31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the Senate that the Treasurer (Mr Howard) has left Australia to attend meetings in West Germany, the Philippines and Switzerland. The Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson) will act as Treasurer until Mr Howard’s return on 3 May. I also inform the Senate that the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Durack) left Australia last Friday to attend meetings in Barbados, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott) will act as Attorney-General until Senator Durack ‘s return on 10 May. During Senator Durack ‘s absence I suggest that questions directed to him should be placed on the Notice Paper or, if urgent, they could be directed to me and I shall endeavour to get the required information.
– I present the following petition from 20 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The Petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That we the undersigned oppose the proposed boycott of the 1 980 Olympic Games in Moscow, and we therefore pray that the Government take no action to prevent Australian athletes from competing.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 26 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That in order to: facilitate the development of the North of Australia provide an all-weather rapid land transport system from north to south and vice versa facilitate better defence of Northern Australia provide improved transport for primary and mining products to southern markets and boost tourism your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should:
Urge that the Federal Government give favourable consideration to proceeding forthwith with the completion of the construction of the North-South railway from Alice Springs to Darwin as a matter of priority.
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 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 1 990 and about 1 6 per cent 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 deduction 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 mobilisersof such capital.
Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that the Government will forthwith take the steps necessary to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Martin.
To the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens respectfully showeth:
That there is an urgent need to ensure that the living standard of pensioners will not decline, as indeed the present level of cash benefits in real terms requires upward adjustment beyond indexation related to the movement of the Consumer Price Index. By this and other means your petitioners urge that action be taken to:
Taxation relief for pensioners and others on low incomes by:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senators Carrick and Primmer.
– I give notice that 10 sitting days after today I shall move:
That the new section 20d contained in section 7 of the Flammable Liquids (Amendment) Ordinance 1980, contained in Australian Capital Territory Ordinance No. 2 of 1 980, and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910, be disallowed.
I ask leave to make a brief statement in relation to the notice of motion I have just given.
– This notice of motion has been given pursuant to the deliberations of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances. The ordinance in question deals with the handling of flammable liquids, and provides in the new section 20D that where there is a contravention of the ordinance the person responsible for the contravention and the occupier of the premises concerned are each guilty of an offence punishable by a heavy fine. The section then provides defences for the occupier of the premises, including the defence that the contravention was done without his knowledge.
The Committee has previously taken exception to provisions which provide absolute offences and then specify defences in a separate section or sub-section. As the Committee observed in its sixty-sixth report, such provisions have been interepreted by the courts as placing the onus of proof upon the defendant, even, in some cases, where there are no words which give any apparent clues to the allocation of the burden of proof. In its sixty-sixth report the Committee suggested that the only final solution to this problem would be a special statutory provision to the effect that all statutory provisions which have been interpreted as placing the onus of proof upon the defendant should be regarded as reversing only the burden of introducing evidence and not the burden of persuading the tribunal of fact.
The Committee still scrutinises legislation to ensure that this type of provision is not adopted unless there is good reason for doing so. In the case of this ordinance, it seems to the Committee that, in the provision in question, it is not necessary to have an absolute offence followed by defences, in that, if it is desired to penalise the occupier of the premises, the offence could be one of permitting the offence to occur. The Committee has put this view to the Minister for the Capital Territory, and, today being the last day for giving notice of a motion to disallow the ordinance, I have given such notice to allow the Committee time to consider the Minister’s reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security and refers to the right of appeal of social security recipients to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal from decisions of the Director-General, which she and the Attorney-General announced on 1 April. What action has been taken by her Department or the Attorney-General’s Department to make sure that people actually know of this right of appeal? Has any provision been made for people appealing to come from outlying areas- country areas- to the capital cities where the appeals will be held, or for the Tribunal to actually go to those outlying areas?
I think two questions were asked by Senator Grimes today, but he did refer to this matter earlier. Perhaps if I give a little more information in regard to his earlier inquiry it may be helpful. The right of appeal in social security matters to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has been introduced to provide persons with an independent review of matters of eligibility and entitlement. In keeping with undertakings made by the Government to introduce a system of external review of departmental decisions, the present system was instituted on 1 April 1980. The Government is aware that some appellants to the AAT in social security matters will be in needy circumstances and is concerned to ensure that such clients are not disadvantaged. For example, applications can be made for legal aid in appropriate cases, and discussions have been held between the Department of Social Security and the Attorney-General’s Department to ensure that relevant administrative procedures will operate smoothly and quickly.
The Administrative Review Council is considering the matter of the social security appeals system and its advice will be considered by the Government after its report has been received. The recent conferral of jurisdiction upon the
AAT in no way pre-empts the Government’s attitude to the possible content of that report. The Government recognises the need for specialists to be appointed to the AAT and is proposing to make appointments of additional part time members having special qualifications in the social services area. They will then sit on the hearings of these appeals. The matter of appointments is the responsibility of my colleague the Attorney-General. Against that background, Senator Grimes asks what are we doing to see that appellants would know of their rights of appeal. I will ask my Department what administrative arrangements it considers suitable for that purpose. It may be that it will be done when people refer matters to the social security appeals system and it may be that there will be a general notice on all pension and benefit payments. I will ask my Department what would be the most desirable way of drawing this matter to the attention of recipients. As far as appeals from outlying areas are concerned, I think I would need to get advice on that matter.
It may be of interest to honourable senators to know that I have been having some discussions with the Council of Social Service with regard to this appeals system. I hope that, as a result of some consultations with it and with my Department, we will be able to provide the sort of assistance to which, I think, Senator Grimes referred earlier with regard to the preparation of an appeal by a claimant. There may be some way in which we can devise a system of assistance. The matter is being given attention by my Department. I hope that we can arrange a satisfactory means of appeal whereby people are aware of their rights of appeal and that we will be in a position to give whatever additional assistance is necessary, particularly in the establishment of this new system.
– In order to clarify the matter, I should like to ask a brief supplementary question. May I assume from the Minister’s answer that, despite the fact that for the last three weeks people have had the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, neither she nor, therefore, the Parliament has any idea of how people should appeal, that no specialists have been appointed to the Tribunal to hear such appeals and that no one outside the urban areas has any idea of whether the Administrative Appeals Tribunal will be coming to them or they will be going to the Tribunal? If that is so, is that a satisfactory state of affairs?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEI do not think the position can be stated as baldly as that. I think it could be said that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has been empowered since 1 April to deal with social security appeals. The appeals system under the Tribunal will act as soon as the arrangements are made. As I understand it, the appointments will be announced shortly. As it is a new procedure, the knowledge of people with regard to the appeals system may not yet be established as satisfactorily as we would all wish to it to be. However, I am sure -
– If you don’t know and we don’t know, how can they know?
I am sure that those who have a claim to make to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal will be advised of that when the result of a decision of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal is given to them. I think we are able to say at this stage that there is the right of appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. I will see that the administrative arrangements required in light of Senator Grime’s question are undertaken.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources and also the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the important trading, diplomatic and other relationships that Australia has with the People’s Republic of China and to the important trading and other relationships that Australia has with the Republic of China on Taiwan. Whilst not diminishing the facilities for contact and exchange in the well-established relationship between Australia and the People’s Republic of China, I ask that the Australian Government give positive consideration to taking action soon for the establishment in Taiwan of an Australian office similar to offices already established in Taiwan by the United States of America, by Japan and by a number of European Economic Community countries. In particular, I ask that this Australian office in Taiwan facilitate visa and travel arrangements, information about Australia, cultural exchanges and, most significantly, import and export trade between Australia and Taiwan -
– I raise a point of order. The second part of the question is not in fact a question; it is a statement and it gives far too much information. It is not necessary to the first part of the question.
– Order ! I ask Senator Teague to put his question in a manner that seeks information.
-In particular, I ask the Minister that this Australian office in Taiwan facilitate visa and travel arrangements, information about Australia, cultural exchanges and, most significantly, import and export trade between Australia and Taiwan.
– That is not a question.
– Since the Australian Government recognised the People’s Republic of China in 1972 -
– Have you got a written answer?
-I have a brief from the Department of Foreign Affairs, as all Ministers have on these matters. This is substantially information that I have conveyed before. Trade with Taiwan has continued to grow. In line with Australia’s recognition of the Government of the Peoples’ Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, official contact with Taiwan has ceased. All trade is conducted through commercial channels. There is no Australian trade office in Taiwan. The establishment of such an office would contravene the terms of Australia’s recognition of China, which is one of Australia’s major markets. The Government is aware that in the commercial sector there is a view that some form of non-official representation in the province of Taiwan to facilitate trading arrangements between Australia and that province would be very helpful. The Government would not stand in the way of such non-official trade representation and would be prepared to give -
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. Senator Teague asked the Minister two questions. He was asked whether he would do something. We do not have the answer yes or no, whether he will, but we have been given the past history of trade with China. That question was not asked and no one required that information from the Minister.
– Carry on with your reply, Senator Carrick. There is no point of order.
-Senators, other than Senator Cavanagh, will know from what I have said that there has been a request by some parts of the commercial sector which have said that if some form of non-official representation could be established in the province of Taiwan to facilitate arrangements between Australia and that province, it would be helpful. That reply is directly related to Senator Teague ‘s question. I have said that the Government is aware of that request and that it would not stand in the way of such non-official trade representation, that it would be prepared to give official guidance to any private sector interests which were considering the establishment of a venture of that kind.
- Mr President, I ask that the piece of paper from which the Minister has read be tabled.
– Certainly. It is straight out of a Foreign Affairs briefing.
-Mr President, I have a supplementary question. I ask the Minister whether such an office would also facilitate the granting of visas and help with travel arrangements. Will the Government give consideration to this?
-I will ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who is in another place, to respond to that question.
– My question is also directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In view of the answer just given to Senator Teague and an answer I received on 23 November 1979 relating to the same subject, are we now to take it that Taiwan is recognised by the Government as a province of China and is therefore legally part of the People’s Republic of China? Which of the two governments, that is the PRC or the Taiwanese Government, does the Australian Government regard as having authority over what we call Taiwan?
– When I answered the question I referred to the province of Taiwan. I read that from a statement prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs for an official briefing. Therefore that must be the official situation as far as the Minister is concerned. I also referred to the fact that the Government of Australia had recognised the People’s Republic of China in 1972, so both questions were answered in my original reply.
-Mr President, I have a supplementary question. Do I take it that the Minister is saying that it is Australian Government policy that Taiwan is a province of China?
-I am glad to hear Senator Knight confirm it. It would be good if we could get a confirmation of Government policy. If Senator Carrick is not able to answer the question now, will he ascertain which government the
Australian Government regards as the authority on Taiwan?
-I direct Senator Wriedt ‘s attention to the answer that I gave in which I specified the recognition of the People’s Republic of China by the Australian Government and I also specified that Taiwan was described as a province.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Does the Government believe that bipartisan agreement on the Olympic boycott would be very helpful to Australia’s international relations? Would the appearance of any Australian athlete in Moscow undoubtedly be seen and used by the Russians for propaganda purposes to indicate support for their domestic and foreign policies? Remembering that the Leader of the Opposition has indicated that an effective Olympic boycott would be very desirable, has the Leader of the Opposition given the Government any indication of what he would regard as an effective Olympic boycott and what the Australian Labor Party would do to help to make such a boycott effective?
– From the very onset of the Afghanistan war the Commonwealth Government indicated that it would be enormously helpful if the countries of the world and their internal parties could adopt a bipartisan approach and convey to the Russian people a message in clear terms that they regarded the activities of Russia in Afghanistan with horror and repugnance. So from the outset, this Government looked for and hoped that there would be a bipartisan approach. The New Zealand Government is very fortunate. It has the strong support and urging of the Labour Party Opposition on this issue and therefore can approach it in a bipartisan way.
Those people who have listened to the news from Russia recently will have learnt from our correspondents in Russia that the Russian people are becoming now extremely anxious because they have learnt that the Americans are not going to Moscow. They are starting to get a message that the outside world is concerned about Afghanistan. If the number of countries involved in the boycott multiplies, the message will become a major one. I am not aware that the Leader of the Opposition has made any representations to the Federal Government. I will seek to find out.
-I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: In view of his claim that the Government would have wished to see a bipartisan policy in this Parliament in respect of Soviet actions in Afghanistan, is it not a fact that the Australian Government announced its policy response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan prior to any approach being made to the Opposition and that it declared its own policy before the Opposition and the Government had any time even to discuss it?
– I imagine that that is so. It is the job of government when something of vital importance and peril the world happens to state in clear and unqualified terms where it stands.
– Peacock was publicly against it.
– Order! I ask Senator Grimes to cease interjecting. I call the Minister.
– There was an enormous opportunity in the days following for the Opposition, had it so wished, to signify its bipartisan support.
– Do we have to put up with this from that -
– Order! Senator Grimes, this place operates in accordance with the Standing Orders. When I request you to cease interjecting to allow the chamber to hear the reply of the Minister, I expect you to observe that direction. I call Senator Carrick.
– The Labor Party indicated early in the piece that an effective boycott would be a significant way of getting a message to the Russian people. Clearly, there will be an effective boycott. It is quite clear, therefore, that the opportunity occurred, over the weeks and months, for the Labor Party, had it so wished, to declare itself in a bipartisan way.
-Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Science and the Environment been drawn to Press reports dealing with a report made to the British Government by its scientific advisers which warns that Great Britain has been falling behind other advanced nations in its responses to the development of biotechnology? Has the Australian Government undertaken any study of the impact of advances in biotechnology in this country with a view to developing a coherent policy or policies to make maximum use of these scientific advances in the interests of the wider Australian community?
– My attention was drawn to an article concerning the matter which appeared in the Australian Financial Review. As it is not an area of which I have any working knowledge, I sought some information from the Department of Science and the Environment. My advice is that the answer to the honourable senator’s question is yes, the Commonwealth through a number of its departments and agencies has been monitoring the work undertaken in that field. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has been involved; indeed, it has programs covering the production of fuel ethanol from sugar-beet, the conversion of agricultural waste into gaseous and liquid fuels and the use of micro-organisms to enhance oil recovery from oil wells and oil shale. Work also is being done by the Department of Productivity. I think the Department of Health also has been involved. I have additional information on what is being done by those departments. I will undertake to provide it to the honourable senator.
The present position is, I understand, that no work which is of an immediate commercial significance is being done. The fact is that there may well be very substantial commercial significance in the future. It is a matter in which the Commonwealth sees itself as having an obligation to keep abreast of what is being done in the field so that Australia will be in a position both to use the techniques which evolve and to benefit from them.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has the Government recognised the new regime which has been installed in Liberia following the recent military uprising against the government of that country? Does the Government have any views on the subsequent murder of the former President, Mr Tolbert, and some of his colleagues? If the Government does believe, as some people may well do, that their murder was a rather conspicuously brutal action, has it made any public protest or has it made any protest to the people who now exercise authority in that country?
– My briefing indicates that William Tolbert. the Liberian President since July 1971 and the Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity, was killed on 12 April in a military coup by non-commissioned officers led by Master-Sergeant Samuel K. Doe. The Government regrets the bloodshed which has attended the overthrow of President Tolbert ‘s Government. It was aware, however, that there were popular grievances in Liberia based on economic and political inequalities. It is the Government’s hope that a normal situation will soon be restored in Monrovia, with proper respect being paid to human rights and economic development to benefit all Liberians. The Government is not yet aware of what arrangements will be made for the accession of a new chairman of the OAU. The Department is making inquiries about the welfare of Australians living in Liberia and is watching developments there. Early indications are that there have been no expatriate casualties. I have no information on our recognition or otherwise of the new regime. I will seek that information and let the honourable senator know the result.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. Are we to take it from the Minister’s answer that the Government believes that, in view of the fact that certain people in Liberia held grievances which may or may not have been justified, that in turn justified the murder of the President and other prominent Liberians’
-The statement I read out says the contrary.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for Productivity aware of debate taking place in the community concerning research and development grants for inventions which could be regarded as very clever innovations but which may not be particularly relevant to industry? Do people proposing such a view also say that such research could be of far greater value to industry and, through it, to the nation if supplementary grants for other related projects were made in order to obtain the greatest benefit from a blended approach to existing advances in technology? Has the Department of Productivity considered this criticism with a view to developing programs whereby such suggestions might usefully be implemented?
– I am not aware whether the Department of Productivity has considered the suggestion made by Senator Messner. On the face of it, it appears to be a logical and sensible suggestion for an extension of the approach that has already been adopted by the Department of Productivity and by the Minister for Productivity. The Minister is. of course, closely interested in the development of Australian ideas and the national benefit that can flow from that. I will refer Senator Messner ‘s suggestion to Mr Newman and ask him to consider it and to let Senator Messner know whether the idea he has put forward this afternoon can be used.
-I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry to a letter I received from him last week in which he said that it was not practical to have observers on Japanese trawlers or any other foreign trawlers in our 200-mile off-shore zone to see that they do not destroy our mammals, whether they be whales or dolphins. The Minister said that the whaling legislation would cover any gaps and allay any fears I might have. That letter would have been written five days ago. Over the weekend we saw a horrifying report of a meeting of the Government parties last week at which members of the Government parties completely emasculated the penalties in the proposed whaling legislation.
Government senators- Rubbish!
– Am I to understand that this is a fact or will my fears be allayed by the whaling legislation? When will the legislation be introduced in view of the fact that we are continuing to issue licences to foreign trawlers? We should put the horse first and not the cart.
– I am aware of Senator Mulvihill’s great interest in this matter and I assure him that the Government shares his concern. I believe that the concern which involves him at the moment is one to which the Government has proper and responsible solutions. The answer that I provided from the Department of Primary Industry to Senator Mulvihill referred to the im practicality of having observers on so many ships. It said that that was not within our capacity at this moment. I have noted his further concern and I will refer the question to the Department of Primary Industry and to the Minister. If I am able to provide any further information to Senator Mulvihill I shall gladly do so.
– I ask a supplementary question. I am prompted by Senator Messner’s interjection. Will the legislation contain penal clauses for use against foreign trawlers which destroy our mammals?
– As I said when I replied to Senator Mulvihill in the first instance, I have noted the concern that he has expressed. Certainly all those matters of concern, including the question of penal clauses, will be taken into account when the Government finally resolves the matter.
– I have pleasure in drawing the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Sevese Morea, M.P., Speaker of the national Parliament of the independent state of Papua New Guinea. On behalf of all honourable senators, I extend to him a very warm welcome. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I propose to invite Mr Speaker Morea to take a seat on the floor of the Senate.
Honourable senators- Hear, hear!
The Hon. Sevese Morea thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly.
– I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer to an article in the Age of 12 March 1980 about claims at a Perth conference that the taxation commissioners have been imposing unlawful penalties on taxpayers who claim non-allowable deductions. Firstly, are taxpayers liable to a penalty under the Income Tax Assessment Act only if they claim an amount in excess of actual expenditure? Secondly, is the Minister aware that the taxation commissioners have been imposing unlawful penalties on taxpayers who claim nonallowable deductions? Thirdly, will the Minister take action to ensure that the Australian Taxation Office acts in accordance with the Western Australian Supreme Court decision of 1978 involving the successful challenge by the Cyprus Mines Corporation and remits unlawful penalties imposed since Mr Justice Smith ‘s decision?
– A number of persons have made similar comments to me. I have sought some information from the Treasury on the broader matter. I am advised that sub-section 226 (2) of the Income Tax Assessment Act imposes a penalty by way of additional tax where, among other things, a taxpayer includes in his return as a deduction for expenditure incurred by him an amount in excess of the expenditure actually incurred. I have been informed by the Commissioner of Taxation that, where the conditions exist for the operation of the sub-section, it applies of its own force to impose the additional tax. The Commissioner’s power is one of remission only. Of course, Parliament has vested the administration of the taxation law in the Commissioner of Taxation.
The Commissioner has advised that his understanding is that the remarks of conference delegates, as reported in the Age recently, relate specifically to taxpayers who have participated in certain tax avoidance arrangements. His view is that in these cases the relevant provisions of section 226 apply of their own force. That view is not inconsistent with the decision of the Western Australian Supreme Court in the Cyprus Mines case. 1 have further information and I will let Senator Missen have it.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting AttorneyGeneral. Has the film Death of a Princess been received by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board for classification for screening in Australia? Does the Government intend to prevent the Film Censorship Board from classifying this film according to the same criteria as are applied to all imported film material? In respect of the film Death of a Princess, does the Government intend to circumvent the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board and replace the established criteria, which are current community standards, by the criterion of trade advantage as determined by the Deputy Prime Minister?
– I am not aware whether the film has been received. My understanding is that the Government is not proposing to take any action in this matter. The statement by my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Resources, was an expression of his personal view, he having been recently in the country concerned. I think his view was one of a generalised and sensitive kind and not, as Senator Ryan says, directed simply by instincts of trade. I cannot give any further information. I will seek information as to the present whereabouts of the film, and if information comes to hand I will let Senator Ryan know.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Finance. How much of the $ 1.4m authorised for payment pursuant to the New South Wales (Chrysotile Corporation) Act has been paid? Has any part of the repayable grant and interest thereon been repaid by the New South Wales Government? How much has the New South Wales Government contributed by way of matching funds to maintain the Barraba mining operation? Have the reasons given in the Industries Assistance Commission interim report entitled ‘Asbestos- Short-term Assistance’ against taxpayer-funded support for the Chrysotile Corporation been proved incorrect?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEI understand that the legislation provides that the Commonwealth may make certain payments to the New South Wales Government under the terms of an agreement between the two governments. That agreement has not yet been finalised as a number of factors affecting its provisions have required detailed consideration. I am advised that the New South Wales Government to date has contributed $2. 121m and further payments by that Government are expected to be made soon for environmental equipment, which will exhaust the total of $2. 8m the two governments have agreed to provide. On execution of the agreement to which I have referred, the Commonwealth would reimburse the New South Wales Government on a dollar for dollar basis up to $1.4m for the payments properly made by that Government to the Chrysotile Corporation. No repayments of advances or interest have been repaid by the Chrysotile Corporation to the New South Wales Government. It is expected that such repayments would be made from any positive cash flow available to the company from its half-yearly operations following 31 December 1979. An examination of the company’s ability to repay interest and capital would be made in early July, under current understandings.
In relation to the last part of Senator Rocher ‘s question, I am advised that the Industries Assistance Commission in its interim report offered a number of reasons to support its recommendation that no assistance be provided by the Commonwealth to the company. It is true that the company has required the short term assistance offered by the Commonwealth and the State government for the 15-month period which ended in December 1979. It is also true that in hearings before the Industries Assistance Commission the company has sought additional assistance. Whether such additional assistance is justifiable or appropriate is a matter currently under consideration by the Government, following receipt of the Commission’s final report on this matter. Honourable senators will appreciate that I cannot give details of the Commission’s final report, which involves commercial interests, but they can be assured that the Government is examining this question closely and carefully.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. The Government has shown that it has concern over the effect the chemicals contained in agent orange may have had on Vietnam veterans. Taking into account the evidence that has caused this concern, will the Government widen the Vietnam veterans inquiry to cover Australian civilians who may have worked in Vietnam and been affected by these materials? Will the Government instruct the National Health and Medical Research Council to conduct an urgent and open inquiry into the effects these chemicals may be having on the civilian population of Australia?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEI will need to refer the matters raised by Senator Melzer to the Minister for Health. I will see that she is given early advice about these matters.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations by pointing out that most people in Australia would appreciate the importance of the debate on the detrimental effects or otherwise on Australian industries, and their overseas competitive position, of the 35-hour working week. I have attempted to find out the position to date regarding the number of unions whose members already work a 35-hour week and have been assured by the Parliamentary Library that the figures are not available. Will the Minister assure the Senate that the Department will make available this very necessary data?
-I will refer Senator Walters’ question to my colleague the Minister for Industrial Relations, and seek the information she requests.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Attorney-General. Further to the answer given to me by the Attorney-General to question No. 2639, did the advice given to the Deputy Crown Solicitor on the incident involving two Customs officials who retained jewellery from a passenger’s luggage inform the Deputy Crown Solicitor that a witness was available who was prepared to testify that during the search he saw both officers pick up and examine expensive jewellery from the luggage and heard them say, while putting such articles in their respective pockets: ‘This will do for my wife’? Was the Deputy Crown Solicitor advised that some of the articles of jewellery were found at the home of each officer?
-I will bring the question to the attention of the Acting Attorney-General and seek his study of it and comment upon it.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, refers to an article in today’s Australian Financial Review which relates to the relaxing of rules to catch up on Budget underspending as far as manpower programs are concerned. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the details of the claim and is the information accurate? Is it true that the Commonwealth Employment Service has been asked to relax the rules of entry to programs under the National Employment and Training system? If the rules are relaxed, how will this be related to the Auditor-General’s requirements? Can the Minister indicate the influence of such a situation on Budget allocations and social consequences for next year?
-I will seek that information for Senator Davidson and let him have it.
– My question is directed tei the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that, due to the non-availability of the Boeing 707 VIP aircraft in September last year to fly to Lord Mountbatten ‘s funeral, a Qantas Airways Ltd charter aircraft was used to take the official party, at a cost of $ 10 1,000?
– I was a member of that party. My understanding is that I flew to and from the funeral in a Royal Australian Air Force Boeing 707. The aircraft had not changed its configuration from the day before when I think it brought refugees or migrants to Australia. Senator Sibraa may have some special information but I can speak only from my first hand experience. The Governor-General, the Governor and the official party of about 40 people travelled in a RAAF 707 aircraft.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. In view of that answer, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate check the answer that was given to me during the hearing of Senate Estimates Committee F in respect of the estimates for the Department of Defence last Friday? The Hansard of” that hearing records that a Qantas charter was used due to the unavailability of a Boeing 707 aircraft.
-I will certainly check that. I have the clearest understanding that the aircraft on which the Governor-General, the Governor and other persons, including me, travelled was a Boeing 707 of the RAAF transport service which previously had carried migrants or refugees.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for Transport aware of the comments by Sir Lenox Hewitt in the Sunday Mail on 20 April that Qantas Airways Ltd will seek to fly passengers between Perth and Melbourne, Melbourne and Sydney, and Sydney and Brisbane in competition with Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia? Does this statement contrast with the monopolistic stand taken by Qantas in the past with respect to the applications by Ansett Airlines of Australia to operate between Townsville and Singapore, and Hobart and Christchurch, to name but two routes? Has the Government been advised by the Chairman of Qantas, in the light of his newfound commercial realism, that Qantas will now withdraw its opposition to the internal airlines operating in the region around Australia on routes where Qantas is not prepared or able to operate a service?
-I do not read the Sunday Mail; so I have not seen the report which was referred to by the honourable senator. I do not think there is anything new in that report if, in fact, it is in the terms mentioned by the honourable senator. I understand that Qantas Airways Ltd on a number of occasions has put forward the suggestion that it might use its excess capacity on internal routes for domestic nights. That has been suggested in the past and it may have been suggested again by Sir Lenox Hewitt. The honourable senator drew a contrast in respect of the monopolistic stance of Qantas. It is the Government which decided that until 1981 Qantas should have the right to be our sole overseas carrier. In fact, that is a Government decision. I have no information as to whether the Government has been advised of any change in attitude by Qantas with respect to possible nights from various cities around Australia to overseas ports. I will seek that information from Mr Hunt and let the honourable senator have a further reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. It is evoked by the taxation concessions ostensibly for drought relief which the Prime Minister decreed last week. Can the Minister, on behalf of Mr Fraser, explain how taxation concessions will help farmers who have no income because of drought and, therefore, have no money to spend on tax deductible items? How will newly excavated dams relieve water shortages before the drought is over? Are the measures most likely to assist those who have large off-farm incomes and farms not affected by drought- for example, J. M. Fraser of Nareen? If the Prime Minister believes the measures stand on their own merit, why did he present them as drought relief?
-Clearly if those farmers or graziers had farms that were not affected by drought, this measure would not apply to them at all. Therefore, as to the last part of Senator Walsh’s question, it was self-destructing en route. I think the great bulk of those small farmers in Australia who are struggling in the natural environment would find most surprising the suggestion that these tax concessions could not help them. The fact of the matter is that anyone would know that those people in these times- in the knowledge that it will rain and that there will be water to catch, however scarce- will want to build small dams, small water storages. I am very sorry indeed that Senator Walsh feels that those people do not need help or that they do not seek help. My own experience is that there has been strong rural support by the tens of thousands of farmers who are relatively poor for the initiative which at least they think is a significant initiative.
- Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I want to give Senator Carrick the opportunity to confirm something that he just said. He said that these concessions will not apply to those people suffering from drought. I ask him whether he wants to stand by that answer. If so, how will the taxation concessions be applied on a selective basis in view of section 51 (ii) of the Constitution? I also ask him to answer the question I asked in the first place: How will taxation concessions help farmers who have no income because of drought and who, therefore, have no money to spend on tax deductible items?
-I did not say that this measure would not affect farmers who were affected by drought. I said the reverse.
– Can I have your ‘pink’?
– I said that this measure would be helpful to farmers who are affected by drought. I think Hansard will show that. The whole purpose of my answer was to say that these people were the very people who wanted to build small water storages to catch whatever rain might fall. Clearly it is designed for those who have small means and who can, by their own efforts and with relatively small capital, get things going. Of course, by this help, they will be able to get the necessary water catchments built.
I am utterly surprised that anyone should query the validity of these measures which have been thoroughly accepted in the rural community.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources whether reports are correct that some countries have been selling Australian wheat to Russia following Australia’s ban on any sales to Russia over and above sales which had been previously contracted to that country by Australia. If so, can the Minister say which countries have been making these sales which would be used to fill the gap created by the American cancellation of sales to Russia because of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan? Also, if reports are correct, do not such reports indicate that these undercover sales of wheat show that trade sanctions are not fully effective?
– Australia has agreed not to pick up the shortfall created by the refusal of the United States Government to make some 17 million tonnes of grain available to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Consistent with this undertaking, the Australian Government has already prevented a number of sales of maize and sorghum to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. A recent report that 500,000 tonnes of Australian barley was transhipped to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics via Singapore in contravention of our undertakings is totally incorrect. Canada and the European Economic Community have also taken measures to ensure that their grain does not replace cancelled United States sales. The United States, Canada, Australia and the EEC account for some 80 per cent of world grain trade. The remaining trade is not covered by the understanding between major exporters. A number of countries, most notably Argentina, have been able to ship additional quantities of grain to the USSR in recent months. However, despite these leakages, it is estimated that the USSR’s grain exports will still be about
II million tonnes below the level of imports which would have occurred in the absence of the United States action and the restraint exercised by co-operating countries. Whilst the action taken by co-operating countries on grains has not prevented a full 1 7 million tonnes of grain reaching the USSR, the Government believes that the action is causing inconvenience to that country in a way which would reinforce our condemnation of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy. There is evidence of decreased consumer spending, a depressed building industry, rising costs of goods and services, and rising inflation. Does the Minister still maintain that the Government ‘s fuel pricing policy is the correct one, in view of these pointers to a depressed economy? Does the Minister concede that a slower increase in fuel pricing would have helped industry and employment to be in a better state than they are today and would have kept inflation at a lower level?
– The reports from commerce and industry generally are that the economy is in good shape and that the orders being placed are healthy compared with the trends of the past. There are four tests of whether a fuel pricing policy is the correct one. Those tests are: Firstly, does it conserve the precious oil that we have? The answer is that our policy does this and is doing so. Secondly, does it persuade people to move from oil to alternative fuels, particularly in industry? The answer is that our policy is doing that. Thirdly, is it encouraging exploration and development? The answer is that there will be record spending on exploration for and development of oil in this calendar year. Fourthly, will it attract the huge expenditure and investment necessary in the production of synthetic crudes so that we are not dependent on spot prices in the Middle East? The answer, of course, is that the Rundle project is proof of that and that others being foreshadowed will be so. Finally, if in doing those four things in a successful way we can still produce petrol that in the Western world in which we move is the second cheapest and dearer only than Canada ‘s, then, of course, the fuel pricing policy is clearly successful.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications draw the attention of the Minister he represents to the fact that the apparent predisposition, or in some cases obsession, of newscasters, feature programmers and public affairs commentators with regard to matters of rape, abortion, homosexuality and sex generally is not shared by the vast majority of normal listeners and viewers? Will he ask the Minister to consider taking up the matter with both the public and the private sectors of the industry, with the suggestion that there are many other subjects which present far more acceptable listening and viewing to a dominant proportion of the public which is getting more and more fed up with the continuing decline in the presented levels of standards and good taste?
– I receive occasional letters which suggest that the view which has been put by Senator Archer in his question is shared by other citizens around Australia who feel that standards have been allowed to decline on radio and television. As has been stated very often by my colleague the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, the question of program standards on commercial broadcasting stations is one for the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, which consults industry bodies on these questions. As far as the Australian Broadcasting Commission is concerned, it is a matter for the Commission itself, but I think it would be generally true that the Commission abides by the standards which are laid down by the Tribunal for commercial organisations. The general standard of presentation has been subject to several inquiries. Community views have been put to those inquiries. The standards which have been developed generally follow the results of the inquiries which have been held. The Government and the Minister have consistently held the view that this is a matter to be dealt with by the Tribunal and by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I do not believe that there will be any departure from that point of view. But I will ask Mr Staley to pass on the views contained in the honourable senator’s question to both the ABC and the Tribunal because, as I indicated in opening my response, I do receive some correspondence from people which indicates that the view which the honourable senator has put forward is shared by a number of citizens from all round Australia. That is a matter which ought to be brought to the attention of those who are responsible for broadcasting.
-My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who represents the Prime Minister and also the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Minister will recall that on Thursday I raised with him questions in relation to Iran. I mentioned that the President of the United States of America had been reported as having influenced allies and suggested that they should take stronger action in respect of sanctions, particularly in view of the lack of response on the holding of the hostages in Iran. The Minister will know, of course, that during the weekend that question was reinforced by repeated statements. I ask the Minister whether he has the answers that he promised to get for me on that matter. This matter was also followed up this morning in the Australian, which said that today Cabinet would consider the question of United States pressure for more allied support for what the United States decided would be optimums for sanctions. I ask the Minister whether Cabinet has considered these matters. If so, is there a position that the Government might announce in respect of these matters?
– As Senator Bishop acknowledged in his question last week, this is a very serious matter. It is true that Cabinet is in the process of considering the matter. Following the deliberations of Cabinet, I think a statement will be made tomorrow. I will try to get by tomorrow more definite answers to Senator Bishop’s previous question.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Education whether he recalls my question on 17 April concerning fees for the Students’ Association at the Australian National University and his reply, in which he stated:
The difficulty arises because the University has not yet decided the classes of amenities and services which are to be financed within the provisions of the Act from the compulsory fee collected from all students.
The matter cannot be resolved until the University has produced a statute setting out its intentions.
The Minister indicated also that no draft statute had been submitted to the Government. I ask the Minister: On what grounds did the University threaten to expel certain students, when it has yet to decide what areas are to be covered by the proposed statute? Will the Minister have immediate inquiries made into this matter? Finally, will the Minister also inform the Parliament why it has taken the University so long to frame this statement, when the Government’s legislation was passed by Parliament in November of last year?
– I recall Senator Knight asking me the question last week, and I recall my reply to him. The situation in relation to the threat of expulsion of students who have refused to pay their general services fees is that there is a requirement under the University’s fees statute which provides for the termination of enrolment of students who do not meet their fees obligations. The University acted in accordance with the statute. In relation to the length of time taken by the University to prepare an amenities and services statute covering the disbursement of the general services fees, because of the difficulty in determining what are appropriate amenities and services in accordance with the requirement of the Act, it has been necessary for the University to obtain advice and to undertake consultation on these matters with the organisations affected. A draft statute has been prepared. I understand that the University is hoping to present it to the Australian National University Council on 9 May.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it the case that the Governor-General recently reprimanded the Minister for Industrial Relations, Mr Street, in relation to the recent appointments to the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? If so, was this reprimand administered because of some impropriety by the Minister, and, if so, what impropriety? Or was it because of the apparently unprecedented and certainly unjustifiable imbalance in the nature of those appointments in that both new deputy presidents, Justices Marks and Madden, and both new commissioners, Messrs McKenzie and Merriman, were drawn from the ranks of the employer advocates, with no one from the trade union movement?
– I do not think that any matter which passes between the GovernorGeneral and the Government is a matter for me to comment upon. Certainly I do not believe, and I do not think the honourable senator who asked the question would believe, that the second half of his question has any substance at all. I would think that he who pretends to be a constitutional lawyer would know that no Governor-General under the present Constitution would comment in that regard upon the nature of a government policy. Indeed, Senator Evans could answer that question himself. I will bring the question to the attention of the Minister concerned.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Having in mind the recent statement by the Premier of South Australia, Dr Tonkin, that the continuation of the construction of the standard gauge rail link now being constructed from Tarcoola to Alice Springs, to Darwin, would provide a direct outlet for South Australian produce to overseas markets through the port of Darwin and also for the importing of goods using the same means of transport to South Australia, will consideration be given to this further economic factor in the feasibility study of the rail link project presently being carried out by the Federal and Northern Territory governments?
– Why did you close the present railway line?
– I will try to answer Senator Kilgariff’s question before I try to answer the interjection from Senator McLaren. This matter has been raised in the Senate on a number of occasions by Senator Kilgariff, who has shown commendable concern about the rail link to Darwin. I have been able to assure him in the past that the terms of reference of the study are wide. My advice from the Department of Transport on this occasion is that the terms of reference are certainly wide enough to encompass the sorts of economic factors which he has raised. The honourable senator will appreciate that the point raised by him and which was raised before that by Dr Tonkin, the Leader of the South Australian Government, is not simple. The economics of what they are talking about is dependent upon a number of factors, including the high costs of the double handling which would be involved in Dr Tonkin’s suggestion and the questions which arise about the availability of suitable shipping services from Darwin. But the points raised by Senator Kilgariff in his question are significant. I will ask the Department to ensure that they are drawn to the attention of those who are doing the study. In any event, I suspect that Dr Tonkin will also be pursuing the points since he has raised them in the manner mentioned by Senator Kilgariff.
-On 17 April, Senator Walters asked me a question on the Education Research and Development Committee. My advice is that the ERDC makes grants to applicants to conduct research. The grantee can therefore decide to publish in journal or book form. The Committee acquires a report from the grantee which is considered for dissemination. Depending on its nature, this may take a variety of forms. It may include publication by the Australian Government Publishing Service or having additional copies of the report distributed to appropriate institutions for example universities, colleges and education departments. In some cases seminars and visits are arranged to facilitate dissemination. Articles and reviews frequently appear in Education News. The ERDC is not responsible for making decisions about the implementation of research finance. This is the responsibility of bodies which operate educational systems. The ERDC is aware that greater emphasis needs to be given to dissemination of educational research and is currently exploring ways to improve the communication of research findings.
-On 17 April, Senator Puplick asked me a question on Namibia. I seek to incorporate my reply in Hansard.
The reply read as follows-
As I mentioned in my reply to Senator Puplick in the Senate on Thursday last there have been some press reports speculating that the South African Government may be reassessing its position on Namibia following the recent election victory of Mr Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and may be preparing to resile from its previous commitment to a negotiated settlement in Namibia.
It is clear that the election result in Zimbabwe had an impact on South African policy makers. We hope, however, that the assurances given by Mr Mugabe of the importance of maintaining a correct working relationship with South Africa, and of not allowing Zimbabwe to become a base for armed infiltration into South Africa will reassure the South African authorities and lead them to further reappraisal of their own policies in Namibia and elsewhere.
Australia supports fully the UN/ Western plan for a peaceful negotiated settlement in Namibia. We are a member of the United Nations Council for Namibia and participate actively in its work. We maintain continuing contact with the five western members of the Contact Group, with the United Nations Secretariat and, with the South African Government itself on the Namibia issue. We have followed closely the various discussions that have been held, including the talks in Geneva in November 1 979 and the recent visit to South Africa, Namibia and Front Line States by representatives of the Secretariat. All these governments and the United Nations are aware that the Australian Government supports the endeavour to reach an early solution. The Government considers the current climate in Southern Africa to be patricularly propitious for the conclusion of an agreement satisfactory to all parties, although we accept that South Africa may need a little time to digest recent events. Honourable Senators will be aware that the Prime Minister announced on 20 February 1979 our willingness to participate in the proposed UN Supervisory force in Namibia (UNTAG) which is an integral part of the proposed constitutional arrangements. This offer stands.
– In response to a question asked earlier today by Senator Sibraa, I confirm that the aircraft which took the Vice-Regal and the Government party to Lord Mountbatten ‘s funeral was a Boeing 707 of the Royal Australian Air Force transport squadron. I have also seen the Hansard of the Estimates Committee hearing for the Department of Defence and there appears to be a conflict. I am puzzled because I believed that Qantas Airways Ltd did not have any 707s left. Therefore I cannot understand the reason for the charter. I will seek clarification.
-On 15 April Senator Ryan asked me as Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications a question without notice concerning the broadcasting in Canberra of experimental ethnic television services. I have a further response from the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. I seek leave to incorporate it in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
In May last year, Canberra commercial television station CTC 7 offered to televise in the Canberra area the scries of experimental ethnic television programs then being transmitted by the ABC in Sydney and Melbourne. A further series of ethnic programs has recently commenced in both centres.
The Government has announced its acceptance of the recommendation of the Ethnic Television Review Panel that an Independent and Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation (IMBC) be established. The Corporation will be responsible for providing multicultural and multilingual radio and television services for the Australian community. Legislation proposing the establishment of the IMBC will shortly be introduced into the Parliament.
The programs being presented in Sydney and Melbourne are experimental and for the purposes of the experiment it was thought desirable to restrict them to those two centres. Public reaction to the programs is being carefully assessed in the context of developing program plans for the permanent ethnic television service.
The Government does not wish to deny ethnic communities in the Canberra region access to multicultural television programs. Quite the contrary the decision to establish the IMBC is indicative of the Government’s desire to make available such programs to the Australian community as a whole.
The experimental programs were planned for broadcast in Sydney and Melbourne only and it is not considered appropriate to widen their coverage at this stage.
– On Thursday 17 April matters concerning security procedures in Parliament House were raised by Senator Archer and Senator Georges. As the answers to these questions are not brief I propose, with the concurrence of honourable senators, to have them incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
On 1 7 April 1 980 Senator Archer asked several questions concerning security. The answers to the Honourable Senator’s questions are as follows.
1 ) Question: What restrictions exist on unaccompanied visitors roaming the passages of Parliament House intent on waylaying Senators for the purpose of pursuing their particular interests?
Answer: No unaccompanied visitors may roam the non public passages of Parliament House unless they are in possession of a pass.
Explanation: Photographic passes which entitle the wearer to enter the non public areas of Parliament House are issued to the occupants of Parliament House and to those who have a need to visit Parliament House on a frequent and regular basis. There are two types of day passes- Escorted Day Passes and Unescorted Day Passes.
Escorted Day Passes- Persons issued with these passes must be escorted at all times within the non-public areas of Parliament House. The escort may be a senator, member, attendant or a photographic pass holder. The person being visited must arrange for or provide an escort for the return of the visitor to the public area, or preferably to an exit point. The visitor must be advised to surrender the pass on leaving the building.
Unescorted Day Passes- are for issue to those accompanying senators and members and to identified visitors. Also to tradesmen et cetera whose duties or visits preclude the feasibility of or the necessity for an escort. The person must satisfy the pass officer or attendant with adequate proof of identity or be readily recognised by him, or be vouched for by a senator, member or senior officer of any of the departments in Parliament House.
Question: What privileges do they have to use Parliament House phones to ring senators in their offices?
Answer: There is no provision for such a privilege.
Question: Do casual visitors have the right to unrestricted unaccompanied access? If not, what is the procedure that should be adopted and what is the remedy available to senators to avoid this type of intrusion, when it so often interrupts the many other engagements to which senators are normally committed?
Answer: Casual visitors do not have the right to unrestricted unaccompanied access. If it is the wish of the visitor to have an interview with a senator, member or departmental officer, the attendant in the King’s Hall box shall telephone or contact that person or a person in such office. Should the senator, member or departmental officer of the Senate or House of Representatives desire to sec the visitor, they shall arrange for someone from that office to meet the visitor at King’s Hall attendants’ box or request the attendant at King’s Hall box to escort the visitor to the destination point. The visitor would be issued with the appropriate pass. On conclusion of the visit the person who was visited must arrange for an escort to accompany the visitor back to the public area or preferably the exit point from the building. The escort shall remind the visitor to surrender the pass to an attendant before leaving the building.
Question: Can members and senators be made more adequately aware of their responsibilities for their visitors, and especially to facilitate the duties of the attendants accordingly?
Answer: Copies of the document ‘Control of Entry to Parliament House’ were circulated to the offices of all senators and members. This document will be rewritten in due course, with any amendments, and will be circulated.
In the adjournment debate on Thursday, 1 7 April Senator Georges asked:
I raise the matter with you, Mr President. It concerns security and the manner in which visitors to the public gallery are searched. I believe that this is now an embarrassment to honourable senators and even more of an embarrassment to those who enter the public gallery. Yesterday a group of pensioners were subjected to what I consider to be an unnecessary search. In fact, visitors are now in double jeopardy, if 1 may put it that way. They come through the security section below, which costs a considerable amount of money. I think it is unnecessary for them to be searched in the way that they are searched. Elderly people are asked to empty their pockets and to hold out their keys while they are checked by a police officer. I think that that is highly unnecessary; it is terribly embarrassing and I ask you to look at the matter.
Answer: Because of incidents which have previously occurred in the public galleries, the police are instructed to search all people prior to them entering the public gallery. It is true that the public on entering Parliament House through the lower front entrance have to pass through devices at that entrance with a view to ascertaining whether they are in possession of metallic matter. Any articles they are carrying are subject to search for similar reasons. As photographic pass holders can pass through other entrances without being searched and as there is a possibility that such persons could give articles, pamphlets et cetera to members of the public who have passed through the lower front entrance, it has been considered necessary to provide the additional precaution of having police search all people before entering the public gallery. >
– I am able to inform the Senate that an assessment of Parliament House security is currently under way. I will ensure that due consideration during this assessment is given to the points raised by Senator Archer and Senator Georges.
-by leave- I was given a copy of the statement before it was incorporated in Hansard. I would like to be assured that when the assessment is made the seriousness of the matter which I have raised will be properly considered. Your response, Mr President, applies to the situation at the moment. It seems to me that the answer to my question concerning the searching of people entering the public gallery is not satisfactory at all. If the rationale for the searching of people on the second occasion is as given it really is a good reason for its being changed. It seems that the reason for the second search is to prevent people from bringing printed matter into the gallery. Some of us have been members for a number of years.
Only on one or two occasions has printed material been brought into this place.
– I recall the ‘Free Zarb’ literature. Subsequently other printed material was brought in. They were only minor incidents.
– And did no damage to property or persons.
-They did not do very much to affect the dignity of this place, which can not be said for the happenings in the Senate for which honourable senators are responsible. In order to prevent an occurrence which has taken place twice in, say, 12 years, hundreds and hundreds of people, many elderly, are now being searched in a manner which is highly embarrassing to them and certainly embarrassing to members of the Senate. Surely we can take the very minor risk involved and prevent people being harassed. I can find no other word to describe what I saw taking place the other day. Some 50 or 60 people were harassed by attendants and police. It was an embarrassment to everyone involved. Surely this chamber at least can do without that search.
– I have noted Senator Georges ‘ further comments.
Motion (by Senator Carrick) agreed to:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the days and times of meeting of the Senate for the remainder of this week be as follows:
Tuesday, 22 April 1980-2.15 p.m. to 6 p.m.; 8 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.
Wednesday, 23 April 1980-10.30 a.m. to 1 p.m.: 2.15 p.m. to 6 p.m.; 8 p.m. to 1 1 p.m.
Bills received from the House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Senator Chaney) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to the several stages for the passage through the Senate of the Bills being put in one motion at each stage and the consideration of such Bills together in the Committee of the Whole.
Ordered that the Bills may be taken through all their stages without delay.
Bills (on motion by Senator Chaney) read a first time.
– I move:
Mr President, I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.
The speeches read as follows-
Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill 1980
This Bill is the first of five Bills that I will be introducing today pursuant to the Commonwealth’s obligations under the Co-operative Companies and Securities Scheme. Before I discuss this Bill, I would like to outline, for the benefit of honourable senators, the administrative and legislative context in which these Bills will operate.
On 6 March 1979 the then Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, Mr Fife, outlined the main features of the agreement. One feature is that the National Companies and Securities Commission will have responsibility for the companies and securities laws covered by the formal agreement. The NCSC will be subject to directions from the Ministerial Council for Companies and Securities, which is established by the agreement. The NCSC will, as far as practicable, delegate its administrative responsibilities to the relevant authority in each State and Territory jurisdiction.
Another feature is that the content of the companies and securities laws will be set out in legislation that will apply to the Australian Capital Territory. Each other jurisdiction will then pass legislation applying the relevant Commonwealth Law as the law of that jurisdiction, to the exclusion of its present legislation as from the commencement of the application legislation in that jurisdiction. Subsequently, any amendments to the Commonwealth law that are approved by the Ministerial Council will have automatic effect without the necessity for further and separable legislation in each other jurisdiction.
The aim is that, as far as possible, any person or company should be able to deal on all general companies and securities matters as if that person or company were only subject to one system of law and administration throughout Australia. The Co-operative Scheme thus provides a framework for uniform general laws of companies and securities that will apply throughout Australia. It was, however, never intended to fetter the sovereign right of any parliament to pass particular laws which are not inconsistent with the general legislation agreed to under the Scheme. For example, the implementation of the acquisition of shares code under the Scheme will not affect the right of the Commonwealth to legislate with respect to anti-competitive mergers as it has done in the Trade Practices Act, or foreign take-overs as it has done in the Foreign Take-overs Act.
The substantive legislation under the Companies and Securities Scheme will be administered by the National Companies and Securities Commision, a body established by the National Companies and Securities Commission Act 1979, which came into operation on 1 February 1980. Three full-time members, Mr Leigh Masel, Chairman, Mr John Coleman, Deputy Chairman, and Mr Tony Greenwood, and two part-time members, Mr John Nosworthy and Mr John Uhrig, have been appointed to the NCSC and commenced duty on 1 1 March this year.
The substantive legislation under the Scheme consists broadly of four groups. These relate to: Firstly, a companies acquisition of shares code; secondly, a securities industry code; thirdly, a Companies and Securities (Interpretation and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill; and, fourthly, a companies code.
The five Bills relating to the first three groups have been approved by the Ministerial Council and I will be moving the second reading of all five today. In relation to the fourth group, the companies code, the Ministerial Council on 15 April released for public comment a draft Companies Bill and a draft Companies (Transitional Provisions) Bill. It is intended that the companies code Bills will be introduced into the Commonwealth Parliament in the Budget session. It is the objective for the whole Cooperative Scheme to be in operation by the beginning of 1981.
In embarking on the major exercise of legislative uniformity and law reform that was envisaged by the formal agreement, this Government and the other governments which are parties to the agreement have sought to ensure that there is at all times adequate opportunity for the proposed legislation to be considered by interested persons. Comments were sought and received on the proposed company take-overs code and securities industry code and committees of interested Government and Opposition members have been regularly briefed on the Scheme and the Commonwealth legislation under it. As I have previously mentioned, comments are also being sought on the companies code. On 20 November 1979 the then Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs introduced the Company Take-overs Bill 1979 into the House of Representatives. At that time submissions were invited on the provisions of that Bill. In the light of the comments received it was decided to make certain amendments to the Company Take-overs Bill and to re-title it the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill 1980. This new title describes more accurately the matters to which the Bill relates and has been used so as to avoid confusion with the Company Takeovers Bill 1979.
It is proposed that the Company Take-overs (Fees) Bill will be discharged in the event of the passage of the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill and the Companies (Acquisition of Shares-Fees) Bill by the Parliament. At all stages in the formulation of the legislation there has been detailed and careful consideration of the Bills by the Ministerial Council which, as required by the terms of the formal agreement, has now unanimously approved them for introduction into the Commonwealth Parliament.
The purpose of the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill is to set out the substantive law for the proposed new Australian code which will regulate the acquisition of company shares. A detailed explanation of the provisions of the new acquisition of shares code is contained in the explanatory memorandum which has been circulated with this Bill. An outline of the main features of the new code is at paragraph 1 3 of the memorandum; an outline of the differences between the new code and the Company Takeovers Bill 1979 is at attachment ‘A’ to the explanatory memorandum. Basically the new code will prohibit acquisitions above 20 per cent, or a lesser percentage if approved by the Ministerial Council and prescribed by regulations, and below 90 per cent of a company’s voting shares unless one of the following methods is adopted: Firstly, a gradual acquisition of shares at the rate of 3 per cent every six months; secondly, a formal take-over bid, based largely on the procedure that exists in the current take-over code; or, thirdly, an unconditional bid for one month on the floor of a stock exchange. A take-over bid will be subject to conditions to promote fully informed decisions by all shareholders.
There are, of course, particular forms of acquisitions which should not come within the scope of this code. Accordingly, specific exemptions are written into the code for acquisitions such as those under a will, allotments in accordance with the terms of a prospectus, or in certain cases acquisitions where the company involved may be regarded as not being owned by the public. In addition, the NCSC will be able to grant exemptions, with or without conditions, where this is warranted by the particular circumstances of the case. One area where this power may be useful will be in relation to the regulation of private placements. The NCSC also has power to declare that the acquisition of shares code applies to a person in a particular case as if the code were modified in a particular manner. When exercising either of these discretionary powers, the NCSC is required to have regard to certain guidelines which are closely modelled on the general principles described by the Eggleston Committee in relation to the regulation of takeovers. The NCSC is also required to ensure that the acquisition of shares in companies takes place in an efficient, competitive and informed market. Furthermore, the NCSC has power to declare as unacceptable a specified acquisition of shares or specified conduct under a take-over scheme or take-over announcement. Where the NCSC declares that a specified acquisition or specified conduct is unacceptable, the court may, on the application of the NCSC, make certain orders. For example, the court may make an order to protect the rights of any person affected by the conduct or to ensure as far as possible that the relevant take-over scheme or take-over announcement proceeds as if the conduct had not taken place.
The provisions relating to partial bids under the acquisition of shares code have been tightened. There has been criticism of the provision in the Company Take-overs Bill 1979 which provided for unlimited purchase of shares in a target company to take place on the stock exchange provided that the purchaser had issued a Part A statement for not less than 20 per cent of the target company’s shares. It was argued that this could allow market raids leaving a large number of small shareholders locked in. For this reason, the acquisition of shares code now provides that an offeror cannot acquire shares on the floor of the stock exchange unless he has made an offer to acquire all the shares to which the takeover scheme relates. The offer may be conditional on 90 per cent acceptance, at which point the compulsory acquisition provisions of the code will come into operation. The code recognises that the onus for proper disclosure and equitable treatment must be not only with the offeror but also the management of the target company. To this end, and in addition to controlling the way in which shares may be acquired by an offeror, controls are placed on target company management to restrict the use of unreasonable defence tactics such as unjustifiable service agreements or wilful non-disclosure of information needed by shareholders to assess a bid for their shares.
Although varying views have been expressed as to the extent to which the freedom of bidders should be controlled, the new code seeks to close loopholes in the present legislation and to improve the effectiveness of the existing controls. We do not wish to discourage the making of takeover bids in cases in which there are adequate safeguards for the protection of shareholders. The new code seeks to ensure that as far as practicable, those safeguards will now be observed in all takeovers. I see this code as an assistance to efficient and economically viable takeover activity. The code will promote investor confidence and encourage an informed and efficient market in securities. I commend the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill to the Senate.
The Bill is related to the Companies (Acquistion of Shares) Bill. The Companies (Acquisition of Shares- Fees) Bill will deal with fees payable under the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill. This Bill has been approved by the Ministerial Council for Companies and Securities for introduction into the Commonwealth Parliament. I commend the Companies (Acquisition of Shares- Fees) Bill to the Senate.
This is a Bill to interpret the Commonwealth legislation under the co-operative companies and securities law. This Bill will assist in the uniform interpretation of all of the substantive legislation that is to be administered by the National Companies and Securities Commission. This Bill has been approved by the Ministerial Council for Companies and Securities for introduction into the Commonwealth parliament. I commend the
Companies and Securities (Interpretation and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill to the Senate.
This Bill has been approved by the Ministerial Council for Companies and Securities for introduction into the Commonwealth Parliament following the exposure in November 1979 of a draft Bill for public comment. The purpose of this Bill is to regulate the securities industry in the Australian Capital Territory. The other jurisdictions that are covered by the formal agreement on companies and securities will then pass legislation applying this code in those other jurisdictions.
When this Bill is applied in the mainland States it will replace existing state securities industry legislation. A detailed explanation of the provisions of the new securities industry code is contained in the explanatory memorandum which has been circulated with the Bill. An outline of the main features of the Bill is at paragraphs 8 to 1 4 of this memorandum.
There are, however, some matters that I would like to draw to the attention of honourable senators. The special investigations provisions have been redrafted in accordance with the formal agreement. The Bill provides that special investigations may be instigated by the Ministerial Council or an individual Minister, or the Commission may request the Ministerial Council to direct that an investigation be held. New provisions have been added to allow evidence gathered in an examination to be admissible in both civil and criminal proceedings against the person examined and against other persons. There are certain safeguards when admitting evidence against other persons in criminal trials.
The Bill provides for the registration of stock exchanges and requires that the Commission must be notified of any amendments to the business or listing rules of the exchange. The Ministerial Council may subsequently disallow these amendments. The Commission has been vested with a new power to prohibit the trading of securities on a stock exchange. The licensing provisions of the Bill require that licences be held by a dealer, a dealer’s representative, an investment adviser and an investment representative. The Commission is required to maintain a register of licence holders and is empowered to revoke or suspend a licence. The conditions which may be imposed on the granting of a dealer’s licence have been extended. In particular there are new conditions relating to the financial position of the holder of a licence.
The Bill regulates conduct in the securities industry. Certain representations are prohibited and persons who recommend securities must disclose their interests in those securities. A dealer is prohibited from dealing with another person as principal without first informing the other person of that fact. The Bill prohibits short selling and sets out detailed requirements to regulate the use of clients’ moneys by a dealer. There are provisions in the Bill relating to the accounts which must be kept by dealers. A register of the interests of licence holders and financial journalists is required to be kept under the Bill. This register may now be kept at any place in Australia which is covered by the Scheme. Provision for stock exchange fidelity funds has been continued in the new Bill.
Provisions which deal with the trading of securities have been expanded to include a provision on the dissemination of information about illegal transactions. The stock market manipulation provisions have been redrafted. New provisions have been included in the Bill in relation to court orders. The NCSC is given certain powers to intervene in proceedings to apply to the court for orders prohibiting persons subject to investigations from taking property out of Australia. I commend the Securities Industry Bill to the Senate.
The Securities Industry (Fees) Bill provides for fees payable under the Securities Industry Bill. This Bill has been approved by the Ministerial Council for companies and securities for introduction into the Commonwealth Parliament. I commend the Securities Industry (Fees) Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Chaney) agreed to:
That the sitting of the Senate be suspended till 10. 1 5 p.m., or such earlier time as the President takes the chair, to enable Estimates committees A, C andFto meet.
Sitting suspended from 3.48 to 10.15 p.m.
Film ‘Death of a Princess’ -Proposed Olympic Games Boycott-Livestock Exports
Motion (by Senator Chaney) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– This evening I want to raise the question of a film which has achieved some degree of notoriety throughout Australia. It is entitled Death of a Princess. I want to use this opportunity this evening to make a plea to the Channel 7 network throughout Australia to give very serious consideration to a number of factors relevant to whether this film should be screened in Australia. Firstly, I reject absolutely any attempt by the Government to prevent this film from being shown. I believe that that would be entirely improper. However, I do believe that the Government, the Parliament, individual members of Parliament and individual members of the Australian community have a right to put before the executives of Channel 7 and to put it in a public forum, the sorts of things they believe ought to be taken into account before Channel 7 makes the decision to screen this film.
The background to this is probably reasonably well known to a number of honourable senators. It involves an incident that took place in 1977 when a Saudi Arabian princess by the name of Mashall bint Abdul Aziz, known now basically in the Press as Princess Misha ‘al, was convicted of having committed adultery with a young student, Musleh al Sha’er, the nephew of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Lebanon. The princess who at the time of this offence was already married and her common law lover obtained forged passports and attempted to flee the country by air. The princess was disguised as a man but was apprehended with her lover when security police at Jeddah airport noticed something unusual about their travelling arrangements. The princess was taken into custody. As with all of these things, there is some confusion about exactly who the princess was. We know that she was the granddaughter of Prince Mohammed, elder brother of King Khalid, the present king of Saudi Arabia. There is some doubt as to her age. When Time magazine reported the incident on 13 February 1978, it claimed that she was 23 years of age. By the time it had reported it again on 21 April 1980 the magazine claimed that she was 1 9 years of age.
The penalty under Saudi Arabian law for the crime of adultery is death by stoning. The princess was found guilty of this offence by a properly constituted Islamic court in Saudi Arabia. The sentence was changed, in her case, from death by stoning to death by execution by firing squad. Marriage to a commoner is no crime in Saudi Arabia. There is nothing to prevent a member of the Royal family from marrying a commoner. There are not even the restrictions on that sort of marriage which are imposed by the United Kingdom Royal Marriages Act. Therefore, any implication that the execution took place because she may have been married to a commoner needs to be laid aside. Subsequent to this event a story was published in the Daily Telegraph in the United Kingdom which also published some pictures purporting to show the beheading of the princess’s lover. They were supposedly taken by a British tourist with an instamatic camera hidden in a packet of cigarettes.
Following this, it was decided that the events would be made into a film. The film took some two years to produce at a reputed cost of $400,000. The two-hour documentary was produced by United Kingdom Associated Television and WGBH-TV in Boston. I have seen various reports. For instance, the Sunday Mail of 13 April and the Australian of 16 April claim that some finance for this film came from the Channel 7 network in Australia. I do not know whether that is the case. However, I must say the comments made by Mr Kinging of the Channel 7 network, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 1 7 April, would give me some cause to doubt that that was the case. The film was then shown in the United Kingdom early in April. Following that, there was a protest by the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud, and this was conveyed to the British Government. The British Government, in turn, through Lord Carrington, the Foreign Secretary, sent a telegram to Prince Saud expressing deep regret -those are the words actually used in the telegram- over the screening of this particular film in the United Kingdom. For that apology, the Government was attacked in the House of Commons. One member of the House of Commons, Mr Winnick said:
It is undignified to see a British Foreign Secretary virtually apologising to a feudal state about what has been shown on TV in this country.
It will also be known that an attempt was made by the Government of the Netherlands to prevent the screening of this film. The Dutch Minister, Mrs Neli Smit, indicated that the Dutch Government had asked its television authorities not to show the film. However, the film was shown in Holland on 16 April. In Australia a number of questions were asked in the House of Representatives about this matter on 15 April. Mr Anthony gave a reply at one stage. When talking about a telex which he had sent to the Channel 7 management he said:
I point out that this program is grossly offensive to Saudi Arabia and the royal family and it is grossly offensive also to a number of other Arab countries. Indeed, it is offensive to the Islamic religion.
He went on:
I am of the belief that if the television station goes ahead and shows this film it will not do any good to the relationships which many of us have been trying to build up with the Islamic countries.
In the House of Representatives, again on 15 April, he indicated in answer to a question put to him by Mr Bryant that he believed this was based on Islamic tradition. He said: the whole legal structure of the Islamic countries is dependent upon the writings of the Koran.
He indicated that he thought the Koran was fairly severe in this regard and that the penalties and the attitudes of the Koran were not those acceptable in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) indicated that he believed that the sending of the telegram by Mr Anthony to Channel 7 was, in his words, outrageous. A number of newspapers editorialised on the subject shortly thereafter. The Sydney Sun on 16 April stated:
Death of a Princess may not be worth much as information or entertainment, and Channel 7 has yet to decide whether to show it.
But to drop it under pressure might involve a future price Australians should be unwilling to pay.
The Canberra Times stated in its editorial on 1 7 April:
The film may or may not have merits beyond the merely morbid interest in outlandish and cruel occurrences . . .
It went on to indicate that it thought that Mr Anthony’s comments were silly and it concluded:
That way lies disaster for our democracy. It would be equally repugnant to Australians if ATN-7 bowed to Government pressure.
Finally, the Australian Financial Review of 18 April, talking about Mr Anthony, stated:
He did not, by the way, dispute the accuracy of the documentary.
This extraordinary sensitivity on the part of Mr Anthony to the feelings of the Saudi royal family is simply an illustration of the humbling capacity of oil and the dollar.
Perhaps the most important public discussion of this took place on Channel 7 news which was shown at 10.30 p.m. on Thursday 1 7 April. It will be evident from that broadcast that this film is already in Australia and has already been screened in Australia in this sense. On 17 April an interview took place with Senator Ryan, the Opposition spokesman on media matters. The interview was filmed in a studio or some similar place with three large television screens clearly visible behind Senator Ryan. In the course of the interview, extracts from the film of the execution were being shown on the television screens in the background. These extracts were clearly being shown during the course of the interview and were visible at all times. The part showing was only the climax of the whole film, involving the actual beheading of the lover. What was clearly seen was the body of the dead princess being laid out on the ground, with shots of a group of armed soldiers, presumably her executioners. The body was draped in black and laid out on the ground. A young man, clearly wearing only a very thin white robe, was brought to the fore by two uniformed persons who took him by each arm and caused him to kneel down in an open square densely surrounded by a large number of people. The executioner, whose face is clearly shown in the close-ups, then moved across the square.
The actual decapitation then took place, of course with the executioner’s back to the camera so that everything is hidden from view. The film also shows somebody who I take to be the original British tourist or observer who had taken film of the whole tiling. The news item then switched to a report from Channel 7 ‘s correspondent in London who reported what was actually occurring in the United Kingdom and in Holland at the time. During the course of his presentation once again stills of the film were actually shown on the television screen.
Several things arise. It is not my view that the relationship of our trading patterns with Saudi Arabia is a matter which comes into this issue. I am, however, concerned about the feelings, the beliefs and sensitivities of the quarter of a million people in Australia who are adherents to the faith of Islam. I am curious as to what purpose the full showing of this two-hour documentary will serve. Does it, in fact, pander to sensational or almost prurient tastes? Does it really inform or enlighten us about Saudi Arabia or Islam? Does it in fact serve a useful purpose? On the other hand, does it give offence to our Moslem community of a quarter of a million? Does it portray Saudi Arabia in the worst possible light? Is it designed to reflect badly upon Islam as a religion? Does it potentially prejudice relations with a friend in the Middle East? Does it excite revulsion and feelings of hostility which are racially or religiously based?
We know that the use of public executions in Saudi Arabia is nothing new. We know that the assassin of King Feisal was publicly beheaded. We know that the terrorists who were involved with the sacrilege of the Grand Mosque were similarly publicly beheaded. The incidents which involved the princess and which involved terrorists at the Grand Mosque are relevant to the nature of Islam itself which, I believe, would not be comprehended in Australia in the terms of the issues of adultery and sacrilege which are important to the adherents of the Islamic faith.
We know that the Koran and the Shar’ia- that is to say, the body of Islamic law which has been developed from the Koran- deal with these matters quite differently from what we are used to within the Judeo-Christian ethic. We know that Islam works on a number of fundamentally different religious levels as far as the control of married life and the control of the status of married persons are concerned.
I do not place excessive or any real value on the question, as I said, of whether our trade suffers although this is presumably a matter which any individual or corporate citizen like Channel 1 might properly take into account in the national interest when they are making their decisions. I am, however, concerned about the difficulties that are already faced by the Islamic community in Australia in getting any degree of public understanding or acceptance of what the religion of Islam is all about. Those who know the members of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, their president from Newcastle, Dr Mohammed Wang, Mr Shafiq Rhaman Khan, their religious adviser, or Mr Ibrahim Attalla, the secretary-treasurer of the Federation, would know that they already face very great difficulties in portraying Islam within Australia as a religion which is one to be taken seriously and one which is deserving and indeed has the right to expect people to pay serious attention.
Against this is to be weighed whatever public good there is in the film being shown. This is not a film like Holocaust or a film about the My Lai massacre where it is vital for the truth to be exposed so that any repetition may be guarded against. It is certainly not simply a matter of entertainment, nor indeed is it a matter of enormous public significance in Australia regardless of the feelings of revulsion that we may have about the death penalty as an issue in itself. The film indeed is inaccurate in many respects. The complaints that have been made that the film portrays the princesses of the Saudi Royal Family as being vacuous vixens who spend all of their time watching television or consuming sweets and then going out in their limousines picking up strangers in the streets of various cities in Saudi Arabia for casual sexual liaisons is, perhaps, something that a royal family is entitled to feel somewhat slighted by. I do not believe that it is a portrayal of the truth of the situation. I think it is important to understand, as I say, that within the Koran the laws governing the question of adultery are extremely harsh. The Koran at Surah XVII, which is called ‘The Children of Israel ‘, states:
And come not near unto adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way.
Various parts of the Koran itself provide for penalties for adultery. Surah XXIV entitled ‘Light’ deals with the imposition of a minor penalty for adultery, that is to say, 100 lashes. Surah IV entitled ‘Women’ deals with a penalty simply of confining the women concerned to their houses until they starve to death. Surah III, which is called ‘The Family of Imran’, provides for a general obligation upon members of the Islamic faith to pursue stern penalties against all of these breaches. All of the four main tenets of the Shar’ia, that is to say of the law- the Hanafi the Maliki, the Hanbali and the Shaf’i- provide for extreme penalties for this offence. Even more extreme, perhaps, are those provided in Saudi Arabia, a country possessed of a following of the Wahabi sect which is the most conservative and fundamentalist of all of the things of Islam. I believe that the sort of attitude that one gets expressed -
– Are the Wahabis more strict than the Sunni?
-Yes, Senator. Let me deal with the sort of comment one gets from an executive of Channel 7. For instance, one of the executives of Channel 7 was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald of 17 April. He was giving his reasons why he thinks the film ought to be shown. The article reads:
First, I would like to think that we would show a program made by such a reputable company as ATV,’ he said. ‘And second, the ratings will go through the roof. ‘
It may well be that Channel 7 believes that the ratings will go through the roof. I repeat that it is entirely within the jurisdiction of Channel 7, once it has passed the necessary film censorship board or whatever has control, to decide whether it will show the film. It is not for the Government to take any action against Channel 7 or against anybody else to prevent the showing of the film. I believe that Channel 7 has an obligation to weigh in its mind the public benefit to be served by the showing of this film as against the community problems which it may exacerbate among the Islamic community in Australia after showing this film. I am firmly of the belief that this group has an enormous contribution to make to Australia. It needs a great deal of understanding, and the understanding will not be assisted by the showing of this film.
– I wish to raise tonight a matter I raised last week, but I cannot let the opportunity pass without making some remarks about the contribution which has just been made by Senator
Puplick. It showed clearly to the world at large how selective Government supporters can be when talking about what takes place in other countries. Day after day they use the Australian athletes as a lever to promote their foreign policy by trying to prevent them going to the Soviet Union to participate in the Olympic Games. They are not prepared to take any notice of whether that action will do any damage to our trade with the Soviet Union. Yet tonight a Government senator has argued that if Channel 7 shows in Australia the film entitled Death of a Princess we might put in jeopardy our trade with Saudi Arabia. I wonder what sort of action Senator Puplick would advocate if the Olympic Games were to be held in Saudi Arabia. Would he then be concerned about trade?
He based the whole of his argument on the possibility that in future we might not be able to get from Saudi Arabia the oil we are now getting from that country. If Channel 7 has the courage to show the film, the people in Australia who watch television ought to be able to see any atrocities carried out in other countries. We ought to be able to see what they do. I am violently opposed to capital punishment, and I was very surprised to hear a person such as Senator Puplick arguing that where it is practised it ought to be covered up and the rest of the world ought not be able to see what is going on. I raise tonight a matter that I raised last week. It concerns cruelty, about which we have just spoken, but it relates to dumb animals. I spoke at length the other night on the awful trade in live horses to Japan. On 17 April 1980, after I had spoken, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Nixon) put out a Press release headed ‘Export of Horses’. It stated:
The Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Peter Nixon, and the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, the Hon. R. V. Garland, M.P., said today that horses would be included under the Third Schedule of the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations forthwith.
This will ensure that live horses can only be exported under specified conditions which will be kept under continuous review.
As in the case of live sheep and cattle, each shipment of horses will, in future, have to be approved in writing by an officer of my Department who has been authorised by me,’ Mr Nixon said.
There is a clear responsibility for owners and shippers of livestock to have them fit and healthy for travel, and to ensure that their travelling conditions are adequate.
The Government is demanding higher standards for the welfare of transported animals- in particular horses for slaughter- and this measure we have announced today will give the Commonwealth the necessary power to ensure for greater supervision over the shipment of live horses.
My Department is currently drawing up standards that are consistent with the best modern procedures for animal care, and these will be available from State Departments of Agriculture or the Bureau of Animal Health in Canberra by the end of this week.
I remind honourable senators that this statement was put out last week. It continued:
Exporters of horses for slaughter will have to either meet these standards, or cease their trade. ‘
Mr Nixon said the action being taken was primarily intended at ensuring greater control on the export of horses for slaughter. It was not aimed at unnecessarily restricting the export of racing or pleasure horses, which had always been maintained at a very high standard.
Having read that Press statement and acquainted the Senate with the fact that the Minister has said that the standards would be drawn up and would be available from State departments of agriculture and the Bureau of Animal Health in Canberra by the end of this week, I am somewhat surprised that the Minister for Special Trade Representations (Senator Scott), who represents the Minister for Primary Industry in this chamber, did not table those regulations in the Parliament today. We have entered a new week, and the Minister for Primary Industry said that the regulations should have been available last week. I specifically asked Senator Scott last week, when I spoke during the adjournment debate, either to bring in legislation or table the regulations which the Government had said in previous Press releases that it would introduce. Today has almost gone and we have not seen those regulations. They have not been reported in the Press, nor have they been tabled in the Parliament. Again I make a plea to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry to see that those regulations are tabled in the Parliament at the earliest possible opportunity, and no later than Wednesday, when the Parliament rises, so that they become public property and so that people who are concerned about the welfare of live animals and the way they are treated can be assured that this Government has taken some action to prevent a recurrence of that fateful event.
I thought that the Minister would have been able to get a reply for me by today on another matter. I asked that the Government give serious consideration to making available to the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals full compensation for the money by which it is out of pocket for the care of the horses that are now in quarantine in Sydney. I also asked whether he would ascertain the name of the company which was fined in Western Australia for the false labelling of meat and the amount of the fine imposed. I have raised these matters tonight because this Government seems to be very tardy in coming forward with answers to questions asked in the Parliament. I have had a couple of questions on the Notice Paper now for a month. One related to finance for the construction of allweather airstrips in the far north of South Australia, particularly at Coober Pedy and Marree. I have not yet received an answer as to whether anything will be done to seal those airstrips before the onset of winter. That question was put on the Notice Paper on 20 March and is question No. 2595. 1 asked question No. 2603 on 25 March, and it should not have been very difficult for the Government to provide an answer. I sought information regarding the advertising agency which is conducting the advertising campaign for the sale of Series 16 Commonwealth bonds. I have put a series of questions on notice relating to the cost of the advertising campaign, the name of the company, and many other matters. Now that I have raised these matters again, I hope that I will be provided with answers before the Parliament rises on Wednesday. If I do not receive them, I will feel duty bound to take the time of the Senate at the first opportunity next week to raise the matters again. They are very important to the people who have brought them to my attention.
– in reply- I will respond briefly to the matters which have been raised in the adjournment debate. Senator Puplick put a view on the question of the showing of a particular television film. He did so on the basis that he, like others, had a right to put a view but that action should not be taken to dictate to the television station concerned as to whether it should show a particular program. His argument, of course, was consistent in its general approach with the attitude that has been adopted by the Government. Mr Anthony exercised a similar right to put a view but made it quite clear that he was not suggesting that the Government should control whether a particular program should be shown, a view which was supported by what has been said by Mr Staley in relation to the matter.
In fairness to Senator Puplick, it is important to differentiate between the grounds mentioned by Mr Anthony and those mentioned by Senator Puplick. It appears that Senator McLaren either was not listening to what Senator Puplick said or he was confusing what Mr Anthony said with what Senator Puplick said. As I understood Senator Puplick, he was concerned merely about the feelings of the adherents to the Moslem religion who are in Australia rather than about any matters of trade. It seemed to me that the emphasis Senator McLaren put in his opening remarks was quite unfair to the point of view put by Senator Puplick.
I will have to pursue with the relevant Ministers the specific matters which Senator McLaren raised. It is the view of the Government that prompt answers should be given to questions. There has been some attempt to ensure that questions are answered in a reasonable time, but that is not always done. I represent at least one of the Ministers who was asked a question on notice more than a month ago, according to what Senator McLaren said. I will endeavour to ensure that early answers are obtained for him. I do not intend to make any comment on the matters of detail because I did not have notice that they were to come before the Senate. I think it will be better if I seek authoritative replies and give them to the honourable senator.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented pursuant to statute:
Seat of Government (Administration) Act- Variation of the Plan of Layout of the City of Canberra (Sixty-ninth Series), dated 2 1 March 1 980.
Senate adjourned at 10.45 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1979:
Will the Minister provide an updated answer to House of Representatives Question No. 1675 of 1976 concerning breaches of Part V of the Trade Practices Act (see House of Representatives Hansard, 15 February 1977,pages 69-70).
– The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The following table incorporates the status of all proceedings instituted up to and including 25 March 1980. As previously stated in answer to Question No. 1675, it would be prejudicial to the persons or companies concerned to name those cases in which prosecutions did not proceed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 23 November 1979:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As these remote stations cannot be maintained with locally recruited staff my Department has for many years been committed to a policy of rotating staff through these stations. To this end the Department has made it a condition of employment for staff in several categories that they undertake to serve as required in Australia or its territories for defined transfer periods (currently two years).
Over recent years some such staff have been showing reluctance to fulfill this obligation. While the extent to which resignations have been precipitated by the requirement to serve in remote areas is not known, it appears that staff consider they are less than adequately compensated for service in these remote areas, and this is probably a factor contributing to some resignations. The Department does not as a general policy conduct formal separation interviews, and again the precise extent to which resignations have been precipitated by incentives offered outside the Service is not known. Staff movements between Departments is an inherent feature of a career public service, and is not peculiar to the Technical Officer group.
A number of changes to the system of transfers have been recommended. In addition, the conditions of service attaching to remote transfers have been thoroughly reviewed and a departmental submission recommending numerous changes to the allowance structure is currently being examined by the Public Service Board as part of that body’s overall review of remote staffing conditions.
Radio Technical Officer pay rates are currently the subject of a claim made by the staff association on the Public Service Board and the Department is reviewing the career structure of Radio Technical Officers with the Board ‘s assistance. All these measures are aimed at creating more favourable employment conditions for the staff concerned.
asked the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 20 February 1980:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
IMPORTS OF CRUDE OIL AND OTHER REFINERY FEEDSTOCKS-CALENDAR YEAR 1979
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
asked the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:
– The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 1 9 February 1 980:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 20 February 1980:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Keeping Australia on the Go- A Guide to our Future in Fuel- 40,000 in single printing.
Keeping Australia on the Go- A Guide to our Future in Fuel-total cost, $902.00.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:
– The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
With respect to government disadvantaged schools State Education Ministers are responsible for approving any variations in the list of government disadvantaged schools and for advising the Commonwealth Minister for Education of any changes.
With respect to non-government schools, approved nongovernment authorities, i.e. Catholic Education Commissions for Catholic systemic schools and State Planning and Finance Committees for non-systemic schools, recommend those schools in their States that they believe should be declared disadvantaged by the Commonwealth Minister.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:
– The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In determining the level or charges, the Government has given special consideration to the postgraduate student category. Students undertaking Master’s or PhD qualifications who are holders of scholarships with a basic stipend of at least $3,500 a year awarded and administered by a university or college of advanced education are exempt from the charges. This is in recognition that these students often undertake research work of value to Australia and represent an important element in Australian participation in international academic and cultural exchange. Postgraduate students who are holders of scholarships awarded by the Australian-American Educational Foundation- the Fulbright scholarships- and those holding Australian Government awards will also be exempt. These exemptions should provide opportunities for research students of high quality to study in Australia without being affected by the new charges.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 20 February 1 980:
Did the Minister hold discussions with representatives of the Italian Government in December 1979 regarding a new Social Security agreement between Australia and Italy; if so, was any progress made towards reaching this agreement.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
No. However, at the request of the Italian Government, discussions between delegations of officials from Australia and Italy took place in Canberra in December 1979. The discussions were of an exploratory nature and were principally concerned with the feasibility of the two countries entering into a reciprocal agreement on social security and consideration of the principles and problems involved. A number of matters were identified as requiring further study and it was agreed that officials would correspond in relation to these.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 21 February 1980:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The basic fee is calculated to cover the direct cost of providing the service, plus a contribution towards general operating costs. An additional charge is applicable (or payments by cheque, to cover the cheque collection charges imposed on Australia Post by its bankers. The basic fee is adjusted annually in accordance with changes in direct costs.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 18 March 1980:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: ( 1 ), (2) and (3) The information requested is shown in the following table:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 1 8 March 1 980:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
In addition, the National Advisory Council for the Handicapped has commenced work on the development of National Employment Strategy for the Handicapped which it plans to promote during 1 98 1 as a major pan of its contribution to the observance of International Year of Disabled Persons. As part of the development of this strategy it is initiating discussions with all relevant parties including departments, employer and employee bodies to see what can be done not only to improve access by disabled people to the workforce but also to prevent disability of occupational origin and increase the effectiveness of rehabilitation.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 18 March 1980:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Work currently being done for the Australian Transport Advisory Council by its Advisory Committee on Vehicle Performance aims to produce a code of practice detailing methods of securing different types of load. This code is intended to serve as a guide to the transport industry and to government authorities in their assessment of whether a particular load is in fact adequately secured. lt is hoped that this code will come before the Advisory Council this year and then become a useful instrument for the achievement of national uniformity of requirement in this very important aspect of safe road operations.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 20 March 1980:
What action did the Australian government take during the International Year of the Child to secure ratification of the following International Labour Organization conventions: (a) No. 77, Medical Examination of Young Persons (Industry), 1946; (b) No. 78, Young Persons (NonIndustrial Occupations), 1946; (c) No. 79, Night Work of Young Persons (Non-Industrial Occupations), 1946; (d) No. 90, Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) (Revised), 1948; (e) No. 124, Medical Examination of Young Persons (Underground Work), 1965; and (f) No. 138, Minimum Age, 1973.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 25 March 1980:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 20 March 1980:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to press statement No. 8, of 23 January 1980. by the Treasurer, the Hon. John Howard. M.P.
Aboriginal Participation in Community Development Programs (Question No. 2606)
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 3 1 March 1 980:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Bamyili, Galiwinku and Milingimbi.
Bamyili 45, Galiwinku 90, Milingimbi 45.
Maningrida, Ramingining, Yirrkala, Gapuwiyak, Belyuen, Port Keats, and Milikapiti.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 26 March 1980:
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 27 March 1 980:
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The function of the State Co-ordination Officer in New South Wales is to report regularly on significant State issues which are relevant at the Federal level. The Officer provides assistance to Commonwealth Ministers in their contacts and activities in New South Wales and also is required to keep the Government in touch with public reaction to Commonwealth Government policies and programs.
The duties of the State Co-ordination Officer will remain unchanged if and when the position of Press Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the Senate is filled.
Sales of ‘Dairy Soft’ (Question No. 2621)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 27 March 1980:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
September 1978-February 1979-390.7 tonnes March 1979-August 1979-253.9 tonnes September 1 979-February 1980-196.3 tonnes.
June 1978-February 1979- $261,000 March 1979-June 1979-561,000 July 1979-December 1979-$ 106,624 January 1980-February 1980-55,700.
East- West Airlines (Operations) Ltd
-On 23 October 1979 (Hansard, page 1603) Senator Sibraa asked a question without notice concerning remarks made by Mr George Harrison, Chairman of East- West Airlines (Operations) Ltd.
The Minister for Transport has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am aware of Mr Harrison’s remarks and can assure you that it is not the intention of the Government to restrict the growth of East- West Airlines nor prevent the company from operating its business on sound commercial lines. Yes it is a fact that the company paid over $2 million to the Government last year which comprised of payments for increased tax, fuel tax and air navigation charges.
You may not be aware that the Commonwealth is unable to refuse an application for an interstate air service on grounds other than safety, and accordingly an Ansett Airlines of New South Wales application to operate the SydneyMaroochydore route was approved. As you will appreciate Airlines of New South Wales can clearly meet the operational requirements of my Department.
Sale of Diseased Cattle: Taxation Consequences
-On 5 March 1980 (Hansard, page 547), Senator McLaren asked me, as Minister representing the Treasurer in the Senate, a question without notice concerning a request by the Cattle Council of Australia to extend to disease-enforced sales of livestock the same taxation provisions as are applicable to drought-enforced sales. I undertook to refer the question to the Treasurer, who has provided the following reply:
This is a matter on which representations have been received by the Government. I am currently looking into the matter.
- Senator MacGibbon asked the Minister for National Development and Energy the following question without notice on 6 March 1 980 (Hansard, page 615):
Has the Minister seen the article in today’s Courier-Mail that Esso Australia Ltd is to establish, by June of this year, two oil exploration teams in western Queensland and that these teams, consisting of 200 personnel, will operate for I Vi to 2 years looking for oil in the Winton and Charleville areas? Is Esso’s claim that this will be the largest land-based search for oil in Australia ‘s history true?
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I have now read the article. My attention has also been drawn to the earlier press release made by Esso on 19 November 1 979 in regard to this program in which it was claimed that it would be ‘one of the most aggressive onshore exploration programs undertaken in Australia in recent years in an area that has as yet no significant oil or gas indications . . .’. The release also indicated that the program would be funded from Esso’s profits from Bass Strait production.
The claim made by Esso in the November release is, I believe, quite valid. Their Queensland program is a very good example of their contribution being made by the Government’s crude oil pricing policy towards the resurgance of oil exploration in Australia.
Iwasaki Land Purchase
-On 19 March 1980 (Hansard, page 774) Senator Mason asked Senator Durack, as Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, a question without notice concerning possible land purchases by the Iwasaki Sangyo Corporation. Senator Mason also asked a similar question, on notice, on 20 March 1980.
The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The honourable senator is referred to the answer provided to his question No. 2600.
-On 25 March 1980 (Hansard, page 941) Senator Townley asked me a question without notice concerning collisions with utility poles.
The Minister for Transport has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The problem of collisions with utility poles is a significant one and increasing attention is being given to it for the purpose of reducing both the number and severity of such collisions.
On 7 June 1979 the Minister for Transport tabled a summary of a major study undertaken for the Office of Road Safety in his Department by a research team from the University of Melbourne. The report entitled ‘Collisions with Utility Poles’ summarised the results of a three-year study which had investigated 879 crashes into utility poles.
The report concluded that urban roadsides are made unnecessarily hazardous by the presence of badly located, unyielding utility poles and argued that cost-effective methods are available to reduce the toll from this type of accident.
The report stated that remedial programmes would yield high economic and general welfare benefits far in excess of their cost. Moreover, a programme of loss-reduction is feasible having regard to the fact that pole collisions do not occur at random. Indeed, the small proportion of poles involved in the majority of accidents can be identified from a series of site measurements.
Assistance towards the reduction of the hazard posed by poles is already available under Commonwealth Roads Grants legislation. Relocation or guarding of hazardous poles or their replacement with breakaway or wrap-around poles is an eligible category of expenditure under the States Grants (Roads) Act.
A further project sponsored by the Office of Road Safety is aimed at the development of techniques to make timber poles breakaway safely in the event of collisions. The Office is also currently looking at the legal position of authorities following pole crashes and the use or non-use of breakaway poles.
Copies of the report tabled last year have been widely distributed throughout Australia to State and local government bodies and to utility and road safety authorities. It is intended that reports on the further related topics will bc similarly distributed when they are available.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 April 1980, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1980/19800421_senate_31_s85/>.