee is necessarily one who is without money. I raise the point not to be critical but just to make sure that we do not bring people to this country, dump them on a few acres and hope that they will come good. Let us not forget our experience with the soldier settlement scheme, in relation to which problems were created. I raise the question- as well as the one of finance- why do we not settle these people in other places as well? Why do we not look at Melbourne? There are many Timorese people, for example, in Melbourne, the they would jump at the chance to bring out their relatives, so why are we limiting the choice to the Northern Territory?
While I am on the matter of the Timorese I must mention the Government’s relationship with Indonesia and the attitude of the Indonesian Government. I do so because I do not think that the matter has been resolved. There still is a problem in this area. Honourable senators will remember that two years ago an agreement was reached between the Australian Government and the Government of Indonesia to allow 625 Timorese people to come to Australia and to be settled here. Up to the present, two years later, only 289 of them have arrived. From my memory- I am speaking from memory on this; I would not like to be held to the figure- the whole of these 625 people should have been out here by Christmas 1978, which is a long time ago.
Another concern in relation to the Indonesian situation is the cost involved for people to get out of Indonesia. At a meeting held in Darwin last Sunday, a figure of $200,000 was mentioned as the cost for people to get out of Timor, or out of Indonesia if we must use that term. Ki Fat Ku, President of the Timorese Refugees Association, is reported in the newspaper which I got today- it is dated Tuesday, 25 March- as endorsing this figure. It was rather interesting when at the meeting the comment was made:
I cannot understand how the Chinese people who are involved in this situation can retain their sense of humour. Nevertheless, we have a situation where up to $200,000 for each personman, woman and child- is being paid by way of bribery. Mr Ki’s solution- this is reported in the newspaper which I mentioned- is to send an official team to Dili to overcome this corruption. This point must be mentioned: The Timorese people must not be disadvantaged. I ask what the two governments have done to overcome this situation. Again, let us not forget that there are Timorese people in Portugal; they deserve the same treatment. I think that it is quite clear that the attitude of Indonesia would seem to be the key factor as far as the people from East Timor are concerned, and that attitude must be changed if the scheme is to be successful. I say that that attitude must be changed because the Vice-Consul in Darwin, Mr Janor Soesarjo, in commending the scheme, said: a number of the 200 members of the Indonesian community in Darwin would like to bring their brothers and sisters to Darwin.
That is a rather interesting comment when it is quite clear that the Indonesian people are not prepared to let the Timorese people migrate. Looking back to the 1978 agreement, under which 625 migrations were proposed, 2,500 people made application. All of those people were able to justify their coming to Australia in terms of family reunion. The Indonesian Government would allow only 625 of those to be accepted. As I have indicated, up to this point only 289 of that reduced figure have been allowed to come. It is quite clear that the Indonesians do not want to see an exodus from Timor even of these small numbers. This must obviously be for political reasons. While I would be quite happy to admit into Australia the Indonesians referred to by the Vice-Consul, the point must be made that the Indonesians are not refugees in their country, whereas the Timorese are.
The guidelines say that those sponsored must stay in the Northern Territory for three years. It is fairly obvious from that requirement that the people who are coming in are not going to get resident status for a while.
– That will be a manpower directive. That is what that implies.
– It implies some sort of direction; that is the point. We could not say to Australian citizens that they would have to stay in one place for three years. They would be allowed to move freely. Obviously, full resident status is not to be given. If this is not to be done- it appears that it is not to be- I pose the question: How would the movement of people be controlled? How would we make sure that these people who came out stayed within the Northern Territory for three years? What methods would we use to achieve this sort of thing? We certainly cannot say: ‘Sign a document to say that you will stay here’. I think our colleague on the other side of the chamber, the Attorney-General (Senator Durack), would suggest that a document such as that would not stand up in court if it were challenged. Whilst the purpose is clear, I ask: How is it going to be policed?
I return to the matter of high unemployment. Will the additional numbers of residents affect this situation? Workers in the Northern Territory will want some assurances that their jobs will not be taken from them and given to migrants. I might be challenged on the attitude I have, but surely even this Government would accept that it has some responsibility to look after its own workers first.
– It is a world of changing technology and that is why every worker is wary of a new intake.
-That is right. He is anxious to hold on to his job while there are so many unemployed. No doubt the unions will want to see some undertaking that migrants will have to join unions, or at least accept local awards in regard to employment, wages and so on. I accept that many of these people could be absorbed without endangering job prospects. The Government has not accepted this principle in the past. I have mentioned many times that the Chinese community in Darwin, because of the projects which they have and the establishments which they have, are able to absorb into their family businesses a number of people in cases where they would not have employed an Australian to do the job. In other words, one might say that they are carrying those relatives. That is fair enough. The Chinese accept this responsibility; they are happy to look after their family members. They are able to do it in Australia rather than send money overseas to look after them. The guidelines also call for the establishment of a committee to perform the following function:
To process applications and deal directly with immigration officials in the country of prospective migrants.
I take those words from the Canberra Times. They are not from an official document. The only information we have is from the newspapersthe Canberra Times and the Northern Territory News. These questions must be asked: If we are to have a committee- the guidelines suggest that we will- who will be on this committee? Obviously, members will be appointed by the Government of the Northern Territory, so certain assumptions can be made. The present Government has quite a reputation for putting its own people on committees. I do not want to get into the argument about jobs for the boys, but I understood that the Australian Labor Party did attempt to put the right man in the job rather than find the job for one of the people who lost a seat or who did not have a job. But I do not want to enter into that argument.
Why cannot the task of this committee be undertaken by the officials in the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs? One must ask: Are not they competent to do the job? One would have thought that they were ideally suited, by training and experience, to do this job of processing applications and dealing directly with immigration officials in the country of the prospective migrants. Again, taking the matter one step further, if a committee is established, what criteria will prevail? Will the wishes of the ethnic group prevail? Will people from only selected countries be allowed in? Will politically undesirable people perhaps be allowed in? We have to be extremely wary of a committee appointed by government to make decisions in this important area. So it is clear that to reassure the people of the Northern Territory and of Australia we must have a statement on this matter. We must have some indication of why the officials cannot deal with it as they have dealt with other government variations in relation to immigration and ethnic affairs. I am sure they could handle it in an impartial way. If I am incorrect and if I have misread the comment made in the newspaper, I will be told. I repeat the comment I quoted from the newspaper, which is that the committee is: . . to process applications and deal directly with immigration officials in the country of prospective migrants.
The newspaper article to which I have referred has Minister Dondas saying that he will implement the scheme immediately. Immediately means after 18 April. That is fair journalistic licence, I suppose. The guidelines require that both Ministers will report every six months. There is no indication of where they will be reporting to but one assumes that they will report to both parliaments. I hope that the report put down by Minister Macphee would be debated in this place. Certainly I would like some assurance from the Government that this will be so.
Cynics in the Northern Territory are reminding us that this is an election year both in the Northern Territory and on the Federal scene. I am not suggesting that this was a consideration in the mind of either of the Ministers, but this is being said. Given the track record of the present Government it may be as well to have something really happening at least before the Federal election to allay the fears of these critics. The Northern Territory election will probably overtake events. We need to see some assurances and some work being done on the scheme before the cynicism will go. In the unlikely event of both governments being returned, I would not want to see the first report suggesting that the scheme was unworkable.
In concluding my remarks on this area I say that I support the concept of a scheme to reunite families. This is Australian Labor Party policy and a matter about which I have spoken in this place before. By way of illustration, I add that this proposition is supported by my colleague, the Leader of the Opposition in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. He has also made comments about the scheme. He, like me, sees some problems. He also has made some suggestions. I suggest that the proposed scheme needs a lot more work done on it before it can be introduced if it is to work effectively. The cynics need to be reassured that this is not simply an election gimmick to woo the ethnic vote. The matters I have raised need examination. I suggest there may be many more areas that need examination. I have raised these few matters only off the top of my head without really studying the situation. All the information I have to go on are the reports from the Northern Territory News and the Canberra Times. I sincerely hope that the officers of both departments can come up with a scheme which is constitutional, workable, fair and without bias and that we see it introduced in April.
While on the matter of immigration I wish to comment on another matter very briefly. It is a matter which I have raised before and it concerns Australian nationals being able to bring spouses to Australia as soon as they marry them. I do not expect honourable senators to recall this, but officers in the Department will recall that I spoke on this important matter last year. I called on the Government to allow Australian nationals who marry overseas to bring their wife or husband back to Australia after the ceremony. I will not canvass the arguments which I have put before. The only reason I am raising the matter is that in answer to a telephone query I gained the impression that the attitude of the Government had softened and that what I had requested was being allowed at present. If this is so, I commend the Government for its action. But I ask that some public statement be made so that we who are some distance from Canberra will know how we are to work.
I have on the table in my office in Darwin the details of the case of a man who married on 3 1 March 1979 and who still does not have his wife in Australia. He has been to the country of origin of his wife three times to endeavour to bring her back with him; but he had not been able to do so. I will not argue this particular case because it involves a number of complications, although they are not major complications. When cases such as this arise they certainly bring no credit to a country, particularly when we pay good money to embassy and commission staff overseas to assist nationals when they are away from Australia. Once again, without canvassing the arguments I have raised before, I press the point that we should look at my proposition. Australian embassy and commission staff members all over the world could give assistance, as they do in other areas, to Australians who have decided to marry overseas but who, before leaving home, had no intentions of doing so and consequently made no arrangements. They could allow those people to bring their wives or husbands back to Australia.
If the attitude of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs- or perhaps one should say the attitude of the Government, because the Government makes the decision- has softened, a public statement should be made. If the attitude has not softened and if it is as it was last year with great problems being faced by Australian nationals overseas, I ask that a full statement be made setting out Government policy and that we be given an opportunity to debate it in this place so we can air our views on what is a most important matter.
– I take the opportunity afforded me under the Standing Orders to raise a matter on the first reading of the Customs Tariff (Uranium Concentrate Export Duty) Bill. This matter is of great concern not only to me but also to many other people in the community. It was brought to the attention of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources during its inquiry into quarantine matters. The Committee ‘s report was presented to the Senate on 20 November 1979. The Committee made certain recommendations on the importation of tropical fish. On Monday night on the Australian Broadcasting Commission program Nationwide an interview took place. The transcript of that interview is headed: Quarantine Deficiencies: Tropical Aquarium Fish Imports’. Clive Hale introduced the program. The interviewer was Patricia Lake and the people taking part in the interview were Roly McKay, the Curator of Fishes at the Queensland Museum, Ros Patrick, Secretary of the Fish Importers Association, and Garry Wharton, President of the Fish Importers’ Association. I was very disturbed after watching that program to learn that the Government, up to this point, has taken no action on the recommendations made by the Committee. No action has been taken on quarantine measures to try to prevent the importation of some exotic fish which could become a great danger in Australian streams. What is taking place in Queensland at the moment was pointed out in very glaring terms. One of the things that disturbed me was a film showing that many exotic fish had taken over from the Australian local fish in many streams in Queensland. This situation is brought about by people who either tire of keeping their tropical fish in fish tanks, or can no longer afford to do so, and empty them into the nearest stream. These fish are now taking over and could cause a great hazard to Australia’s native fish, particularly if that carnivorous fish known as the piranha gets into Australia. Evidence has been given, and it is mentioned in the transcript of the interview on Nationwide, that some of these fish have been noticed in fish imports which come into Australia in plastic bags. When the officers see these fish they are able to take them out. But of course they do not inspect every plastic bag of tropical fish that enters Australia.
I will quote only briefly from the Nationwide transcript because I have shown it to be the Minister in charge of the Bill and also to the Deputy President when he was in the chair and have sought their permission to have the document incorporated in Hansard. I will also seek leave at the end of my speech to incorporate the paragraphs in the report tabled in the Senate dealing with live fish imports. That will save a lot of time and allow other speakers to say what they want to say in the debate on this Bill. Patricia Lake asked Clarry Wharton about the problems that they have with imports of these tropical fish. He answered:
When we ‘ve tried to get any decisions, you will find it goes from Primary Industries, the Minister for Primary Industry says no it’s not my job it’s the Minister for Customs job and the Minister of Customs will say it’s the Minister of Health’s job and it does go from one department to the other.
I am concerned about that. That is all I need to quote, because it will be in the transcript of the Nationwide program which I will seek to incorporate. The main concern is that at this time nobody seems to want to be responsible for carrying out very stringent quarantine measures on the importation of these tropical fish. That has caused great concern to many people in Australia- not only to fish importers but also to many primary producers- in that some exotic disease may be introduced per medium of the fish or the water and be released into our streams, so becoming a hazard to many Australian primary industries. I hope that now I have drawn this matter to the attention of the Government it will hastily make a decision, and return with it to the Senate. Under the present rule, the Government has to repond to Senate committee reports within six months of tabling. There are still two months to go but I hope that, in view of the fact that these dangers have been highlighted, the Government will speedily make a decision and report to the Senate on what action it intends to take to safeguard Australian primary industry from the imports of any exotic diseases. I now seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard the transcript from the Nationwide program and two paragraphs on pages 38 and 39 of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources report on the adequacy of quarantine. The Nationwide transcript contains the phonetic spelling of various species of fish.
The documents read as follows-
Department of the Parliamentary Library Current Information Service
This transcript is taken from a tape recording. The Parliamentary Library cannot guarantee freedom from errors, misunderstandings or omissions.
QUARANTINE DEFICIENCES: TROPICAL AQUARIUM FISH IMPORTS
Roly McKay, Curator of Fishes, Queensland Museum
Ros Patrick, Secretary, Fish Importers’ Association
Clarry Wharton, President, Fish Importers’ Association
Monday 24 March 1980
CL1VE HALE: Well after photography, you may be interested to hear, you certainly will when you see the film 1 think, keeping pet fish is regarded as the most popular hobby in the world, not only for dentists, and to satisfy the big demands for both goldfish and tropical fish, importers are bringing millions, literally millions of exotics in from Asia every year. They come in every day of the week, and year long through Australia’s international airports. But, and here’s the difference, unlike other animals imported to Australia, fish quarantine measures are rather lax to say the least. Now there is growing concern that along with the fish we may be importing many problems. Among them disease and environmental dangers. In New Zealand, imported fish are quarantined for six weeks before they are released to the importers. In Australia there is no quarantine period at all. It is just possible that Australia could become a second home for the killer fish the piranha. Trish Lake.
PATRICIA LAKE: There’s rarely a jumbo arriving from Singapore these days which doesn’t carry a freight load of several thousand live tropical fish. Thirteen million fish come into Australia every year. That’s about 48,000 a day and they’re eagerly awaited by Australia’s 500 tropical fish importers.
Fish are the only animals allowed into Australia without a quarantine period of detention, so along with the millions of fish we could be importing a multitude of diseases and parasites. Under the present regulations, fish are not screened for disease, they are simply viewed through plastic to see that they match their descriptions. They are then released to the importers within an hour or so of their arrival in Australia. From the Singapore fish farms to their temporary tanks, it can take less than 12 hours. Critics of Australia’s lax fish quarantine laws are also concerned that more than half of the 700 species presently allowed into Australia, could be harmful to the environment.
ROLY McKAY: Of these 700 species that are allowed in, we know virtually nothing of their life history or their biology or their reproductive habits and we don’t know anything about their survival potential in Australian waters, particularly North Queensland waters. So, obviously if we can reduce the number of species coming in, it reduces the overall threat to the environment. The level of training that would be necessary to identify 700 species of fish, coming in through alive virtually daily, is clearly impossible. Many of the fishes coming are incorrectly identified. We have found this out because into Australia have come a number of species that are not permitted. Pirahna is just one of these that was picked up in Sydney, also a very serious fish the walking cat fish was recently on sale in the Eastern States and this is largely due to the fact that it’s a hopeless task to try and identify the fish coming in. There is something like 4,000 odd species of fish that could be coming into this country.
PATRICIA LAKE: On the one hand, we have some of the toughest quarantine measures in the world, regarding plants and animals, but the importation of live fish is virtually quarantine free. Another loop hole concerns the water in which the fish travel to Australia. It’s illegal to bring water into the country but every week thousands of litres of water from Asia are imported along with tropical fish. Quarantine officers insist that importers properly dispose of the water. They’re required to add Formalin to it after the fish are removed to their new tanks. But, though the officers do make random checks, it’s only occasionally that they supervise this procedure. It would be impossible for the few animal quarantine officers in each State to visit importers every time they receive a shipment offish.
ROLY McKAY: If the water is not discharged or disposed of correctly, there is a possibility of a completely unbroken chain of events from a duck pond or a fish pond in some South East Asian country coming in here, being emptied into the dealers tanks, then the dealer takes the fish out with some of the water and the fish are then sold to you and you may float the bags on the top of your tank and put some water, admittedly very much diluted, into your tank, that came from South East Asia. This could carry all sorts of diseases and parasites and we have not done enough research to really measure the amount of risk involved in importing water.
PATRICIA LAKE: Fish importers and wholesalers are concerned that the Federal Government proposes to tighten the laws.
ROS PATRICK: Well, the present situation allows me to bring a wide range of fish that allow me to maintain my business, it allows me to take the fish from the airport to the fish farm where I can destroy the water, occasionally under supervision of the quarantine officers. I believe there is no health risk to that, either to the environment as far as polluted water escaping, or as far as fish that are imported from overseas coming into our environment.
PATRICIA LAKE: But there are people who are abusing those regulations.
ROS PATRICK: There could be and we feel a licensing system is going to control and in fact, weed these people out ofthe industry.
PATRICIA LAKE: Australia’s native fish are fast loosing out to the introduced exotics. Rainbow fish, blue eyes, gudgeons, hardy heads and perch used to abound here. Research by the Queensland Museum indicates that over 90 per cent of streams along the East Coast of Queensland are brimming instead with imported species. Mainly guppies and sword-tails.
ROLY McKAY: Well, this is fairly typical suburban Queensland stream, and as you can see if you look into the water, there’s sword-tails and there are guppies and there are platies(?) and the whole host of live bearing fishes that have been introduced by people discarding unwanted aquarium fishes into the stream. I ‘m worried about this situation because at the moment we are seeing the decline of our native fresh water fishes and the introduced fishes are becoming a pest in many areas. Along with the fish of course, is the question of diseases and parasites that come in with the fish. On our survey, we have shown conclusively that many of the Queensland urban streams have exotic fish in them. Some of them are syclet(?) fishes, most of them are live bearers, we have egg layers such as the rosybard(?) in some streams too we have talarpia(?) records of talarpia(?) in Queensland and in Victoria there’s records of syclasoma(?) and other fishes. Western Australia have had one or two scares over there with talarpia(?) and so on, so the chances are definately there because as you can see here is the living proof that this does happen.
PATRICIA LAKE: If tropical fish find our waters so attractive, so too it’s arguable, dangerous fish such as the carnivorous piranha might thrive in our warm northern streams. Pirranha is a prohibited fish in Australia, but several are known to have been smuggled here in the past. What concerns Roly McKay is that a cousin of the pirranha, the silver dollar, also from South America, can be legally imported here.
ROLY McKAY: They have been imported along with the silver dollar fish which looks a little bit like it. Unfortunately the silver dollar is a harmless, it’s a vegetarian, but with piranha we don ‘t know whether they would survive or not, or in fact that they would reproduce, but it’s obvious to me that we should prevent the chance of them being released until we at least know that there is no possibility of these fishes reproducing in our streams.
PATRICIA LAKE: Many trout breeders and fishermen in the Southern States want a total ban on goldfish. Others say any future aqua-culture ventures in the North could be open to disease from tropical fish. The Government has also been under pressure from many of it’s own departments, to ban fish which could either become pests or introduce diseaseThough acquarium fish dealers are opposed to any radical changes to the system, they say for the industries stability it ‘s time the Government made up it ‘s mind on what it ‘s going to do.
CLARRY WHARTON: When we’ve tried to get any decisions, you’ll find it goes from Primary Industries, the Minister for Primary Industry says no it’s not my job it’s the Minister of Customs job, and the Minister of Customs will say it ‘s the Minister of Health ‘s job and it does go from one department to the other.
PATRICIA LAKE: Where does it leave all your members, the people who are waiting ona decision?
CLARRY WHARTON: It leaves our members up in the air. There is not one person can expand his business or plan to expand his business because of it. We don’t know which way we ‘re going.
CLIVE HALE: Trish Lake reporting there for Nationwide from Brisbane.
Live fish imports
Australia currently imports large numbers of tropical fishapproximately 13 million in 1978. A number of submissions to the Committee, particularly that of the Western Australian Government, suggested that quarantine regulation of this trade is inadequate. The main problems are difficulties in recognition of fish species, the low level of knowledge of fish diseases, disposal of the water used in transporting fish, lack of quarantine facilities at ports of entry and control of imports after clearance through quarantine. The risks associated with fish imports relate both to disease and environmental damage. Fish diseases may be introduced to this country by imports; however, of more critical importance to Animal Quarantine is the risk of introducing exotic aquatic life which could be carriers of animal disease. Certain species of snails, for example, can act as intermediate hosts of liver fluke, which would be a major problem for sheep and cattle. Similarly the disease schistosomiasis, which affects animals and man, could be introduced in this way.
A further risk associated with aquarium fish is the risk of exotic species becoming established in river systems in Australia and posing a threat to the environment. One only has to consider the problems caused by the European carp in southern Australia to appreciate the damage certain species could cause. The Committee rejects emotional claims made that the problems associated with fish imports are insurmountable; however, it does acknowledge that current quarantine procedures are inadequate. These problems can be overcome and many of the suggestions of the Aquarium Fish Importers Association, if adopted in conjunction with new procedures being considered by the Department of Health, would be satisfactory. Communication between industry groups and the various government bodies involved in producing the list of restricted imports have been very poor. The Committee considers that the reduction in the number of fish species which may be imported cannot be justified on quarantine grounds and recommends that further investigations be undertaken. The Committee recommends that the Department of Science and the Environment acting in consultation with the Quarantine Service and industry groups be responsible for producing and maintaining a list of prohibited and permitted fish species for use by the Customs Bureau and the Quarantine Service.
The Committee recommends that a comprehensive procedure for the importation of aquarium fish be developed including . . .
The Committee feels that the aquarium fish trade is sufficiently profitable to enable the costs of such quarantine procedures to be absorbed in part by the trade either through quarantine fees or through the costs of providing licensed quarantine facilities. The Committee also believes that the aquarium importers have a vested interest in conforming to, and co-operating with, the proposed quarantine procedures and that, properly administered, the system would be largely self-regulating.
that a comprehensive procedure for the importation of aquarium fish be developed including:
licensing of overseas exporters to guarantee standards of health and cleanliness of consignments:
) pre-import identification of fish, i.e. all consignments to carry a clear description and illustration of contents: fish to be of a minimum size or age:
licensing of selected private aquariums which meet required standards as post-entry quarantine facilities, where fish may be examined more thoroughly than is possible at present:
development of procedures in these facilities to ensure safe disinfection and disposal of water in which fish are transported:
Quarantine authorities to train officers in identification of fish species and recognition of diseases. If necessary officers with the required skills should be employed for this function:
regular inspection of quarantine facilities to ensure their security and the observance of regulations: (page 39)
-I thank the Senate.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, honourable senators should be indebted to you, Senator Robertson, for your address this afternoon in relation to the complexities of immigration policy. The longer your speech continued the more it justified a more positive response by the Government to Order of the Day No. 158 on the Senate Notice Paper, under General Business, which I submitted on 23 August 1979. I asked for the appointment of a Senate committee to examine all facets of immigration, but particularly to study the Numerical Multifactor Assessment System, and to introduce a more evenhanded policy in relation to Australia’s absorption of what are termed ‘political refugees’. Since August of last year there has been a changing world pattern. I know that Australia ‘s South East Asian commitment up to the middle of this year is about 20,000 immigrants. Nobody knows what will happen in relation to Rhodesia; it may be that there will be a reasonable transition. I am inclined to believe that there will be some additional pressure on Australia.
Those honourable senators who are members of Estimates committees, apart from other committees, know that responses of senior public servants have to be evaluated. That is the reason why I believe that a Senate committee should examine the matter. It leads to a better appreciation, from both sides, of the political implications of some of the decisions that have to be implemented. I repeat that I sought this in August last year. You, Mr Acting Deputy President, referred to the subject as you saw it in the Northern Territory, and to an innovation that was being launched very shortly. It will be counter-productive because obviously the well organised ethnic communities in the southern States will be anxious to claim that what is being done in the Northern Territory is virtually a precedent.
By interjection during your speech, I said that I doubted that in peacetime people would accept manpower directives. One recalls the idea of dangling the carrot. For example, people in the south can be offered disability allowances and things like that to go to work in the Northern Territory. We know that in the Pilbara region mining companies have had to offer considerable benefits to get a more or less static work force. I pay tribute to the Polish community in post-war
Australia. The Butlers Gorge hydro-electric project in Tasmania was a fine scheme. Polish servicemen who participated in that played a notable part in adding to the power development of Tasmania. In those days an immigrant had to wait five years to get Australian citizenship, but one of the aspects of the agreement was that those Polish ex-servicemen would obtain citizenship after two years. They earned it.
The point is that at least there was some incentive. Frankly, what is mooted is fraught with all sorts of difficulties. There is no question about that. If the Senate committee that I suggested were constituted, perhaps it would find that there are other groups with problems. It was significant that you, Mr Acting Deputy President, referred to Timor and its Portuguese associations. There have been considerable misgivings in the Portuguese community. I do not know whether that is because our authorities in South Africa- I think in Pretoria- were not that sympathetic to dispossessed Portuguese nationals from Mozambique and Angola. We could get into a long argument about the evolution of the semi-feudal, feudal or colonial possessions of Portugal. The fact of the matter is that members of the Portuguese community feel that their neorefugees did not get all the assistance that they could have. It may be that the birth pangs of Portugal, after the ending of the Salazar dictatorship, did hamper it as a nation.
It would be perfect if we could create a Senate committee to look at all the facets of immigration. I was chairman of the Immigration Advisory Council, having succeeded Senator Gordon Davidson. I know that that organisation had a very effective role. After considering the evaluations of other Senate committees, such as that involved with the environment, I believe it is only by questioning witnesses that a proper appreciation of the overall problem can be obtained and one can consider how a problem can be solved. There is no question about that. I would even be prepared to make the request to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Macphee) that, if he wanted to follow a short term program to overcome the problem and get some answers, he could easily utilise Senate Estimates Committee C, under the chairmanship of Senator Walters. Members of that Committee include Senator Bonner, Senator Sheil, Senator Coleman, Senator Grimes and me. Without any form of egotism, I think it could be said that that is a pretty good mix of this Senate. It would be interesting to see what information could be unfolded if that Committee were to look deeply at these situations.
You, Mr Acting Deputy President, made reference to citizenship. One gets dizzy watching the machinations and buck-passing that occurs with attempts to get an effective process. Recently there was an overall reconstruction of the Australian Federal Police and at one time, just before Christmas, I was told that there were 3,000 applications in the hands of the New South Wales Police Force. I know that in some cases countries issue security reports, which have to be taken with a grain of salt. I refer to a South Korean diesel fitter sponsored by the Australasian Society of Engineers. He had worked in Korea and then went to work in Iran. He was with an American firm. How can one get a reasonable, trustworthy report from two countries that have dictatorships? They have to be taken with a grain of salt.
Having accepted those delays, I found that when I made some complaints in Sydney 4,000 reports came back to the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs but still we find people who were interviewed in September or October but have not yet received their citizenship. Either way, if it were possible it would be ideal and effective if this proposed short-term committee, over six weeks, could get the various points of view. As you, Mr Acting Deputy President, brought out in your admirable exposition of the situation, the ethnic people will see it that way and the trade unions will ask, as there is a diminishing job market, how will we slot the people in?
I use that term because in Sydney certain situations arise which I know that Standard Telephones & Cables Pty Ltd do not believe in. I was at Villawood Hotel last Saturday. All honourable senators know as tax payers that the sooner we get people out of hostels, into the work force and paying taxes, the sooner they can contribute to the costs of running the country. A couple of unemployed Latin Americans in my own street paid their fare and went to STC. Eight other people camped with them in a bus. They obtained employment. This is one of those no-win situations. The unions are satisfied as long as people have trade union membership. There has been no industrial friction. On the other hand, nobody could convince Latin Americans that other people should be more privileged than they. The situation is very difficult. I believe that the ingenuity of a Senate committee could probably produce a formula to prove that justice was being done.
I am not one of those who talk about wholesale rorts. Again, I refer to citizenship. Honourable senators may have read the current issue of the Bulletin. An article in that magazine refers to the peculiar case of a United States lawyer named Wainwright who has been in Australia for 12 years. He has citizenship. The authorities found out that he was mentioned in dispatches in Sydney recently in connection with a drug inquiry. I would imagine that we would have gone to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to find out whether a United States national was involved in anything illegal. The lawyer to whom I have referred was involved in white collar crime. On the other side of the coin, I know of a case involving a family reunion. The father of the family had been involved in a minor crime. I believe it was petty theft. Apparently, the carabiniere quickly conveyed the information to the authorities in Italy and to our Immigration Department. The man has not been permitted to come to Australia.
The message I am trying to get through is that a Senate committe of the calibre which I have mentioned would be able to look at all these matters. It would be able to ease the pressure that will undoubtedly arise in the Northern Territory. I appeal to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Macphee). I remind him of the dialogue I had with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) the other day. I appealed to him for a debate on General Business Order of the Day No. 158 which has been on the Notice Paper since 27 August. If a Senate committee were created it would be able to handle an area which in many respects is extremely explosive and which will get worse.
– 1 take the opportunity on the first reading of the Customs Tariff (Uranium Concentrate Export Duty) Bill to raise in this chamber the matter of a single person. I shall call him Mr R. One may well ask why I use this first reading debate to raise the matter of a single person and the problems he is encountering and why I do not raise the matter on the adjournment debate. Either vehicle might be satisfactory but this is not just an account of an individual person who has become the victim of bureaucracy. It goes far wider than that. It has messages for many people in the community who are not able to help themselves and who become tangled in a web of bureaucratic nonsense. Mr R first contacted my office when I was overseas on a study tour. He wanted to obtain some assistance because of the rejection of claims for unemployment benefit which he had previously received from the Department of Social Security. The letter rejecting his claim was headed ‘Unemployment Benefit’. It stated:
To qualify for unemployment benefit a person must take reasonable steps to obtain work. Because you moved to Innot Hot Springs which is an area with limited employment prospects you are not eligible to receive benefit. A further claim will receive consideration if you move to an area with reasonable prospects of employment in the classes of work for which you are suitable.
That was the beginning of the sad story which surrounded Mr R and which still surrounds him. He was not able to obtain unemployment benefit. It was not that letter in itself which prompted him to seek assistance from a member of Parliament. It was a series of letters which followed the rejection of his claim for unemployment benefit. Mr R reached a point where he was not able to appeal any further. He then sought assistance from my office. When he received the rejection of his claim for unemployment benefit after moving to Innot Hot Springs- I will outline shortly why he moved to that area- he submitted an appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. Whilst the appeal is fairly long I think it would be informative if I read at least part of it to the Senate. It stated:
Firstly, the reason I am at Innot Hot Springs is because I own my home here and have lived here for seven years.
That sentence set the stage for all that would happen between October and now. Mr R owns his own home in Innot Hot Springs. He has lived there for seven years. He moved away for a short time to try to obtain work elsewhere. He could not do so. While he was away he obtained unemployment benefit but when he went back to his own home after being unsuccessful in obtaining employment elsewhere he was told that he had moved to an area of low employment prospects and was not able to obtain unemployment benefit. Mr R’s letter probably explains the situation better than I can. Let me read it again. It states:
Firstly, the reason I am at Innot Hot Springs is because I own my home here and have lived here for seven years. I did not deliberately move here recently to put myself in an area of low employment prospects!
Secondly, I have left this area on numerous occasions in the past in search of work and am willing to do so again if a job is offered, but cannot alford to move this time as I have no money. I would need financial help to’ shift or a firm job offer on which I may be able to get a loan from friends.
Thirdly, there arc some work prospects here and I have been able to obtain a small amount of casual work through local contacts and there is also some chance of permanent work, though, of course, I am prepared to go anywhere there is work, as my record should show.
Regards this being an area of low employment prospects for a person in my classes of work as stated by the S.S. department, I would submit that the opposite is correct, based on the following:
I ) My job history over the past seven years has been one of employment only in rural areas. Hence, by living in a rural area my job prospects should be enhanced. not reduced as I agree they would be for most people who are town or city dwellers. In other words, the only employment I have had in seven years, and hence my job skills, are in areas officially designated as low employment prospects!
Last year I went to Brisbane in search of work, also the previous year, when things got tight here, and spent six months or so on the dole, without a single job offer. It was only when I left the city I obtained some casual rural work, fruit picking. The employment officer at Coorparoo in Brisbane where I was registered said I had virtually no chance of a job in the city and on another occasion an employee there said it was b….. silly of the social service department to force country people into the towns and cities where there was already a high unemployment problem amongst city people and that a person with a rural background like myself would probably spend the rest of my life on the dole in Brisbane if I stayed there! And I believe they were right!
Therefore I submit that due to the fact I live here and have contacts here and that my record is one of rural or mining work and that I am prepared to travel anywhere to a firm job offer the S.S. department is wrong or at least unfair in claiming I am disadvantaging myself by living here and would suggest, if anything, I am at an advantage here as regards job prospects.
Mr R submitted on a separate piece of paper a few days later the following note:
I have just obtained a job in this general area with Houston Oil and Minerals. It is not a permanent position, but is fulltime until the start of the wet season.
Mr R eventually received a reply from the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. In some of his later correspondence he pointed out that he did not think that the true story was outlined to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal when material was sent to it from the Department of Social Security. I am not sure whether that is true, but I do know that some people have a lot of problems in presenting a good case to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal because when the appeal is heard they are not present but representatives of the Department of Social Security have submitted papers. Because the people concerned are not present at the hearing, they are not able to question or to explain something contained in the departmental papers. Still before he came to my office to seek my assistance, he received this letter from the Appeals Tribunal:
Reference is made to your appeal against the rejection of your claim for Unemployment Benefit.
Conditions of eligibility for Unemployment Benefit require that an unemployed person be available for and willing to accept suitable employment. A person is also required to take all reasonable action to obtain employment.
A review of your claim for Unemployment Benefit indicates that you have had little work since at least 1975. The evidence indicates that during this period you have consistently refused to consider offers of work away from the local area. Although you have travelled away from the area for short periods you have not been employed for any substantial period. It is noted that you obtained a permanent position with Ravenshoe Tin Dredging Ltd in 1977 but left this job of your own accord.
Although you would be well aware of the minimal employment prospects in the area you have now returned to Innot Hot Springs. The Commonwealth Employment Service has advised that you were recently requested to contact that Office as a suitable position was available at Chillagoe however you did not report to the Commonwealth Employment Service for six days by which time the position had been filled. The Commonwealth Employment Service reports that you fail to satisfy the provisions of the Work Test, a prerequisite to payment of Unemployment Benefit.
In view of all the circumstances the Tribunal is of the opinion that you do not satisfy the conditions of eligibility and is unable to recommend grant of Unemployment Benefit to you.
At first blush, that letter from the Social Security Appeals Tribunal would seem to suggest that Mr R was the type of person who would not look for work, was continually unemployed and moved to the area he moved to so that he would not have any work offered to him. I read the whole of the letter into the record because Mr R later outlined how wrong, in certain respects, were the statements made in that letter. He suggested that perhaps wrong information had been given to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. One of the things lacking in the system is that many people who appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal do not appear before it and, therefore, do not have an opportunity to refute some of the evidence given to the Tribunal. After all, if the Tribunal is given certain evidence and it does not receive counter-evidence or facts on which to base its ruling, it is likely to come down with a report such as the one in this case.
After receiving that letter, Mr R did not know where to go, so he wrote to my office. As I said earlier, I was overseas on a study tour when that letter was received by my secretary at my office on 19 December. Mr R said, in part, in his letter:
About three months ago I registered with the Atherton C.E.S. as unemployed. Three weeks later I found a job, which has just terminated due to the approaching wet season so as of today I am unemployed again. The social security rejected my dole application, so I appealed, and recently received a long letter from the tribunal detailing why I did not qualify. The reasons they give are a mixture of truth, half-truth and plain non-truth in relation to my past circumstances. I believe I have been most unfairly treated and am wondering what course of protest/appeal is now open to me? Can you advise me on this matter?
Also, as best I can work out, either the Appeals Tribunal is a farce of the Cairns D.S.S. and/or Atherton C.E.S. have supplied it with misleading information!
Those were the facts which I referred to a little while ago when I read the letter from the
Appeals Tribunal. Probably the Appeals Tribunal made the right decision, based on the information it had at its disposal, but my assessment of the situation is that the information it had at its disposal certainly was lacking in some respects. Subsequently, my secretary, in my absence, made contact with Mr R. As far as I can understand her shorthand notes, she asked Mr R to supply more details and he did so. His letter supplying those details was addressed to my secretary and was received at my office on 9 January, while I was still away. He said:
Please find enclosed ail documents relating to my recent unsuccessful battle for unemployment benefit.
Note that there seems to be no relationship between my appeal and the tribunals reply, and some of what they state is indicated ‘ rather than a statement of fact!
Regards their statements in the third paragraph, these are entirely subjective and in relation to my working away from the local area absolutely untrue of at least the last 3 years. I did refuse a job away from home once, about 4 years ago. Also, I did leave Ravenshoe Tin of my own accord, because it was a very unpleasant job, but that was over 2 VS years ago and I cannot see how that could relate to present circumstances.
Regards the fourth paragraph, I answered the advice of the Chillagoe vacancy 10 minutes after receiving it. As I have explained to you on the phone it was their fault it took me six days to receive it, and I assure you that they did know they could phone it to me!
I have taken your advice -
That is, my secretary ‘s advice- and written to Margaret Guilfoyle requesting that my appeal be re-examined and a proper and relevant judgement of it given.
He went on in his letter with other matters, most of which dealt with complaints he had about the Commonwealth Employment Service at Atherton, but I do not think that they are relevant to the matter I raise tonight. I most probably would not have given Mr R the same advice as that given by my secretary- that is, that he should write to the Minister for Social Security, Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle. I would have thought that if a letter should have gone to Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle it would have been my place to write the letter rather than that of the person who had come to me for assistance. Nevertheless, I am not saying that my secretary handled the matter inadequately. I think that she handled it very adequately in my absence. At the time her assessment might have been correct. On 14 January my secretary, in my absence, then took the trouble to write to the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, Mr Viner. It is very similar to the sort of letter that I would write in those circumstances. She signed the letter as my secretary. It read:
As Senator Colston is overseas, I am writing to you regarding Mr R of Innot Hot Springs, North Queensland. He has claimed unemployment benefit twice over the past four months. The Commonwealth Employment Service at Atherton has refused to work test these claims because it states that Mr R has moved to an area with limited employment prospects.
Mr R’s work background indicates that the type of work suitable for him is found in rural areas. I understand that last year he spent approximately six months in Brisbane seeking work. During this time he received unemployment benefit. However, while in Brisbane his efforts to obtain work proved to be futile and he soon realised that he would almost definitely remain unemployed if he remained in Brisbane.
Mr R is 30 years of age and single. He owns a home in Innot Hot Springs and has lived there for seven years. Because he knows most of the people who live in the area, he is occasionally able to obtain casual work and with tin mining in the area, he has some prospects of obtaining permanent work. Also, he has indicated that he is prepared to go anywhere if a job offer is made. He has, in fact, frequently travelled to different areas in search of work, such as the six months period last year in Brisbane which proved fruitless.
I would be grateful if you could investigate Mr R’s case in the light of the information provided above with a view to work testing Mr R’s claim for unemployment benefit.
My secretary signed the letter and it was dated 14 January. Shortly afterwards, on 29 January, an acknowledgement came to my office. It was addressed to my secretary and dated 24 January. It came from the acting senior private secretary to the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs. By that time I was back in the country. I noted what had happened, thought that the matter was proceeding quite well and decided to do nothing further until just recently. I mention again that the letter which my secretary sent to the Minister was dated 14 January. The Minister replied to that letter on 1 9 March- two months after he had received it. The reply came to my office about five days later. I will read the reply because it is the reason I brought the matter up in the Senate this evening. It is addressed to me and reads:
I am replying to your letter of 14 January 1980, on behalf of Mr R of Innot Hot Springs, North Queensland. You will recall that Mr R had claimed that the Atherton Office of the Commonwealth Employment Service had refused on two occasions to work test his claims for Unemployment Benefit.
Because the time is fast approaching for the suspension of the sitting for dinner I will not read the second paragraph but will move to the third. The Minister said:
I am informed by my Department that Mr R lodged claims for Unemployment Benefit on 10 October and 24 December 1 979 and that on both occasions the CES considered that he had failed to satisfy the work test, on the grounds that he had moved to an area of poor employment prospects. Accordingly, the CES submitted a report on Mr R’s circumstances to the Department of Social Security and, in consequence, benefit was terminated. I understand that Mr R subsequently exercised his right of appeal against the termination of Unemployment Benefit but that the appeal was rejected by the Social Security Appeals Tribunal.
The Minister did not give any hope in that letter that Mr R would be work tested. He said in that letter that Mr R had failed to satisfy the work test on the grounds that he had moved to an area of poor employment prospects’. I stress that Mr R actually has a home in Innot Hot Springs and has lived there for seven years. I am not sure how I get it through and Mr R gets it through to the Minister that Mr R actually lives in Innot Hot Springs. That is the crux of the whole argument that has been going on since October last year. A letter came to my office only this week which said that because Mr R had moved to the area he could not get unemployment benefit.
In fairness I acknowledge that the Minister for Social Security may be looking at the matter. I wrote to her about it on 7 March. As yet I have had no acknowledgement that my letter has been received. I am not sure with whom the responsibility lies for this bureaucratic web that Mr R has been caught up in. I do not know whether it is the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs or the Minister for Social Security. I will take the opportunity to send a copy of the Hansard report of the speech to both Ministers. I urge that either or both of them make a thorough investigation of the matter. I urge both departments to realise that this man actually has his home at Innot Hot Springs. I have another matter I wish to raise in the first reading debate on this Bill but as it is almost 6 o’clock I seek leave to do so at a later time.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
General Business taking precedence of Government Business at 8 p.m. ( Quorum formed).
Debate resumed from 28 February 1978 and 9 March 1 978, respectively, on motion by Senator Grimes:
That the Senate take note of the paper, and on motion by Senator Ryan:
That the Senate give consideration to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships which specifically suggest ways of restructuring the laws relating to rape with a view to reforming existing legislation.
-The report of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships was published on 2 1 November 1977 in the midst of a federal election campaign- an event subsequently not without significance in determining the fate of this report. It was tabled in both Houses of this Parliament on 28 February 1978 and the motion for this debate has been languishing on the Notice Paper ever since. This is the first opportunity for a substantial debate in either House on this extremely important topic. The notes from which I speak tonight were compiled some 1 8 months ago. I can only hope that age has not wearied them, nor will the years condemn.
– The question is whether we will remember them.
– Indeed, Senator. Certainly the lapse of time has condemned to weariness some of our colleagues on both sides of this chamber, with the regrettable result that the speakers list is rather shorter than it might otherwise be for a debate of this significance. The delay, on any view, has been thoroughly unfortunate. The only way one can conceivably look on the bright side of this matter is by hoping that its very belatedness might at least mean that we will be able to look at and discuss the recommendations in this report with some degree of objectivity in a way that, regrettably, did not seem to be possible when it was first published. It is unfortunate that the Parliament and the public were unable to see, assess and debate the findings of the Royal Commission at the time that they were first released and before the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and senior members of the present Government attempted to bring the report into disrepute by publicly decrying its contents during the last election campaign.
– He leaked the dirty bits of it beforehand.
– In fact the behaviour of the Prime Minister throughout the whole history of this report, to put it at its most charitable, has been erratic in the extreme. It was he who back in 1973 initiated in the House of Representatives the motion which resulted in the establishment of this inquiry. Since then his behaviour has been in complete contradiction to that in the sense that he has demonstrated an utter unwillingness to treat the product of that inquiry with any degree of political or other seriousness. His behaviour has been that of political expediency of the most regrettable kind in his treatment of what in my view is an extremely significant policy matterthe question of human relationships between individuals and families in our community. His first major act in relation to this report upon coming into office in 1 975 was to slash the funds of the Commission, thus reducing by a year the amount of time for the Commission’s deliberations and curtailing or preventing a number of very important research projects.
During the 1977 election campaign, as Senator Chipp earlier interjected, after the Prime Minister had leaked the most salacious recommendations he could find- two or three out of the 511 substantial and solid recommendations in this report- he proceeded on Australian Broadcasting Commission radio during the course of that campaign to describe the contents of the report as appalling. He used its supposed contents- the peculiarly perverse and distorted version of its contents that he chose to report to the community- as a cheap election trick against the Opposition. In the meantime no one else in the community had access to the report in order to verify the Prime Minister’s wild and sensational allegations. His action trivialised and denigrated the contents of the report and the sincerity and capacity of those who produced it. In the process he made severe imputations against the integrity of three royal commissioners.
Perhaps after the election Mr Fraser did read the report. Perhaps his reading of it is one of the reasons that there has been so much delay by the Government in bringing on this debate in either House to enable the Parliament to discuss, in a way that will engender debate in the community, the findings of the Royal Commission. I say that because any but the most fleeting glance at the five volumes of this Royal Commission’s findings, makes it immediately and abundantly clear that the work represents a major social document. It is a report which has been prepared carefully, thoughtfully and with a great balance of judgment. A Prime Minister with a tendency to making rash and opportunistic election statements could be put in a very embarrassing position when those facts about the report are appreciated. Certainly there seems to be no other reason why it has taken so long for this matter to be debated.
The Prime Minister, in introducing the report in the House of Representatives on 1 March 1 978, said that there ought to be an opportunity for maximum public participation in the discussion of the findings of the report. He expressed a desire to receive and ‘assess the totality of the community views’ on the matters raised in the report before Parliament proceeded to consider the Executive ‘s response to it. As far as I am aware the Government has totally failed to do anything positive to initiate such public debate; nor has it encouraged in any overt way the community to put forward its views on the many and varied recommendations in the report. Perhaps it is only now, at this late stage of its history when these matters are finally to be debated by this Parliament, that we will at last begin to see the community debate which this report not only needs but also deserves because of its quality.
The background to the establishment of the report is briefly as follows: The Royal Commission was appointed on 2 1 August 1 974 to inquire into family, social, educational, legal and sexual aspects of male and female relationships. The three Commissioners then appointed must be regarded as highly skilled, professional members of the community with special expertise in dealing with people in many different situations and with very considerable experience in the interaction between people and social institutions.
– Three distinguished Australians.
– As Senator Chipp says, three distinguished Australians: Justice Elizabeth Evatt, Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, formerly a deputy president of the Arbitration Commission, the most Reverend Felix Arnott, Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane, formerly Bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Melbourne and Warden of Anglican colleges at both the universities of Queensland and Sydney, and Ms Anne Deveson an experienced and very well known Sydney journalist.
The Commission spent two and a half years completing a detailed report on the issues that were relevant to its terms of reference and it used a wide variety of techniques in so doing, including the examination of written submissions and evidence which was heard in 1 1 public hearings in all capital cities and which involved a total of 1,264 submissions. It took part in a number of informal meetings and discussions. It engaged in a very substantial body of research which produced 15 completed research projects and it scrutinised and reported upon very carefully and very thoroughly a great deal of literature and research material which had been otherwise compiled both within Australia and overseas. It is a massive report producing recommendations of major significance. But one regrets even so that its contents are not quite as comprehensive as they could and should have been. This is because of a matter which I referred to briefly a moment ago, that is, the action of the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, in slashing the budget of the Commission early in 1976, shortly after he came into office, and ordering it to complete its work one year earlier than it had planned, which had the effect of truncating the inquiry and preventing the Commissioners from completing their work to what they would have regarded as a satisfactorily comprehensive level.
There were a number of important areas of research that had to be abandoned as a result of the Prime Minister’s far-sighted economy. These matters included a survey into the extent of the physically and mentally handicapped in Australia- I hope that Senator Harradine noted that particular matter, if he is listening in- the employment of 12 specially trained people fluent in major migrant languages to make detailed reports from the ethnic community, research into how young people learn about human relationships, the relationships between work and family life, and again further detailed research into contraceptive use, family formation and health and sexuality. With that much said by way of background knowledge, what is the achievement of the Commission? What do these five volumes contain? What are the lessons and prescriptions that we can learn from this report? The Commissioners recognised- this is a flavour which runs throughout the report- that profound social changes were occurring in the area of male and family relationships.
The Commission itself arose as a result of the perception that those changes were occurring and a perception of the genuine moral and personal conflict which such changes have engendered in the family. What the Commissioners sought to do by sitting, working and producing this report, was to provide material which would help the community on the one hand and the Government on the other to understand those changes in order to ensure that our official institutions might come to reflect this changing reality in Australian society. I think that the report in this respect has accomplished those objectives admirably, I take the view- and I think any objective reader of this report would- that the Commission, contrary to what has been asserted by the Prime Minister and by senior members of the National Country Party in particular, did not engender or fabricate the realities of Australian society on which their recommendations are based. In laying out the basic perceptions which they applied to the compilation of the whole report, the Commissioners stated that their inquiry was guided by a belief in the right and integrity of the individual to make free choices in the context of human relationships and to have access to the knowledge and skills which give such free choice meaning. Throughout the report the recommendations reveal quite properly and sensibly and in a way that is much to be admired, the
Commission’s attachment to that particular guiding perception.
In approaching its task, the Commission articulated- this again is an admirable preliminary statement of the perspective within which it is operating- that there are no holds barred by the Commission in stating the basic premises and perceptions on which it did put together the report. It stated that it made two important assumptions. The first such assumption was that morality, in inverted commas perhaps, is increasingly becoming an individual judgment; and, secondly, that laws should not attempt to enforce moral standards but rather should only be directed towards protecting the rights of society at large, but more specifically the rights of individuals within that society. Any attempt by the law to address itself to the preservation or upholding of moral standards for their own sake in a context which cannot be easily described as actually affecting the rights of individuals or the community at large, are not, according to the Commissioners- and I agree with them in that respect- laws worth having.
The Commission does however acknowledge -and again this is a central theme which runs right through the report-that, notwithstanding the fundamentally personal and private character of human relationships almost by definition, there is nonetheless a number of points on which government policies can affect those relationships. Thus the Commission saysagain I think this is a wholly admirable statement of its approach- that Government policy should be sensitive to the changes which are occurring and to the hidden reality, if one can put it that way, of many people’s lives. We tended to operate our social policies on a poverty stricken basis so far as research and appreciation of that hidden reality are concerned. There has been hitherto, before the compilation of this report, very little research into the real problems facing many Australians in these various areas.
I turn to the actual recommendations and findings which emerge from the report. The first significant group of such relate to education for human relationships generally. The evidence presented to the Commission established that young people were being inadequately prepared for the challenges of modern life and that they needed help to appreciate the attitudes and values which affected behaviour. The Commission found that there is a widespread ignorance in relation to sexual matters in particular with many parents and the education system as a whole being presently quite ill-equipped to provide information which was manifestly much needed. The belief that young people should be given education in human relationships was, the Commission found, quite widely supported. It further found that young people show that when they are properly taught about such relationships they are able to consider difficult moral problems and to make rational decisions about them.
The Government’s role is the subject of a number of recommendations in Part II of the report in this respect and it is suggested- and I for one endorse this-that the Government through its Departments of Education and Health should provide the initiative, finance and resources for the development of human relationship courses in schools and for parents, teacher training, teachers and the related professions. The Government’s education policy should be reorientedif that is not too large a task to contemplate- towards ensuring the fullest possible development of not just the academic persona but the whole person physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially. More specifically, on the subject of health and medical education, the Commission finds- this is the subject matter of Part III of the report- that health services have hitherto been medically oriented in the very strict and narrow sense of that term, preoccupied with disfunction, with disease. It makes the point, and again I endorse this, that we need a variety of integrated community health services with the object of not merely coping with the immediate physical manifestations of disease, but of restoring the sick and disabled to full functional fitness in the community as soon as possible.
We are faced, as the Commission establishes, not perhaps that this needed much establishment, with cultural differences both ethnic and racial and with, in this area, as in so many others, a preponderance of traditional sexist attitudes towards the female half of the population. We are faced also- this is crucial in this area, and I hope that Senator Baume will have something to say on this subject later on- with a medical profession, the Commission finds, which is illprepared by traditional medical courses to cope especially with the problems of sexuality and human relationships. For my own part I make the point that perhaps this Government could pay less attention to intervening and attempting to coerce university and college councils and their student organisations into curtailing creative social and political activity by such nonsense legislation as the Australian National University Bill which we considered last year, and put rather more effort into financial initiatives which would allow tertiary institutions to develop undergraduate and indeed post-graduate courses in these areas which have been regarded traditionally as quite outside the proper formal curriculum- courses, that is, in human relationships, sexuality and community medicine.
I believe, and I endorse the findings of the report in this respect, that government health services should also be involved in the active encouragement and support of the handicapped and mentally sick and the development of special services to meet the special needs of Aboriginals, migrants, and other at risk sections of the community. There needs to be a funding of research, says the Commission, and again it is difficult to disagree with any of this, to provide health education programs in schools on a much larger scale than operates at the moment, on community perspectives and health and in relation to maintenance and improvement of community health services themselves.
Perhaps the most controversial sections of the report are those in Volume 4 dealing with sexuality and fertility. I think that what the report says here, however, is again, on any close reading, thoroughly unexceptionable and thoroughly sensible. The point is made, and ample evidence is adduced to support it, that very many people are quite ignorant of sexuality generally, contraception and indeed conception specifically. The lack of clear and concise information on these issues, the lack of services capable of meeting the needs of the community in this area, the bans on the advertising of contraceptives which still exist in so many jurisdictions, the cost of contraceptives, the lack of knowledge of presently available services, all combine to produce an appalling ignorance in the community which does promote social problems which in this relatively affluent society of ours just should be unnecessary.
The reality, as the report finds, is that, as is so often the case, the groups who can least afford to cope with such problems are at the highest riskthe poor, the young, the ethnic minorities and the Aborigines. Again the point is made that legal uncertainty places a number of additional barriers in the way of people wishing not just to acquire information but actually to control their fertility in the areas of sterilisation, artificial insemination, abortion and provision of contraceptives, especially to minors.
On the subject of abortion, which has been debated perhaps rather ad nauseam in this Parliament in recent times, the report nonetheless has a good deal to say which is immediately pertinent and sane and which is relevant indeed to this Parliament’s and indeed to the community’s general understanding ofthe issues which are involved, the magnitude of the problems, if it is a problem, and in generating some compassion and understanding of what ought to be done about it. The report establishes clearly, for a start, that laws in relation to abortion, such as there presently are, are clearly ineffective in actually preventing women from making and acting on the decision to terminate a pregnancy. At the time of writing, the Commission asserts, to the extent that its data can support any kind of explicit finding in this area, that there is a ratio of one abortion to every 3.9 live births occurring in Australia; that there are 21.7 abortions for every 1 ,000 women between the ages of 1 5 to 44 in this country every year; and that for something like 60 per cent of unwanted pregnancies abortion is in practice the answer.
If it is true there are some 60,000 abortions every year in Australia, as the Commission suggests, of which some 20,000 are performed on women under 20, what more powerful argument could there be for an increase in education about and the availability of contraception, not to mention the taking of a long, hard look at the appropriateness of our present abortion laws. It is obvious, and the report again says it- one of the attractions of this report is the systematic way in which it does state the obvious in so many areas where this has been perhaps neglected- that the Government should and could play an important role in redressing the balance in this whole important area, as the Commission recognises, means such as the establishment of a research institute for the study of human sexuality, reproduction and fertility control. It stresses the urgent need for research into the areas of puberty, menstruation, menopause, contraceptive acceptability, contraceptive practice and technology, and the handling of pregnancy itself. The Commission also calls for the establishment of a national advisory committee on contraception and a national policy, not just one guided by the peculiar and erratic prejudices of local legislators, of easy access by the community to information and services in this area.
The Government, the Commission finds, does have a responsibility to set standards and controls for contraceptives and for contraceptive advertising. Yet the reality is that in terms of standards and controls in this vital area which does affect many thousands of Australian women there is very largely an exclusion, so the Commission finds, from government standards and controls of these matters because of a tendency towards a head-in-the-sand, don’twanttoknow attitude towards the whole vital area. The Commission, and again this is a rather bald summary ofthe recommendations in Volume 4 of the report, places the responsibility for initiating a public health education program, with emphasis on these areas of fertility control, contraception technology and so on, squarely on the shoulders of the Government. It urges the allocation of adequate funding to community centres generally and more specifically to women’s community health services and the existing family planning associations.
One of the matters to which the Commission’s report specifically draws attention, and which I believe is of crucial importance and something which ought to be taken up by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, is that much greater attention be paid to the training and employment of Aboriginals and ethnic health workers to serve their respective communities, because past services have clearly been inadequate in these areas due to the cultural differences existing between, on the one hand, the white mono-lingual professionals who are given little or no training to cope with the special problems of these, on the other hand, at risk groups. One just asks, as has been asked so often in this Parliament, has the Government by its funding programs and by its attitudes to the availability of these services, ever made any genuine attempt to confront the problems and to equalise the health treatment for all Australians. When one thinks of the saga of the trachoma workers in Queensland during the recent election campaign, one doubts that any such demonstration of good faith has been made. Certainly, there are ample counter examples.
In volume 5 of the report considerable attention is paid to the subject matter of that very fashionable institution in these political days, the family. A number of matters emerge from that section of the report and I will mention a few of them. One very significant part of this section is the uncovering of what really is only the tip of the iceberg of the problem of violence against women and children. The report makes the point that, obviously enough, this demands urgent attention. What the Commission calls for and again what we have not seen any government responding to with any enthusiasm is the establishment of a national child protection centre to be based in the office of child care, which is also recommended to be established. This centre could carry out much needed research into the area to enable us at least to appreciate the magnitude of the problem and to develop policies and intiate services which, I take it even Senator Walters would appreciate, are urgently required in this particular area.
Whilst child abuse and wife bashing are horrifying problems, they represent only a small segment of this section of the report. The main emphasis in the report in this regard is on the need for what is described as a national family policy. The Commission essentially conceives of such a policy as being aimed at producing an equitable distribution of services and resources to all families to achieve the common social goals- an adequate income, housing, education, health, recreation and legal protection. Viewed this way, the concept of a national family policy is a central recommendation in the Human Relationships Commission’s report. Yet we had Mr Fraser immediately impugning the integrity of the commissioners and labelling the commission ‘s recommendations as appalling in what I have already described as a cheap election trick at the end of 1977. I think that the only way in which the Government can restore its credibility in terms of this particular report is to turn around and to recognise the value and the sheer common sense of adopting recommendations such as those that I have been referring to.
Another central element, necessarily, in the discussion of the family is the question of child care. The Commission, predictably enough I suppose, urges that there be policy development and funding in this area to make family support services a genuine reality in this area. The evidence which was presented to the Commission showed that there is, as we all know, a serious shortage of child care facilities of all kinds in Australia today and that this was a particular source of stress for migrant families. It was the view of the Commission- again it is difficult to argue with it- that child care should be made available at a level which would allow all children to have access to the kinds of facilities which are best suited to their needs and to the needs of their parents.
What has happened since 1975 is that this Government has gradually, steadily, but inexorably reduced its financial commitment to child care services. For that to have happened is simply to ignore the reality which is facing many parents in the community. Some of the statistics that appear in sources such as the Women and Work newsletter for January 1978, which I have come across- I guess these are in the nature of guesstimates more than anything else, but that is the problem in this area; there is still, despite the commission, a shortage of data- show that something like 40 per cent of the work force are responsible for children under the age of 12 years. Kids under the age of 12 are within the family responsibilities of four out of every 10 members of the work force. The majority of these children are in fact of pre-school age and, as a result, require some kind of child care outside their own home environment. The evidence that I have seen shows that for every child who enjoys a properly established child care facility there are two children for whom some ad hoc arrangement has to suffice. At best, there is a provision of a formal kind available for something like one in every three children who need it. That is a matter which we must recognise to be one of continuing acute national concern.
In the area of family law- obviously this is a central point that is dealt with- the Commission advocates a unified family law with regard to both legistlative powers and the exercise of jurisdiction throughout Australia. It is recognised in the report, as we must all recognise, that there ara a number of different legal and constitutional problems involved in implementing fully such a policy, but the problems, nonetheless, have to be given serious consideration. One hopes that they are being given such consideration by the Joint Committee on the Family Law Act which is now wending its weary way, I hope, towards completion of its report.
– It is speeding its quick way.
– It is wending its quick way, I am delighted to hear from Senator Missen. I hope that it does not take two years for the recommendations in the report, when they appear, to be debated in this Parliament. The specificmatters which the Commission raises- I do not stop to comment upon them except to notice their significance- are the legal problems in the area of ex-nuptial children, which have not been resolved in all Australian jurisdictions, the ownership of matrimonial property, the financial obligations as between husband and wife and, inevitably, questions of the custody of and access to children.
The final section of the report on which I comment is addressed to the subject of equality and discrimination. The importance, I suppose more than anything else, of this section of the report -
– There is one other section.
– It is the only one on which I wish to make comments, Senator Chipp. This section has the advantage of raising a number of policy ideas which could be implemented by government, unlike many of the other matters to which I have referred, with very little extra application of funds. What is called for, says the Commission- I cannot help but agree with it- is a national policy against discrimination on the basis of sex or marital status. What we have had so far from this Government, so far from an endorsement of that concept, is an announcement from Mr Ellicott at the end of last year which amounted to a clear rejection of the necessity or desirability of legislation at a national level in the sex discrimination area and a commitment, at best, to establish a sex discrimination ordinance in the Australian Capital Territory. The Commission further points out the need- again I applaud what it says in this respect- for government departments to have policies of equality of opportunity for women in their employ and for the Public Service to make positive attempts to recruit women.
The point is made that appointments to statutory bodies, agencies, councils and commissions should include increased numbers of women. This would involve simply a recognition that there are large numbers of competent and intelligent Australian persons of the female sex whose skills and expertise should be used for the benefit of the whole community. Again, the Commission makes the point that government publications should be monitored to prevent the inclusion of sex-role stereotyped material. Again, that is something which ought to be endorsed. The School’s Commission, it is said, should include a special advisory committee on the education of women and girls and the Commonwealth Employment Service should establish special units to encourage working women and womens’ employment opportunities.
The Government, if it is serious about its professed commitment to equal rights for women, is certainly in a position to implement all of these kinds of programs, none of which, from the enactment of anti-discrimination legislation through to the adoption of new approaches and attitudes to hiring and promotion policy, involves the application of funds on any significant scale. The Commission also draws attention not only to problems in relation to sex discrimination but also to discrimination against Aborigines, migrants, homosexuals and the handicapped. It makes the point that groups such as these are still suffering at the hands of irrational prejudices and, in some cases- I particularly mention Aboriginals- material deprivation that should be entirely unnecessary in 20th century Australian society. The lack of attention which has been paid by this Government to the problems encountered by these various groups, I fear, tends to give the lie to any grand claim, which it keeps being tempted to make, that it has a real commitment to quality of life and equality between all Australians.
Just to state that in the geographical excursion through the text of the report is, I think, to demonstrate that the report is a substantial and an important document. Contrary to the impression that was so unfortunately generated by the Prime Minister two years ago, it is not a cheap document, a slick document or a superficial document either in its identification ofthe problems or in its approach to the definition of solutions. I hope that as a result of the debate, which has now at last commenced in this Parliament two years after the report was presented to Parliament, and which I hope will now take off in the community at large, the Government will at last be prepared to act on the important recommendations which the report contains.
– I welcome the opportunity to make some remarks about the report of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships. I welcome the arrival of this debate in the Senate after a considerable period of gestation. It is perhaps not wise for a member of parliament to quote his own speeches. But I indicate that when I first spoke in this Parliament and made my maiden speech one of the things I said was:
Can we not respond to the report of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships with more intelligence?
Part of the reason for the lack of intelligent response to the report has been simply that the report has not been available for public or parliamentary debate in the sort of way that one would have hoped it would be. It is a daunting task to approach making comments on this report, which contains five volumes and some 1,300 pages. It is a daunting task in that a great deal of time has elapsed. The letters patent to establish the Royal Commission were issued on 24 August 1974. The report was presented to His Excellency the Governor-General on 21 November 1 977. One has to consider the weight of evidence of some 1,264 written submissions and some 374 witnesses who appeared before the Commission. It is more than unfortunate, as I think Senator Evans has said, that the report arrived in the public domain just prior to the 1977 elections and was dealt with by a number of people, for whom I seek to make no excuse whatsoever, in a blatantly political and partisan fashion. It did no credit to anybody who was involved. I do not seek to score a point on that. It is also true that when the report was presented to the Parliament it was presented in what I think might be regarded as a fairly cursory fashion. On 28 February 1978 in the House of Representatives the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) tabled the report and said:
For the information of honourable members I present the final report of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships. I thank the members of the Commission for their work.
That was the end of the matter. That was the total Government response to the Royal Commission ‘s report, to the five volumes, to the 1 ,264 submissions, to the 374 witnesses and to the VA years the Commission had been at work. Since that date nothing has, in fact, been added to the response that the Government has made to this report. I ask: Has an interdepartmental committee been established to examine the comments made in the report? Have the laws which are criticised in the report being subject to analysis or comment by Government departments? If they have, where is the IDC report? When may we expect it? What will it say? When will we be able to debate it? Surely the IDC is not waiting until we members of the Senate or the members of the House of Representatives have offered our public comments on the report before getting to work to analyse the Commission’s recommendations. One would be more than interested to know precisely what status this report has in the Government’s thinking on this matter. I hope that the passage of time associated with the report will, in fact, have allowed some mature reflection to be made upon the issues raised by the Commission, issues which are not to be considered within a partisan or an electoral context.
Having said that approaching the task of discussing this report is a daunting one, I say that, therefore, I intend this evening to confine my remarks to three and only three issues dealt with this voluminous report. I wish to discuss education for human sexuality, what this report says about the family in Australia and what the report says about homosexuality and homosexual law reform. I turn firstly to education for sexuality. There is obviously a clear need for information on this subject to be provided throughout the Australian community. I do not know whether it is fashionable to quote glossy women’s magazines in this place but I will quote from the magazine called cleo. In November 1977 it reported a survey which was a proper university conducted survey. In its introduction it simply said:
Everybody knows about the Pill. But what about the alternatives? In one survey, 67 per cent of the women questioned had never heard of modern chemical contraceptives.
That report was undertaken by research workers at a Victorian university. It was supported by evidence provided by the Family Planning Association of Australia, which is I think one of the most respected and admired organisations of its type in Australia. Despite what one would have thought from all the information, all the details and all the discussion that has taken place- year in and year out, the evidence identifies that in excess of two-thirds of women- not ignorant women, not uneducated women- in fact were not able to indicate that they had a great knowledge of modern chemical contraceptive methods. I refer to the October 1976 edition of the same magazine. In an article entitled ‘Why do women keep having babies they don’t want?’ it is reported that to a large extent the overwhelming number of children conceived by mothers who, in fact, do not want to have children are conceived because of the ignorance of the women in question about the best methods of family planning and contraception. The article by Kirsten Blanch, who is a well-known commentator and a person who appears regularly on programs of the Australian Broadcasting Commission such as The Science Show and programs of some repute and distinction, listed the reasons given in answer to the question: ‘Why do women keep having babies they don ‘t want? ‘ She said that the reasons were ignorance, language difficulties for migrant women, inadequate sex education, laws against the advertising of contraceptives, forgetfulness, time, money, male opposition, poor medical advice, religious convictions and moral convictions. She went on to say:
All of these are, in part, the reasons why so many pregnancies are still unplanned and why so many end in abortion. But they are mostly excuses.
The real reasons why women become pregnant ‘ by accident’ are only just coming to light. They include guilt, anger, frustration, and a need for appreciation, attention and status as well as the purely biological urge to perpetuate the human species.
I think one of the areas in which we as a Parliament and we as a government will have a continuing obligation is the bearing of some degree of responsibility for the number of unwanted, unloved children and, indeed, for the number of abortions that take place in Australia if we fail in our responsibilities to ensure the provision of adequate information and education for young people in particular.
An article written in the Melbourne Age on 22 February 1 980 discussed some of the steps being undertaken by the Victorian Government in this regard. The article indicated:
More than 300,000 of our teenagers are believed to be sexually active and only about 30 per cent of them are using some form of contraception.
The result is 45,000 unplanned pregnancies each year in 14 to 19-year-olds.
Half of these girls (20,000) choose to have an abortion, accounting for one third of all Australian abortions each year. The other half (25,000) face one of three alternatives: adoption, a hasty marriage or single motherhood.
The Education Department has recently released a policy on human relations courses in schools. This policy states that schools have a worthwhile contribution to make to the sex education of children. Human relations courses imply more than the provision of sex fact. Teenagers need a chance to look at the legal and social implications of sexuality.
A Family Planning Association survey has found that 1 in 3 students can pass through 12 years of schooling in Victoria without ever having any sort of human relations education.
Adolescents have the right to information and parents can “provide it, but too often they don’t. Teenagers are forced to rely on misinformation from their peers, or they approach individual teachers at school.
Human relations courses can provide teenagers with information about the consequences of their behaviour. Students have a right to be told about legal aspects- carnal knowledge and the charge of ‘being in moral danger’; medical facts- the correlation between cancer of the cervix and early intercourse, contraceptive information and contagious diseases; and about support services such as the Family Planning Association of Victoria.
I regret to say that in this day and age we still find people who are well placed in the community who believe that that is not on. For instance, we have seen in Queensland what I believe to be disgraceful behaviour in that State as far as the fate of the SEMP and MACOS programs. We have seen people, such as Rona Joyner, whose contribution to Australian social history will be measured in damning and negative consequences for as long as her name is unfortunately remembered, who seek as a result of ignorance and prejudice not simply to conduct their own lives the way they want to but to prevent other people from conducting their lives on the basis of mature information and available data. For instance, in the Australian earlier this month the Premier of Queensland and his wife indicated their concern about the proposals of another member of the National Country Party, Mr Ahern, in developing a rational, responsible program of human relations education in schools.
– He is a very courageous man.
-Indeed. I have no doubt about that whatsoever.
– Not the Premier- Mr Ahern.
- Senator, I hope I was not misunderstood in my response, either. In relation to sex education, the Premier’s wife is reported as follows:
This is something for parents rather than teachers,’ she said. ‘Teachers should be concerned about education. It should be the three Rs they give their attention to.
That is a point of view which was put very strongly before the Royal Commission. Yet it is a misunderstanding of what education is all about. Education is not simply about the three R’s; it is about human development. The three R’s are a significant- perhaps even the most importantpart of that education but they are not exclusively the elements of education. I believe that that attitude also displays what is typical to a large number of people in our community- the attitude of essentially affluent, essentially white, essentially middle class people who believe that the role is a role exclusively for parents when in fact the people who are most in need of this education are the children of parents not possessed of the education, status or intelligence to be able to impart to their children the sort of information that ought to be imparted to them about sex education. It is not just a function of being middle class or of being educated. Certainly my parents were middle class and certainly they were well educated but I can assure honourable senators that my first introduction to matters of sex education did not take place at home, but in the playground of an English primary school.
– Behind the shelter shed?
– No, we were a little more open than that. There were no bicycle sheds. In fact, there were a couple of rundown bomb shelters but they played no part in this particular activity. I have no doubt that that is typical of the position of many people in the community. The embarrassment involved for both the parents and the children in providing sex education is something that I think even today’s standards of liberation have not been able to overcome in a particularly satisfactory fashion. Some criticism of this fact was mounted in the report of the Commission. For instance, the Commission indicated that a number of people put to it a number of views that sex education is purely a family matter and it was forced to reject that because, as I have said, there are so many families where that education cannot be adequately provided. In part 2 of volume 2 the Commission brings forward its recommendations in terms of the relationship of education institutions and the departments of education to the provision of sex education. The Commission raises some 29 specific matters for attention. I seek leave of the
Senate to have incorporated in Hansard a list of those recommendations.
The document read as follows-
We recommend that:
The government should require the Department of Education to make a major effort to change the policies of all concerned with education so that these policies will be designed and directed to ensure the fullest possible development of the whole person, physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially. Within this fundamental policy, we make these further recommendations.
The Department of Education should initiate and carry through reforms to enable educational institutions to respond to the community’s desires for better education for human relationships at all levels of the education system.
Education for human relationships should aim to be an integral part of education in all subjects at every stage and level.
Education in all fields and at all levels should provide opportunities for boys and girls to:
a ) develop a knowledge and understanding of the functions of emotion, feeling and caring in relationships:
become aware of the varying attitudes to male and female roles in society and the ways in which these attitudes affect aspirations;
discuss situations in their own lives and in society in which boys and girls, men and women are treated differently and to examine the origins of these differences and the reasons for their continuation;
) assess the effect of peer pressure;
learn to appreciate the power of social forces and institutions (including the media) to influence the development of individual personality and choice of life style;
develop skills in communication and interpersonal relationships, and for this purpose to
acquire a correct vocabulary of sexuality.
Education departments should develop comprehensive human relationships education programs that:
are appropriate to age and tolerant of differences in background and origins;
begin in the primary school and are completed by school leaving agc;
are factual and frank;
are comprehensive in the range of subject matters;
are given by specially trained teachers in small groups of boys and girls:
f) are constantly researched and evaluated.
At primary school level and below, parents should be able to withdraw children from classes of human relationships education.
Teacher education courses should look at women and men in their social and physical environment, at the human life cycle and at human sexuality.
A course in human relationships education, including ethics, should be a prerequisite in undergraduate training of teachers.
Information should be available to teachers about local community resources able to deal with family relationships and human relationship problems in specific areas.
Experienced teachers who are to work as specialists in the human relationships field should be selected according to the same criteria as guidance counsellors, i.e. after some years in the classroom and after further specific training.
- Established teachers should be given opportunities to undertake retraining in communication skills including newapproaches to the process of learning.
Research should be directed to:
the issues of teacher education in matters related to human relationships:
the evaluation of human relationships education programs and methods of delivering them:
the effects on individual development of the characteristics, organisation and stall of schools.
- Tertiary education institutions should develop interdisciplinary courses on human sexuality and such courses should be a prerequisite for the professional recognition of teachers, and should also be recommended to social workers, welfare workers, nurses and health professionals.
The government, in collaboration with education and broadcasting authorities, should explore ways of developing programs to support and supplement school human relationships and. personal development programs.
The government should contribute to a professional education magazine which should especially draw attention to education in human relationships, and bring this to the classroom teacher throughout the nation with news and information on resource material.
Parent education programs should begin early in each school year and both parents should be encouraged to attend when their child enters infants school or pre-school, again on entry to primary school, and again at the age of puberty.
Each school district or local government area should employ a community education officer to work with the P & C, the school and the voluntary associations, to promote programs of parent education. The community education officer should be government funded
The local primary school should be the focal point for involving parents in education for child rearing and indeed for other general community purposes.
- Voluntary associations should be enlisted to evolve suitable programs of parent education, and some of these should be scheduled for Saturday afternoons, or times when child care facilities could be provided, and when both parents, and single parents who work, could attend.
Parent education programs should be funded in hospitals as part of pre- and post-natal classes and ways should be sought to increase parent education programs to people expecting the binh of a child.
Ways should be sought to enable secondary school students to have supervised experience of child rearing as part of their personal development course.
Educational aids, such as films should be developed for use in state systems, and made available for the use of voluntary associations and the non-state systems.
The Departments of Education and Health should assist in funding the work of voluntary associations in education for human relationships, and schools should bc funded to pay sessional fees for their services.
Voluntary associations should be assisted to develop us resource organisations for locally based programs of human relationships education for children involving both mothers and fathers and at times and circumstances which give most opportunity for both parents to attend.
The Schools Commission should seek educators and schools willing to undertake research on how to bring the school closer to the community.
Professionals who are involved in maternity hospitals and baby health clinics should direct the attention of parents to support services.
On preparation for marriage:
the government should sponsor further research, including pilot programs, and evaluation of preparation for marriage courses;
the government should extend its support of training programs and the preparation of resource material through additional funding;
the government should publish and distribute pamphlets to marriage celebrants as a guide for those intending to marry; these should be in the main ethnic languages as well as in English;
the government should extend financial support for the development of marriage education programs by approved voluntary agencies;
ways should be sought of using all branches ofthe media as an effective part of marriage and parent education programs.
Schools and child care agencies should relinquish physical methods of punishment and, to assist this, educational authorities should research the best ways of handling the disruptive child, including the provision of alternative education.
Degree and diploma courses in community health with an interdisciplinary approach should be developed in tertiary educational institutions.
-I thank the Senate. It is important to see that the report is also highly critical of the lack of State activity. One of the things to which I shall return in a number of ways this evening is the fact that the Commonwealth has made some very good progress in a number of these areas but, unfortunately, this has not been reflected at State level. For instance, on page 33 of volume 2 of the report, the following appears:
No States or Territories require teachers to complete a course which includes human sexuality before they are registered or allowed to work in state schools.
On page 32, it is stated:
All States, except Queensland, have school programs at varying stages of development. In Queensland human relationships education is under review; there is some outofschoolhours work by voluntary associations.
Frankly, given the amount of money that the Commonwealth Government provides for the maintenance of the State school system, one would have thought that certainly it would have been open to the Commonwealth Government to insist that some of that money should have been more profitably spent in terms of the provision of this sort of education than is often spent on a number of other matters.
The same volume of the report to which I have referred is also critical of the role of the media in its failure to live up to its responsibilities to provide adequate education. Page 17 of that volume says:
Further, the media should be encouraged to play a part in this process of evaluation and in preparing programs which have a positive rather than a negative effect in developing responsible behaviour and attitudes. The government, in our view, has a responsibility to encourage the media to do this - especially TV- and to provide funds for the development of appropriate material.
We believe that, in the field of parent education, more could be done by television and radio stations to provide information via popular programs, or by mounting programs specifically related to the subject but presented in an entertaining manner.
I think it is very important to understand the implications of those remarks. The Commission returns to them in volume 3, pages 93-5. It indicates that it has studied with some interest a report by Donald Bogue entitled ‘Twenty-five communication obstacles to family planning progress’. In its conclusions, which appear on page 95 of that volume, it indicates:
The right to information is not modified by marital status or age. Ignorance and misinformation do not deter sexual behaviour but may occasion unwanted conceptions. In our view, young people are not deterred from sexual behaviour by the absence of contraception even though they may worry about pregnancy. We do not believe that advertising of contraceptive services promotes promiscuity.
We do not support proposals to restrict the advertising of family planning services or contraceptives. The absence of such advertising may have negative implications, by implying that there is something ‘wrong ‘ in it. 1 think that television and radio stations, and the media in general, have been considerably failing in their responsibility to indicate that family planning services are available and that there should be a greater knowledge of modern forms of contraception. Indeed, if it were necessary I would have no objection whatsoever to the advertising of contraceptive devices. For instance, Tina Arndt, the editor of a magazine called Forum, appeared earlier this month at the National Press Club in Canberra. The Canberra Times reported her remarks on 1 3 March. One of the things to which the article drew attention was that Miss Arndt said that her magazine, Forum, was attempting in some ways to provide information about contraception and human sexuality. The articles states:
Censorship was still a problem in some Australian States, particularly in Victoria, where Forum had to be submitted to a board of review before publication.
Many outdated and archaic practices are undertaken by State governments which prevent the dissemination of education about human sexuality, contraception and family planning. I believe the aims of this education should include the following: To dispel ignorance about sexuality and give people greater ability to control their own sexuality and their own bodies; to reduce the consequences of this ignorance; to indicate how and where people can be helped; to promote tolerance; to destroy hideous stereotypes of sex roles; to destroy myths about things like women ‘s shelters and available services and to make the community aware of changing attitudes and requirements. I move on to discuss what the royal commission had to say about the family in Australia. I think that the most significant aspect of the commission ‘s report deals with the family. Pages 1 10 to 1 18 of Volume I of the report list 131 separate recommendations about the family in Australia. The first of these is the most important. It states:
We recommend that
The Government should initiate a national family policy.
There has been some progress in this regard. I do not seek to minimise or decry that progress for one moment. We know that as a consequence of the 1975 Family Law Act the Institute of Family Studies has been established. On 8 November last year the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) made a statement in this place about the appointment of the first director of the Institute of Family Studies. The Attorney, in presenting his statement to this chamber, said, among other things:
There is a dearth of solid well-researched information on the family in Australia.
I believe that it is enormously important that the absence of data about families, their structures, sizes and problems, including financial problems, should be overcome. I hope that the Institute of Family Studies will be one of the many undertakings of this Government to combat that problem. Further recommendations in terms of what ought to be done about families and family services are to be found in a report entitled Families and Social Services in Australia ‘. The report was prepared under the direction of Marie Coleman of the Department of Social Security. It was presented to the Minister for Social Security (Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle) in 1978. The first recommendation on page 9 of that report states:
There should be a mechanism at the Federal government level which brings together planning for income security and personal social services across functional departments and provides for co-operative data collection and program evaluation as between the Commonwealth and the States.
There again the emphasis is on the collection and analysis of data. I am glad to see that in May this year a public national conference entitled Towards an Australian Family Policy’ will be held at Macquarie University in Sydney. This has been organised under the aegis of the Council of Social Welfare Ministers of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. One of the objectives of the conference is to consolidate developments additional to the Family Services Committee Report entitled ‘Families and Social Services in Australia ‘ into a single publicly available presentation. Once again, the stress is on data collection. The preconference papers which are to be presented related to three subjects. The first is ‘What is known about the family in Australia?’, the second is ‘Current points of intervention or action’ and the third is ‘Existing consultation and other processes for community involvement in discussion of family policy’. I think it is terribly important that the Government give all the support it can to the promotion of seminars and discussions which will bring us greater information and a greater ability to deal with the problems of Australian families. We know, for instance, that in part 6 of Volume 4 of the report particular attention is drawn to the problem of lone fathers in Australia. At paragraph 55 on page 84 the report states:
Lone fathers account for one in every five lone parent families. It is anomalous that lone fathers are excluded from support.
This Government has been active in that regard. To the great credit of the Government and the Minister, supporting parent benefits were extended to supporting fathers on 10 November 1977. The annual report of the Department of Social Security for 1978-79 demonstrates that the number of male beneficiaries who were in receipt of the supporting parent benefit in that year was 3,133. The overall number of beneficiaries of the supporting parent benefit was 62,498. Payments totalling $226m were made to them. The recommendation in the report that the supporting parent benefit be extended to lone fathers has already been acted upon by this Government. I would have liked the Government in its response to this report to have indicated to us clearly that this was one of the recommendations that it had taken up, acted upon and put into our social security system. It has made a major contribution to alleviating a particular area of hardship which has been an anomaly of the Australian social welfare system for some time.
The break-up families is such that the report which appeared in the Melbourne Age on 23 May 1979 indicated that one in every five children born in Australia could spend a significant part of his or her childhood in a single parent family. Although single parent families are gaining greater attention, they are a problem that has been with us for some time. The 1975 March to May survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated that 91.2 per cent of Australian families were two-parent families. At that stage 7.8 per cent had single female heads of family and one per cent had single male heads of family. This is an area which is still deserving of a great deal of attention and support. It indicates the need for counselling and support services particularly, I believe, for a large number of lone fathers whose ability to cope with the responsibility of families, despite the macho image of Australian masculinity, has proven to be extremely limited. The section of the report that dealt with families- this is the only other part of that section of the report to which I make some reference- refers to the tragedy of domestic violence and sexual abuse. This reference is to be found in parts 9 and 10 of Volume 4 of the report. Page 1 33 states:
Our evidence leads us to believe that family violence is common in Australian society; it occurs across lines of class, race and age. The damage done to women and children is often severe.
I believe that this is one of the great unspoken evils of Australian society. Domestic violence, family violence, marital violence, violence against children and sexual abuse of children are some of the great unreported, unnoted blots that exist on the landscape of Australian society. This violence may be the result of any number of things. Page 141 of the report indicates quite clearly its relationship to levels of unemployment. Page 165 indicates its relationship to the massive abuse of alcohol. The report is sensitive in drawing to our attention the particular plight of children. It offers suggestions about what might be done in this regard. It draws our attention to evidence given by Christina Gibbeson in Sydney when she described the state of many of the children who come with their mothers to Elsie Women’s Refuge. She said:
It is really quite terrifying. Depending on their age- 2- year-olds having nervous breakdowns is not uncommon, even being hospitalised, right up to 13-or- 14-year-olds who cannot sleep, cannot eat, they are vomiting, calling to their mothers- they have terrible screaming tantrums.
I am sure that those people who are concerned with this matter will have noted the reports which came out of the 1975 conference organised by the Western Australian Government, the first national Australian conference on the battered child. The conference was opened by Judge Kemeri Murray, who said:
Battered children . . . have no votes, no political power- their voices cannot be heard. We do not even know their precise numbers. For too long, I believe, we as Australians have been unwilling to recognise that the problem of child abuse as a serious problem exists; that it can exist in an affluent, developed democratic society. We have been unwilling to face up to the possibility that as individuals we can and do do terrible damage to our children.
Comments and suggestions are made in the report. For instance, at page 146 of Volume 4, the following is stated:
We believe that the community should offer places where people can receive family counselling, and not necessarily by appointment. A woman or a man in a crisis situation cannot wait. We would like to see family counsellors as part of community health teams.
These are matters to which I believe we have to pay attention. They are matters which are deserving of Federal assistance. They are matters which are deserving of financial commitment by Australians.
I turn to the final point which I said I wished to draw from the Commission’s report, that is, the matter of homosexual law reform. I believe that attitudes on this matter have changed markedly in Australia. A survey published in the Sydney Morning Herald of 10 May 1978 indicated a response to the following question:
The total number who agreed with that proposition represented 57 per cent, those who neither agreed nor disagreed represented 1 1 per cent, those who disagreed represented 30 per cent and those who said they did not know represented 2 per cent. I think it would be fair to say that that attitude, expressing a greater degree of tolerance to this problem, was not endemic in Australia some years ago. The attitude of the churches, I think, is most significant in this regard. I wish to draw on the comments made by a number of churchmen and church authorities with regard to the proposals which have been current in Australia in terms of questions on homosexual law reform. The Melbourne Age of 15 October 1977 reported Archbishop Sir Launcelot Goody, the Catholic Archbishop of Perth, as saying that:
The report went on to state:
He has given his backing to legislation before the West Australian Parliament to remove homosexuality from the criminal code.
The Anglican Archbishop of Perth, the Most Rev. Geoffrey Sambell, has also supported the legislation.
A document which the Royal Commission quoted from at page 105 of Volume 5 drew attention to a statement of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Australia through the National Commission for Peace and Justice, stating:
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace . . does not oppose the repeal of criminal legislation punishing homosexual activity between consenting male adults in private; believes that the distinction between moral and legal condemnation can be maintained in this instance, as in the case of female homosexuality or adultery which, whilst also censured as immoral by the church, are not criminal offences.
In a report which was circulated by the Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission entitled ‘Review of the Report of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships’, dealing with this section of the Royal Commission’s report, the following is stated at page 29: lt is the opinion of this Review that homosexual behaviour should continue to be seen as unacceptable and against the good order of society; the law however should not seek to regulate behaviour in private between consenting adults.
That attitude held among the churches perhaps is not new. If one looks at the record of the debate which took place in Great Britian on the Sexual Offences Bill on 1 9 June 1 966, one can see in the Hansard record for the House of Lords the comments of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Fisher, who was then the Archbishop, who said:
I have argued all along that the present law makes it hard to help those whom society should help to free themselves from wrong influences.
Talking about the Sexual Offences Bill, which was designed purely as a follow-up to the Wolfenden report to remove the criminal nature of homosexual activity, he said:
Therefore, I want to join the noble Earl in begging the Government to facilitate this Bill by accepting it as their own.
I again quote from the evidence presented to the Royal Commission by the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, which stated: . . that while this Church’s traditional teaching on homosexuality has strong foundations in scripture and history and hence it does not condone homosexual practice, it considers nevertheless that the Christian faith as now understood makes no claim on the civil power to treat homosexual acts between consenting adults in private as criminal offences;
As I said, one knows that Archbishop Sambell wrote to the West Australian on 10 September 1 977, saying:
I write to add my support to those who wish to decriminalise homosexual acts in private between constenting adults.
Bishop John Hazlewood, of Ballarat, was quoted in the West Australian just one week later as giving his support to the Western Australian Government’s plans. One knows that in New Zealand this issue has been before the Anglican Synod. The Sydney Morning Herald of 17 October last reported:
The Christchurch Anglican Synod voted yesterday for the lifting of legal penalties on private homosexual acts between consenting men.
One knows, indeed, that the Anglican General Synod in the United Kingdom, in a report entitled ‘Homosexual Relationships- Contribution to Discussion ‘, stated:
The Church should recognise it can be justifiable for individuals to enter into a homosexual relationship involving the physical expression of free love.
The homosexual age of consent in Britain should be reduced from 2 1 to 18.
Bishops should not refuse to ordain a man because he is a homosexual.
A homosexual priest living openly with another man should offer his resignation to his bishop. The decision to accept or reject the resignation should remain wholly with the bishop.
One sees that the view of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie, who was enthroned early this week, was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this month as follows:
He is not in favour of admitting practising homosexuals to the priesthood, but thinks that some men who are ‘plainly homosexual in orientation’ could be priests.
Indeed, the attitudes of the Anglican Church, expressed by Archbishop Fisher, followed by Archbishop Ramsey, followed by Archbishop Coggan, now followed by Archbishop Runcie, have all expressed that view. The Lutheran Church, in its evidence to the Royal Commission, is reported at page 106 of Volume 5 of the Commission’s report to have stated:
The Church must exhibit understanding and sympathy for the homosexual, show love and pastoral concern, being ready to give help and encouragement in whatever way possible.
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church passed a resolution, in which it stated: it none the less supports the Wolfenden report that homosexual behaviour between two consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence, and that the appropriate authorities be advised accordingly.
I believe that the Federal Government has been very commendable in its response to this. For instance, the Public Service Board, not known as a pacemaker of radical social innovation, at page 76 of its annual report for 1978 states:
The Royal Commission on Human Relationships recommended that the Public Service Board should set an example to employers generally in Australia through a policy of nondiscrimination against homosexuals and similar minority groups.
Homosexual acts between consenting adults in private do not constitute criminal offences in the A.C.T. and South Australia. Within the Service, no account is taken of criminal convictions for such offences in the recruitment, promotion and disciplinary provisions of the Public Service Act.
– With respect, Senator, that is not an action of government; that was an action of this Parliament when a free vote was held in the early 1970s.
– I propose to come to that in a moment. I am conscious of that.
– There is a regulation on this.
– Yes. The report goes on to state:
In regard to any other criminal conviction Tor other homosexual offences, cases are assessed on their merits in the same way as any other type of criminal charge.
Senator Chip is right in saying the genesis of that was a free vote taken in the House of Representatives on the motion, if my memory serves me correctly, of Mr Gorton and Dr Cass. A clear expression of opinion was given by the House of Representatives. It required the Government to give it some legislative effect in the Australian Capital Territory. The Government was not bound by that statement of principle by the House of Representatives. Mr Ellicott, who undoubtedly will be recalled in Australian history as one of the great reforming Attorneys-General, promulgated Ordinance No. 55 of 1076 to reform the law of the Territory relating to sexual behaviour. Following largely on the wording of the Sexual Offences Act of Great Britain, section 3 provided:
Subject to this Ordinance, a person who, with the consent of another person (whether ofthe same or different sex) and in private, commits an act of a sexual nature upon or with that person is not, by reason only of the commission of that act, guilty of an offence.
– That passed through the Regulations and Ordinances Committee even in the presence of the redoubtable Senator Wright.
-I am sure that that is a great credit to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. Whether Senator Wright would particularly wish to be remembered for that fact is perhaps an entirely different matter.
This brings me to the point I wanted to make about homosexual law reform. It has been achieved in the Australian Capital Territory. There does not appear, by my casual observation, to be any marked increase in the lack of safety one finds when walking about the streets of the Territory. I am not yet aware of the total moral decline of the Capital Territory as a result; nor am I aware of the collapse of the social order in the Australian Capital Territory as a result either of this ordinance or of the ordinance promulgated more than 12 months ago decriminalising the use of marihuana. The evidence is there to be drawn on for those who are prepared to be persuaded by evidence.
I have quoted what the Catholic and Anglican Archbishops of Perth have had to say about their support for moves to reform homosexual law in
Western Australia. It is unfortunate that, despite their support, reform failed in Western Australia largely as a result of the obstruction of the Upper House in that State. Despite that State having a worthy royal commission which investigated homosexual law reform in Western Australia and recommended along the Wolfenden line for some action to be taken, no action was taken.
It is perhaps regrettable that the same can be said about the administration in Tasmania. One is led to believe by reading reports in the Tasmanian newspapers that perhaps one of the reasons for the defeat of Mr Green in the recent by-election was his advocacy of a private members Bill in order to bring about a change in the law. The Premier had even indicated that the legislation would have Government support. I understand that it has now lapsed and disappeared and is no longer a matter currently before the Tasmanian Parliament.
– I think Mr Green had other defects, didn’t he?
-I am sure that he did. If one reads the Tasmanian newspapers, and the letters to them one can discern a quite clear attitude among a large number of members that that was one of the principal matters on which things were said about him and against him during the campaign.
– Even the Democrats could beat him.
-Let us hope that the Democrats, a party which I am sure is always committed to matters of upright principle, will seek to pick up Mr Green ‘s private members Bill and bring it into legislation in Tasmania. We shall wait in order to judge on the basis of their commitment. The Victorian Government, is often portrayed as a leading government in terms of civil liberties and human rights matters, but despite its promises and the worthy statements of Attorney-General Storey, it has made no progress on this front. An article by Claude Forell in the Melbourne Age of 5 September 1979 under the heading ‘State has no business to interfere with gays’ stated:
Moreover, the Victorian Government has not only failed to honour its promise of more than two years ago to reform the law on homosexuality but has actually increased penalties for some offences.
I come finally to that much trumpeted bastion of civil liberties and reform- the Government of New South Wales. There is published throughout Australia a newspaper called Campaign. It is published as an overtly homosexual newspaper and is one of some substance and quality. Each month it publishes a fairly detailed political comment prepared by Lex Watson, a lecturer in government at the University of Sydney and a well-known campaigner and activist. He writes in issue No. 49:
Under the Wran Government the New South Wales Police have spent more time chasing gay men than under previous administrations.
This is the conclusion that can be drawn from the latest crime statistics released by the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
The figures show that the prosecution rate for male homosexual offences during the first two years of Wran ‘s reign was significantly higher than that maintained by the conservative government during the previous four years.
The Wran Government’s record of anti-gay laws is a singularly bad one.
Not only has it presided over an increase in police harassment of male homosexuals, but it has also refused to allow debate on an opposition proposal to repeal sections of the Crimes Act under which some of this harassment has occurred.
On the two occasions the question of allowing the debate came before Caucus it was defeated, and on both occasions it is believed the Premier voted with the majority against debate.
I simply make the point that the Commonwealth Parliament has been prepared to act. It has acted and has established a standard. It has demonstrated the consequences of that action and yet the States, with the exception of South Australia, still remain in a situation in which this archaic and stupid law about the behaviour of consenting adults in private remains on the statute book to the potential harassment of people who have a right to be treated in a far better fashion.
We know that there have been a number of recent reports on homosexuality. A recent report by the Kinsey Sex Research Institute and a report by Masters and Johnson contradict a number of the traditional views about homosexual behaviour. Some evidence has even been tendered that there may be a genetic base to homosexuality. I quote from a paper that was reported in the New Scientist of 1 1 January 1 979. I am sure all honourable senators will accept this publication as being a journal of some repute and distinction. The paper states:
Is it wise to consider genetics in homosexuality? Twin studies say it is. In one study of 85 sets of twins where at least one twin was homosexual, both twins were homosexual in all 40 identical twins. For the 45 non-identical pairs the likelihood of both twins being homosexual was no greater than for ordinary siblings. As Ruse says, ‘one could not ask for stronger evidence of a genetic component to human sexuality’.
It would be a great tragedy if the law in this country were to perceive what may well be related not only to environmental influences but also to genetic influences as an activity punishable by law.
There is a new consciousness in Australia about the gay rights movement. I have mentioned the newspaper campaign. There have been gay rights marches. By and large they have been sensible, intelligent, peaceful demonstrations against oppression. There have been the writings of people such as Denis Altman and Lex Watson which deserve sympathetic and careful consideration. Surely it is time for a little more tolerance to be shown on this matter. As an expression of the directions in which the community may well seek to move, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the concluding paragraph of the Royal Commission’s report on this matter.
The document read as follows-
What is really destructive to homosexuals themselves is not society’s view of them so much, as when they see these roles as the only roles they can adopt and so in fact put themselves into them because it is better to be accepted as something than nothing at all.
– I conclude on this note: This report deserves our serious and careful attention. It is based upon principles which I think are essentially Christian. I do not think the Archbishop of Brisbane would have lent his name to a report that was not based upon essentially Christian principles. The report is based on principles which I also believe are liberal principles and principles which I am sure an honourable senator such as Senator Chipp would support fully. I refer to the principles of tolerance and of getting to the facts and of making judgments based upon questions of sympathy, tolerance and understanding. It is a report which to the shame of the Government has waited this long for comment and for response. I again pose the question: What is the Government doing about it? Where is the interdepartmental committee. What is its report? When will it report? How will it report? Is this report to lie around for another two, three, four or five years- into the indefinite future- until the Government is propelled to take some action in terms of family or law reform which it could have taken years ago with a sympathetic approach to the recommendations in this report?
I apologise to my colleagues for having detained the Senate for such a lengthy time. As they would know, I have pressed the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) on a number of occasions to bring this subject on for debate. I am glad to have had the opportunity to make some contribution. I hope that within the ranks of my own party in the Parliament some voice can be continued to be raised for a sympathetic report to an important and significant document of Australian social history.
– I find some difficulty in following the two exceptionally great speeches by Senator Evans and Senator Puplick that we have heard tonight in this debate. It has been a wonderful debate. It has been boring as far as I am concerned only to the extent that nothing has been said in the last hour and a half with which I disagree. I think the report of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships is magnificent and I agree with Senator Puplick ‘s appraisement of it. I congratulate the three commissioners, the Hon. Justice Elizabeth Evatt, Dr Felix Arnott and Ms Anne Deveson for a wonderful achievement.
It is interesting to know that two very distinguished and very great Australian women were on the Commission. I was delighted when two women were appointed because too often the fate of human relationships as far as women are concerned is decided by an all male parliament. I think this was a refreshing change. I was particularly delighted to see His Grace Dr Felix Arnott appointed as a member of the Commission. I have been a great admirer of his for some time and I suspect that he had some admiration for me when I was weathering the onslaught of the Festival of Light when liberalising censorship. His Grace suggested, in my defence, that I should be canonised. I was very nattered for a time until I realised that before one can be canonised one must be dead. I wondered what the real intentions of His Grace were at the time.
I am very proud to be one of the sponsors of this Commission. Senator Evans was almost correct in stating the history of the beginning of the Commission. When the famous LambMcKenzie abortion on demand Bill was debated in the House of Representatives in, I think, 1 973 I was one of the many people who voted against it. There was an overwhelming vote against it because it amounted to the provision of abortion on demand. The size of the problem of abortion in Australia is shown by the fact that the nonradical magazine, the Medical Journal of Australia- the mouthpiece of the Australian Medical Association- stated that 200,000 unplanned children were being born in Australia each year. Simple arithmetic indicates that that means about 550 unplanned children are conceived every day or night of the year.
– Not necessarily unwanted.
– I did not say unwanted. I agree with Senator Walters in a flash. This is a rare occasion. It shows that there must be massive sexual ignorance in Australia if 550 times each of the 365 days ofthe year unplanned children are conceived. That is the only point I make at this stage.
– If it is not through massive ignorance and the honourable senator can give another reason I would be delighted to hear it. If she could give us a reason I think she would be making a massive contribution to science. A progressive member of the Labor Party, Mr Race Mathews, and I proposed a detailed inquiry into the rate of abortion in Australia, its consequences on the women concerned, the effects on women who have unplanned children and the effects on women who have unwanted children. We jointly moved for that inquiry to make it a non-party affair so that it would be accepted by the House of Representatives.
An amendment was then circulated by the now Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the late Mr Frank Stewart. The amendment to our motion, which I need not go into in any depth now, made any real inquiry into human relationships or the incidence of abortion virtually meaningless. If a commission had to look at all the terms of reference that that amendment required then the inquiry would have taken 50 years to complete. That amendment was accepted. Our original motion was defeated. To its credit the Whitlam Government took up the matter, streamlined the terms of reference of the motion and appointed these three magnificent Australians. The result was the appointment of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships. I am delighted at its recommendations but rather disappointed that so little action has been taken on them. I am very disappointed that whilst we debate so much endless trivia in this place- all day yesterday was a classic example of it- a report such as this, which affects every living Australian and every Australian yet unborn, has waited two years for the Parliament to have a cursory debate on it for 2’A hours tonight.
– And unfortunately it has emptied the House.
-Yes. I do not think there have been more than six honourable senators in the chamber all night. That is unfortunate. Maybe it is because of the quality of the speeches. The Royal Commission’s procedures were flexible and informal, providing maximum access for ordinary people. As the report stated at page 17 of volume 1:
We talked with many people of different ages, from the very old to the very young, with Aboriginals, migrant groups, people in cities and suburbs and with people in country towns and isolated places. Our invitation was openended, and we had a very wide response.
The Commission achieved a unique survey of human relationships in Australia. It has already succeeded in some part in opening up this area for public discussion as never before. Like Senator Evans, I deplore the vicious attacks that were made on the report. It is not a secret that I am not a great admirer of the character of the Prime Minister, although I do not often refer to it publicly. I think one of his more ‘reprehensible’ acts- a favourite word of his- was the deliberate leaking of what I call the dirty parts of the report in the 1977 election campaign and the making of a statement that it was ‘appalling’. That Prime Ministerial judgment on the report I believe put a stigma on it that discouraged a great number of sensible and sensitive people from discussing it as they should. In fact a stigma came to be attached to the report because of those comments which were made for political purposes. To set the record straight- belatedly- I quote from the Medical Journal of Australia, a most conservative publication. In the issue dated 1 1 February 1978 it states:
Let us say straight out that, unlike the Prime Minister, we cannot bring ourselves to say that this is, in any sense, “an appalling document”. Controversial it most certainly is in at least some of its recommendations, but the number of these is infinitely smaller than the initial uproar would lead one to expect. It is perhaps worth mentioning that the Report contains a total of 5 1 1 recommendations, of which only 57 . . . appear under the heading “Rape and Other Sexual Offences”, with 133 . . . dealing with sexuality and fertility, 131 relating to various aspects of family life and 132 on the topics of equality and discrimination. The weight attached by the Commission itself to the various segments of its task is thus in no way reflected by the quite disproportionate attention given by certain community leaders and anguished newspaper correspondents to the more sensational aspects of the report.
Again, when this report hit the deck, because it dared to touch on areas of human sexuality, those sorts of taboo subjects, the outraged purists of the community condemned it. Unhappily, those sorts of people always seem to get publicity out of proportion to their importance or numbers.
I have mentioned this many times and I had to meet this problem of censorship constantly when I was Minister for Customs and Excise. It is a strange thing in Australia- I think we are unique in this- but if honourable senators were having a candlelight dinner party at home with some close friends, which is a most pleasant way of spending an evening, and the question of morality arises, I will bet that in 99 cases out of 100 if the host were provocative enough to say ‘What do you think of the morality of Australia?’ the subject would immediately turn to sexual behaviour or sexual relationships between people.
I am not suggesting that sexual behaviour is not a component of morality- of course it is. But surely there are other aspects of human behaviour and relationships that are part of morality which affect the world and our way of life more than what two people do sexually to each other. Surely the emotions or the relationships of hate, anger, torture, murder, jealousy and calumny are parts of human relationships which do have a massive impact on the happiness or lack of happiness in the world today. I do not know to what extent illicit, illegal or immoral- I would put those words in quotations- sexual connections between two consenting adults had an effect on the war in Vietnam, the horror of Bangladesh, the insantity of Ireland or the killing in the Middle East, but I do know that hatred, envy, grief, and self-interest had a massive effect on those tragedies affecting the human race.
– In other words, make love not war.
– I would have thought that a lot of people in the world, and indeed in this Parliament, could do worse than accept that as a slogan, Senator Wriedt. I thank you for your interjection and acknowledgement. When we talk about the permissive society at the same dinner parties or between ourselves, immediately the conversation goes to a sexually permissive society. This, is dreadful. Men and women, boys and girls are hopping into bed with each other. Dreadful! That is the permissive society. I would have thought that a permissive society is one that permits poverty, injustice, inequality and suffering to flourish without a pen being lifted in anger. If I am a little emotional about this matter, which no doubt Senator Walters will accuse me of being, I will tell her that when I was liberalising censorship if I allowed in films and books depicting in exquisite technicolour the slaughter of thousands of people with John Wayne wading through the jungles of Burma throwing bombs in foxholes killing hundreds of Japanese singlehanded, there was not a pen lifted in anger in a letter to me.
– That’s all moral!
-It is quite moral! The Festival of Light, the Right to Life were thunderous in their silence. But let me let in one movie that showed a love-making scene between a man and a woman done in a dignified manner in context with the film, and I had at least 1,000 letters from manic, outraged, fringe lunatic groups. That seems to be the way in which these people react. That is one of the reasons why I believe that real debate on this report has not been what it might be. Senator Puplick very eloquently put the case for sex education in schools which the report recommends in that particular chapter. I commend a political opponent. It is very rare that I commend people of the National Party. But Mr Mike Ahern, who heads a committee in the Queensland Parliament, said this:
The opponents of human relationships and sex education in schools were advocating a cult of ignorance among Queensland school children.
They do not appear to understand the real life situation that children confront in society today.
He named the groups, and I think it is well worth recording them in Hansard. They are: The League of Rights, the Community Standards Organisation, Society to Outlaw Pornography., the Committee Against Regressive Education, CARE, the Concerned Parents’ Association- I love this one: the Committed Christians Crusade; the Association of Catholic Parents and Catholics United for the Faith. He warned that their campaign tactics breached parliamentary privilege and were in fact in contempt of Parliament. He went on to say:
I do not see how, as a Parliament, we can campaign against abortion, and at the same time, when surveys show a high degree of ignorance and dangerous misinformation regarding sexual matters rampant within the school community, sit here complacently and resolve to do nothing about it.
At a recent meeting in Chinchilla it was stated that sex education is a Jewish conspiracy. This anti-Semitic nonsense parades under the banner of Christianity. It is not Christianity as most of us know it, which is based on tolerance, charity and understanding.
– It sounds like Hitler, doesn ‘t it?
– Exactly, and I commend Mr Ahern for what he said. I will be very brief in commenting on the remainder of the report because Senator Evans and Senator Puplick have covered the sections fairly extensively. There are seven main parts in the recommendations. The first one is ‘Education for Human Relationships’. At pages 96 to 98 of the report are 29 excellent recommendations as far as that is concerned. In Part III, ‘Health and Medical Education’ is a brilliant chapter. I quote again from the Medical Journal of Australia. This is apparently the official view of the Australian Medical Association. The article concludes in this way:
It must be unequivocally classified as recommended reading for the medical profession, and indeed for all those who have the capacity to influence the management of human relationship problems in our society; one fears however that it may be all too lightly dismissed by those who have most to learn from it. If this depressing forecast turns out to be true, then there may well be some who will say that we have seen a million dollars and an immense amount of dedicated labour go down the drain. Yet reports such as this, even if they do no more than raise the consciousness of society by a couple of notches, will not have been produced in vain. Any male practitioner who feels unable to devote the time to it should at least buy a copy for his wife- in certain families that we know such a tactic might lead to some very interesting discussions indeed.
Part IV deals with sexuality and fertility. In its recommendations, the report states:
Schools, colleges and tertiary institutions should provide education programs in human relationships, including sex and reproduction, sexual expression, sexual behaviour and its consequences, and the causes, symptoms and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.
That is a recommendation I have mentioned before, which the Queensland Government is totally opposing and not implementing at all.
Massive data on such things as young people’s sources of sex information, the parents, school, peer groups, et cetera, and Australian and overseas surveys are used in the report. Most show that the peer group is a major source of information or misinformation. Up to 84 per cent of respondents in one survey showed this. The conclusion of the report, with which I agree- and this is rather devastating- said:
In this situation it is clear that ignorance, so far from protecting young people actually renders them more vulnerable to the risks of early sexual experience.
The report recommends not only school sex education but also wider human relations education not only in schools but also involving the education of parents so that they can communicate with each other and with their children.
Pan V of the report, as Senator Puplick said, is probably the most important. It deals with the question of the family. Senator Puplick spoke at some length about that, and I agree with everything that he said. I do not want to canvass the ground he has covered except to mention item 20 on page 1 1 1 where the report recommends:
Child care services for handicapped children should be integrated with normal services wherever possible. Special assistance should be given to those pre-schools and child care services which include a high proportion of handicapped children.
That is indicative of the compassion that leaps out of almost every page of this report. One of the tragedies of human life is that we sometimes judge other people by our own standards and by our own good luck. Quite often I wonder- I am sure that all members of this Parliament dowhat it would be like to have a terribly mentally handicapped or physically handicapped child. I wonder about the difficulties that one faces that one would not face with a normal child- the agony of sorrow, the agony of compassion that that child cannot enjoy the sorts of things that normal children do. Yet quite often, in our rush to be wise, we segregate these children and make them feel more isolated than ever. I offer that as just one example of many in the area of people who are disadvantaged and less fortunate than normal.
Part 6 of the report has an extraordinarily good series of recommendations in several areas, including the decriminalisation of prostitution. I believe that this is one of the anachronisms that we still hold in our society. As Senator Walters quite properly reminded me the other night- I thank her for educating me- the act of sex needs two people to participate.
– You are very ignorant on that.
– There must be two at least.
– I was ignorant until Senator Walters enlightened me. Senator Wheeldon even increases my enlightenment. He says there must be at least two people present at the time. I have never understood why in the area of prostitution it is the woman and the woman only who is committing a criminal offence. It seems to me to be the most ridiculous and absurd anachronism on our statute books. The report has referred to this.
Senator Puplick, I think, was invaluable in his admonition of State parliaments for not having the guts to act on these things. He talked mainly about the question of homosexuality. I refer also to prostitution and many of these areas where none of the political parties are game to put their toes in the water. I am not saying this in order to make a political point because a member of the Australian Democrats in South Australia has introduced a private member’s Bill to decriminalise prostitution. There was a massive majority in favour of decriminalisation by a special committee that reported on it. Yet I believe that at the last count Robin Millhouse has only five or six people of both parties to support him. The Bill will just not be a goer. Is that because the majority of members of the South Australian Parliament, Liberal or Labor, do not believe in decriminalising prostitution? Of course it is not.
– It is because they are men.
– It is the cowardice of the politicians.
-I do not think it is that, Senator Melzer. I think Senator Missen is right. I think it is the cowardice and the mistaken belief that if they come out and advocate this they are going to lose a few miserable votes. I would have thought that the people are tired of politicians sitting on fences in these difficult areas. The report also covers equality and discrimination. It is not concerned only with prostitution. It has some great recommendations concerning Aboriginals and the health of migrants, which is a very important area and one on which I criticise this Government. At page 123 of the report, the Commission says:
The Government should encourage and support, by funding or otherwise, programs by State or voluntary agencies to train and employ professional interpreters with special attention to health services and hospitals.
I have a number of friends who are specialist doctors at hospitals. They tell me that the number of migrants who cannot speak English and who have been treated for the wrong illness for over 12 months by their general practitioners is criminal. These general practitioners are very capable, very competent and very sympathetic members of the medical profession, but because of the lack of language, the lack of communications, symptoms have not been able to be adequately explained to the medical practitioner. This is one area in which I believe urgent attention is required.
Homosexuality reform is another matter mentioned in this volume of the report, as are the handicapped. I am absolutely in favour of the recommendations of the commission on the question of rape. One of the things that sickened me- this is going back quite a few years to when
I was studying commercial law at university and some forms of criminal law- was when I made visits to the law courts and saw some salacious judge allow the cross-examination of a young girl on the question of penetration. The kind of almost evil bemusement on the part of the court and the participants in this hideous exercise disgusted me. That was many years ago, but as I understand it this practice still goes on today. Something that confuses me and confounds any sort of logical process that I have is that one of the whole tenets of British justice is that previous crimes of the accused are not allowed to be brought before the court before the verdict is brought in. But rape seems to have a different place in the scheme of things, because the previous sexual experiences of the victim are quite often trotted out and examined in sordid detail. I have read the particular section on rape and other sexual offences in the report, and agree entirely with them. Summing up, I am delighted to have had the opportunity of debating this matter tonight. 1 only regret that so few speakers have participated. I hope that the debate will be resurrected in the near future so it can be continued.
– It took three years and three months for the Royal Commission on Human Relationships to bring down its five-volume report. Is it any wonder, if we look at the terms of reference? If I could just quote the first paragraph of these terms of reference, it will give some indication of their breadth: The terms of reference are:
To inquire into and report upon the family, social, educational, legal and sexual aspects of male and female relationships, so far as those matters are relevant to the powers and functions of the Australian Parliament and Government, including powers and functions in relation to the Territories:
I believe we must look at what the Commissioners hoped to accomplish. If we look at the aims that come within these loose terms of reference, we find that one of the most important is the concept of responsible parenthood. Another is promoting responsible sexual behaviour and providing a sound basis in the fundamentals of male and female relationships in the Australian social environment. The royal commissioners were asked:
To make recommendations as to measures that are desirable with respect to the foregoing matters under existing or future laws of the Australian Parliament …
It is pretty clear to me that the terms of reference asked the commissioners to investigate many moral issues and to make recommendations on them, either by the use of guidelines or by the use of legislation. Yet we find the commissioners saying that where there is a conflict of moral views, the law should not set any standard but should remain neutral. I gather that it is because of this belief that the commissioners came up with those few radical recommendations, most of which the community believe are highly irresponsible. I believe that it is because of these recommendations that the community has rejected the report as a whole, and in fact has treated all the work which was undertaken by the commissioners and all the financial expenditure as a bit of a joke. What a pity that is. A great deal of time was spent in compiling the report, a large amount of money was expended, and yet the report has been rejected, I believe, by the community. I believe that by far the majority of those 5 1 1 recommendations are very good, precise and necessary recommendations with which I am in full agreement. However, we must wonder sometimes at the judgment of people who come out with recommendations such as that all legal sanctions should no longer apply in the area of incest.
My major concern with the report is the way in which the commissioners came to their conclusions. Whilst initiating some research in some areas, they did take a considerable amount of evidence from a great variety of people- people who are specialists in their fields as well as lay people. All sorts of opinions were expressed and, according to my reading of the report, the commissioners, on occasions, arbitrarily accepted one opinion in favour of another. All types of people gave so-called facts and figures without being called upon to substantiate their evidence. 1 am sure that Senator Melzer will agree with me when I say that maybe my expectations of the commissioners were too great. That is purely as a result of being a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare which is chaired by Senator Baume. I believe that Senator Baume is a scrupulous chairman. He insists, on every occasion, that reports produced by our Committee have regard only to evidence that can be substantiated. Opinion alone is interesting and can be commented on, but it is not sufficient for our Committee to rely on when making recommendations.
The Senate Standing Committee has been told that clinical evidence which was accepted by this Royal Commission in fact is inaccurate recollections of the last ten cases. Our Committee asks for evidence to be substantiated, but that is not so in the case of the report in front of us. Again, much of the evidence quoted is highly misleading. I cite just one example. In Chapter 6 of
Volume 2 the report deals with social sexual behaviour and implications for education. It reads:
On this point Dr J. Black, obstetrician and gynaecologist, told us that in:
The report identifies Dr Black as an obstetrician and gynaecologist, but it fails to explain to readers that, while specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology, Dr Black’s main speciality within that field is women’s sexual problems. It surprises me that those three women out of those 750 ever consulted him. They should not have had to consult him. I believe that this is a vital piece of information that changes the whole complexion of his evidence and renders it inappropriate. The fact that Dr Black commented on his particular speciality in that regard is completely useless evidence.
Time permits me to touch on only a few of the 500-odd recommendations made by the Royal Commission. Again, I emphasise that I am in agreement with many of them. One recommendation in particular is very dear to my heart. I am sure that all honourable senators will recall that I have spoken many times in this place on the need for effective evaluation of any type of education, particularly moral education, whether in regard to human relations in its widest meaning or illicit drugs. I was delighted to note that the Royal Commission’s recommendation 12(b) in Volume 1 states:
Research should be directed to: . . the evaluation of human relationships, education programs and methods of delivering them.
Evaluation was pretty high on the Commission’s list of priorities. There are other recommendations on that same page with which I am in hearty agreement. There are, however, a few with which I disagree. However, I will concentrate on this particular one because to me it is most important because it is set out in more detail. It states:
The next recommendation reads:
That is the first time that I have ever heard anyone suggest that an evaluation over a period of ten years should be undertaken immediately so that in ten years’ time we have a real evaluation. I believe that if this particular recommendation is adopted it will be of more use in our fight for responsible human relationships than any other single recommendation. I am surprised, however, that the Commission considered as an authentic short-term evaluation of the sex education the report of the curriculum centre of the Education Department of Tasmania on the effects and effectiveness of social sciences. That report states:
In 1973 a sub-unit of the Social Sciences program was introduced into a number of Grade 9 classes in selected state secondary schools in Tasmania. This Personal relationships sub-unit dealt with aspects of sex, drugs, the media and personal relationships generally. An investigation was conducted into cognitive and affective consequences in the school and in the home . . .
The results of the investigations were very favourable to the course.
That refers to the survey. The report continues:
The pupils did increase their knowledge and understanding of the topics dealt with: teachers approved of having such a course and many would be prepared to teach it: parents thoroughly endorsed the whole idea: pupils reacted favourably to it: teachers of the trial classes found few classroom problems that they did not solve.
That investigation showed that the children thought the project was good, the teachers thought it was necessary and, when the mothers were interviewed, they said that the children knew a lot more than they did before the project was entered into. But information is not enough to engender a responsible attitude. Not only is the student required to appreciate the implications of that information but he must also be in the position to make a balanced choice when faced with alternatives. What child in primary school or even in the early stages of high school is in a position to make that balanced choice when given alternatives? We must understand that there are people who will never be able and never equipped to make that choice.
There is no reference in the report to the need for the social values of the teacher to be considered as part of the selection process. The Royal Commission went into teacher education in this area very thoroughly. But no mention is made about the social values necessary in a teacher for selection. Indeed, the commissioners commented on and quoted quite a considerable number of views put to them during the taking of evidence but they did not give any ideas of their own as to whether it is a good or bad thing to take into account.
I now turn to the recommendations put by the Commission on the law relating to consent to sexual relations. As the Commission pointed out, depending on the State, the minimum age of consent varies between 16 and 18 years. The Commission, however, decided that this age was not low enough and it recommended that the age should be reduced to 15 years. It went on to put the view that really children 13 to 15 years also are old enough to make value decisions in this regard. It said that as long as in the case of a little girl of 13 the partner is not over 18, no action should be taken. The report, surprisingly enough, stated:
We think that a person of 15 is sufficiently able to make decisions about sexual relations without the other party incurring criminal liability, though we would extend protection up to 17 where the other party is in a position of authority, such as a teacher. Between the ages of 1 3 and 1 5 it is our view that, if the other party is within 5 years ofthe age of the consenting party, there should be no criminal liability for sexual relationships. Below 13 we make no specific proposal though we do not consider criminal action appropriate where the children are close in age and there is no coercion. Intercourse with a child under 10 should not be permissable in any circumstances.
– From what page are you quoting, just to help me?
– I am quoting from page 94 of volume 1.
– I take it that the issue is not when they can carry out this activity but simply what penalty should apply to the other party.
– Yes. The report is saying that a mature 18-year-old, whom I am sure Senator Baume would class as an adult, should be permitted to have sexual relations with a girl of 13 who perhaps is a very immature 13. No regard whatsoever is given to the particular circumstances of the case. We have to decide whether in such an instance there should be recourse to legal action. If Senator Baume reflects on the variations in maturity of children of that age he can perhaps understand my concern. The community showed great concern about the judgment of the commissioners in this area. The Commission ‘s opinion on incest was as follows:
Dealing first with the genetic considerations: … In more recent years, however, researchers have challenged earlier assumptions as to the genetic effect of human inbreeding. It is now established that incest itself does not cause damage to offspring.
The Commission referred to a 1955 report as being a report of more recent years. When the report originally came out the Australian College of Paediatrics violently opposed that opinion. In an article appearing in the Age it is stated:
Medical experts have challenged a Royal Commission statement that incestuous unions do not harm their offspring.
The Australian College of Paediatrics and the genetics research unit of the Royal Children’s Hospital say the statement is wrong.
They say children born of incest have a much higher rate of major birth defects, including mental retardation, than other children.
The Royal Commission on Human Relationships says in its final report that researchers have challenged earlier assumptions that human inbreeding produces an unhealthy and unnatural child.
The report states: ‘It is now established that incest itself does not cause damage to offspring. ‘
Dr John Rogers, medical geneticist with the genetics research unit, said yesterday he was concerned that people in incestuous relationships were being counselled on the basis of the commission statement.
Dr Rogers said a follow up study of 44 children in both America and England had shown that half the children were either dead or mentally retarded.
The largest study, comparing 161 offspring of incest with their half brothers and half sisters (not born in an incestuous relationship), showed that only four per cent of the half siblings had major birth defects while 40 per cent ofthe inbred children had.
– What about the final recommendation? That is reasonable, is it not?
– The final recommendation on incest is that all legislation should be abolished.
– It is not. That is the Prime Minister’s lie.
-The honourable senator should just let me finish. He asked me what the recommendation was. Without any qualification it is what I stated. If he looked at that recommendation and if he gave me time to make the qualifications, perhaps we will get somewhere. On page 130 of Volume 1 it is stated:
Existing criminal prohibitions against incestuous behaviour should be repealed.
There are qualifications. Does Senator Tate have Volume 1?
– We probably have different -
– Come on, we have not got different reports.
– Different printing jobs.
– The printing is not changed. What a tremendous excuse.
– If you are looking for a debate at this late hour of the night, you will get one.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- Order! The debate should be through the Chair not across the chamber.
– In regard to the moral side of the recommendations, I turn to page 130 of volume 1 of the report. Recommendation No. 56 states:
Existing criminal prohibitions against incestuous behaviour should be repealed.
I was pointing out to Senator Tate a minute ago that admittedly when the Commissioners made that recommendation they pointed out that alternative legislation can cope in situations where a father forces himself on his very young daughter. Whilst this might be duplicating legislation, there are precedents for that in many of our laws. I believe that legislation especially dealing with incest should be maintained. The Commissioners believe that, once a girl turns 1 7 years of age, if she consents, no action should be taken against the father. I do not believe the Commissioners have given enough consideration to the influence of the father on some children, or the varying maturity of 17-year-old girls. The Commissioners’ stated reasons for this recommendation are: lt seems to us that the principal purpose of the law of incest is to protect the sexually immature person from sexual advances of members of the family with whom that young person is, of necessity, in a close relationship.
– Isn’t that right?
– I am not querying that. The Commissioners continue:
The proscription of sexual relationships within the family is a necessary protection of the growing child and such relationships are generally considered socially undesirable, whatever may be the legal position.
Incest is highly disruptive of the family unit.
– Hear, hear!
– I agree. The passage goes on:
Not only does it impair the individual’s capacity for general social relationships but it also disorganises the relationships within the family, leading to a confusion of roles. As Professor Graham Hughes puts it:
The very kernel of the social complex, the family unit, from which outgoing relationships are developed with others in society, is thus gravely threatened by the incest situation.
It is clear, however, that the majority of families in which incest occurs are already disturbed, and the incestuous behaviour appears to be a symptom, rather than a cause, of the disturbance. Imposing criminal sanctions on one of the overt signs of disruption may not alleviate the disruption itself.
It is difficult to see what purpose is served by imposing criminal sanctions on incestuous relationships between consenting adults . . . Where both parties arc consenting, their relationship may be seen as immoral by many. But it is not necessarily harmful to either person or to society.
We conclude, as did the South Australian Committee, that there is no justification for the intervention of the criminal law into adult incestuous behaviour. This does not mean that such behaviour is to be encouraged or condoned, only that it is not appropriate for the law to impose criminal sanctions.
We think that the age of consent should be 1 7 in relation to sexual intercourse . . . with members of a person’s own family. Below 17 the same age differential provision should apply as recommended in chapter 14. This would have the effect of prohibiting all father-daughter incest where the girl is under 17, and all brother-sister incest where one party is under 1 7 and there is more than five years age difference between them.
– That is not an absolute removal of the criminal law, is it?
– Yes, it is.
-Senator Tate, I quoted from the recommendation which said that the whole of the law should be removed. You queried that, came over here and I proved that you were wrong. I said that there were qualifications, and qualifications are what I have been talking about. The qualifications were not put by me; they were put by the Royal Commission. I do not believe that there can be any recourse if that qualification is allowed. In the case of a daughter of 1 7 years who is supposed to be consenting, the mother has no right to protect or way of going about protecting that daughter even though, as we have seen evidence before the Joint Committee on the Family Law Act, in some cases the daughter will refuse to take action against her father rather than put the family through the glare of publicity. How much more will she pretend to have been consenting to save her mother going public to protect her? I believe that the Commissioners have not thought this through and they relieve the father of any obligation once the daughter turns 1 7 years of age, unless that daughter is strong enough in character to take her father to court. Previously it has been up to the mother to do it, but now the daughter can back down and say that she consented.
In regard to the issue of abortion, I have made my opinions very clear in this place and consequently I will speak very briefly. I find it hard to understand the Commission which agrees that the foetus ‘is certainly a human life’ and that abortion is most undesirable and then supports abortion. The main reason seems to be that this particular human life cannot be seen or touched, and it cannot be involved in a human relationship. The only way it can be involved in a human relationship with the mother and father is through their imagination. Therefore, the Commission says that because it cannot be seen or touched and because there can be no human relationship with it, that is a reason for the destruction of that human life.
Finally, in considering this report honourable senators must ask themselves whether the law influences attitudes. That is an extremely important question to determine. If we believe it does, does the removal of the law influence attitudes? Does it not perhaps tend to say that that particular action cannot be too bad if it is not bad enough to require any legal action? I believe that this is the basic question that we must all ask ourselves. I am of the firm belief that laws do influence behaviour. Because of that, I find it hard to come to agreement with some of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships.
-Mr President, I rise with only a couple of minutes remaining for this debate tonight. I had not intended to intervene in this debate but I do so because I think that, even with the best will in the world, Senator Walters has misunderstood the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Human Relationships concerning incest. I take some of the points she made. As I recall it, the first point dealt with the fact that the Commission made certain remarks concerning the likely genetic damage to the children who might be the result of incest perhaps between a father and a daughter. As a matter of scientific judgment, that may or may not be the case. However, the point that the Commission really was making was that existing laws involving incest are based on blood relationships and on consanguinity and, in the current social context, those particular laws are outmoded. One needs to protect the young daughter not only from the father in the natural blood relationship, but also from the de facto husband, the step-father, the adoptive parent, the guardian, the foster father and so on. The Commission says in the later paragraphs of its report that it wants the current laws on incest repealed in order that the new social phenomenon of daughters being within a family structure, not necessarily based on blood relationships, so that that new social phenomenon can be recognised and incest laws drawn up on that basis. The true basis for retaining a law of incest is that in such a household the daughter- I will restrict my remarks to a daughter rather than a son, as mother-son relationships are very rare- is vulnerable to the emotional pressure that can be brought to bear by the elder -
– Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I do not intend to detain the Senate for any length of time. Honourable senators will recall that last week I referred to the problems being encountered by Aborigines at Noonkanbah in Western Australia. I have a number of documents which the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney) and the Acting Deputy President who was in the chair earlier agreed could be incorporated in Hansard. There is one technical problem which I will explain later. As reported at page 837 of Hansard of 19 March 1980, 1 said:
The pastoral lease at Noonkanbah was acquired with Commonwealth funds, because no Aboriginal reserve existed.
The land must now be acquired by the Commonwealth. May I add to that that there is valuable and extensive evidence that the Commonwealth has the right to do this. But this Government, which has been pussyfooting around ever since its election on 13 December 1975, has declined to take up the challenge and to do this for Aborigines. Instead it would rather play footsies with Sir Charles Court and Mr Bjelke-Petersen who are the two worst offenders in this area if one excludes that other Everingham, the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. These arc the three people to whom this Government continually knuckles under, lt is afraid of the political backlash from those three people, namely, the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and the Premiers of Western Australia and Queensland.
I quoted from a Press statement issued by one of the principals involved in the Noonkanbah conflict. It stated:
Sir Charles Court has deliberately aggravated the situation with his threats to withdraw exploration leases from mining companies which seek negotiations with Aboriginal communities.
That is a very bad threat. Those are the words I used on that day. Since then the situation has considerably deteriorated. I refer to the Weekend Australian of March 22-23. On the page headed Focus on the Nation’ there appeared an article by Rob Bennett. I will quote a couple of the relevant paragraphs. The article stated:
Then the State’s Trade and Labour Council, the ACTU and the Chamber of Mines entered the fracas. But just as the confrontation looked likely to explode-
This shows the collaboration going on between this Government and the Court Government- the situation changed dramatically.
Amax which had maintained a low profile throughout the dispute, suddenly sent representatives onto the station under police escort.
According to the Premier, the dispute had been resolved and the Aborigines on Noonkanbah had decided to allow drilling to proceed.
However, it is claimed that the Aborigines have agreed to the drilling only reluctantly.
I add to the Bennett article that they did so under tremendous pressure. The article continued:
They had been put in a ‘heads-you-win-tails-you-lose’ situation.
It is about this point that the plot thickened. The role played by police had some people wondering about the tactics adopted by the State Government.
According to Sir Charles, the police did not go to Noonkanbah at the Government’s or the company’s request.
The police do things on their own initiative- we are meticulous in not telling the police how to do their job,’ he said.
According to the Commissioner for Police, Mr Owen Leitch, police had been sent to Noonkanbah in case of trouble.
He later admitted that it was at the company’s request.
It seemed rather unusual that the Aborigines at Noonkanbah should back down so quickly after being adamant that Amax should not drill on the station.
It is strange that the Police Commissioner should send a strong force of police without consulting the Government, even through the Minister for Police, Mr Bill Hassell, at a time when the Government was attempting to negotiate a resolution to the conflict.
It is worth noting that the police party comprised almost a dozen men in several vehicles, including a paddy wagon. There were a further 34 police on standby.
Yet both governments have said that the Aborigines came into this in a voluntary capacity. Of course that is not true. I now refer to a transcript on the Nationwide program headed ‘Attempts in WA Election to Prevent Voting by Aborigines in the Electorate of Kimberley’. The principals whose words I will quote are Steve Widdell, a Kununurra resident, and Andrew Olle who was the interviewer. The program was telecast on 6 March 1980. Andrew Olle made the following statement on the television program:
Long before the white man brought his God, these mountains watched over the Kitja people. They dominated the Northwest. Tribal elders and stone, dignified, aloof, their craggy features mellowed by the passage of time. For thousands of years, the Kimberleys and the Aborigines lived in harmony, the relationship was shattered almost overnight. The land was seized, the original owners were enslaved.
The transcript of the program continues:
Aborigine: Just like animals, shot by white man and the same man . . . (inaudible) . . . why’s that?
Andrew Olle: You’re saying the white man treated the Aborigine like animals.
Aborigine: Yes. He’s the same blood, same human. The colour is different, but we are human beings . . (inaudible) . . .
Andrew Olle: What work did you used to do for the white man on the stations before you came here.
Aborigine: We done the stock, station jobs, wood, timber cutting, with the axe.
Andrew 01le: Did you get good money?
Aborigine: Nothing. No money. One stick tobac . . .
Andrew Olle: No money at all?
Aborigine: No money at all.
Andrew Olle: Today, these Kitja elders live in the Aboriginal equivalent of a retirement village: a reserve at Turkey Creek. As they eke their final years in squalid circumstances. Some of their sons must work for descendants of familites who slaughtered their forebears.
Aborigine: Well, they got shot . . . (inaudible)
Andrew 0lie: This old man remembers the time a group of starving Aboriginal station hands, one of them, his brother, killed and ate a poddy calf. The white manager revenged his loss by lacing their food with strychnine. Those that survived were shot. Slowly the Kimberleys whites are being civilized. Now they commit lesser atrocities.
What did you do on election day in Turkey Creek?
Steve Widdell: Took 44 gallons of plonk there to stop them from voting.
Andrew Olle: You deliberately set out to stop . . what to get them drunk . . .
Steve Widdell: So they couldn’t vote. Cause 1 don’t believe the actual … see for .. . say the Liberal win 200, the Labor win 200 votes, well that’s 200 votes the Liberal have got to win one vote to be in front of that again. See, the Liberal would never have done that.
Andrew 01 le: What, you wanted the Liberal Party to get those votes did you?
Steve Widdell: No, I didn’t care who got the votes.
Andrew Olle: Why didn’t you want the Labor Party to get them.
SteveWiddell: I think it was unfair. Cause, the Labor are . . . well, say I’m Liberal then, right oh!
Andrew Olle: lt was a fairly contemptible thing to do wasn’t it, to take all that alcohol down deliberately to stop those people from exercising their democratic rights?
Steve Widdell: Yeh, ya own opinion.
When I spoke in the chamber on this matter previously I was rather critical of the Amax company and the organisations associated with it. I have a photostat of the background to the Amax organisation. The people involved in that organisation, with the aid of the Federal Government and the Western Australian Government, are able to smash an Aboriginal tribe. That is precisely what they are doing. They could not have done it without the aid of the Federal Government and the Government of Western Australia. I know that certain technical problems may be involved with the incorporation in Hansard of this document. Therefore, we have reached an agreement. I understand that the chances are that it may be safely incorporated because I have not included large tables of figures which I would have liked to have included. I seek leave to have the document incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted?
– As Senator Keeffe has indicated, he showed me the document. My only query was that there may be technical problems in having it incorporated. I know that Hansard has indicated that it probably can be incorporated. Subject to the possibility of technical difficulties, I am happy to grant leave.
– Leave is granted on those conditions.
The document read as follows-
Incorporated in New York, June 17, 1887 as American Metal Co., Ltd. Name changed to American Metal Climax; Inc. on merger of Climax Molybdenum Co. in 1957. Present name adopted July 1, 1974.
In 1 920 absorbed business of L. Vogelstein & Co., Inc.
In 1947, acquired interest in Tsumeb Corp. Ltd. a S.W. African corporation. Direct and indirect interests: 30 per cent.
In Aug. 1948, formed Southwest Potash Corp. ( 100 per cent owned ) ( now AMAX Chemical Corp. )
In 1 954, acquired 25. 1 5 per cent interest in Bikita Mineral (Private) Ltd., which owns a lithium beryllium property in Rhodesia.
At end of 1954. formed Heath Steele Mines Ltd (100 per cent owned) which has a 75 per cent interest in mining properties in New Brunswick. Canada.
On Dec. 30. 1957, merged Climax Molybdenum Co., 3 commonshares issued for each Climax share.
Early in 1961 acquired interest in Canada Tungsten Mining Corp., Ltd; subsequently increased interest to 65 per cent.
In 1962 formed Amax Petroleum Corp., subsidiary to engage in oil and gas production and exploration in US and Canada. Subsidiary then, in Jan. 1963, acquired for $7,000,000 cash and oil production payment oil and gas properties of Trigood Oil Co., Goodstein Oil & Gas Co., Chappel Oil Co., Boston-Wyoming Oil Co. and related properties.
In 1 967 and 1 968, sold bulk of oil and gas properties in US and Canada but continues participation in North Sea exploration. Amax Petroleum participates in three groups holding oil and gas exploration licenses for North Sea surface acres; in the first group with 20.9 per cent in 366,124 acres off The Netherlands; in the second with 22 per cent of 58,000 acres of the UK; and in the third with 21.25 per cent in 271,002 acres off Norway.
On Aug. 31, 1962 merged Kawneer Co., Niles, Mich. Manufacturer of architectural aluminium products and appliance parts by exchange of one 4¼ per cent convertible preferred share for each 3 shares, and Apex Smelting Co., Chicago, by exchange of one 4’/4 per cent convertible preferred share for each 2.22 shares. Both now operate as subsidiaries of Alumax Inc. These preferred shares were all converted or redeemed by Sept., 1969.
Also in Feb. 1963 formed Kawneer G.m.b.H., Germany subsidiary to manufacture aluminium doors, windows, store fronts and wall systems at factory acquired in Rheydt, Germany. In Mar. 1967, changed name to Amax Aluminium GmbH now a subsidiary of Alumax Inc.
In May 1 963, acquired assets of Hunter Engineering Co., Riverside, Cal. Manufacturer of aluminium sheet and other aluminium products for about $14,700,000 equivalent to $9 perHuntershare(soldin 1970).
In Jan. 1966, acquired Johnston Foil Co., St Louis, producer of aluminium, tin and lead foil. Now operates as Alumax Foils, Inc., subsidiary of Alumax Inc.
In 1968, acquired Minworth Metals Ltd. which operates one plant in the United Kingdom for the production of ferromolybdenum and other ferroalloys.
On Oct. 31, 1969 merged Ayrshire Collieries Corp. (now Amax Coal Co.) by exchange of one share of series A convertible preferred stock for each of 790,89 1 Ayrshire common shares.
In July 1970, acquired remaining outstanding interest in Mackamax Aluminium Ltd, England. In Dec. 1972, changed name to Kawneer UK Ltd, now a subsidiary of Alumax Inc.
On Nov. 30, 1971 merged AMAX International Capital Corp. (wholly-owned subsidiary) into Company.
In Apr., 1972, acquired a minority interest in Australian Consolidated Minerals Ltd, an Australian exploration co.
On July 31, 1972, merged Amax Holdings, Inc. (whollyowned subsidiary) into Company.
In June 1973 acquired Banner Mining Co. and Tintic Standard Mining Co. for about $85,000,000 in pfd. stk.
On Jan. 30, 1974 sold 50 per cent of aluminium business (now named Alumax Inc. ) for $ 1 34,880,000.
On July 31, 1975 acquired Central Oil Co., Laurel, Miss. for 787,986 Co. com. shares.
In 1976 acquired woodlands and farmlands, including ownership or control of 1 44, 000 acres of pinelands located mainly in Georgia and Florida, several sawmills and related manufacturing facilities in several transactions for a total of $88,650,000 including $41,650,000 debt assumed and 263,379 Co. common stock valued at $ 1 5,080,000.
Joint Venture: In Mar. 1978, Co. and Bureau De Recherches Geologiques Et Minieres. an agency of the French government, signed an agreement leading to joint development of nickel deposits at the north end of the French territory of New Caledonia. Implementation of the agreement covers feasibility and financing studies and ultimate mine and plant construction and operation, and will be accomplished by Cofremmi, a French company. The capital of Cofremmi is owned 90 per cent by Sopromines. in which 5 1 per cent is owned by BRGM and 49 per cent by Co.
Subsidiary Sh. Tender Offer: In June 1978 Amax Securities, Inc., a subsidiary of Co. completed a cash tender offer on the Toronto Stock Exchange for 800,000 com. shs. of Canada Tungsten Mining Corp. Ltd at a price of $ 1 9.00 per sh. Amax Securities owns 3,230,288 shs. of Canada Tungsten’s issued position. Dome Mines Ltd, owner of 1,000,912 com. shs. did not tender any of its shs. pursuant to Amax Securities ‘ offer.
At 31 December 1977, owned 100 per cent voting power (excepting as noted) in the following significant subsidiaries among others:
Name, place of incorporation:
Amax Arizona, Inc. (Nev.)
Eureka Standard Consolidating Mining Co. (Utah) (61 percent)
Amax Asia, I nc. ( Del. )
Amax Japan Co., Ltd (Japan)
Amax Australia, Inc. (Del.)
Amax Base Metals Research & Development, Inc. ( Del. )
Amax Botswana Ltd (Del.)
Amax of Canada, Inc. ( Del. )
Amax Chemical Corp. ( Del. )
Southwest Potash Corp. (Del.)
Amax Chromite Corp. (Del.)
Amax Coal Co., Inc. (Del.)
Amax Copper, Inc. (Del.)
Amax Environmental Services, Inc. (Del.)
Amax Exploration, Inc. (Del.)
Amax Exploration (Australia), Inc. (Del.)
Amax Exploration ( Ireland ), Inc. ( Del. )
Amax Exploration of U.K., Inc. (Del.)
Amax Extractive Research & Development, Inc. (Del.)
Amax Forest Products, Inc. (Del.)
Amax Indonesia, Inc.
Amax International Coal. Inc. (Del.)
Amax Iron Ore Corporation (Del.)
Amax Lead & Zinc, Inc. (Del.)
Blackwell Zinc Company, Inc. (N.Y.)
Amax Lead Company of Missouri ( Del. )
Missouri Lead Smelting Company (Del.)
Amax Meadowlark Farms (Australia), Inc. (Del.)
Fortescue Pastoral Pty Ltd (Western Australia)
Amax Michigan, Inc. (Del.)
Amax Mineral Sales Corp. (Del.)
Amax Pacific Sales Corp. (Del.)
Mt Newman Mineral Sales ( H.K. ) Ltd ( Hong Kong)
Mt Newman Mineral Sales Corporation Pty Ltd (Western Australia)
Amax Nickel, Inc. (Del.)
Amax Nickel GmbH (West Germany)
Amax Nickel Japan Co., Ltd (Japan)
Amax Nickel (New Caledonia), Inc. ( Del. ) Amax Nickel Overseas Ventures, Inc. (Del.) Amax Nickel Refining Company, Inc. ( Del. ) Amax Petroleum Corporation (Del.)
Amax Petroleum (Australia), Inc. (Del.)
Amax Petroleum of Mississippi, Inc. (Del.)
Amax Petroleum Norge A/S (Norway)
Amax Petroleum of Norway, Inc. (Del.)
Amax Petroleum (U.K.) Limited (England )
Amax Philippines, Inc. ( Del. )
Amax Potash Limited (Del.)
Amax Mineral Development Canada Ltd (Canada) (50 percent)
Mt Emmons Mining Co. ( Del. )
Amax Realty Corp. (Del.)
Amax Resource Recovery Systems, Inc. (0. )
Amax Securities, Inc. (Del.)
Canada Tungsten Mining Corp. Ltd (Canada) (65 per cent)
Amax Specialty Metals Corporation (Del.)
Amax Specialty Metals (U.K.) Limited (Del.)
Amax Tennessee, Inc. (Del.)
Amax Uranium Corporation (Del.)
Amax Zinc Company, Inc. ( Del. )
Amax Zinc (Newfoundland) Limited (Del.)
Amax Mineral Development Canada Ltd (Canada) (50 percent)
American Metal Climax, Inc. ( Del. )
The American Metal Co. of Texas ( Del. )
Ayrshire Collieries Corp. (Del.)
Bemax Realty Corp. (Del.)
Cemax Corp. (Del.)
Central Alaska Coal Corp. ( Del. )
Clear Creek Land & Cattle Co. ( Del. )
Climax Molybdenum Co. (Del.)
Climax Molybdenum Co. of Michigan (Mich.)
Climax Molybdenum Co. Ltd (England)
Climax Molybdenum Co. (Switzerland)
Climax Molybdenum Development Co. (Japan), Ltd (Japan)
Climax Molybdenum Corp. of British Columbia, Ltd (Del.)
Cork Street Corp. (Mich.)
Fathom Management Corp. (Del.)
Gold Hill Mining and Milling Co. (Colo.)
Meadowlark Farms, Inc. (Ind.)
Mount Tolman Mining Co. (Del.)
Rawmat Shipping Corp. ( Del. )
Roaring Creek Coal, Inc. (W.V.)
RST International, Inc. (Del.)
Amax International Ltd (England)
Ametalco Ltd (England)
Ametalco GmbH ( West Germany)
Ametalco S.A. (Switzerland)
Ametalco Trading Ltd (England)(75 percent)
Ametalco (Toronto) Ltd (Canada)
Ametalco (Vancouver) Ltd (Canada)
Ametalco, Inc. (N.Y.)
Ametco Shipping, Inc. (N.Y.)
Contifinance S.A. (Luxembourg)
Barringer Fiji Ltd ( Fiji) ( 50 per cent)
Amax Zambia Ltd (Zambia)
Kafue House Ltd (Zambia) (50 percent)
Vainona Estates Ltd ( Rhodesia )( 84 per cent )
RST(Bermuda) Ltd (Bermuda)
RST (Fiji), Inc. (Del.)
Sauget Realty Corporation(DeL)
United States Metals Refining Co. (N.J.)
Yankeetown Dock Corp. (Ind.) (60 per cent)
Amax Australian Ventures Ltd (New South Wales)
Amax Canada Development Ltd (Canada)
Amax Exploration Quebec Ltd (Quebec)
Amax International S.A. (France)
Amax Investments Limited (Bermuda)
Amax Liberia Corp. (Liberia)
Amax Northwest Mining Co. Ltd (Canada)
Amax Petroleum of Canada Ltd (Canada)
Production Operators Ltd (Alberta)
Ametalco Merchanting Ltd (England)
Climax Molybdenum B.V. (Netherlands)
Climax Molybdenum GmbH (West Germany)
Climax Molybdenum S.A. (France)
Euramax Holdings B.V. (Netherlands)
Heath Steele Mines Ltd (Canada)
Kimberley Irrigation Pty Ltd (Western Australia)
Doongan Pastoral Co. Pty Ltd (Western Australia)
Minworth Metals Holdings Ltd (England )
Minworth Metals Ltd (England )
Britannic Alloys Ltd (England)
Brittannic Alloys Sales Ltd (England )
Northern Molybdenum Exploration Co. A/S ( Denmark )
Pacific Minerals Transport Corporation ( Liberia )
Ponce Mining Co., Inc. (P.R.)(88 percent)
Societa per Azioni Leghcc Metalli( Italy)
Subsidiaries not Consolidated and 50 per cent Owned Companies
Amax Credit Corp. ( Del. )
Amax Meridian Corp. (Del.)
Denvarmax Corp. ( Del. )
Amax Insurance Co. Ltd ( Bermuda )
RST Bermuda ( Finance ) Ltd (Bermuda )
Alumax Bauxite Corp. (Del.)
Alumax Export Corp. (Del.)
Alumax Extrusions, Inc. (Del.)
Alumax Extrusions, Inc. (NY)
Alumax Fabricated Products, Inc. (Del.)
Alumax Foil Industrial Redevelopment Corp. ( Mo. )
Alumax Foils, Inc. (Del.)
Alumax of Georgia, Inc. (Del.)
AlumaxGmbH (West Germany)
Alumax International Ltd (England)
Alumax Mill Products, Inc. (Del.)
Alumax Pacific Corp. (Del.)
Alumax Resources, Inc. (Del.)
Alumax Sales Corp. ( Del. )
Alumax Technical Services, Inc. ( Del. )
Apex International Alloys, Inc. (Del.)
Apex International Alloys (UK) Ltd (England)
Eastalco Aluminium Co. (Del.) (50 percent)
Euramax Aluminium B.V. (Netherlands)
Euramax Aluminium S.A. ( France )
Euramax Aluminium UK Ltd (England)
Hillyard Aluminium Recovery Corp. (Del. )
Intalco Aluminium Corp. ( Del. ) ( 50 per cent)
Intalco Aluminium Co. Ltd (Alberta)
Intalco Reduction Corp. (Del.) (50 percent)
Intalco Tolling Corp. (Del.) (50 percent)
Kawneer Aluminium GmbH ( West Germany)
KawneerCo. Canada Ltd (Ontario)
Kawneer Co. Inc. (Del.)
Kawneer France, I nc. ( Del. )
Kawneer Installations Ltd (Ontario)
Kawneer of the Americas Corp. ( Del.)
Kawneer S.A. ( France )
Kawneer Svenska A/B (Sweden)
Kawneer UK Limited (England)
South Bend Screw Products. Inc. (Ind.)
BUSINESS AND PROPERTIES
Company is engaged, both directly and through ventures in which it holds substantial interests, in exploration Tor and mining of ores and minerals and in smelting, refining and other treatment of minerals and metals. Its principal products, as well as those produced by such ventures, are molybdenum, tungsten, coal, natural gas, and petroleum, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, potash, nickel and forest products.
Canada Tungsten Mining Corp. Ltd, a 65 per cent owned subsidiary, is engaged in the production of tungsten. Alumax Inc. a 50 per cent owned affiliate is engaged in the production of aluminium, and fabrication and marketing of various aluminium products. Amax also has substantial foreign operations and investments in other mining companies.
Molybdenum and Specialty Metals
Molybdenum: Amax is engaged in mining and processing of molybdenite ore and production, marketing and sale of molybdenum compounds, molybdenum metal, ferromolybdenum and certain by-products.
Molybdenum is a metallic element used primarily as an alloying addition to steel and iron to enhance toughness and strength, and to improve resistance to wear and corrosion, both at normal and elevated temperatures.
All of Amax’s molybdenum production results from operations at its Climax and Henderson mines located in central Colorado. Climax mine also produces wolframite (a tungsten concentrate) as a by-product.
Climax, has operated as an underground mine since 1918. In 1973 open pit operations were added to supplement underground production. It is estimated that 1 65 million tons of reserves (averaging 0.299 per cent molybdenum disulfide) can be mined by open pit methods and 297 million tons of reserves (averaging 0.313 per cent molybdenum disulfide) by underground methods. Molybdenum disulfide contains approximately 60 per cent molybdenum. Over the next five years, Climax ore production is forecast at about 48,000 tons per day, of which 15,000 tons per day is expected from open pit operation, and molybdenum production is expected to range from 52 to 63 million pounds annually. Proven ore reserves at Climax mine constitute about a 30-year supply based on present scale of mining. The full extent of the mineralization has not yet been defined. Planned capital expenditures at Climax in next five years, including net mine development amount to approximately $138m.
Henderson mine near Empire, Colo., began molybdenum production of development ore in mid- 1 976. Production increased to 32 million pounds of molybdenum contained in concentrates in 1978. By the end of 1980 mine is expected to produce at design capacity of 30 thousand tons of ore per day, yielding 50 million pounds of molybdenum annually. The company is considering installation of an additional ore grinding mill which would increase Henderson ‘s capacity to 56 million pounds of molybdenum per year. Proven and probable ore reserves at Henderson mine are calculated at 260 million tons (averaging 0.419 per cent molybdenum disulfide). Preliminary drilling and a geological estimate indicate an additional 154 million tons (averaging 0.362 per cent molybdenum disulfide) of mineralized material. The extent of mineralized zone has not been fully defined.
Or more than$550m cost of developing Henderson mine to its design capacity of 30 thousand tons of ore per day, $557m, including capitalized interest, had been expended us of 31 December 1978.
Amax’s combined Climax and Henderson production capacity at the end of the decade is expected to approximate 1 10 million pounds of molybdenum per year.
Amax transports molybdenum concentrates to its conversion plants located at Langeloth, Pa., Fort Madison, la.: Rotterdam, Holland, Spigno Monferrato, Italy and Stowmarket, England, where concentrates are converted into products such as technical molybdic oxide, ferromolybdenum, pure molybdicoxide, ammonium molybdate, ammonium heptamolybdate and Molysulfide(R) powders. The annual conversion capacity of Langeloth and Fort Madison plants is approximately 70 million pounds of molybdenum. Combined annual conversion capacity of three plants located in Europe is approximately 20 million pounds.
Annual roaster capacity will be increased to 1 10 million pounds with completion of the second roaster at the Fort Madison, la. plant in 1979.
A new sulfuric acid plant is to be constructed in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. When completed in 1981 it will permit roasing rates to be increased to 60,000 pounds per day, a 50 per cent increase.
The company plans to reopen an open pit molybdenum mine and mill nearKitsault, British Columbia, Canada in the near future. Production startup is scheduled for 1982, and the facility will produce 10 million pounds of molybdenum annually when it is operating at full capacity. Proven and probable ore reserves are estimated at 105 million tons, averaging 0. 1 92 percent molybdenum disulfide with the full extent of mineralisation yet to be defined.
AMAX is evaluating the feasibility of mining a coppermolybdenum prospect at Mount Tolman on the Colvillc Confederated Tribe’s reservation in the State of Washington. The site has an estimated 300 million tons of 0. 1 3 copper and 0.13 molybdenum. The company also is evaluating the feasibility of developing a molybdenum project at Mount Emmons, near Gunnison, Colorado. The site has an estimated 165 million tons of mineralised material containing an average of 0.43 per cent molybdenum disulfide. However, both properties pose significant growth management problems for AMAX in reducing environmental and socioeconomic impacts and in obtaining the necessary permits to proceed with development.
Amax sells approximately one-half of its molybdenum products in foreign markets, principally in Europe and Japan.
Amax’s physical metallurgy, and chemical research laboratory at Ann Arbor, Mich, conducts a comprehensive program of basic and applied research on the physical, metallurgy and chemical properties of molybdenum, nickel, tungsten, and their alloys and compounds. Amax provides extensive technical service and product development assistance to customers in an effort to expand and diversify the uses of molybdenum in its various forms. Amax also operates an extractive research center near Golden, Colo, to develop new metallurgical processes.
Nickel: Amax nickel is used in steel, foundry, non-ferrous and chemical industries. Principal uses are in wrought and cast steel to enhance corrosion resistance and in non-ferrous alloys for specific electrical, physical and thermo-electrical properties. A variety of plating and specialty chemicals are produced with Amax nickel. Amax markets its nickel throughout world with approximately one-half being sold in United States.
Amax completed the rehabilitation and expansion of its Port Nickel refinery in Braithwaite, La. in 1975 at a cost of approximately $50m.
In addition, approximately $llm of capital has been expended for capital replacements, improvements, expansion and the correction of certain technical problems related to initial operations. The facility has an annual design capacity of 80 million pounds of nickel and 47 million pounds of copper, one million pounds of cobalt, and 100,000 tons of ammonium sulfate per year. Production for the year 1978 was approximately 52 million pounds of nickel, 30 million pounds of copper, 69,500 tons of ammonium sulfate and 6 1 6,000 pounds of cobalt. For the year, the refinery operated at an average of 65 per cent of design capacity compared with 62 percent in 1977.
Nickel operations resulted in a net loss before taxes for year, including research and development, of $30.0 million in 1977 and $26.0 million in 1978. The reduced losses resulted from lower operating costs and improved cobalt and copper prices, partially offset by lower nickel prices. Sales and production were in balance. Raw material inventories increased during 1978. Finished goods remain higher than needed to meet current demand but are expected to be reduced gradually as market conditions improve. About half of the nickel-copper matte required for capacity operation of the Port Nickel refinery will come from BCL Limited in Botswana. The remaining matte will come from other sources, including the Agnew nickel project in Western Australia. The first shipment from Agnew was received at Port Nickel in February 1979. AMAX and Bureau de Recherches Geologiques et Minicres (BRGM), a French Government agency, have agreed to investigate high-grade garnierite nickel deposits in northern New Caledonia. Feasibility studies in progress are expected to take two to three years. AMAX is an equal partner with Societe Metallurgique Le Nickel (SLN) in Penamax G.I.E., a French mining company located in New Caledonia that holds rights to mineralization estimated at more than 400 million tons of 1.37 percent nickel.
Copper: In the five years through Dec. 31, 1978 sales of copper, including sales of Amax’s share of copper produced from Twin Buttes mine and of copper refined by Amax from materials purchased from others, but exclusive of trading transactions on commodity exchanges, charges for toll refining copper for others and copper produced by the Nickel Division accounted for 1 8 per cent, 1 1 per cent, 1 5 per cent, 14 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, of Amax’s consolidated sales revenues.
Copper Mining: Since 1973 Amax and The Anaconda Co., through Anamax Mining Co., have been equal partners in operation and development of the Twin Buttes mine, an open pit copper mine located near Tucson, Ariz., and in holding for possible development certain other nearby mineral properties. With respect to copper sulfide operations, the partnership covers only mining and milling ore; each partner then purchases its share ofthe production of copper concentrates and is responsible for its own smelting and refining and for its own sales. Anamax is in partnership with Asarco Inc. in the Eisenhower Mining Company which initiated production of copper ore in early 1979 from the Palo Verde deposit, approximately seven miles from Twin Buttes. Under the terms ofthe contract, Asarco will supply Anamax with 5 million tons of ore per year for the first 2 1 years. Processing of sulfide ore at the Twin Buttes mill is expected to be increased to capacity level of 40,000 tons per day by late 1979 to accommodate the additional ore from Eisenhower. The mill operated below capacity levels in 1978 and 1977. Beginning in 1979, a major portion of AMAX ‘s share of copper concentrates from Twin Buttes will be sold to Nippon Mining Co. Limited of Japan. With respect to copper oxide operations, which started up in Aug. 1975, partnership has responsibility through production of cathode copper. Each partner then purchases its share of cathode copper and is responsible for its own sales.
Amax and Anaconda have completed an expansion and development program which has increased annual Twin Buttes design capacity to approximately 90,000 tons of copper contained in concentrates from sulfide ore and approximately 36,000 tones of cathode copper from oxide ore.
As of Dec. 31, 1978, ore reserves at Twin Buttes were estimated to be approx. 322 million tons of sulfide ore with an average grade of 0.67 per cent copper and 0.03 per cent molybdenum at a cutoff grade of 0.2 per cent copper, and approximately 48 million tons of oxide ore with an average grade of 1 per cent copper.
Anamax has constructed crushing facilities on or near Palo Verde property and a conveyor system to transport its share of crushed ore to Twin Buttes mill. The cost of these facilities and contributed mine equipment, plus Anamax ‘s share of cost of overburden removal, was approximately $48 million, of which Amax ‘s share was $24 million.
Copper Refining: Amax operates a custom copper and precious metals smeller and refinery at Carteret, N.J. which treats material either purchased for Amax’s own account or refined on toll for others. A large volume of such material is domestic industrial copper scrap. Blister is also treated, including blister copper originating from Amax’s share of Twin Buttes concentrates. At Carteret Amax also treats precious metal-bearing secondary materials and other, copper refinery slimes, both for others and for its own account.
Production of refined copper in 1978 was 197,700 tons; approximately 37 per cent of this production was toll refined for others with the remainder for Amax’s account.
The major products from the smelter and refinery are electrolytic tough pitch copper and oxygen-free copper, the latter being a preferred product for many applications in electronics, aerospace and other fields. Special alloys, anodes and electrolytic copper powder are also produced.
In 1978 silver and gold production was approximately 18 million ounces and 827,000 ounces, respectively. Selenium, tellurium and metals of the platinum group are also recovered.
Zinc: Amax operates an electrolytic zinc plant at Sauget III., near St. Louis. Plant’s current annual design capacity is approximately 84,000 tons of zinc. In addition, cadmium and sulfuric acid are produced. Zinc concentrates for treatment are obtained principally from the joint venture of Amax and Homestake Mining Co. in southeastern Mo. Production at design capacity also includes approximately 1.2 million pounds of cadmium and 140,000 tons of sulfuric acid. Initial production at Sauget commenced in May 1973. Production for 1978 was 62,500 tons of zinc, 709,000 pounds of cadmium and 97,300 tons of sulfuric acid.
The bulk of Amax’s zinc sales are distributed between the galvanizing and die-casting markets in about a two to one ratio.
Amax and Teck Corp. Limited, a Canadian resources company, have a joint venture zinc mine in northwestern Newfoundland. Amax’s participation in the project is 36.6 per cent.
Integrated Lead Operations: Amax and Homestake Mining Co. are equal participants in a joint venture Tor mining lead deposits with zinc content in southeastern Mo. Amax and Homestake, as equal partners, also own a lead smelter and refiner)’ in southeastern Mo. with an annual design capacity of 140,000 tons of refined lead. Half the capacity is used for smelting Amax ‘s and Homestake ‘s concentrates, with the other half committed to smelting concentrates produced by others under long-term tolling contracts expiring in 1983. Lead from the venture is sold both as refined lead and in the form of lead concentrates. The majority of Amax’s sales of refined lead are made to the battery industry.
Through December 31, 1977, zinc concentrates produced by the mine and mill were sold to Amax for treatment at the Sauget 111. plant. In May 1978, Amax and Homestake entered into a new contract providing for treatment of only a portion of Homestake ‘s share of the production because of the high cobalt content or the concentrate currently produced.
Presently total recoverable ore is estimated to be 52.2 million tons, with an average grade of 7.0 per cent lead and 1.9 per cent zinc. The principal areas to be mined are held under long-term Federal mineral leases which provide for royalty payments to United States of 4 per cent to 5 per cent of actual sales price of concentrates, which price is based on quoted refined metals prices less smelting, refining, shipping and selling costs.
Since ore mined has been of lead and zinc grades substantially above average grades of total ore reserves, profitability of mine was above that which would have been experienced if average grade ore had been mined. Under present mining plan, it is expected that grade or ore mined over next five years will continue to be above average grade of mine. Future profitablility of mine may be lessened when ore mined is of average or below average grade.
On October 5, 1978, the Environmental Protection Agency promulgated national ambient air quality standard for lead. The standard is 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over a calendar quarter. Petitions have been filed by the Lead Industries Associates and several lead companies for a stay in the implementation of this standard.
Heath Steele Mines: Amax has a 75 per cent participation in a joint venture with Inco Limited for the operation of a lead, zinc and copper mine and mill in New Brunswick, Canada with a capacity of 4,000 tons per day. As of December 31, 1978, ore reserves were estimated to be 16.5 million tons with an average grade of 1.6 per cent lead, 4.9 per cent zinc and 1.1 per cent copper and 1 . 8 ounces of silver per ton. All of property’s copper concentrates are sold in Canada; its zinc and lead concentrates are sold in Europe and to United States smelters and refiners.
Due to market conditions ore mined and milled in 1978 averaged 3,400 tons per day.
In connection with its base metals operations Amax engages in purchases and sales of metals, primarily copper, lead, zinc and precious metals, and in hedging arbitrage and trading transactions on commodity exchanges.
Coal: Amax was the third largest producer of coal in the United States during 1978. All of Amax’s operating mines are in the Illinois Basin (southern Ind., III. and western Ky.), except the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte surface mines, which are in the Wyoming Powder River Basin. Amax currently produces only steam coal; approximately 85 per cent of its production is committed to electric utilities under long-term contracts of five years or more which incorporate cost escalation provisions. For five years ended Dec. 31, 1978, sales of coal accounted for 12 per cent. 24 per cent, 22 per cent. 22 per cent and 18 per cent respectively, of Amax’s consolidated sales revenues.
On Dec. 31, 1978 Amax controlled total coal reserves estimated at approximately 3.5 per cent billion tons. Of these total reserves, over 95 per cent is controlled by means of fee ownership, lease or option, and the balance by location.
In addition, Amax also claims an additional 1.95 billion tons of coal reserves under certain mineral prospecting permits and a lease covering Indian land in the State of Montana. Amax ‘s claims are being challenged by the Indians.
Petroleum and Natural Gas: Amax has interests in oil and gas properties’ and exploration rights in 23 states of the United States, offshore Texas, Louisiana and Alaska, and in three Canadian provinces, the Netherlands sector of the North Sea and in Western Australia.
In 1978 production attributable to Amax’s interests averaged aproximately 3,100 barrels of oil per day (including condensate and natural gas liquids) and 38 million cubicfeet of gas per day. Amax’s capital expenditures in 1978 were approximately $ 16.8m, including development drilling and construction of offshore platforms, facilities and pipelines. Exploration expenditures for oil and gas were approximately $8.5min 1977.
During 1978, in the Netherlands sector of the North Sea, production platforms, facilities and pipelines were installed on the third and fourth gas fields, K/I3-E and F, and development wells were completed. Gas production from the KV 1 3-F field commenced in the fourth quarter of 1 978 and from the K/I3-E field in March 1979, increasing the total production from Block K./13 to 245 million cubic feet per day, approximately double the previous rate of 120 million cubic feet per day. All production from Block K/ 13 is committed to Nederlandse Gasunie, a Dutch corporation, at a price determined under contract and based primarily on the European heavy fuel oil price. Amax owns a 12.54 per cent interest in Block K/ 13.
In the Texas Federal offshore area, Block 520, in which Amax has a 7 per cent interest, commenced production on March 31, 1978. On Blocks 339/340, in which Amax owns a 10 percent interest, all development wells were completed in 1978, and production is scheduled to begin in the first half of 1979. In 1978 production platforms were installed and development drilling commenced on Blocks 356 and 548, in each of which Amax owns a 10 per cent interest. Production startup on Block 356 is anticipated during 1979. The development program for Block 548 includes development wells extending from that platform into three contiguous blocks in which Amax also has a 10 per cent interest. Production from those blocks is scheduled to begin in 1 980. In the Texas State onshore area, five exploratory wells were drilled during 1978, resulting in two gas well discoveries. Production is expected to begin in 1979 following construction of platforms and facilities for these gas wells in which Amax owns a 25 per cent interest.
In 1977 Amax entered into a partnership with the Pennzoil Producing Company to explore and develop a major portion of Amax’s fee mineral interests in approximately 1 17,000 acres in Mississippi. During 1978 an extensive seismic program was conducted in that area, and drilling of the first exploratory well was begun by the partnership.
Industrial Minerals and Resources Iron Ore
Amax has a 25 per cent participation in a joint venture which mines Mt Newman iron ore properties in Western Australia. The five other participants, with 75 per cent participation, include two major Australian companies which together own 60 per cent. These properties are held under long-term lease and are operated by a subsidiary of one of the Australian participants. Exploration and development by the operator have established proven reserves at Mt Whaleback of approximately 1.3 billion long tons of hematite ore containing an estimated 64 per cent iron. Ore shipments totalled 31.1 million long tons in 1978. An expansion program to raise annual production capacity to 40 million long tons of ore has been completed.
RST International, Inc.
Between 1970 and early 1975 RST International, Inc. (RST, Inc.), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amax, provided management and sales services to Roan Consolidated Mines Limited (RCM) a Zambian copper producer in which Amax has a 20 per cent interest and which is owned 5 1 per cent by an instrumentality of the Zambian Government. For such services, RST Inc. received gross fees, before taxes and expenses, of approximately $ 10.8m, $6.5m, $6.5m, $ 10.4m, and $ 1 3.4m in the years 1970 through 1974, respectively. Amax and Zambian Government agreed to end RST Inc. ‘s management and sales services contracts prematurely, effective August I, 1974. Amax has received an aggregate of $32.2m in compensation for such cancellation with the final payment received in 1977.
RST, lnc. provides worldwide non-ferrous ore and metals sales agency services to others and engages in trading such products for its own account, through its subsidiaries principally the Ametalco Group.
Potash: Amax operates a potash mine and mill at Carlsbad, N.M. Ore reserves of Carlsbad’s main orebody are estimated at 58 million tons, averaging 15 per cent potassium oxide. Included in these reserves are main ore body reserves of 1.5 million tons averaging 19 per cent potassium oxide and low height reserves, primarily at another level of the mine, containing 43 million tons of ore averaging 13 per cent potassium oxide. The principal product is muriate of potash, a chemical fertilizer which generally contains approximately 60 per cent potassium oxide.
Amax entered forest products industry in 1976 and has acquired ownership or control of about 148,000 acres of prime pinelands located mainly in Georgia and Florida; a 55-million board feet chip and sawmill in Jacksonville, Florida; and smaller sawmill in Georgia. The main output of mills is dimension lumber. Total consideration for these properties was approximately $92m in cash, notes and Common Stock.
Operations include growth and sale of stumpage (standing lumber); production and sale of lumber; and marketing of pulpwood, wood chips and residues to pulp and paper industry.
On January 30, 1974, Amax sold to Mitsui & Co. Ltd of Japan at a price above book value a 50 per cent interest in substantially all of its aluminium business for approximately SI35m in cash. The jointly owned aluminium basis is being operated by the former management of Amax aluminium group through a separate corporation named Alumax Inc. (formerly Amax Aluminium Co. Inc.).
Alumax produces primary and secondary aluminium ingot and has extensive facilities in United States and Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany and the Netherlands: for manufacturing and processing of a wide selection of aluminium products. These products include items, such as sheet and extrusions, which are principally sold for further manufacturing, as well as other items, such as architectural aluminium, which are finished products. Alumax also produces secondary aluminium and zinc alloys.
Alumax operates 54 domestic plants and warehouses located in 26 states and 1 1 foreign plants and warehouses located in five countries and has a 49 per cent interest in a Mexican fabricating company.
Exploration, Development and Research
Amax carries out a worldwide search for new ore reserves of minerals of interest and maintains field offices in United States, Canada, Australia, the Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom and Fiji. The principal exploration objectives at the present time are sources of energy- coal, oil, and natural gas- as well as copper, molybdendum, nickel, tungsten, zinc and chromite.
Amax has substantial investments, in foreign companies and derives substantial revenues and earnings from operations outside United States. In 1978 approximately 21 per cent of Amax’s consolidated sales revenues and 30 per cent of its earnings from operations before income taxes and unallocated corporate expenses were derived from operations outside the United States, primarily in Australia, Western Europe, Japan, Zambia and Canada. In addition, during this period dividends of $2,830,000 were received from foreign investments.
Pierre Gousseland, , Chmn. & Chief Exec. Off.
John Towers, President
John B. Aird, Toronto
George W. Ball, New York
William T. Coleman. Jr.. Washington. D.C.
William R. Cross, Jr., New York
John P. Du Cane. London
Perrin Fay, San Francisco, Cal.
Pierre Gousseland, Greenwich, Conn.
Gabriel Hauge, New York
Walter Hochschild, New York
Eneas Kane, San Francisco, Cal.
Carl M. Loeb, Jr., New York
Paul W. MacAvoy, Guilford. Conn.
Ian MacGregor, Greenwich, Conn.
Gordon W. Reed, Greenwich, Conn.
Arthur J. Santry, Jr., Stamford, Conn.
John Towers, Greenwich, Conn.
Edward C. Wharton-Tigar, London
Auditors: Coopers & Lybrand.
Shareholder Relations: D. G. Ball. Vice-Pres. & Sec. Tel.: (203)622 3058.
Annual Meeting: First Thursday in May.
No. of Stockholders: Dec. 31, 1978: Ser. A preferred, 1.814: ser. B preferred, 1,479; ser. C preferred. 33: common. 24,862.
No. of Employees: Dec. 31, 1978, 16,600.
Executive Office: AMAX Center, Greenwich, CT 06830. Tel.: (203) 622 3000.
-Jim Bieundurry, a National Aboriginal Conference man and the Chairman of the Kimberley Land Council issued a Press statement on 25 March. It speaks very clearly of the disenchantment those people feel. Just to place it on the record, I quote the third last paragraph, which states:
Mr Bieundurry will further call on the National Aboriginal Conference to ask the Federal Government to legislate for Aboriginal Land Rights throughout Australia and to take action to protect Aboriginal sacred sites in Western Australia, particularly at Noonkanbah and in the area of CRA’s diamond mining prospect south of Kununurra.
Because there is a prospect of hydrocarbons in the Noonkanbah area and because other minerals, including diamonds, are located in areas fairly close to the area I mentioned, the Aborigines and other people will suffer. Mr Bieundurry ‘s statement speaks for itself. Mr President, I seek leave to have that document incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
25 March 1980
FROM JIMMY BIEUNDURRY, NATIONAL ABORIGINAL CONFERENCE MEMBER AND CHAIRMAN KIMBERLEY LAND COUNCIL
Mr Jimmy Bieundurry, National Aboriginal Conference Member for West Kimberley, and Chairman of the Kimberley Land Council, will appeal to the National Aboriginal Conference Annual Meeting in Canberra on Thursday to condemn the arrest of young Australians, employed and paid by his people, for, in effect, assisting Aboriginal people at their request in exercising their right to vote in the recent West Australian elections.
At this poll the Aboriginal people of the Kimberley were largely responsible for the election of the first Aboriginal Member of the WA State Parliament, Mr Ernie Bridge.
The four people arrested on charges under the Electoral Act (section 95 ( I ) and 95 (7) (b)) yesterday were: Steven Hawke, Community Worker at Noonkanbah Station on 42 charges; Thomas Stephens, Bookkeeper for Aboriginal Communities around Kunnunurra on 18 charges; Jennifer
Gardiner, employee ofthe Department of Community Welfare on 13 charges; and Lesley Verdon of Halls Creek on 10 charges. Thomas Stephen has refused bail.
Mr Bieundurry said that the arrest of these people was a further attack on Aboriginal people trying to protect their country from foreign miners. He pointed out that the West Australian Government was preventing his people from getting freehold title to their land, which would give his people the security they must have to protect their lifestyle and culture.
Aboriginal people must make decisions about the use of their land by themselves and in their own time. This is happening in the Northern Territory and South Australia, why not in Western Australia?
Mr Bieundurry yesterday called for the NAC to condemn the Premier of Western Australia for forcing AMAX Petroleum Company to begin drilling on an important religious site on Noonkanbah station, against the wishes of the Aboriginal Community.
Mr Bieundurry reported to the Conference on the State Government’s directives to their police force, which entered Noonkanbah Station to quell the possibility of Aboriginal resistance to drilling operations. Mr Bieundurry states:
The police intimidated the people, standing over them while the company forced the old men to choose between two sacred places. Thirty-four police were near the main road and the homestead. Police were on standby with planes in Port Hedland and Perth to fly to Noonkanbah to arrest members of the community if they stood up for their beliefs.
The problem is getting to a bad stage when Aboriginal people like at Noonkanbah, stand up for their rights and religious beliefs, their sacred sites and lifestyle, and they are intimidated by police and government into submission. There were 34 police hiding in ambush.
Mr Bieundurry stated that Sir Charles Court had promised the community negotiations with his government and Amax, but while negotiations were being held at the homestead, two Amax trucks were already moving onto the drilling area.
Amax have now bulldozed a small area for drilling and camp site. However, operations have been temporarily stopped by an injunction of the Aboriginal Legal Service in the Supreme Court in Penh, to be heard on Friday, 28 March, and by a union ban of all work for Amax called by the Trades and Labour Council of WAS
Sir Charles Court has already instructed the trustees of the Western Australian museum to approve the drilling by Amax on Site No. 2, before the injunction has been heard.
Mr Bieundurry will further call on the National Aboriginal Conference to ask the Federal Government to legislate for Aboriginal Land Rights throughout Australia and to take action to protect Aboriginal sacred sites in Western Australia, particularly at Noonkanbah and in the area of CRA’s diamond mining prospect south of Kununurra.
Mr Bieundurry will address a public meeting al the Australian National University on Wednesday 26 March at 7.00 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Copeland Lecture Theatre.
The press are invited to attend at 6.30 p.m. to speak to Mr Bieundurry.
– I now refer honourable senators to page 842 of the Senate Hansard of 19 March. It records an occasion on which the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney) and I clashed. I think it is relevant for me to say that the report prepared by the Western Australian Museum indicated that neither the Pea Hill area nor the adjoining area ought to be used for mineral exploration purposes because they were sacred areas. The tribe of Aborigines concerned was prepared to sit down and talk about the matter, but the Western Australian Government was able to secure sufficient police to intimidate the tribe. The clash between the Minister and I occurred when he claimed that some passages had been deleted from the Museum report. He referred to the report as a doctored document. That is irrelevant now because the Western Australian Government has directed the Western Australian Museum to withdraw its opposition and to allow Amax Exploration (Australia) Inc. to carry out its drilling. So here again, in 1980, in a so-called enlightened society, this Government and the Court Government have combined again, not to poison the water of the Aborigines but to poison their society, to kill their culture and to take away their sacred sites for the sake of the almighty dollar. If the people of Australia do not stand up and be counted on this issue, against the infamous actions of this Government, and the Western Australian Government, there is no future at all for the Aboriginal people of this country.
Yet we have the fine words of the Lusaka Declaration of the Commonwealth on Racism and Racial Prejudice. We know that our Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), on 7 August 1979, became one of the signatories to that Declaration. I shall quote relevant sections of the Declaration. I believe that I ought to quote three or four paragraphs of it. It reads in part:
We, the Commonwealth Heads of Government, recalling the declaration of Commonwealth Principles made at Singapore on 22 January 1971, and the statement on apartheid in sport, issued in London on IS June, 1977, have decided to proclaim our desire to work jointly as well as severally for the eradication of all forms of racism and racial prejudice.
The Declaration continues:
United in our desire to rid the world of the evils of racism and racial prejudice, we proclaim our faith in the inherent dignity and worth of the human person and declare that-
the peoples of the Commonwealth have the right to live freely in dignity and equality, without any distinction or exclusion based on race, colour, sex, dissent, or national or ethnic origin;
while everyone is free to retain diversity in his or her culture and lifestyle, this diversity does not justify the perpetuation of racial prejudice or racially discriminatory practices;
everyone has the right to equality before the law and equal justice under the law;
everyone has the right to effective remedies and protection against any form of discrimination based on the grounds of race, colour, sex, dissent, or national or ethnic origin.
One of the most important paragraphs of the Lusaka Declaration reads:
We affirm that there should be no discrimination based on race, colour, sex, dissent or national or ethnic origin in the acquisition or exercise of the right to vote, in the field of civil rights or access to citizenship, or in the economic, social or cultural fields, particularly education, health, employment, occupation, housing, social security and cultural life.
Yet in the region I have referred to, in two previous elections, a State election and a byelection, there has been total discrimination against the Aborigines. On the occasion of the by-election, two or three people were charged with alleged breaches of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. But a man, Mr Widdell, who was able to take 44 gallons of plonk, as he called it, to get the Aborigines drunk on a certain settlement in order to preclude them from voting, is allowed to go free of any criticism under the law. The information given to me indicates that the people who have been charged are totally innocent.
We let companies such as Amax, one of the bigger transnational organisations with ramifications in America in particular but also in other parts of the world, go into areas and break a society- break the hearts and minds of a people. This Government grovels on its hands and knees to a transnational company because the Government does not give a damn about the blacks. It is prepared to sell its soul in the same way that it did in respect of Vietnam; in the same way as it has sold it a dozen times. The Government does not give a tinker’s cuss whether the blacks have justice. That is going on all the time. The Government is not prepared to face up to racists such as those who are found in certain sections of the Queensland Government. The Western Australian Government is shown to have racist leadership. The same situation is becoming apparent in the Northern Territory. Our Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act has been watered down on numerous occasions since it became law at the end of 1976. The town boundary of Darwin can be extended almost to the Adelaide River to prevent the Aborigines from gaining access to their land to which they have a rightful claim. If this Government does not look at its political morality in relation to the treatment of Aborigines, it deserves to be reported to the United Nations for appropiate treatment.
- Senator Keeffe started his speech by saying that he would not detain the Senate long. On this occasion he did not. He also did not raise very much that was different from what he put before the Senate on Wednesday last. Therefore, in the main I will refer honourable senators to the reply
I made to the Senate on 19 March, which appears in Hansard and which, I think, starts at page 842. That, I think, deals with the questions raised by the honourable senator in the latter part of his speech.
However, I wish to deal with a number of smaller matters of detail which came up in Senator Keeffe ‘s speech tonight. I start by correcting a quote he read from his speech of last Wednesday, when he attributed certain words about Sir Charles Court to some of the principals involved at Noonkanbah. In fact, the words he quoted tonight he made clear last Wednesday were words which were to be attributed to a number of Australian Labor Party members, including him, Doug Everingham, Clyde Holding, John Dawkins, Senator Cavanagh and Gordon Bryant. Just as a matter of accuracy of the record, I draw the Senate’s attention to Senator Keeffe ‘s following quotation:
Sir Charles Court has deliberately aggravated the situation with his threats to withdraw exploration leases from mining companies which seek negotiations with Aboriginal communities.
Apparently, that is a quote from the Labor members I mentioned and not from anybody from Noonkanbah. I refer also to the matter of Widdell, which already has been addressed in this Senate. I have made my views on the matter clear although, as I said in the Senate before, I have not made much comment on it because I believe that Widdell will be brought before the courts. Of course, his behaviour, which was witnessed by many people around Australia on the program to which the honourable senator referred, was disgraceful behaviour and, I am sure, was repugnant to most Australians.
The question which arises is whether he, in addition to deserving those appellations, has done anything illegal. As I previously indicated, the police report submitted to the Attorney is to the effect that neither a breach of the Commonwealth Electoral Act nor a breach of any of the legislation relating to reserves has occurred. As I previously indicated, the State Attorney has sent the matter off to the Crown Prosecutor in Western Australia. He has undertaken to confer with me when the report of the Crown Prosecutor is available. The State Attorney has indicated that he regards the behaviour as behaviour which ought to be illegal. He has drawn attention to the legislation passed by the State Government which enables Aboriginal communities to control the entry of alcohol and has affirmed his view about the behaviour of Widdell. I cannot remember his exact expression, but it was certainly of the nature of disgraceful.
The honourable senator made a number of references in his speech to Amax having been aided by the Commonwealth Government. No detail was given on the form in which that aid was given. I am at a complete loss to know what the honourable senator’s reference is in that case. Senator Keeffe again raised the question of my use of the word ‘doctoring’ with respect to the report published by the Aboriginal Legal Service relating to the sacred sites at Noonkanbah. I made the matter clear in the Senate on 19 March 1 980. I refer any interested honourable senator to page 842 of the Hansard. Let me quote my words in full. I said:
That report is, in part, doctored because the legal service indicates, according to the newspaper, that there are sensitive parts of it which are not to be released. That is consistent with the view which the Western Australian Government has advanced -
At that point Senator Keeffe took a point of order. I then made it quite clear, that I withdrew any suggestion that doctoring in any sinister sense had occurred. I said:
I certainly did not mean that if that is the view that the honourable senator took.
I went on to quote the words used in the report, namely:
The copy had several small sections deleted on the advice of an anthropologist. The deleted sections dealt with sacred objects and ceremonies that the Aboriginal community might not wish to see published.
After the long association I have had with the service I would be concerned at anything appearing in the record which suggests that I am accusing it of doctoring a report in a sinister sense.
Senator Keeffe referred to the Lusaka declaration. This Government has consistently taken an anti-racist stance. In the particular instance, however, we are dealing with the special requirements of a particular racial group in Australia. In a sense we are dealing with that exception which is contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and which is acknowleged in the Racial Discrimination Act. It permits special provision of a beneficial kind to be made for a racial group. I find the logic of the honourable senator’s references to the Lusaka declaration a little hard to follow.
The fundamental point which is at issue in the Noonkanbah matter- I will repeat very briefly the matters which I canvassed on the matter on 1 9 March- is not whether as a matter of principle the sacred sites of the Aboriginal people should be protected but rather what is meant by the principle and what sites are to be protected and how they are to be identified. As I mentioned at the time, the problem is one of distinguishing between specific sites and broad acres. The difference which has appeared between the Western Australian Museum and the Western Australian Government lies in that distinction. Since the debate of last Wednesday night I have had several lengthy sessions with both anthropologists and museum officials. The point of view which I put forward about the need for the distinction has become even more clear in my mind. Since the debate my attention has been directed to trying to find some way in which that distinction can be drawn to the satisfaction of the Aboriginal people.
Noonkanbah is important not merely because of the admirable community which is living on that station, which stands as a very good example of why pastoral leases have been purchased for Aboriginal communities, but also because what is happening there- the conflict between mining and sacred sites- will occur in other parts of the Kimberleys. The Kimberleys, as is well know to all honourable senators, is the subject of intense mineral exploration. It is also an area where a substantial number of Aboriginal people who have maintained traditional associations with the land live. This conflict will not happen only once. It could happen elsewhere in the future. From that point of view I believe, as I have said publicly before, that it is vital that rules be devised which avoid the difficulties which have been found at Noonkanbah by establishing just what sites are to receive the protection of the law. I think that is the premier thing to be sought in the instant case.
Noonkanbah is attracting a great deal of attention. I do not believe that tonight a lot of new material has come before the Senate. I have tried to deal with the matters which have been raised by Senator Keeffe. As I concluded last week, let me say I am continuing to give this matter close attention in the hope that the difficulties we face at the moment will be avoided in the future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 4 March 1 980:
1 ) How many unemployment beneficiaries have had unemployment benefit postponed in each month for:
How many of these postponements were for:
If these statistics are not kept by the Department of Social Security, why not.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: ( 1 ), (2) and (3) The available information on the matters raised by the honourable senator is shown in the table below. Data prior to January 1 980 is not available. Statistics of postponement cases are not yet available for Tasmania since a different computer system is used in that State for the payment of unemployment benefits and the production of relevant statistics. However, it is expected that equivalent statistics for Tasmania will shortly become available. Data for South Australia is also unavailable at this stage because of the imminent introduction in that State of a new computer system for payment of unemployment benefits and the production of relevant statistics.
asked the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 4 March 1980:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 5 March 1980:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Monitoring of Oil Sold on Rotterdam Market (Question No. 2511)
asked the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 6 March 1980:
Does the Department of National Development and Energy monitor regularly the amounts of oil sold and the prices paid for spot cargoes of oil on the Rotterdam market; if so, how is the monitoring done and what is the regularity of the information which is supplied to the Department.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Yes. The Department’s principal source is the daily newsletter ‘Piatt’s Oilgram Price Report’ published by McGraw Hill and used universally in the international oil industry. This information is supplemented by weekly and monthly reports in other international publications e.g. ‘Petroleum Intelligence Weekly’, ‘Petroleum Economist’ and ‘Oil Industry Developments’ (a private subscription monthly survey from Petroleum Economics Limited, London). The IEA Secretariat also monitors petroleum product price developments in Rotterdam and provides statistical data regularly to member countries.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on 1 8 March 1 980:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Cost-effectiveness studies of air transport to and in Antarctica are currently being undertaken, in conjunction with design studies for a replacement Antarctic resupply and research ship. These studies are expected to be completed this year and will enable a final decision on the purchase and chartering options.
The Antarctic Research Policy Advisory Committee (ARPAC) was set up to advise the Government on a balanced and effective program of research in Antarctica. The matter of charter versus hire of aircraft was not referred to ARPAC, and is not within its terms of reference.
Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle- On 28
February 1980 (Hansard, page 391) Senator Young asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question without notice concerning possible trafficking in drugs by doctors, pharmacists and drug manufacturers. Senator Carrick referred the question to the Minister for Health who has provided the following information:
The Government is concerned at the circumstances associated with abuse of barbiturates portrayed on the Willesee At Seven program.
However, since the problems highlighted are at user level, remedial action is primarily a matter for the State and Territory authorities.
Nevertheless, as the National Standing Control Committee on Drugs of Dependence was established to provide a mechanism for consultation between all relevant State and Commonwealth authorities on matters such as this, I have arranged for the whole question of barbiturate abuse to be considered at the Committee’s next meeting.
The Commonwealth controls imports of barbiturates and licensed importers are required to keep records of their receipts and disposals. In addition, the Commonwealth provides the central processing for the Drugs of Dependence Monitoring System, which covers transactions of narcotics and certain psychotropic drugs down to the retail pharmacy level. This System might be extended to include certain barbiturates, thus providing a more detailed level of checking on drug supply. However such an extension would require the agreement of and substantial co-operation and input from the States. Provided it has their concurrence I would be agreeable to requesting a feasibility study.
The honourable senator is no doubt aware that doctors and pharmacists are registered to practise their profession by Registration Boards established in each State and Territory.
Where the appropriate Board finds a doctor or pharmacist guilty of misconduct or is aware of conviction for an offence, disciplinary action may be taken; this could extend to that person being struck off the register.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 March 1980, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1980/19800327_senate_31_s84/>.