32nd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.
Notice of Motion
– I give notice that, contingent on any Bill being reported from a Committee of the Whole, I shall move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
Notice of Motion
– I give notice that, contingent on any Bill originating in the Senate having been read a first time, I shall move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That unless otherwise ordered Government Business take precedence of General Business after 8 p.m. on Thursday, 27 November 1980.
– I give notice that, contingent on the President proceeding to the placing of business on any day, I shall move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Button moving a motion relating to the order of business on the Notice Paper.
Notice of Motion
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution so as to enable a person holding an office of profit under the Crown to be chosen as a senator or as a member of the House of Representatives.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Senate, as a States House, expresses its grave concern:
At the failure of the Tonkin Liberal Government in South Australia to honour its 1979 election promise to provide increased employment opportunities for unemployed persons;
that the November 1980 Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that South Australia continues to have the highest number of unemployed persons in Australia;
that the Australian Bureau of Statistics job vacancy figures for South Australia in August 1980 of 1000 show an alarming deterioration from the August 1979 figures of 2200;
that South Australia is the only State to have had an increase in the unemployment rate during the past 1 2 months;
that the number of building approvals for the private sector in South Australia has decreased from 1691 in the three months to August 1979 to 1499 for the three months to August 1980;
that approvals for business premises have decreased from $48. 2m for the three months to August 1979 to $34.2m for the three months to August 1980 despite continuing rising costs; and
that in the six months ended March 1980- the latest figure available - 2925 people left South Australia for other States as against 2109 in the six months ended March 1979.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Senate is of the opinion that legislation should be introduced urgently to provide for payments under the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act to be restored to the 1974 levels with annual indexation to apply subsequently to those amounts.
– I give notice that, 10 sitting days after today, I shall move:
That the Nature Conservation Ordinance 1980 contained in Australian Capital Territory Ordinance No. 20 of 1 980, and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910, be disallowed.
I seek leave to make a brief statement on this notice of motion.
– The Ordinance which is the subject of this notice of motion is under consideration by the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. On 28 August 1980 the Committee wrote to the Minister for the Capital Territory concerning provisions in the Ordinance which appear to trespass unduly on personal rights and liberties. As today is the last day for giving notice of a motion to disallow the Ordinance, I have given notice so as to preserve the rights of the Committee while it concludes its inquiry.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Senate views with grave concern the double standards of the Prime Minister in continually refusing to answer repeated calls from Senator McLaren since 1976 to provide the Parliament with the cost to the Australian taxpayer of his, Mr Fraser’s, occupancy of the Lodge, when he so readily provided the costs of occupancy of the previous Prime Minister in answer to a Dorothy Dix question in the House of Representatives on 24 March 1 976.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Senate is of the opinion that legislation should be introduced to compensate families for the erosion of family allowances, the value of which has been cut by SO per cent since they were introduced in 1 976.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Senate notes with concern the rising rate of unemployment amongst girls and women as documented in the Myers Report on Technological Change and the failure of the Fraser Government to take specific steps to train women and girls for the changed job market.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Senate views with grave concern the continued refusal of the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, to answer repeated calls from Senator McLaren for information as to whether he has provided the previous Governor-General with a free telephone service between Great Britain and Australia and, if so, what has been the total cost to the Australian taxpayer.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That a Select Committee of the Senate be appointed to inquire into poverty in Australia and the additional information required to determine changes affecting the nature and extent of poverty since the publication of the reports of the Australian Government Commission of Inquiry into Poverty.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Senate -
views with alarm the possibility of the use of armed force and even Soviet intervention against Polish workers seeking bread, peace and that freedom of association enshrined in International Labour Organisation Convention No. 87 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise;
notes that the Convention has been ratified by both the Soviet Union and Poland; and
calls on the Government -
to warn the Polish and Soviet authorities of the dire and world-wide consequences of the use of armed force against the Polish workers and their families;
to raise the issue urgently, as a signatory to the Convention, with the International Labour Organisation and the United Nations; and
to organise an appropriate and effective response to the dangerous situation which confronts not only the Polish workers but the entire world.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services. I refer the Minister to the second reading speech made by the former Minister for Administrative Services on 1 5 May this year when introducing the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 1980. 1 remind the Minister that this Bill repealed those provisions of the Electoral Act which placed limitations on the amount able to be lawfully spent by candidates at elections. Does the Minister recall the former Minister stating that the Government would establish an inquiry into possible electoral expenditure laws and related matters? Is it a fact that the Government has approached Sir Clarrie Harders to carry out this inquiry and that he has agreed to act in this capacity? I ask also whether the terms of reference proposed by the former Minister in May are in fact to be the reference which is to be given to
Sir Clarrie Harders. Finally, if all those parts of the question are answered in the affirmative, is it a fact that these developments have taken place without any consultation with either the Australian Labor Party or the Australian Democrats and, if so, why?
- Mr President, I do not recall the details of the second reading speech to which the honourable senator refers. The question requires a certain amount of detail. I may be able to get some information. I will bring him an answer as quickly as I can.
– 1 draw to the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Science and Technology a recent report that a new type of capping device, designed to help control oil and gas pipeline blowouts at sea, has been developed by the West Engineering and Research Company in Bergin, Norway. The pollution preventing oil well arrester is shaped like a huge cone. It is lowered onto the pipeline at the bottom of the ocean so that the spewing oil or gas can be channelled to ships on the surface through a network of hoses. Recently a miniature version of the oil well arrester proved to be successful in a simulation of a 2, 1 1 2,000 gallons per day oil blowout staged by a ship research institute in Trondheim, Norway. In view of the amount of offshore drilling taking place in our territorial waters, will the Minister initiate an investigation into the suitability of this device to protect the ecology of the Australian coastline from the devastation of any blowout on an offshore rig?
– I thank Senator Bonner for drawing my attention to this device which apparently has been developed and which, as described by him, would be of very considerable interest to Australia, and may be a very valuable instrument in dealing with the problem of blowout in the offshore areas. The Minister for Science and Technology is unaware of the device to which Senator Bonner refers. However, I will certainly refer to him the question that Senator Bonner asked and ask the Minister to give it early consideration.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether he can give a guarantee that the Government will not introduce a back door tax on capital gains by extending beyond 1 2 months the period in which the gain on an asset sold is taxable as income under section 26AAA.
– It is not the intention of the Government to introduce a capital gains tax of any kind. But, since certain technical matters have been raised by Senator Colston, I will bring the question to the attention of the Treasurer and seek his response.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory. In view of the one major overriding industry of the Australian Capital Territory and the fact that at Estimates committee hearings the Department of the Capital Territory advised that there is a shortage of typists in the Australian Capital Territory with a turnover rate in typists of 35 per cent per annum, will the Minister undertake to ensure that the education system of the Territory be made aware of these matters and that typing be made an obligatory subject, at least for girls in secondary schools, so that unemployment may be somewhat relieved and students may achieve basic marketable skills for which a substantial demand reportedly exists in the area?
– I thank Senator Archer for his most interesting question. I will refer it to the Minister for an early reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy. It relates to the alarming extent to which new aluminium smelters owned by foreign countries are being proposed for Australia, while onethird of the aluminium smelting capacity in Japan has been closed down and, I understand, no new smelters are proposed in the United States. I ask the Minister whether he is aware of reports in the Sydney Morning Herald this week that there is a rising world demand for Australian steaming coal at prices in excess of $40 a ton f.o.b. Is it true that the electricity tariffs of 1.2c to 1.8c a kilowatt hour proposed for the vast amounts of power to be used for aluminium smelting in Australia represent a coal price to the power stations of only $10.60 to $16 a tonne compared, I repeat, with a free market price in excess of $40 a tonne? In this case would not the Australian people be hundreds of millions of dollars better off if the coal to be devoted to aluminium smelting electricity were simply sold on the world market? In view of this, will the Government institute with some urgency an inquiry into these matters, including investigating the possibility of corruption at State government level as a motive for conniving at agreements so plainly against the national interest?
– I do not think that one should suggest that there is anything alarming about the proposed orderly development of aluminium smelters in Australia. At this time Australia produces for export some 280,000 tonnes of the metal aluminium; in five years that will be 1.3 million tonnes and in 10 years or more it will be about 2 million tonnes. Australia will be one of the world’s significant processors and exporters of aluminium. As such Australia will have a valuable interdependence with other countries. This will provide valuable export exchange and valuable employment for Australia. Incidentally, many countries will want Australia to remain free and prosperous if they are interwoven with us in their dependence upon us for aluminium.
It is true as Senator Mason says that there is a growing demand for steaming coal in the world. There will be a hunger of an immense proportion for coal as well as for gas and uranium - for all sources of energy - in the world; one that I fear the energy rich countries will not be able to fulfil. To that part of Senator Mason’s question, the answer is yes. As to the part of his question that relates to electricity tariffs, I am unable to answer because, of course, electricity tariffs are a State matter; but I will make some comments, if I may. One is to say that in general the coal that has been used in Australia until now for generating electricity has been of a kind that has been unacceptable for export to world markets. Whether that will be so in the future in a keen sellers’ market remains to be seen. I am bound to say that, for example, the brown coal of Yallourn in the Latrobe Valley is 50 per cent water and therefore in general terms not acceptable; time may change that. I cannot say that the tariffs are out of kilter. I notice that there was a response by, I think, the New South Wales Government that that was not so and that it was charging fair tariffs.
Whether Australia would be better off depends largely upon whether Australia is getting the international price for a tonne of exported aluminium. If it is getting the international price, the value throughout its manufacture will be included in that. I can assure the honourable senator that this Government is keen to see that we get the maximum price and the world price for the metal. Senator Mason asked whether we would set up an inquiry into whether there is corruption at State level. First of all, I am not aware of any corruption, but it is not competent for the Commonwealth Government to look into the domestic affairs of a State government. It is, of course, a very great responsibility of the Commonwealth to see that, in a world that is energy and resource hungry, all its resources are used to the optimum.
Within that context, I can assure Senator Mason that my Government, particularly my Department and I are looking with keen interest at all aspects of this. If at any time it were necessary to inquire into this we certainly would not hesitate to do so.
– I refer the AttorneyGeneral to my question without notice of 2 March 1978 concerning the Criminal Investigation Bill of 1977 which was a Bill to implement the report of the Australian Law Reform Commission and which, as the Attorney-General knows, lapsed with the dissolution of Parliament in November 1977. In answering my question as to when the Senate could expect the reintroduction of the Criminal Investigation Bill in the Parliament, the Attorney-General stated: ‘I hope to be in a position to make some recommendations to the Government in the near future’. Given the time which has since elapsed, does the AttorneyGeneral agree that implementation of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s proposals to give legislative form to the rights and duties of police in conducting investigations is long overdue? Does the Attorney-General also agree that the Criminal Investigation Bill is an important measure in relation to the maintenance of individual rights in Australia? If so, when can the Senate expect to see the reintroduction of a revised Criminal Investigation Bill in the Parliament?
– Time certainly flies in this place. We are talking about something that was said on 2 March 1978. Despite the passage of time, the problem of the Criminal Investigation Bill has not escaped my attention or been ignored by me. The position is that when I came to reconsider the Bill after the last election - I think that was probably the state of play when that question was asked and answered - it appeared to me to have a number of difficulties about it, particularly in relation to drafting and so on. It was decided that the matter should be looked at again. That has been done. The Bill was gone through very thoroughly by a committee of officers of my Department and of the police, as a result of which it was decided that we would draft another Bill. That was to be drafted by the consultant, Mr Comans, because the Parliamentary Counsel was under pressure and it was decided that that was a suitable job for Mr Comans to do. He has recently completed the drafting that I had sought. At this stage I have not had an opportunity of considering that draft or the next step to be taken, but I certainly propose to consider that draft in the near future and to put to the Government a proposal as to what action should be taken in relation to it. I certainly agree that it is an important measure and I hope that we will be able to introduce some legislation in respect of it. I will certainly be giving it attention during the recess.
– Do the Minister for Finance and the Government accept claims by, inter alia, the Australian Industries Development Association that a value added tax or a similar new tax, together with a lower maximum income tax rate, would strike a major blow at tax avoidance? If so, and if high marginal tax rates are the cause of tax avoidance, how does she account for the mushroom growth of tax avoidance schemes over the last three years when the maximum marginal rate of 60 per cent is lower than it has been since 1942?
The Treasurer has made a number of statements with regard to the speculation concerning a value added tax. His recent statement with regard to work being done within his Department and relating to the various types of taxation that could be applied in this country, I think, is well known to all. I have nothing to add to the statements that were made by the Treasurer and by the Prime Minister in regard to a value added tax. In response to the other part of Senator Gietzelt’s question, I think it is probably fair to say that there is an element of tax avoidance regardless of the rate of tax applied, and whether a greater incentive applies to a particular rate than to another is a matter of conjecture.
However, I think it ought to be said that in this country there is certainly a mood that there should be an equitable and fair system of taxation and that it should be applied to all those who are required to pay tax on the basis applied by the Government. The Treasurer will undoubtedly have further statements to make when he has had an opportunity to consider the report from his Department that he has outlined. At this stage I can add nothing to those statements.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I acknowledge that foremost among Treasurer John Howard’s priorities is the prevention of tax avoidance. To further that purpose will he consider appropriate additional appointments to the top echelon of the Australian Taxation Office or will he second specialists from the private sector with the intention of introducing at the earliest possible date a revision of section 260 of the Income Tax
Assessment Act dealing with anti-avoidance provisions?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEI will refer that question to the Treasurer. Whether he will consider seeking the appointment of further expertise in these matters either in the Taxation Office or in the Department of the Treasury is something on which I cannot comment on his behalf. With regard to the introduction of amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act, I think he has already foreshadowed that many of these matters will be under close consideration.
– My question to the Attorney-General concerns a matter in respect of which he appears to have acted with remarkable speed by contrast with his usual studied caution. Did officers of the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor on or about 1 1 November 1980 deliver copies of a court order prohibiting publication of the book Documents on Australian Defence and Foreign Policy 1968-1975 to the Melbourne University Bookroom, Collins’ Booksellers Pty Ltd, McGills Authorised Newsagency Pty Ltd and other booksellers in Melbourne and elsewhere? Were the orders in question directed only against Messrs Munster and Walsh, the publishers of the book, thus lacking any legal force or status as against anyone else? Was this fact made completely clear to all the booksellers in question? Were the booksellers in question requested to sign undertakings that they would not dispose of copies of the book? What, if any, was the legal basis on which such undertakings were sought? Were the booksellers threatened with legal action for breach of copyright or on some other basis if they persisted in selling the book in question? Finally, what was the justification, if any, for this intimidatory behaviour when the Government knew, or must have known, that many thousands of copies of the material in question were, in one form or another, already in circulation?
– I am aware that after the interim order was made by Mr Justice Mason in relation to this matter a number of booksellers who were thought to have copies of the book or to be likely to distribute them were contacted, I presume, by officers of my Department. I cannot give any precise details as to the method by which the contact was made and so on. I will refer the detailed aspects of Senator Evans’s question to my Department and ask it to provide a full answer for him. The purpose of the order was to ensure, as far as we possibly could, that the distribution of the book would not occur. It was thought preferable to contact people, pointing out the action that had been taken and asking them to desist, rather than seek to obtain injunctions against many more people which may have been quite unnecessary. I repudiate the suggestion that there was any attempt to intimidate people. The action was designed simply to point out to them the claims that were made by the Commonwealth in regard to the book and to seek their co-operation in the matter. However, as I said, I will get an ‘ answer in fuller detail to the question which Senator Evans has asked.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Having in mind that the second Federal Government amnesty is to expire on 3 1 December this year, is the Minister in a position to advise how many illegal immigrants in Australia have applied as at this time to be given permanent status? What are the various total State and Territory figures? How many applicants to date have been refused permanent status under the Regularisation of Status Program? What number of immigrants illegally in Australia is it estimated have not yet come forward to be identified? Finally, is any special encouragement given to illegal immigrants to come forward and apply to become permanent citizens in Australia, say through using migrant organisations, et cetera, in the community as an initial means of communication?
– Up until 21 November, 10,059 applications had been received under the Regularisation of Status Program. These cover an estimated 1 3,000 people. So far only one person has been rejected, and there were some special reasons for that. Research is being undertaken which should enable the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to make a realistic estimate of the number of persons illegally in Australia. On the basis of information that the Department has, its current estimate is that between 30,000 and 40,000 persons are illegally in Australia. However, as I have said, that investigation is not yet complete.
Some 3,000 ethnic organisations have been informed about the Regularisation of Status Program and their co-operation sought. State and local government authorities, employers, trade unions, churches and other religious organisations, bank migrant information services, and migrant resource centres have also been approached. The program was the subject of the first nation-wide ethnic radio program ever undertaken in Australia. Member stations of the Federation of Australian Radio Broadcasters broadcast announcements about the program as a community service. Similar arrangements currently are being made with commercial television stations. Australian Broadcasting Commission radio and television programs have featured the program, and multicultural television is also providing publicity through its news items.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. I share the astonishment of Senator Evans, and my question refers to the same matter. How many instances have there been of the Commonwealth’s taking legal action, relying upon the laws of breach of confidence, breach of Crown copyright, and breaches of the Crimes Act? Is it a fact that action of the kind instituted against the two newspapers and the publishers of the book Documents on Australian Defence and Foreign Policy 1968-1975 is quite unprecedented in Australian legal history and that, if it is upheld in any way by the High Court, it has enormous implications for the future of free speech and a free Press, not to mention freedom of information? Since there now appear to have been many thousands of individual instances of publication of the material in question, what precise interest or interests does the Commonwealth believe are being served by its continued pursuit of injunctions against the Age. the Sydney Morning Herald and the publishers of the book, Messrs Walsh and Munster?
– I am not in a position to say whether there have been any actions of this kind by the Commonwealth over the last 79 or 80 years. As my colleague Mr Street and I have said, the Government took these proceedings in the light of publicity material that came into its hands on the afternoon of Friday, 7 or 8 November, I think it was. Anyway, it was the afternoon of the day on which application was made for the injunction. The action was taken because of the concern the Government had about the effect that the material and the documents, as foreshadowed, might have on our international relations.
– What are those dangers?
– The application has been heard by Mr Justice Mason. There has been argument. Mr Justice Mason has reserved his decision. He has not yet given the decision. I believe that any other comment I might make in relation to the question that Senator Georges has asked would bear upon the arguments that have been presented in the case and to which Mr Justice Mason will have to address himself in giving his decision- I do not propose to argue the matter. The Commonwealth’s case has been put to the court. Evidence has been given to the court. At this stage I do not propose to say anything further.
– I ask a supplementary question. I asked: What interest or interests did the Attorney-General seek to protect? Was it the interest of the Indonesian Government? Was any pressure brought to bear upon the Government or the Attorney-General by Indonesian interests?
– I can assure the Senate that no pressures were brought to bear on me in relation to this matter. The other aspect of the question concerns the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I will refer it to him.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Education. No doubt the Minister is aware that all indications are that Australia is approaching an era of great industrial expansion which will require the backing of many thousands of extra engineers and others with technological knowledge. I ask: As the forecast for engineers graduating from colleges and universities shows that a reduction will take place from some 2,800 last year to just over 1,800 in 1 983, will the Government take urgent action to expand the money available to engineering departments of universities and colleges - mainly within universities - so that as our industry expands we will have available trained engineers from amongst our own young people rather than having to rely on immigrants? As this matter is urgent, will the Government take action prior to the next academic year?
– Senator Townley’s question raises some very important issues. It is true that this country is facing unprecedented industrial expansion and that that expansion will require a wide range of technology and technical experience al graduate and trades levels and, indeed, at post-graduate levels. It is true that at the expected rate of expansion there will be pressures on our own ability to produce people with that educational qualification. I am not aware of the figures which Senator Townley has given. It is primarily the role of the Tertiary Education Commission and its councils, particularly the Universities Council and of course the Technical and Further Education Council, to be acquainted with the demands for graduates in all the various disciplines and, indeed, to report through its annual reports and triennial reports upon those demands and to reflect those recommendations in funding. So there is a standing body, the TEC, charged through its councils and itself with that responsibility.
As I have said, I am not aware of the actual figures which Senator Townley has given. I will bring the matter to the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Education, who may be able to add to my answer. Suffice it to say, the Government is acutely aware of the need for the expansion of a work force trained in high technology. That was one of the main reasons why a very considerable amount of funds was redirected towards technical and further education in the past. It may well be that within the tertiary education system at the universities level much more needs to be done. T will therefore ask my colleague to comment.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the Treasurer’s assertion that a value added tax or a retail turnover tax, if introduced, will not be an extra tax but will replace an existing tax. 1 ask: Is the crude oil levy currently producing revenue at the rate of $3.5 billion a year? Will that revenue decrease as the Bass Strait oil production runs down? If, as the Treasurer claims, no new taxes will be introduced, by how much does the Government plan to increase income tax imposed on the average family to cover the loss of crude oil revenue?
A number of suggestions of a hypothetical nature were made by Senator Elstob in his question. I will refer the matter raised by him to the Treasurer and see whether any information can be given on the basis for his hypothesis.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the Prime Minister’s policy speech of 30 September when he announced that housing insulation would be made fully tax deductible on a person’s first home built or purchased after 1 October 1980. Can the Minister indicate what types of housing insulation will be allowable, as this information would be invaluable to those people who are building or buying homes at present? If he is unable to do so, will the Government set out as soon as possible details of the types of housing insulation that will be allowable?
– As Senator Young has indicated, an interesting part of the Government’s policy speech was the promise to provide full tax deductibility for funds spent on insulation by first home owners. It is expected, I think, that in the coming year this will cost revenue some $5m. The precise details of the type of insulation will need to be identified for legislation purposes. I do not have the details in front of me at this moment. This is an important question. I will seek the details and make them available to Senator Young and to the public.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate, on behalf of the Prime Minister, give an unequivocal guarantee that no value added tax, retail turnover tax or any other extra tax of which no pre-election notice has been given will be introduced in the life of this Parliament?
– The Prime Minister and the Treasurer have made quite clear statements in recent days regarding this matter. They have said that, as has occurred on frequent occasions, a review is currently being undertaken of the various types of taxes and the incidence of those taxes upon individuals and families. They have indicated that it is the overall desire of this Government, firstly, to reduce taxation as a whole. The incidence of taxation having been lowered, it should also be such that the importance of the family in the role of the community is recognised and the taxation system should favour the family as such. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer have indicated that various tax systems, both direct and indirect, are being looked at. Both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have indicated that they, for reasons which they have expressed, do not favour a value added tax. That will be very significant in the future. There are obvious objections to a value added tax, as experience in other countries shows. The whole program of this Government will be aimed at lessening the impact of taxation on the community, particularly upon families. The Government has a clear mandate so to do.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Science and Technology, with the comment that the buildup of insecticide resistant grain insects is one of the most serious threats to the cereal grain industry in Australia. Scientists all over the world have been searching for a replacement for malathion for many years. An article in the National Farmer magazine of 30 October discussed a substance made from diatomaceous earth which was developed by a Mr Bill Bedford, who now lives in Western Australia. The article stated that the substance has been extensively tested by the Division of Entomology of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I ask the Minister: What are the results of those tests?
– I understand that the substance referred to by Senator Thomas is known as dryacide. Tests on it have been carried out by the stored grain research laboratory of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The tests showed dryacide to be effective against a range of grain pest insects including those most resistant to insecticides. Dryacide has proved very effective at a concentration of 0. 1 per cent by weight which is considerably less than that required for similar materials which have been available for many years. Farm scale trials have been carried out mainly by the Western Australian Department of Agriculture and are understood to have given promising results. The next step is large scale commercial tests to check on such things as dust problems for operators. It is understood that the Australian Wheat Board is undertaking such large scale trials.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Finance. Does she, like her Cabinet colleague Mr Sinclair, believe that large inflows of foreign funds should be used to keep down domestic interest rates? If so, will she on behalf of the Treasurer formally announce the Government’s repudiation of monetarism? If not, will she formally announce the Government’s repudiation of the doctrine of collective Cabinet responsibility?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEIf the Treasurer has any statement that he wishes me to make on his behalf with regard to interest rates I shall do so at that time. Until such time as the Treasurer requires the statement to be made, I have nothing to add to the speculation and comment that already have been made.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a news release in Britain announcing the building of the world’s first low energy hospital? It has been reported that the hospital is expected to use at least 50 per cent less energy than the best modern hospital in existence. The designers claim that their 300-bed hospital design could cut normal energy costs for such a unit by more than 59 per cent. Will the Minister investigate the accuracy of the claims with the intention of introducing such a design into Australia?
– My attention has not been directed to the Press report to which the honourable senator has referred. I am interested to know that a low energy hospital is now operating in the United Kingdom. If indeed the hospital could use 59 per cent less energy, as Senator Walters suggests, then it would be of interest to us in Australia. I certainly will undertake to have the matter investigated and I hope to report back to the honourable senator when I have some information.
– Mr President, my question is directed to you. It refers to changes which took place recently in arrangements for Senate staff as they affect the Opposition and proposed changes to committee arrangements and staffing arrangements in this chamber which have been put forward to all honourable senators and which have arisen from a committee of Government senators. I ask you, sir: Have Government senators had access to the management consultants and the reports of the management consultants who have been investigating the functioning of the Senate? If so, why have honourable senators of the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Democrats, and indeed the Independent senator, not had access to these reports and consultants? If we are to consider changes of this type, can honourable senators of the Labor Party and the Democrats and the Independent senator in this place have access to these consultants and their reports before we consider changes which obviously arise from a consideration of those reports?
– Following a request from a select committee certain information was given to it on a confidential basis. Nobody else has been given that information.
– A party committee, I think.
– Not to my knowledge.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. I refer to a document which has been distributed to honourable senators. It was produced by a committee of Government senators and is dated August 1980. It says in part:
Arising from the discussion with the Management Consultants and their severe criticism of the administration . . .
Later on the report states:
The report goes on to make recommendations. This suggests to me that that committee, which was made up of Government senators, had access to the consultants and to their report.
– -To my knowledge there were discussions with the consultants prior to their making a report. The report has not been submitted to Government senators.
– What about a full reply later?
– 1 shall go into this matter more closely and report fully to honourable senators.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I refer to the pending final report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Efficiency and Administration of Hospitals. Will the report be available to the Government as expected on 31 December this year? If not, what would be the reasons for any delay? Considering the wide public interest and the importance of the report, will the Minister - I believe he will agree that the report should be very valuable and important - immediately distribute it not only to members of this Parliament but also to the public at large?
– I do not know whether the final report will be presented on time. There is no information in my possession to suggest that it will not be. In June of this year the committee of inquiry presented an interim report which was mainly historical in nature. The final report will contain most of the recommendations. I do not know the intention of my colleague, the Minister for Health, regarding its release. I will undertake to put Senator Teague’s suggestion to him and to advise the honourable senator about the release of the report and whether all honourable members and senators will receive it immediately.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, refers to the present discrimination against South Australia in respect of international flights. The Minister will be aware that the previous Labor Government and the present Government made representations concerning the fare structure that might apply to the domestic part of flights and also to flights in and out of
Adelaide which might be arranged by international carriers including Qantas Airways Ltd. As the Minister well knows, there have been inquiries. Some are being held currently. I am advised that Qantas has made some representations to the Government that it would be willing to engage in some of the domestic sectors at present being flown by the two domestic carriers. Can the Minister advise the Senate as to the progress of these talks? If he cannot do so today will he give information at an early stage to South Australian senators?
– I, like Senator Bishop, have a natural interest in the affairs of South Australia and certainly in the airport in Adelaide. I have no immediate information on the matter. I will refer it to the Minister and bring down an early reply.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Communications: Does the Government propose to allow the Special Broadcasting Service to accept limited sponsorship of programs on Channel 0/28? Will the Government be faced with additional outlays with respect to this service which were not foreseen in the Budget Estimates?
– I think it is appropriate that I refer this question to my colleague, the Minister for Communications, and obtain for the honourable senator a detailed reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. In an Australian Broadcasting Commission radio interview on 20 November 1980 the Minister, in answering questions about the death of two young Aboriginal children in the Docker River region, said that he intended to find out the facts surrounding the tragedy. What facts has the Minister discovered? ls one fact a request from the Aboriginal community at Docker River for a radio telephone which was refused by the Minister a week before the tragedy occurred? What steps does the Minister propose to take to rectify the fact that 1 7,000 Aboriginals in the Northern Territory alone are without any form of telephone communication and thus are vulnerable to the same sort of tragedy?
– It is true that on the program AM one morning last week - I presume it was the morning the honourable senator mentioned - I did say that I would find out the facts in relation to the tragedy that occurred at one of the outstations of the Docker River Aboriginal settlement. The first thing to say is that what has occurred has been a terrible tragedy, and for the parents of the boys I am sure it has been quite devastating. I have been able to get some facts and, as Senator Ryan has asked for them, I will make them available now to the Senate.
The two boys left Tjukula an outstation about 1 30 kilometres from Docker River, which is south of Lake Hopkins, at about 10 a.m. on Sunday, 16 November. The residents at Tjukula were apparently unconcerned because the boys’ tracks could be seen heading in a direction towards a known waterhole about 40 kilometres away. The report that the two boys were missing was not received at Docker River until 10 a.m. on Monday, 17 November, and a search was immediately arranged by the police. The bodies were found the next day. I understand that the police are to provide a full report of their investigations to the coronial inquiry that will obviously occur.
The honourable senator then asked whether I had, one week earlier, refused a request for certain radio-telephone equipment. I am not aware that I had refused any such request. Senator Chaney had approved funds for the Docker River community to enable it to provide radios to six outstations this year. Unfortunately, the Docker River community was still in the process of purchasing the radios, for which funds had been provided and authorised, when this tragedy occurred. The Docker River community had sought some technical modifications of the sets it wished to purchase, and this was one of the reasons for the delay in having the equipment on site. I do not think it could be said with any certainty that the availability of the equipment could have prevented the tragedy. A number of decisions had to be taken on the spot at the time. The equipment could have hastened the arrival of the search parties in the area. I am not certain that it could have saved the boys in what was a most unfortunate event.
– I refer the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory to the Government’s decision to refer to the Commonwealth Grants Commission the question of finances affecting the Australian Capital Territory. I ask: What progress has been made with that proposal and when will the inquiry be completed?
– I understand that the draft terms of reference have been prepared and agreed between Ministers and referred to the Australian Capital Territory House of Assembly. I believe that the House of Assembly asked that the initial reference be extended to cover territorial financing, including the initial reference on water supply and sewerage service funding, in addition to the general municipal services funding. I understand that officers of the Department have discussed the extended terms of reference with the Chairman of the Grants Commission and his officers. Following those discussions, the matter is now being referred back to the other departments. I understand that a submission will then be made to the Ministers and the reference to the Grants Commission will follow. However, the Grants Commission has indicated that it will not be able to undertake the inquiry until some time after June 1981 as its resources are fully committed in undertaking its current inquiry into Commonwealth-State finances.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whether he recalls the series of questions 1 asked last year of Senator Guilfoyle, the then Minister representing the Minister for Health, on the rate of deaths from lung cancer of workers at Radium Hill? Does the Minister recall the reply that the investigation was incomplete, and that the Federal Government was financing the research into the matter in order to ascertain true statistical figures? I ask: Was the research done by the South Australian Health Commission? Was it financed by the Federal Government? Has it now been terminated by the South Australian Health Commission as a result of the cessation of funding by the Federal Government? Did the cessation of funding come after the inquiries suggested that there would be an extremely high rate of lung cancer for miners working at Radium Hill?
– I recall that a series of questions was asked by Senator Cavanagh concerning rates of illness at Radium Hill; he said it concerned the rates of death from lung cancer. 1 do not recall the replies which the honourable senator received. I can check and I certainly can find out what those replies were. The honourable senator asked me for the current status of the study into the events and the current status of funding. 1 do not know the answer. 1 will obtain that information for the honourable senator. I think it is most unlikely that there is any substance to his suggestion that the project ceased because people feared the results. If in fact the results pointed to a health risk I would not regard that as a reason why this Government would wish to cease the study.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security and relates to the growing demand for emergency relief within the community and to the increasing strain which this is placing upon the funds of emergency relief organisations, particularly in Victoria. Is the Minister aware that in 1980 over $8m will be provided as emergency relief in Victoria alone, this constituting a rise from approximately $2m in 1977-78, and that only $125,000 of this will come from the Commonwealth Government? Will the Minister comment on the survey by the Victorian emergency relief committee which showed that 77 per cent of the people asking for emergency relief and help were already receiving Department of Social Security pensions and benefits? Does the Minister agree that the emergency relief organisations play a valuable role as providers for one-off crises within the community? Will the Minister comment on the fact that these agencies are now facing a demand for income supplementation rather than just crisis relief? If that is so, will the Minister assure the Senate that consideration will be given by the Government to making immediate increases in the Budget allocation to emergency relief organisations to help meet the rocketing demand which is stripping agencies of their assets and forcing many of them to close?
– It could only happen under a Liberal government.
– I am greeted by an interjection from an honourable senator opposite who ignores the fact that there was no Federal Government involvement in this field under the Government of which he was a part. In fact, the area of emergency relief to which Senator Missen referred in his series of questions is one which is largely catered for by voluntary agencies and State governments, with a relatively recent involvement of the Federal Government over the past two financial years. The increase in demand has been drawn to my attention. I understand, however, that the figure which Senator Missen has quoted is not accurate; that, in fact, the figure is somewhat less than that; and that it is a preliminary figure derived from a monitoring project, begun in January 1980 by the Victorian Council of Social Service, which will not be due for completion until June 1981. The mid-year report of that project, which has been seen by my Department and of which I have a copy but have not yet had an opportunity to read, describes the Council’s present conclusions as very tentative because they have been extrapolated from a small number of returns. At this stage I am not in a position to comment in detail on the findings. 1 do agree that the agencies providing these services are doing very valuable work. It probably is true that they now are being called on more frequently to give relief to the same recipients. It is not yet clear that this is entirely a matter of income; a series of factors can give rise to emergency relief claims. This is a matter which will have to be considered by the Government in light of the more complete report which it expects to receive next year. This matter has been the subject of some study by the Commonwealth. It was that study which gave rise to the Commonwealth entry into this field, lt is a matter to which I do intend to give some attention.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Is it true that two Royal Australian Navy chaplains were disciplined by the commanding officer of HMAS Leeuwin for attending a meeting to pray for the avoidance of bloodshed in the Noonkanbah dispute? Were they attending in civilian dress and had they made it quite clear that they were not representing the Navy but were there as ministers of the Christian religion? Were these two chaplains formally reprimanded by the commanding officer and have they had their duties restricted? Has one chaplain of many years service resigned over the matter? Will the AttorneyGeneral ask the Minister for Defence to instruct the Chief of Naval Staff to make an urgent inquiry into the commanding officer’s conduct? In the absence of any extenuating circumstances will he take the necessary disciplinary action against the commanding officer for petty, absurd and high-handed action which brings the good name of the Navy into disrepute?
– I remember reading a newspaper report about the matter to which Senator Chipp has referred. 1 have referred the matter to the Minister for Defence. I will refer to the Minister for Defence the full terms of Senator Chipp’s question and the request that it contains and ask him to deal with the matter as quickly as possible.
– I ask whether the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs has been drawn to the report filed in New Delhi and published in the Australian last Thursday, which states:
Growing fears that the Soviet Union may be putting pressure on the Indian Prime Minister, Mrs Gandhi, to go to war with Pakistan are being expressed openly.
Relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated so swiftly and inexplicably recently that many people believe she might be building up for another war over divided Kashmir.
What information about Pakistan and the menace of Soviet aggression in that area can the Minister now bring to the Senate? What steps is the Australian Government taking in diplomatic and other ways to defuse hostilities and to safeguard the territorial integrity of Pakistan?
I have no up-to-date information from the Minister for Foreign Affairs on this matter. I will seek it from him and make it available to the Senate as soon as possible.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, concerns the deteriorating relations between the New South Wales Government and his own. The fact that both of us are from the premier State motivates my directing it to him. It is a twotiered question. In the first instance I ask: What defence can the Minister offer for the pro.crastinatio: of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in denying New South Wales the acquisition of a Canadian aircraft that could be used for water bombing in the raging bushfires? The second part of the question concerns the Barnard-Daly declaration of 1975 that the Commonwealth-occupied harbour foreshore land would be expeditiously transferred to the State. In view of the transfer of the Abbotsford animal quarantine station to Wallgrove, why are we still fudging by using the North Head general quarantine station problem to delay implementation of a decision which was made in 1975 and which was reinforced by a former Minister in the person of Senator Withers?
– I am not aware of any procrastination regarding the use of aircraft for water bombing for fire control. My understanding - it may not be complete - is that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is still in the process of doing work on water bombing for fire control. Presumably that work is not yet complete. That may not be the total answer. It may well be that further matters remain to be answered. I will pass to the relevant Minister the substance of that part of the question.
The second part of the question may again impinge, I imagine, upon the portfolio of a colleague in another place - -the Minister for Administrative Services. My understanding is that the short term arrangement for the use of the quarantine station at North Head in no way will alter or extend the timetable for the return of North Head to the State. In other words, the timetable itself will go ahead. Within that timetable there will be some temporary use. Lest there be any further matters to add, I will also direct the question to that Minister.
– by leave- I wish to make a personal explanation. I refer to a report in today’s edition of the Canberra Times under the heading : ‘Sir Garfield snubbed by Labor senator’. The report describes how an Australian Labor Party senator snubbed the Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Garfield Barwick, at the opening of Parliament yesterday. It gives a rather long dissertation on the actions of one senator. It states that the senator refused to stand for Sir Garfield Barwick but rose to his feet when the former Attorney-General, Mr Justice Lionel Murphy of the High Court, passed by. This lengthy report is accompanied by a photograph of me under which the words ‘Senator Walsh’ appear. This incident has caused considerable amusement in some quarters in the Parliament.
– Senator Walsh wasn’t amused.
– Nor was 1. 1 believe that this amusement was caused among those who know both Senator Walsh and me well enough to realise that there is not the slightest possibility that on any occasion would Senator Walsh and I comment or act in any similar way on any subject whatsoever, lt is because of our diametrically opposed views that I feel entitled to call upon the Canbera Times for the publication of an appropriately worded apology. I think it should appear on page one. To put the record straight it should contain photographs of me and Senator Walsh. The Deputy Whip has suggested that they be in colour which might be appropriate. In all the circumstances I am sure that I can call upon all my colleagues in this chamber to ensure that the matter is dealt with to protect the dignity of the chamber and to correctly inform the people of the Australian Capital Territory not only that Senator Walsh is not a woman–
– How do you know?
– I will not answer that interjection. Senator Walsh may care to answer it later. Not only is he not a woman but also I am a woman and I am very proud of it. In no circumstances whatsoever would I behave in the fashion in which he has behaved, even towards Mr Justice Murphy.
– by leave - I wish to make a personal explanation on the same matter. I think that the facts have been stated with tolerable accuracy. I feel that I am the party who has been primarily aggrieved and I should have been doing the complaining.
– In responding to a question asked by Senator Ryan I inadvertently omitted to answer one important part of the question. The honourable senator asked whether a large number of Aboriginal people in remote areas were not in possession of telephone communications.
– Seventeen thousand.
– Seventeen thousand was the figure the honourable senator gave. If she looks at the demography she will find that figure rather hard to justify. The important thing is that all the major remote Aboriginal communities have radio telephones or two-way radios. Most of the outstation communities have twoway radios. I think that information should be included in the answer.
– by leave - In accordance with Notice of Motion No. 10 standing in my name on the Notice Paper, I move:
– I think I am justified in saying a few words. Whilst I am not renowned for my loyalty to royalty, I ask: What are we doing to this Governor-General? I do not know whether the question has ever been considered. The GovernorGeneral represents the Crown. Whilst we may accept such a motion concerning the Balmain drunk, consideration has to be given to the Government’s appointee. The Governor-General is an academic from the University of Queensland. He is well respected and is held in high esteem in his profession. I think everyone who has come into contact with him admires him and the job he is doing. Yesterday he faced the indignity of having to come here and, for a quarter of an hour, mouth cliches and platitudes with no substance at all. He did not tell the Parliament of any Government legislation. The Government is asking us to tell him that we think so much of his address that we will delay the reply until we get certain business through. Honourable senators do not know what business.
The Leader of the Government (Senator Carrick) has given honourable senators no explanation of the business he intends to bring on. If it is urgent, we may agree to the motion. Surely we should not treat the Queen’s representative in this fashion. We should not say to him that that is all we think of his address. The Government wrote his speech. Perhaps the Government thinks something is wrong with the manner in which he expressed it. The Government thinks so much of it that it will deal with it at the tail end of all other business. Honourable senators know that the Senate has not finished the 1978-79 Budget discussion. The Governor-General might die of old age before we present the Address-in-Reply. This motion shows the respect that we have for Her Majesty’s representative in Australia today. Although I have a reputation in regard to royalty, I do not think that we should let this House treat Her Majesty’s representative in this manner. I oppose the motion.
– in reply - Because Senator Cavanagh has made the comments in the manner that he has, it is necessary for me to respond. Of course, this motion is moved with no disrespect whatsoever towards His Excellency. It is quite common, Mr President, for Government business to intervene. In fact it would be uncommon, if not unique, for it not so to do. But, more importantly, I have to say that this action was agreed to between the Whips of the Australian Labor Party and the Government to facilitate the next business of the Senate, and that is to allow the Labor Party, of which Senator Cavanagh is a member, to proceed with its motion of urgency. Therefore, there was an understanding between us so to do. Equally, I wish to say that there is an understanding that we will complete the Address-in-Reply during the course of this two-week sitting and be able to present it to His Excellency probably in more record time than in the past.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I inform the Senate that I have received the following letter, dated 26 November 1980, from Senator Walsh:
Dear Mr President,
Pursuant to Standing Order 64 1 give notice that today I shall move -
That in the opinion of the Senate the following is u mutter of urgency: the Government’s failure to maintain u coherent policy on interest rates.’
Senator for Western Australia
Is the motion supported?
More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places -
– I move:
That in the opinion of the Senate the following is a matter of urgency: the Government’s failure to maintain a coherent policy on interest rates.
Just three years ago Mr Fraser promised that interest rates would be reduced by 2 per cent. He did not equivocate. He said:
It is a target that can and will be met.
Interest rates in general are now about 2 per cent higher than they were when that unequivocal open-ended promise was made. The maximum rate for local government is 12.7 per cent. The maximum rate for semi-government authorities is 12.4 per cent. For the tap issue which was announced earlier this week the yield is 12.44 per cent, and the market yield on traded government securities is currently above 12.5 per cent. That is the highest figure we have ever known. Market yields on government paper are higher than they have ever been. To that record of failure we have seen from time to time confusion and incoherence added in and, more recently, a totally discordant statement was made last Friday by the Minister for Communications (Mr Sinclair). Last Friday that Minister spoke in Melbourne, and two features of his address are worth noting. The first was the eulogy for the Melbourne publisher, Ronald Anderson. It is not surprising that somebody who, on his own admission, uses stolen funds for working capital in his private business should be an admirer of Ronald Anderson.
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. Is it in order for the honourable senator to say ‘Someone who by his own admission uses stolen funds’ in relation to a Minister of the Crown?
– It is a fact. He admitted in the House of Representatives in June 1979 that his father had pinched the money, and he still has it.
– Order! Senator Walsh, 1 was of the momentary impression that you were not speaking of any member of Parliament. That is a very grave reflection on a member of the other place. I ask you to withdraw.
– As 1 have observed before, Mr President, the test of acceptability in this chamber is not the truth but your interpretation of the Standing Orders. On that basis I withdraw.
– Order! You will withdraw without any qualification.
– On that basis I withdraw.
– You will withdraw with no qualification.
– Withdraw what? Withdraw the truth? Very well, I withdraw the truth.
- Senator Walsh, if you ignore the Chair in this way I shall have to resort to those powers which reside with me in this office. You will withdraw without any qualification.
– Withdraw what, Mr President?
– Your offensive remark in respect of the Minister.
– What? That he was using stolen money for working capital in his private business? Very well, I withdraw. The second notable feature of this speech was really quite extraordinary, even by the standards of the party Mr Sinclair represents. He postulated that the reserves currently accumulating as a result of high export earnings and an extraordinarily large capital inflow should be used to keep down domestic interest rates. I quote his own words:
I have some doubts that the trading banks actually put forward those reasons, but it is true that the trading banks have been claiming for some time that the overdraft rate must be lifted above its present level of 1 0.5 per cent for loans of below $100,000. Given the prevailing level of interest rates, that is a proposition with a certain amount of economic logic. The Minister continued:
Traditionally, high interest rates come with a low availability of money.
Demonstrably, this is not so with high rates of capital investment in Australia and high returns from Australian exports. Neither can the present level of Australian overseas reserves justify increased interest rates.
In other words, what he was saying quite clearly was that because there was a capital inflow of above $ 1,000m in the last calendar month and the expected capital inflow for this month is in the vicinity of $700m, and because this is adding enormously to domestic liquidity, we are able to keep down interest rates, and that is a policy which should be followed. We have, of course, heard hillbilly economics from National Country Party rednecks before. What is alarming about this latest manifestation of hillbilly economics - that is, the preposterous notion that capital inflow should be used to keep down domestic interest rates - is that by default, if not by conscious choice, it is the policy of the Fraser Government.
The Minister for Finance (Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle) was pressed on this issue today at Question Time. She was asked whether she, like her Cabinet colleague, Mr Sinclair, believes that large inflows of foreign funds should be used to keep down domestic interest rates. She ducked the question. When she was the Minister for Social Security she was not responsible for what Lanigan did. Now that she is the Minister for Finance, she is not responsible for anything at all. Not only is she not responsible, she obviously does not even have an opinion as to whether that proposition which was advanced by her senior Cabinet colleague, Mr Sinclair, is worthwhile - that is, the proposition that the inordinately high rate of capital inflow should be used to add to domestic liquidity, thereby enabling interest rates to be kept down at a lower level than they would otherwise be. If she claims to be fit to hold the senior ministerial position of Minister for Finance in this Government, I suggest it is little short of scandalous that she does not have a view on that proposition. She either accepts Mr Sinclair’s proposition or she does not accept it. This afternoon she continued to adopt the practice which she established in recent years when she was the Minister for Social Security by blatantly refusing to accept any ministerial responsibility.
Like Mr Sinclair, I hold no brief for the private banks. Indeed, as one whose political consciousness was maturing during the era of John Henry Austral, who was a fictitious character concocted by the private banks to peddle fraudulent messages, I am properly cautious about accepting arguments put forward by the private banks. However, one does not have to accept uncritically the claims of the private banks to realise the discord and the incoherence in this Government’s approach to interest rates. For five years, upwards of half a million unemployed people have been crucified - I paraphase the remarks of William Jennings Bryan - on a cross of monetarism constructed by the Fraser Government. Control of inflation, according to monetarist dogma, is a prerequisite to restoring full employment and high rates of economic growth. The key to controlling inflation - again according to monetarist doctrine - is the control of the money supply. The level of prices, according to the dogma, is determined by the volume of money, probably in a onetoone ratio, although time lags of indefinite duration are involved. That final qualification is an all-embracing escape clause. Apart from the allembracing escape clause which Friedman has added and the logical faults in the monetarist equation itself- although the faults of the monetarist argument, of course, are that they overlook two of the potential variables within the monetarist equation - the monetarists say that if the money supply falls prices will fall and that if the money supply rises prices will rise. As the equation is constructed and provided other things remain equal, that is true, and is indeed tautologous. The logical weakness in the monetarists’ conclusions is that the other two variables do not necessarily remain constant and that a decline in the money supply may be reflected, not by falling prices, but by falling production. Whatever the logical or other inadequacies of the monetarist position, it was adopted as the primary economic dogma of Fraserism. In the puerile speech which was delivered yesterday by the GovernorGeneral, the dogma survives in the following form. I quote:
Firm anti-inflationary fiscal and monetary policies are therefore essential to any lasting solution to the problems of unemployment . . .
One other outstanding and apparently unrecognised contradiction by the Government in the string of puerile assertions within that speech is the simultaneous assertion that lower inflation is a prerequisite to lower unemployment and the statement that employment growth over the previous 12 months has been considerable. Inflation over the previous 1 2 months, indeed over the previous two years, has been steadily going up. The Government boasts that employment has grown strongly in a period when inflation clearly has been rising. That is something which the Government’s own dogma asserts cannot happen.
The Government’s performance on monetarism at no stage measured up to the rhetoric. The commitment to monetarism became more and more abstract whenever political problems intervened and was always sacrificed for political opportunism. The papers attached to the Budget stated that the monetary target for 1978-79 was 6 per cent to 8 per cent. In fact in that financial year it blew out to 11.8 per cent. Significant factors in that blow-out were the abnormally large wheat crop harvested in 1978 and the provisions which were made for the financing of the initial advance to growers of that wheat crop. The size of that crop above that which normally would be financed by credit issued from the Rural Credits
Department of the Reserve Bank - in other words, synonymous with printing money; something which the Government purports to eschew - added in the short term one per cent to the money supply. Because of Government prevarication, the Australian Wheat Board suspended payments to growers for about three weeks - something which ultimately was admitted although initially it had been denied - and several months after that the Government forced the Wheat Board to go onto the commercial market and repay the additional and unexpected earlier credit creation borrowings from the Reserve Bank. For that prevarication and incompetence the Government earned this rebuke from the economic newsletter Syntec of 5 March:
Government backing and filling on this wheat credit problem has allowed it now to descend to the more economically illiterate levels of rural politics.
I take issue with Syntec on one of its conclusions. The Government did not need to descend into the economically illiterate levels of rural politics; the Cabinet itself is dominated by the economic illiteracy of rural politics.
In that year money supply growth, instead of sticking to the target of 6 per cent to 8 per cent, was in fact 11.8 per cent. When asked why the Government had allowed the money supply growth - incidentally, all these figures refer to M3 - to exceed this target greatly, the Treasurer replied that inflation was higher than the Government had expected and therefore the money supply had grown at a higher rate. In saying that, the Government stood Milton Friedman squarely on his head with his legs thrashing around in the air.
– What was it under your Government?
– I will tell the honourable senator what it was in the last quarter of 1972; it was 25 per cent because the last coalition Government did not have the backbone to revalue the dollar when it needed revaluation. The highest it ever was under a Labor government did not approach 25 per cent. The fundamental proposition of Friedmanism is that the level of inflation is determined by the rate of growth of the money supply. After it had been processed by what Syntec referred to as the economic illiteracy of rural politics - that is, the present Cabinet - Friedman was stood on his head about the rate of growth of the money supply being determined by the level of inflation. Similar conditions applied in 1979-80. The Government stated an objective of 1 0 per cent in the growth of M3 for the year ended June 1980. The actual increase was 12.9 per cent. It has stated an objective of between 9 per cent and 1 1 per cent for the current financial year. On the most recent available figure for a completed 1 2 months, the growth of M3 remains at 1 2.9 per cent. So the actual rate of growth of the money supply once again is increasing at a much faster rate than the Government had projected.
Those aberrations, however, now pale into insignificance. A senior Minister who is known to have the sympathetic ear of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has repudiated the central tenet of monetarism that the money supply must be disciplined. He has postulated, he has put forward the proposterous notion, that it is quite acceptable within the confines of monetarism to use huge inflows of foreign funds - in excess of $1 billion in October and an anticipated $700m in November - to increase the supply of domestic credit and thereby keep interest rates down. He says that the overdraft rate should be left where it is. He might well go further and say that it should be brought down since we have so much of this easy foreign money coming into the country and that the banking system, through its well known multiplier factor, should be allowed to multiply by three or four that additional infusion of foreign funds. That comes from a senior Minister in a government which professes to be committed to monetarism. The Minister for Finance has no opinion about the matter. At least Mr Sinclair, however preposterous his ideas may be, has the intellectual and moral courage to state his views publicly. The Minister for Finance in this House does not have any opinions at all. If she has no opinions, if she has no knowledge, she is unfit to hold office as Minister for Finance, as she was unfit to hold office as Minister for Social Security. Does she share the belief that it is acceptable, that it is desirable, to use this huge inflow of foreign funds to expand domestic credit, to increase domestic liquidity, and thereby enable interest rates to be held down lower than they otherwise would be? Does she share that belief? Has the Government repudiated monetarism or is it just the Minister for Communications who has repudiated monetarism? If the Government has repudiated monetarism we are entitled to expect a formal announcement that it has repudiated monetarism. If it has not repudiated monetarism and if the Minister for Communications has, and quite clearly he has, we are entitled to expect an acknowledgment of the repudiation by the Government of collective Cabinet responsibility. The Minister for Finance, who is responsible for these matters in this Senate, either has no opinion or does not have the courage to state whatever opinion she has.
The notion of Cabinet responsibility is dead if rednecked Ministers are free to expound their populist nostrums which defy official government policy. Either the Government has repudiated monetarism or it has repudiated Cabinet solidarity. There is no alternative.
I am not sure who is to reply to this debate on behalf of the Government. As the Minister for Finance is not in the chamber, I presume she is not replying. Given her puerile, pathetic performance earlier this afternoon in replying to a perfectly straightforward question, I say that the Government is very wise in deciding not to allow her to reply. The evasive tactics likely to be used by whoever is the fall guy for the Government in replying to this matter is, of course, that the Australian Labor Party is advocating higher interest rates. The Labor Party advocates no such thing. The plain fact is–
– Is Lewis the fall guy, Senator?
– Lewis the fall guy - he looks as though he might be.
– There is nothing new about that.
– I suppose it is a role he is well accustomed to playing. The reality is that this Government has got itself into an interest rate bind especially with respect to small overdrafts - that is, below $100,000 - and loans for housing. It has established conditions under which increases in interest rates in those areas are inevitable. The most obvious of those preconditions is that the market yield, on the Government’s own paper, is above 121 per cent which, as I mentioned before, is the highest that it has ever been. Apparently the Government deludes itself with the belief that it can somehow divorce completely the market rate of interest for Government paper from the overdraft and housing loan rate. The reasons that interest rates have pushed upwards in the last couple of years can be found again in the Government’s own deliberate policies. Inflation is rising and interest rates are rising with it. The reason that inflation is rising - as we have repeatedly told Government Ministers and Government back benchers - is the Government’s oil pricing policy. The Government probably will argue its Alice in Wonderland policy on interest rates, maintaining the pretence that one can divorce the overdraft rate and the housing loan rate from all other rates without anything else going wrong. In living out that massive self-delusion the Government will probably claim that it is helping home buyers, farmers and other small businessmen.
Of course, what happens in these situations when government pressure, for a significant period, maintains rates in one area below rates in other areas, is that the supply of funds dries up in the area where the interest rate is artificially depressed. That is what will happen here if the Government persists with this policy. The overdraft rate might remain at 101 per cent but there will not be any money to borrow and the people who otherwise would have borrowed on overdraft will be forced to borrow from the fringe institutions at rates well above what the overdraft rate would be were it not for the Government’s stubbornness. The people who suffer when credit is rationed quantitatively in that way are usually, of course, those who are least able to afford it, those who are in the weakest position, and those who have the weakest credit rating.
After being Prime Minister for five years and a member of the House of Representatives for 25 years, the Prime Minister still has not learned that a government - at least in an economy which has any semblance of being a market economy - can control the supply of money, or it can control the rate of interest but it cannot do both. Only in a command economy can both the interest rate and the supply of money be controlled. The most spectacular demonstration of the intellectual weakness of the Prime Minister in this area was his absolute guarantee in 1 977 that interest rates would come down by 2 per cent within one year. He said: ‘It is a target that can and will be met’. Those were his words. Interest rates went up generally by about 2 per cent. Local government rates are now 1 2.7 per cent and semi-government rates are 1 2.4 per cent. The lap issue announced earlier this week has a yield of 1 2.44 per cent and, in the Government’s own paper, the yield on bonds traded in the free market has been running at above 12i per cent. That is the highest level of interest rates on government paper that the country has ever known. Even in the peak inflationary period in the early 1950s under the Menzies Government when inflation hit 25.2 per cent in one 12-month period, yields on government’s own paper did not rise that high.
– You said that they should be higher? ls that not right? Is that the truth?
– I thought that the honourable senator would interject with something puerile like that because that is the only defence he has. The only defence he has is to shift the argument away from what it is.
– You have just put that argument.
– Senator Lewis has just forecast - apparently he will be one of the two people from the Government side responding to this matter- that his response to this exposition of the repudiation by a senior Minister of the very foundation of Government monetary policy will be to shift the argument onto something else altogether and to keep asserting that the Labor Party wants to put interest rates up. Of course, the Labor Party does not want to put interest rates up but the Labor Party has a better grasp of reality than the Prime Minister, or the Minister for Communications or the rest of the rural economic illiterates in the present Federal Cabinet as Syntec calls them. We have a better grasp of reality and we recognise that the present policy on interest rates which the Government is trying to impose on the economy is just not viable.
– Doesn’t that mean that you believe that there should be an increase in interest rates though, Senator? Answer the question.
– Through the ineptitude of the present Government the conditions which have been established leave us with two choices, I point out to Senator Lewis. I will have to speak more slowly and, as far as possible, in monosyllables. One can control the rate of interest, or one can control the volume of money and the supply of credit. What one cannot do is control both unless one has a command of the economy. If this Government persists with its present non-viable policy and attempts to hold interest rates on overdraft and on housing loan borrowings at 2 per cent or more below where they would settle if market forces were allowed or were an appropriate rate - given the level of interest rates in other areas - then the supply of funds in those areas would dry up. Because of the ineptitude and the living out of this massive exercise in self-delusion which the honourable senator opposite and his colleagues are doing the people which this Government claims to be helping - the people who want home loans, the farmers and the small businessmen - will be forced to go to the fringe financial institutions and to pay rates probably as high as 14 per cent or 15 per cent. This would have a highly undesirable and damaging result which would be quite unnecessary if the Prime Minister and the other economic illiterates of rural politics who dominate this Government had the capacity and the objectivity to face up to the situation that they have created instead of attempting to maintain indefinitely a situation which is fundamentally unstable.
Then the final act of irresponsibility comes from this Minister for Communications who said: There is no need to worry. We are getting a billion dollars a month of foreign capital into the country. We can just increase domestic liquidity with that foreign money and thereby keep interest rates down’. Of course that is a total repudiation of monetarism, of Friedmanism and of what are supposed to be the underpinnings of this Government’s entire economic policy. The Minister for Finance does not even have an opinion about it, and does not have the courage or the decency to front up in the Senate and reply to the charges against her senior Cabinet colleague, against her Government, and against herself.
– It is quite fascinating to sit and listen to a speech of Senator Walsh. It is one of the first that I have heard in detail. I usually try to avoid them like a pain. I could not help making a note of some of the words to which we have listened. They are: Prevarication, incompetence, delusion, political opportunism, illiterate, quantitatively, rhetoric, underpinnings, dogma, postulated, preposterous, puerile, repudiation, tautology, collective monetarism, populist nostrums, abstract, eschew, pathetic and evasive. Listening to all that rubbish is a bit like a journey through Roget’s Thesaurus. When I put the proposition to Senator Walsh that he should face up to the realities of what he was saying, he ducked for cover.
There is not the slightest doubt that Senator Walsh, who is the Labor shadow Minister for Finance, in the course of his speech today supported the proposition of the trading banks that interest rates on small overdrafts should be raised. 1 am not sure whether he agreed with the proposition that it should be one per cent or higher. But it is quite clear that Senator Walsh, Labor’s speaker on this subject, at this stage is in favour of an increase in interest rates on small overdrafts. I think that is the first time that anyone has ever heard a Labor shadow Minister for Finance talking about increasing interest rates. I took a note of what Senator Walsh said earlier. He said:
Trading banks have been seeking to raise interest rates on overdrafts below $100,000 for some time, and that is a proposition with a certain amount of economic logic to it.
The general level of interest rates is determined by market conditions, including external factors which are not amenable to control. During 1979-80 there were very large increases in interest rates overseas. During 1979-80 prime bank lending rates reached peaks of 20 per cent in the United States, 1 Ti per cent in Canada and 18 1/2 per cent in the United Kingdom. In Australia comparable interest rates rose to only 12i per cent. Those overseas interest rates have an effect on interest rates charged in Australia. It is not possible to insulate fully Australian financial conditions from those overseas developments. There was inevitably some upward movement in both private and official interest rates during the year. Other factors which affect interest rates are the demands of the Government on money markets and the prevailing rate of inflation. I do not deny those factors. But this Government’s policy has been to keep interest rates down as much as possible, to contain inflation and to reduce the Government’s demand on the market. I put it to the Senate that by consistently and responsibly managing economic policy this Government has kept interest rates as low as possible. They are constantly under review. They may rise or they may fall from day to day or from week to week.
One must admire Senator Walsh for having the courage of his convictions. He has come out openly and said that if the Australian Labor Party were in power at present it would increase interest rates. This would mean an increase in interest rates for small businessmen and home buyers. These people would suffer under Senator Walsh’s proposal. He did say that that was not the ALP policy, even though it was clearly his view. One wonders whether Senator Walsh speaks for the ALP, even though he is the shadow Minister for Finance, Trade and National Development.
On 29 March 1979, Senator Walsh, when the shadow Minister for Primary Industry, produced a Green Paper on the subject. That Green Paper covered some 47 pages. It had a three and a half page summary. There was a substantial Press release and also a Press conference. I quote part of the Press release in which Senator Walsh said:
The Paper sets out Labor’s analysis of where agriculture is. how it got there, and where it is likely to go, in addition to making policy recommendations on current agricultural issues.
That all sounded fine. No doubt it impressed the rural press and the farmers of Australia. But what happened when the ALP got around to making a policy speech for the recent federal election? In fourteen and a half pages of policy speech the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Hayden, said not one word in support of the proposals which Senator Walsh had put forward in his 47 page paper. Where were all the honourable senator’s great policies then? They were denied by his federal leader. One wonders what is his influence with his federal leader. If it was not bad enough for Senator Walsh to get that rebuff, three days later Senator Walsh gave the man on the land something to–
– I raise a point of order. I am quite happy to debate this matter at some other time with the honourable senator if he wishes, but I wonder what it has to do with the Government’s policy on interest rates.
– It is related to Senator Walsh’s matter of public importance.
– You have not mentioned interest rates yet.
– Of course I have mentioned interest rates. The honourable senator has not been listening. I went through that aspect in some detail at the beginning of my speech. As I was saying, Senator Walsh got around to a subject quite dear to the heart of the man on the land some three days after the rebuff by his federal leader concerning his policy on primary industry. On 3 October 1980, in the program Countrywide, Senator Walsh was involved in a debate with Mr Nixon, the Minister for Primary Industry. He was asked this question by the interviewer:
It has been suggested in the last Tew days that you might reintroduce death taxes and gift taxes, ls that a fact?
Senator Walsh replied: lt is; the Labor Party believes that Australia ought to have some form of capital taxation as every other country with which we compare ourselves has, and many of them have two or three.
Senator Walsh was pushed a little further by Mr Nixon and said:
I am not wriggling. Whether it will be a capital gains tax, a wealth tax, or a reintroduction of inheritance taxes which they have in the United Kingdom and the United States, is something which is yet to be determined.
That is what Senator Walsh said. The farmers of Australia no doubt took a great interest in that statement. I do not know whether Senator Walsh would term it in his language as negative campaigning, aversion politics or something similar. I do not know how many votes that statement won for the Labor Party but it certainly brought a very rapid response from his leader, Mr Hayden. Six days later Mr Hayden made this statement:
I have stated plainly that there will be no wealth or capital taxes introduced . . .
– I raise a point of order. Again I think we are entitled to draw the attention of the Government speaker to the fact that we are debating not the election campaign, not what Senator Walsh said in Countrywide or any other program, not what the Leader of the Labor Party said, but rather the lack of coherence in the policy of the Fraser Government as it relates to interest rates. Since the last point of order was taken Senator Lewis has not mentioned interest rates but has traversed grounds which are not germane to the debate before the House.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. I understood the honourable senator to be querying whether Senator Walsh was putting forward in his speech Opposition policy or some view of his own. Senator Lewis, in support of the doubts that he had on that point, was referring to other statements made by Senator Walsh in his capacity as a spokesman for the Opposition which appeared to be unique to him and not to relate to the Opposition. He referred to the repudiation of some of Senator Walsh’s comments by Senator Walsh’s party. I think it is relevant to the alleged matter of urgency which is before the Senate to establish just what is the attitude of the Opposition on this matter, or are we witnessing an individual fly by a single member of the Opposition who is a member of the front bench? I should have thought that it was within the parameters of reasonable debate on this matter of urgency that the honourable senator be allowed to continue.
– I will be delighted to have a debate with that hillbilly on the subject matter he has raised at any time he likes to raise it as a matter of urgency. While he is debating the subject of the matter of urgency before the Senate he ought to stick to the question of interest rates and the Government’s policy on interest rates, or the lack thereof.
– Senator Chaney set out the situation perfectly. The point I am coming to quite clearly moves in that direction.
– This is a financial matter for discussion. Senator Lewis, bring your remarks back to the motion concerning a coherent policy on interest rates.
– Certainly, Mr President. I was in the process of quoting what Senator Walsh’s leader said. He stated:
I have stated plainly that there will be no wealth or capital taxes introduced in the three-year term of a Labor Government elected on October 1 8.
Again, Senator Walsh was denied by his leader. One wonders whether Senator Walsh is off on another spree of his own which would not be supported by his party if it were in power. In fact, Mr Hayden in the same policy speech to which I have referred mentioned something about interest rates under a Labor government, and I am prepared to quote him. He said:
And I have no doubt we will do better in controlling interest rates over the next three years than Mr Fraser has been able to manage in the last five years.
Quite clearly, the Leader of the Opposition is of the view that interest rates should be kept lower than our Government has been able to keep them.
I put it to the Senate that the Leader of the Opposition would be saying to Senator Walsh: ‘If we were in government we would not increase interest rates at the present moment but would endeavour to reduce them’. So Senator Walsh has been denied thrice by his leader. One is entitled to ask: Does Senator Walsh have any influence at all in his own party or does he simply lack credibility everywhere? As I mentioned, the subject under debate does not concern Mr Sinclair; it concerns the interest rate policy of the Government. I have made it clear that for five years this Government has pursued a policy with the object of containing the three factors which influence interest rates; namely, containing inflation, reducing the Government’s demand on the market, and maintaining a strong external position. The Government has been able to contain interest rates at what on the world market are moderate interest rates compared with those of our competitors. Clearly, the public of Australia will support a continuation of interest fixed at the current rates if the Government is able to maintain it at those rates.
– Senator Lewis did not address himself to the matter before the Senate. In fact, he spent most of his time attempting, rather pathetically, to denigrate Senator Walsh and some of the statements he made when he led for the Opposition in this debate on the very important subject of interest rates. Senator Lewis failed dismally to defend the Government’s policies because the Government’s policies on interest rates are indefensible, as indeed are its policies on economic development and control of the economy. Interest rates are the concern of every person in our country. They are of vital concern to all Australians, whatever their place in society. Clearly, the rate of interest charged to wage and salary earners on money for consumer credit, for example, is of great concern. When we consider that at the moment in excess of $ 1 1 ,000m is owed to banks, credit unions, building societies and finance companies, it is clear that the rate of interest is a matter of great moment to all those persons who are forced to use consumer credit.
As Senator Walsh and Mr Uren, my colleague in the other place, have stated constantly in recent times, the interest rates charged to home owners by lending authorities are of great concern; certainly interest rates are of great concern to small businessmen. I am somewhat alarmed by what was said by Senator Lewis, who occasionally shows some concern about the rates of interest charged to the small business sector. Bearing in mind that the banks seek to raise the rates of interest for those who have to borrow up to $100,000, clearly, if one looks at the reports of what is happening in the small business sector one cannot but be impressed by the lack of finance and the lack of liquidity, and by the fact that cheap mortgage arrangements are vital to the survival of the small business sector. I am sure that even Senator Lewis would not disagree with what Senator Walsh said repeatedly when he was our party’s spokesman on agricultural matters - as indeed did Mr Sinclair recently - namely, that low interest rates are absolutely integral to the survival of the farming community. Of course, low interest rates are also integral and vital to State governments, to local government, and to semi-government authorities. If rates rise, as they will rise shortly in all of the local and semigovernment areas in Australia, they will rise because of the increased cost of the borrowings necessary for the maintenance of those public authorities.
What is the real position? The Fraser Government does not have one interest rates policy. It has three policies. Firstly, it has one for the banks. It is clear that as soon as this Parliament rises pressure by the banks on the Australian Government will result in an increase in bank interest rates. Of course, this will be part of the pay off to the private banks, which clearly not only put pressure upon the Government but also financially supported it in its endeavour to remain in the majority in the national Parliament. Secondly, the Government has a policy for the Australian people, as was evident during the last election campaign, when it sought to confuse the Australian people by a pack of deceptions, lies and rhetoric. Finally, the Government has a policy for the foreign investors, to make sure that they are satisfied when investing their capital in this country. I will deal with that later. Even this Government, which has brought to a fine art the technique of playing both ends against the middle, cannot stop the contradictions in its policies becoming apparent. These contradictions burst out from time to time, as we saw when Mr Sinclair revealed recently that the banks’ demand for higher interest rates was based on their need to improve their profitability. What was the Managing Director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 24 September last as having said? It was that banks’ profits will fall if interest rates do not rise. What do other banks say? Are they similarly worried? Judging by public statements, they are.
Let us examine more closely how they are being squeezed. The Commercial Banking Company of Sydney managed to raise its profits by 33 per cent in the previous year. The Bank of New South Wales managed a meagre 14.5 per cent increase, while the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd achieved a more respectable 27 per cent rise in pre-tax profits. Yet all of those companies are crying poor, are putting pressure on the Government and are threatening a decline in home loans if they cannot charge higher interest rates on those loans and pay depositors a higher rate. That last aim seems laudable; the current interest rate on savings accounts is too low. But how high do the banks want to raise the interest rates on deposits? Why should people deposit money with them at 4.5 per cent, as has been suggested, if they will not do so at 3.5 per cent? With inflation at the level it is, and obviously rising, their money will still lose value. It is no wonder that some people are turning to credit unions and building societies to get a higher rate of interest. What are the exact figures? Why do not the banks say: ‘This is what we will give and this is what we want’ rather than hiding behind closed doors and pressuring the Government behind the scenes?
One possible reason for the decline in savings bank deposits has been totally ignored - that is, the decline in living standards that has clearly taken place since 1975. People are drawing on their savings as wages fall and as oil prices rise. But there is one even greater and more fundamental contradiction in this Government’s economic policy - that is, the impact of the resources boom on interest rates. The Government has said little on this topic - not surprisingly - but a glimpse of the reality is gained from the Government’s own Budget Papers. On page 52, for example, the Treasury says quite clearly that the resource boom will lead to ‘continued pressure on interest rates’. Why is that so? Right now Australian interest rates are high by international standards. lt is interesting that Senator Carrick, when it suits this Government, cites Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development figures to show that we have a low interest rate but that, according to what Senator Lewis said, many countries in the OECD have high interest rates. When it suits this Government’s spokesmen, they cite OECD figures to try to convey the impression that we are doing well by some standards, but in other circumstances they seek to suggest, as Senator Lewis sought to do, that the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and other countries have high rates of interest.
Our rates are high compared with those in the main countries in the OECD. That is a reason for the massive inflow of capital into Australia. That inflow was in the form of debt because the local companies involved in the resource boom are borrowing overseas at cheaper rates. The massive $ 1 billion flood has, as Treasury suggested, boosted the money supply, but the Government, rather than taking a sensible and rational policy, has this absurd fetish for money supply targets. Accordingly, it sees its precious target of 9 per cent growth threatened by the resource boom. That will raise interest rates and will only increase the gap between local and overseas interest rates leading to even greater capital inflow as companies borrow more money overseas. As the Australian Financial Review stated on 1 5 September - and I agree entirely - any increase in interest rates will cause capital inflow to increase and money supply to rise even further. The people who come off worst out of this are the home buyer, the consumer, the small businessman and those who have to use credit for purchases, whatever they may be.
The solution to this problem is not simple, as Senator Lewis suggests. It must lie along the path of relaxing money supply targets and, as the Australian Labor Party has proposed, of reducing interest rates. It also means taking a harder line on the resource boom. Of course, a reliance upon market forces, which this Government makes a central thesis of its policies, clearly will push up interest rates. Mr Sinclair, a person close to the rural community, knows what a rise in interest rates would do to the farmers who rely on bank overdrafts to survive. The Government’s economic policy, because it relies upon market forces, must inevitably mean higher interest rates, not lower ones. Yet such is the hypocrisy of this Government that it continues to claim that they will fall. We all recall that in 1977 Mr Anthony said that he would eat his hat if interest rates did not fall 2 per cent in the next 1 2 months. Exactly three years later, his deputy, Mr Sinclair, is fighting to prevent them rising. We must not forget the false and despicable promises made by Mr Fraser on 3 December 1977. He said:
A two per cent reduction in interest rates is a target that can and will be achieved.
Three days later, he said:
Once the election is over, we will start to move to the consummation of a two per cent reduction in interest rates.
What are the facts? They show the sheer political hypocrisy of this Government. At the end of 1 978, the official interest rate was 8.8 per cent. At the end of 1979, it was 1 1.2 per cent. Now it is 1 1.75 per cent, our highest interest rate ever. As we well know, with local government borrowings, semigovernmental borrowings, State government borrowings, the rates that are being charged and the pressures which are already there to which
Senator Walsh referred, interest rates will rise even more in the very near future. 1 come to the deceit of this Government - the deceit of the future - as shown by the silence of the Fraser Government on interest rates as Budget policy. It is silent because the embarrassing and damning truth is that this Government’s expressed policy is to raise interest rates when the time is opportune and to reduce bank lending as a means of keeping its money supply in check. In this regard we need refer only to the letter which was leaked to the Sydney Morning Herald a few weeks ago by one of the top officials in the Commonwealth Banking Corporation and which was designed to direct all those who wanted to borrow funds into higher interest areas of lending. This Government’s policies will channel cheap, and often overseas, money into the huge companies which are setting out to make millions out of the resource boom. The important factor here is the interest payments on the overseas debts which this Government has so slavishly followed in recent times. That means that the benefits of the boom which will take place in our resource development will go to the overseas investors and not to the locals which ought not to be the objective of any government that claims to benefit and to govern for all Australians. This all means that the Australian people whose previous objective was to own their own home will fade from the scene. Young people especially will find it impossible to turn that dream into reality. They will face the nightmare of being unable to borrow money at a rale of interest to meet their needs.
Let me leave that for a moment and look at what the Australian newspaper stated on 13 November. It stated:
The capital inflow . . . creates problems as well as benefits and the authorities will now have an even harder time mopping up excess liquidity and controlling the growth in the money supply.
The huge How of capital funds which came into our country in October will inevitably have the effect of increasing our interest rates, will cause difficulties in long term structural adjustments and will bring about the lowering of tariffs and protective devices.
It might be worthwhile to look at the British experience. Senator Walsh was spot on when he referred to the policies being pursued by the Thatcher Government. Monetarism policies, Friedmanism policies, Thatcherism policies and Fraserism policies are designed to transfer the burden of economic recovery to those least able to sustain it. They are the lower income groups, the small business groups and the farmers in our community - those people who have to rely upon access to credit which will be denied them as a result of the economic policies pursued by the Fraser Government.
– It has been most interesting listening to the two speakers from the Opposition who have raised the matter of a coherent policy on interest rates. I have been waiting to hear what their coherent policy is all about. I expected them to urge some alternative policy which may have been a matter for the Government to give some consideration. The two speakers from the Opposition have said not one word about what the policy ought to be. I find it incredible that, on a matter which they think is of such great importance that they had to raise it in the Senate today, they have criticised the Government without offering any alternative. How typical it is that the current Opposition finds it easy to criticise and hard to suggest constructively. Let us look at its record. When were Australian interest rates at their highest? They were at their highest during the 1972-75 period.
– That is not true.
– It is suggested that that is not true. Let me refer to some figures from the report of the Campbell Committee of Inquiry into the Australian Financial System, which I think is a reasonable authority. In 1974 and 1975 interest rates were the highest that they have been shown to be at any time in the period that was considered. Table 9.1 from the Campbell Committee’s report shows that the two-year bond rate reached 10.8 per cent in 1974. The weighted average overdraft rate reached 1 1.23 per cent in 1975. They are the highest figures shown in the table. The policy which the Government has adopted since it came in to clean up the mess in 1 975 has been to pursue consistently the containment of inflation. If inflation can be contained, so too can interest rates. Interest rates are but the price of money. Artificial pressures on interest rates create distortions.
I remain curious as to why this matter should be raised without any constructive suggestion as to what the alternative policy ought to be. To help the Australian Labor Party a little and, I hope, to give the Government something to think about, I will make some criticisms and suggestions of my own. One of the areas that concern me is the change that has come over our capital markets in the past year or so with the encouragement which has been given by the Federal Government, the State governments and the Loan Council to increased borrowings by semi-government authorities. Very large amounts of money are being taken out of markets, which is putting extra pressure on those markets. I believe that this is having a tendency to force up interest rates in a way in which they would not be forced up by normal market forces. I use as an example the Telecom Australia loan offered earlier this year at the approved Loan Council rate of 12.3 per cent. In most people’s estimation that interest rate was pitched at a higher level than was necessary where a government guarantee was given. Where such an authority borrows money there is no capital risk. The Telecom loan has had the effect of drying up some of the sources of funding for other activities in the community. It has also put pressure on other interest rates to go up. If government authorities borrow at an interest rate in excess of 12.3 per cent, is it any wonder that the banks are starting to say that an interest rate of 10.5 per cent on overdrafts under $ 1 00,000 is too low?
– You are proving our point.
– If Senator Gietzelt had been listening he would have known that I started by saying that it was a pity that the Opposition did not make any constructive suggestions. I want to make a few myself and I am proceeding to do so. Let me continue by suggesting that the proposal that was so heavily criticised by Senator Walsh is not as silly as all that. Let us contemplate the decision of the Australian Wheat Board to borrow one billion dollars for the purpose of paying out money to the growers before pending sales take place. It is hard to see why at least some part of that amount should not be borrowed overseas. That would reduce the pressure on interest rates in Australia which would otherwise be given a considerable boost by the attempt to borrow that amount of money within Australia. The Wheat Board sells on contracts which are mainly in United States dollars. If the borrowings were made in United States dollars no currency risk would be involved. Provided the amount borrowed, either by the Wheat Board or by any of the other statutory authorities which, at the moment, have to enter our domestic markets for their loan raisings, were pitched at a balance with the money supply control within Australia, it would seem to me that that could have the impact of easing the pressure on interest rates and thereby have an advantageous effect on the whole of the Australian economy.
I do not think the time is appropriate to develop that argument at great length but I think that we need to pay more attention to this area. The big change in semi-government borrowings which has taken place has not only put upward pressure on all interest rates but also led to complications in money supply management. More than that, we have the problem that no one is keeping total statistics or aggregating in total what happens when an increasing number of Commonwealth and State statutory authorities compete on the money market without their facing the same sort of commercial pressure which would be placed on them if they were sections of private enterprise. Higher interest rates are being passed on by statutory authorities and semi-government authorities borrowing at excessive rates in the market with government guarantees. This is creating a pressure which is not subject to the normal market forces under which other borrowers have to recover a return which will be sufficient to pay the cost of the borrowed money.
When various types of authorities, be they power, transport or communications authorities, which enjoy monopolies and which can charge whatever they need to charge are permitted to enter the market and pay high prices for money, a dangerous situation is created. We need to monitor it far more carefully than we are doing at the moment. All sorts of distortions are created. For example, in a relatively small Australian city the supply of funds for housing and the purchase of property through a building society virtually dried up overnight after the pitching of the Telecom loan. Everybody immediately withdrew his money from the building society in order to get some of the very attractive security that Telecom was offering. That sort of change taking place very quickly in the community creates huge distortions.
As the Australian Labor Party did not effectively raise a single point of criticism of the Government’s policy, as the Government’s policy has basically succeeded in curtailing and containing inflation to an extent which has not been achieved by most of the comparable countries and as our interest rates are still low in comparison with those of the United States, the United Kingdom, West Germany and Canada, I cannot imagine why we should spend a great deal of time debating this matter this afternoon. In an attempt to be constructive, I have raised one or two points which are worth further consideration. I have suggested that the Labor Party has not raised any point that needs answering. In fact, I have pointed to the fact that during the period it spent in government Australia had the highest interest rates it has known. It is quite obvious that if there is to be any result at all from the sorts of things that both Senator Walsh and Senator Gietzelt mentioned this afternoon, then we would have either a regulated situation in which there would be the creation of huge distortions or we would have massively high interest rates, along with the high inflation rates which seem to follow whenever their party gets a chance to manage the economy of Australia. Mr President, I do not think that there is anything further to be answered and I therefore suggest that we get on with other business. I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the negative.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Copyright Amendment Bill 1980.
High Court of Australia (Consequential Provisions) Bill 1980.
States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill 1980.
Queensland Grant (Special Assistance) Bill 1 980.
International Monetary Agreements (Quota Increase) Bill 1980.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill (No. 2) 1980.
Excise Tariff Validation Bill 1980.
Broadcasting and Television Amendment Bill 1 980.
Honey Research Bill 1980.
Honey Industry Amendment Bill 1980.
Honey Export Charge Amendment Bill 1980.
Honey Levy (No. 1) Amendment Bill 1980.
Honey Levy (No. 2) Amendment Bill 1980.
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1980-81.
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1980)81.
Petroleum Retail Marketing Franchise Bill 1980.
Petroleum Retail Marketing Sites Bill 1980.
Nitrogenous Fertilizers Subsidy Amendment Bill 1980.
Air Navigation (Charges) Amendment Bill 1980.
Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 5) 1 980.
Taxation Debts (Abolition of Crown Priority) Bill 1980.
States Grants (Schools Assistance) Bill 1980.
States Grants (Tertiary Education Assistance) Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1980.
Defence Service Homes Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1980.
Repatriation Acts Amendment Bill 1980.
Social Services Amendment Bill 1980.
National Health Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1980.
Health Insurance Amendment Bill 1980.
– In accordance with Section 121 (3) of the Commonwealth Banks Act 1959, I lay on the Table the annual report and financial statement of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia, the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia, together with the Auditor-General’s report thereon, for the year ended 30 June 1980.
Motion (by Senator Chaney for Senator Carrick) agreed to:
Days and hours of meeting: That, unless otherwise ordered, the days and hours of meeting of the Senate shall be Tuesdays at half-past two p.m., Wednesdays at fifteen minutes past two p.m., and Thursdays at half-past ten a.m.
Suspension of sittings: That, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a Committee of the whole Senate, shall be suspended from one p.m. till fifteen minutes past two p.m., and from six p.m. till eight p.m.
Adjournment of the Senate: That, unless otherwise ordered, at half-past ten p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and eleven p.m. on Wednesdays the President shall put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn- which question shall be open to debate; if the Senate be in Committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the questionThat he do leave the Chair and report to the Senate: and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn - which question shall be open to debate: Provided that if the Senate or the Committee be in division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the question referred to till the result of such division has been declared; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it shall appear on the Notice Paper for the next sitting day.
Government and General Business - Precedence: That, on all sitting days of the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, Government Business shall take precedence of General Business, except that General Business shall take precedence of Government Business on Thursdays, after eight p.m.; and that, unless otherwise ordered, general orders of the day shall take precedence of general notices of motion on alternative Thursdays.
Petitions - Procedure for Presentation: That, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders, the procedure for the presentation of Petitions is varied, as follows -
A Senator desiring personally to present a Petition shall notify the Clerk when lodging the Petition. When presenting such petition to the Senate, the Senator may announce -
that he presents a petition from a stated number of petitioners relating to a certain matter: or
that he presents a Petition from a stated number of Petitioners similarly worded to one presented earlier by a Senator.
The Senator may ask that the Petition be read by the Clerk: Provided that, unless otherwise ordered, a Petition exceeding250 words may not be read.
The Clerk shall then make an announcement as to other Petitions lodged with him indicating in respect of each Petition the Senator who presents it, the number of signatures, the identity of the petitioners and the subject matter of the petition.
Every Petition presented shall be deemed to have been received by the Senate unless a Motion, moved forthwith, that a particular Petition be not received, be agreed to.
The terms of the Petition presented shall be printed in Hansard.
Motion (by Senator Chaney for Senator Carrick) agreed to:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the procedures contained in proposed new Standing Order 64, as recommended in the Fourth Report of the Standing Orders Committee for the 59th Session and adopted by the Senate on 23 August 1979, continue on a trial basis as a Sessional Order.
Motion (by Senator Chaney for Senator Carrick) agreed to:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the procedures outlined in proposed new Standing Order 409a, as recommended in the Fourth Report of the Standing Orders Committee for the 59th Session and adopted by the Senate on 23 August 1979, be continued on a trial basis as a Sessional Order.
Motion (by Senator Chaney for Senator Carrick) agreed to:
That, in accordance with Standing Order 36aa, the following Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees be appointed:
Constitutional and Legal Affairs;
Education and the Arts;
Foreign Affairs and Defence:
Trade and Commerce;
Science and the Environment; and
Finance and Government Operations.
Motion (by Senator Chaney for Senator Carrick) agreed to:
That, unless otherwise ordered, all annual reports of Government departments and authorities, including statutory corporations, laid on the Table of the Senate, shall stand referred, without any question being put, for consideration and if necessary, for report thereon, to the Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees.
The President shall transmit a copy of each report so tabled to the Committee which he deems appropriate.
The Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees may, at their discretion, pursue or not pursue inquiries into reports so received; but any action necessary, arising from a Report of the Committee, shall be taken in the Senate on Motion after Notice.
Motion (by Senator Chaney for Senator Carrick) agreed to:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the proposed Sessional Order recommended in the Fourth Report of the Standing Orders Committee for the 59th Session and adopted by the Senate on 23 August 1 979 concerning the reference of Bills to Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees be continued on a trial basis as a Sessional Order.
Motion (by Senator Chaney for Senator Carrick) agreed to:
That, in accordance with Standing Order 36ab, six Estimates Committees be appointed to be known as Estimates
Committees A, B, C, D, E and F; and that, unless otherwise ordered, the Committees consider the Proposed Expenditure in relation to Departments, as follows:
Estimates Committee A
Department of National Development and Energy:
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet;
Department of the Treasury; and
Department of Education
Estimates Committee B
Department of Industrial Relations;
Department of Employment and Youth Affairs; and
Department of Business and Consumer Affairs
Estimates Committee C
Department of Social Security;
Department of Finance;
Department of Health; Department of Veterans’ Affairs; and Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs
Estimates Committee D Department of Aboriginal Affairs:
Department of Industry and Commerce;
Department of Transport; and
Department of Science and Technology
Estimates Committee E
Department of Primary Industry;
Department of Home Affairs and Environment;
Department of Housing and Construction: and
Department of the Capital Territory
Estimates Committee F
Department of Trade and Resources;
Department of Foreign Affairs;
Department of Defence:
Department of Communications; and
Department of Administrative Services
Motion (by Senator Chaney for Senator Carrick) agreed to:
The Committee known as the Select Committee on Passenger Fares and Services to and from Tasmania, constituted by Resolutions of the Senate on 1 5 and 22 May 1980, be re-constituted, under the same terms, and with the same functions, powers and membership.
The Committee have power to consider the Minutes of the Evidence and Records of the Select Committee on Passenger Fares and Services to and from Tasmania appointed in the previous Session.
The foregoing provisions of this Resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
Motion (by Senator Chaney for Senator Carrick) agreed to:
The Committee known as the Select Committee on Parliament’s Appropriations and Staffing, constituted by Resolutions of the Senate on 23 May 1980 and 21 August 1 980, be reconstituted, under the same terms, and wilh the same functions, powers and membership.
The Committee have power to consider the Minutes of the Evidence and Records of the Select Committee on Parliament’s Appropriations and Staffiing appointed in the previous Session.
The foregoing provisions of this Resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
– by leave- On behalf of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances I present the report on the Commonwealth Conference of Delegated Legislation Committees held in Canberra from 29 September to 3 October 1980. I also present the background documents of the Conference and the transcript of proceedings. I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator MISSEN (Victoria)- by leave- The Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, with your approval and support, Mr President, for which we are very grateful, invited a number of committees on delegated legislation in Commonwealth parliaments to attend the Conference here in Canberra. The Committee believed that the various parliamentary committees involved in the scrutiny of delegated legislation in the various parliaments around the world would benefit from a discussion of trends and developments in their respective jurisdictions and of ideas for future developments. The suggestion for the Conference had been put to us by some of the other committees. The Conference was held here in the Senate chamber on 29 September to 3 October 1 980. The Conference was opened by His Excellency the Governor-General, who made a very learned and interesting address on developments in administrative law in relation to delegated legislation. The delegates were also privileged to be personally welcomed by you, Mr President, and your interest and involvement in the Conference was much appreciated. The admirable work performed by officers and staff of the Senate, headed by Mr Harry Evans, and the Parliament generally, ensured that delegates were provided with every facility and service and the Committee is grateful to the President and Mr Speaker for their generous support.
The Conference was attended by delegates representing delegated legislation committees in the parliaments of sixteen Commonwealth jurisdictions, including Great Britain, Canada and two of the Canadian provinces, all of the Australian States and the Northern Territory, India, Papua New Guinea, Ghana and Zambia. The Conference was addressed by a number of authorities on various subjects within the field of delegated legislation, and members of the delegations gave addresses on developments in their jurisdictions. The discussion which followed all of these addresses was extremely lively, well-informed, and stimulating. The delegates agreed that each of the jurisdictions represented had something to learn from the others, and they left the Conference with new ideas for future developments in the field of parliamentary control of delegated legislation. The report which I have presented summarises the themes of the Conference and the ideas for future developments.
One regrettable feature was the almost total neglect of the Conference by the Australian media, despite the provision of press releases before and after the Conference and the availability of daily Hansard. True, the Conference coincided with the early stages of the election campaign in which the media felt a compulsion to concentrate exclusively on the activities of party leaders. However, the public were entitled to know of the holding of this first Conference of distinguished representatives of 16 parliaments. Press and other media are very ready to criticise Parliament on any possible occasion but they should be prepared to give equal prominence to the positive achievements of Commonwealth parliaments.
I strongly recommend to honourable senators that they read the report. They will see that although the Australian Parliament and this Senate in particular have been world leaders in developing the parliamentary control of delegated legislation, there are some important things we could learn from other parliaments. I refer particularly to procedures whereby delegated legislation is issued in draft before it is actually made and whereby it is subject to affirmation by both Houses of the Parliament. These procedures have not been extensively used in Australia, and the report points out that if they are used in appropriate cases they are beneficial to parliaments, to governments and to the public. Perhaps the strongest theme running through the Conference and the basis of operation which most of the committees have in common, is the need for parliamentary scrutiny and control of delegated legislation to ensure that the rights and liberties of citizens are not whittled away by regulation, lt is this high responsibility which the Senate has conferred upon its Regulations and Ordinances Committee. lt believes that the Conference and the work flowing from it will be of assistance in the performance of its task.
The Conference appointed a permanent committee, consisting of delegates from the five regions of the world which were represented at the Conference. This Committee, which is called the Commonwealth Delegated Legislation Committee, will publicise the Conference and conduct a permanent exchange of information between the various committees. I have the honour to have been appointed Chairman of the Commonwealth Delegated Legislation Committee and Mr Harry Evans, Secretary of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, has been appointed its Secretary. We trust that we will now establish a successful and continuing dialogue among Commonwealth parliaments on regulatory review developments. 1 will retire from the position of Chairman of the Senate Committee on Regulations and Ordinances next week but will remain a member of that Committee. I thank you, Mr President, members of the Committee and the Senate generally for the courtesy and the support the Committee has received during my period of chairmanship. I commend the report now tabled, the other documents and transcript to the attention of the Senate.
– by leave - I shall make only a short statement. Its shortness is necessitated by the business which has to be conducted in this short session prior to the rising of the Parliament. I think this is a very important matter. A Commonwealth parliamentary conference was held here. It is well detailed in the report which Senator Missen has tabled. As he stated, very little publicity was given to the conference and not many people knew that it was actually taking place. It is questionable whether anyone will read the report.
Before going on, I congratulate Senator Missen on his appointment as Chairman of a continuing body to look into the question of subordinate legislation and to have discussions from time to time. The conference had a vital value insofar as it brought to the attention of the various delegates how delegated legislation operates in other countries. Possibly the papers prepared and presented to the conference by specialists from throughout the world were outstanding. I do not think it is surprising that the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances is perhaps ahead of other committees. Investigation by a committee into subordinate legislation seems to have originated in Australia.
Professor Gordon Reid gave an interesting history. The matter arose in 1 932 in the time of the Scullin Government which never had a majority in the Senate and which tried to govern the country by regulation. It would simply bring in regulations for which there was no power to disallow and of which consideration was not permitted. To curb the activities of that Government the Senate decided to establish a regulations and ordinances committee so that if either House of the Parliament disapproved of a regulation it could be automatically disallowed. This history will be important possibly in the next term of the Senate when the same situation will arise. The Government will not have a majority in the Senate. We have now the curbs to prevent a government from acting without referral to the Parliament.
Many questions arose from the discussion. Whilst I think the Australian delegation would be unanimous in the belief that we have the best system and the best restraints for protecting the rights of individuals under subordinate legislation, nevertheless it is necessary to consider many other systems in other countries. Whilst they are all listed in the report no motion was moved that consideration be given to them. I only hope that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee will look at the question and recommend in its reports to the Senate any alterations that it thinks should be adopted arising out of the discussions at the conference. Among the other systems is the British one under which regulations are not rejected but have to be affirmed. They are approved in the Parliament.
– Not all, only some.
– Those that need affirmation are affirmed. There is no rejection. We should be considering the right to amend a regulation, especially when a regulation grants a benefit to someone which in the opinion of the Senate or the House of Representatives is not sufficient in the light of the duties of the individual. We cannot amend such legislation because that individual would get none of the increases. There is a right to reject which can never be used. In some countries draft regulations are submitted to which consideration is given before they are referred to the committee. It should be considered whether that would be of value in our system. In one country before a regulation is drafted notice is given and there is some conference between the Executive and the regulations committee as to what type of regulation would be acceptable and should be considered.
Some discussion came up on the scrutiny of uniform legislation. We are developing a system in which the State Ministers meet and decide on uniform legislation throughout Australia. The people who are elected to the Parliament are unable to amend legislation. We want uniformity. Perhaps we should consider whether there is a method of overcoming that question. The Commonwealth Ombudsman also suggested that perhaps the Regulations and Ordinances Committee should be looking at the reports of the Ombudsman for the purpose of investigating his role in this field. All these questions need consideration. I only hope that the Committee will give them that consideration.
The Chairman of the Committee in his statement has extended thanks to all those who assisted and were responsible for the conference. We had a quite delightful week. It was one of the few conferences I have been to at which even on the fourth and last day there was full attendance and interest. Interest did not wane at any time. We thank you, Mr President, and Mr Speaker for the hospitality afforded and for what you did to make the conference successful.
– Honourable senators, I wish to inform the Senate that during the recess Mr Roy Edward Bullock, O.B.E., ceased to hold the office of Clerk of the Senate. As honourable senators are aware, Mr Bullock was absent during the major part of this year and, on the recommendation of the Commonwealth Medical Officer, is currently on sick leave pending retirement.
Mr Bullock has served the Senate for 34 years in various capacities including 14 years as Deputy Clerk and Clerk of the Senate for one year. He commenced his working life as a school teacher at Trinity Grammar School, Sydney, after which he spent seven years with the Department of the Treasury before joining the Senate staff in August 1946. He has been a dedicated Senate officer and has always been available and ready to advise when needed. The many articles that he wrote for publication in overseas parliamentary journals on the activities of the Senate and its committees are testimony to his expert knowledge and dedication. Apart from his work, Mr Bullock has played an active role in community affairs. He is still associated wi:’- the work of Canberra church and community organisations. I am sure that all honourable senators join with me in the hope that time will restore his health and enable him to enjoy a long and happy retirement with his wife and family.
– by leave - Mr President, on behalf of Government senators I join in your good wishes for Roy Bullock’s future health in his retirement. I move:
I am sure that all honourable senators regret that Roy Bullock’s long and dedicated service to the Senate - extended over 34 years - has been brought to a premature end because of ill health. Roy Bullock made his contribution to the Senate in a quiet and modest manner. Nevertheless we were always conscious of his presence and availability to advise on Senate procedures. In his own quiet and courteous way he left his mark on this place, having guided many senators through the labyrinth of the Standing Orders during the 24 years he served as a table officer. His advice was always clear and concise, based as it was on a thorough understanding of and affection for the Senate. He was an able deputy to Jim Odgers, the Clerk under whom he served for so many years. Roy Bullock will be missed, I am sure, by all senators and by his fellow officers.
I would like to place on record my personal appreciation of the friendship which Roy Bullock offered. The friendship sprang originally from a very happy association he had with my parents when my father was a member of the other place. They travelled on an overseas trip together, and often we exchanged reminiscences about that. I shall certainly miss his presence in the Senate. Again, Mr President, I join with you in hoping that Roy Bullock quickly recovers from his illness and enjoys a long and happy retirement.
– On behalf of Opposition senators, I would like to associate the Opposition with the sentiments that have been expressed by both yourself, Mr President, and the Minister for Social Security, Senator Chaney, on behalf of Government senators. I think it is worth recording that prior to Roy Bullock’s employment in the Department of the Senate and after his employment as a schoolteacher at Trinity Grammar School in Sydney, he was employed for some seven years by the Department of the Treasury. After assuming his appointment with the Senate in 1946 he went through all those strange steps of promotion, which perhaps all senators still do not understand, that finally brought him to occupy the seat in which Mr Bradshaw is now sitting.
I may say that 1 always found him to be a very friendly and courteous member of the Senate staff. If I may use an old-fashioned expression, Roy Bullock truly was one of nature’s gentlemen. 1 think we all felt that. Roy Bullock was a Clerk of the Senate in whom we on the Labor side always had the utmost confidence, and that is something which we en joyed very much. In spite of our enjoyment of that confidence, I am sure all senators were in the same position.
On behalf of the Opposition, I would like to express our very best wishes to him for the future and to thank him for his long, courteous, and distinguished service. In that I particularly include a matter which you mentioned, Mr President, and that is the number of learned articles, if I can refer to them in that category, which Roy Bullock wrote over a number of years for journals such as The Parliamentarian. They were very scholarly indeed, and I think they will stand as a permanent record of the thought which he gave to his position as an officer of the Senate. We too wish him a happy and healthy retirement and a speedy recovery from his present ill health. We wish him a long and happy life to enjoy some of the things which I understand he does enjoy, such as gardening and rural interests, as they are somewhat formally described in the biographical documents. We are happy to be associated with the motion.
– I would like to associate the Australian Democrats with this tribute to Mr Bullock. I have not had the pleasure, as did the Minister for Social Security, Senator Chaney, and Senator Button, of enjoying with Mr Bullock the intimate social contact that senators and members sometimes have with the Clerks when they go on overseas trips, as did Senator Chaney’s father. I cannot speak with that depth of knowledge, but I can say that, during the time Senator Mason and I have been members of the Senate, when we had to see Mr Bullock for advice he upheld all the high virtues of Clerks of this place and was nothing but helpful and friendly. I hope very sincerely, on behalf of the Australian Democrats, that he will regain his health so that he can enjoy his wellearned retirement.
– From a personal point of view, I would like to join in the tribute being expressed today to Mr Roy Bullock. As one who has known Mr Bullock for a number of years, I appreciate very much not only the man himself but also the way in which he went about his work in this chamber. Whilst he was not a senator, he was a part of the Senate and a part of the institution. Roy Bullock served here for some 34 year’s. During that time I am certain he would not have made an enemy, let alone a bad friend. I think that Roy would have left this place knowing that he left behind a lot of friends, as well as a lot of friends who had departed from the Senate chamber prior to his retirement. It is unfortunate that illness has caused him to retire at this stage. I thank him for his friendship, for his advice, and for his companionship generally to me and to others in this chamber throughout the years. I trust that his retirement will be one of better health and much happiness for both him and his family.
– I wish to associate myself with this well-deserved eulogy to Roy Bullock on the occasion of his retirement. I regret very much that ill health has brought about this circumstance. I would be remiss if I did not pay a tribute to the dedication he has given over many long years to the Parliament and to the Senate. In those 34 years - the same time that I have been a member of parliament - and in the 24 years that he worked at the table, at all times he richly deserved the description of a thorough gentleman. He had a personality that was engaging; he did not press himself forward but was a very reliable, resourceful and thoughtful man.
During my time as President of the Senate I found him to be the ideal type of lieutenant, friend, and counsellor. I hope that he soon recovers from his indisposition and that, with his wife and family, he will be able to enjoy a very well-deserved retirement. Although we would never deprive him of his well-earned retirement, he is a loss to the Senate because of his great experience and his store of knowledge. I hope that his health improves and that his retirement will be long and happy in the pursuit of his pastoral interests. I trust that some day we will be able to visit him on his farm, where I believe that he hopes he will find a field of waving daffodils.
– He will not wander lonely as a cloud.
– He will not wander lonely because he will have the good wishes of the many friends he has made during his most valuable contribution to this Parliament.
– I should like to be associated with what has been said already by way of tribute to Mr Bullock. I speak as a temporary chairman who has had a very long experience in that capacity in the Senate. One of the great values of a man like Roy Bullock is the advice and the presence which he gives when one is sitting at the table during the Committee stage of a Bill, when difficult matters arise, and when advice is sought. His knowledge, experience and wisdom have always been readily and courteously conveyed. As one who has received assistance on many occasions, I would like to make reference to this and to thank him for it. 1 pay my tribute to his services as Clerk of the Senate. We wish him well and thank him for his service to the Parliament and to the public life of this country.
– I, too, wish to join other honourable senators in paying a tribute to Roy Bullock on his retirement. I also place on record my personal appreciation of the assistance he has given me in my 10 years as a member of the Senate. 1 have always found Roy Bullock to be a very humble man. Despite the high office he held as a parliamentary officer, one could go to him with any request at any hour of the day or night and he was always willing and available to give any assistance which one requested.
My wife and 1 had the pleasure of enjoying the company of Roy and his wife in Prague last year when 1 was a delegate to a meeting of the InterParliamentary Union. Roy was attending as a delegate to a meeting of the Association of Secretaries-General of Parliament in that city. The four of us spent many happy hours together while we were there and 1 think this was due in the main to the fact that our everyday interests were somewhat similar and our tastes were very moderate. I wish Roy and Mrs Bullock every happiness in their retirement. I am sure that he will put his green fingers to good use whenever his health allows him to do so. I join every other senator in wishing Roy and Mrs Bullock every happiness and good health in their retirement.
– I am distressed to hear of Roy Bullock’s retirement as a result of ill health. As other honourable senators have said, we do not begrudge him his retirement but we do express some sympathy as to the reason for his retirement. I, possibly as much as anybody else, benefited from the gentle advice that Roy Bullock made available. It has been my capacity to get myself in conflict in Standing Orders within and outside the Parliament. Roy Bullock guided me on many occasions to avoid further errors. If there has been some change in my nature in this place, it is because of people like Roy Bullock. I express to him my deepest appreciation and I wish him well.
– May I say, on behalf of the members of the National
Country Party, that we wish to be associated with this motion. When I was first elected as a Temporary Chairman of Committees it was to Roy Bullock that I went for advice. The advice that he gave me then has stood me in good stead. As you know, Mr President, the seat which you now occupy, and that of the Chairman of Committees, can be awfully lonely at times. But Roy and those people whom he has trained have always been good friends to us. When events started to happen more quickly than we would have liked them to occur, Roy was always able to keep up with them procedurally when we had to keep up with them politically. He always had that word of advice to get one out of a mess, and to try to see that fairness was done to all and that the Chair always reacted impartially. I wish to be associated with the remarks that have been made and to wish him well in his retirement and also in his rural pursuits.
– I wish to associate myself with the comments that have been made on behalf of the Government by Senator Chaney, on behalf of the Opposition by Senator Button and by the other speakers from both sides of the Senate. Life in this chamber for an Independent is not meant to be easy, but Roy Bullock did do a lot to make my life a great deal easier than it might have been, particularly when matters relating to the Standing Orders and procedures in this place arose. The expert advice of Roy Bullock was always available to me. I was able on a number of occasions to benefit from that advice as I was from advice on how different matters could be brought before the Senate. I think that what has been said this afternoon epitomises what is most important for a Clerk of the Senate - that is, he provides his skilled advice to senators, as the servant of this House. I wish Roy good health and he and his wife a happy retirement.
– Briefly, I support all that has been said about Roy Bullock. I reiterate the opinion that has been expressed: Roy was a very gentle man and, as everybody knows, a very informative official. I and others have often gone to Roy to get an opinion as a means to examine our own opinions and perhaps to reinforce our approaches to some complex matter about which we often become concerned and agitated. I also was connected with Roy on the Inter-Parliamentary Union executive as one of the auditors. I was the auditor of that body for many years when Roy was its secretary. Again the impression I gained, as Senator McLaren mentioned, was that Roy Bullock was a very gentle and humble man. He was an efficient man. He was one of those persons whom one remembers easily and a person to whom one could go more frequently than one would go to a person who did not respond to inquiries from people canvassing some sincere objective. I certainly hope that his present state of health improves and that he enjoys his retirement in some grace and with comfort.
– I would not wish it to be thought that affection and respect for Roy Bullock were confined only to the old stagers in this place. As a relative newcomer to this chamber, having been here only a couple of years, I very much regret Roy Bullock’s premature retirement. As a backbencher, I had a fair bit to do with him. 1 found him a thoroughly delightful man, a very warm man personally, someone with an admirable sense of humour, which is very much a saving grace in this institution, and, as all other speakers have said, a thorough gentleman. I for one will miss him very much.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I inform the Senate that, consequent upon the retirement of Mr Roy Edward Bullock, O.B.E., Mr K. O. Bradshaw was appointed Clerk of the Senate as from 29 October 1980. 1 further inform the Senate that, consequent upon the appointment of Mr Bradshaw as Clerk of the Senate, officers have been promoted to positions of attendance in the Senate chamber as follows:
Mr A. R. Cumming Thom has been promoted to Deputy Clerk of the Senate;
Mr H. C. Nicholls is First Clerk Assistant;
Mr H. G. Smith is Clerk Assistant;
Mr T. H. G. Wharton is Principal Parliamentary Officer (Table);
Mr H. Evans is Principal Parliamentary Officer (Special Projects); and
Mr P. N. Murdoch is Usher of the Black Rod.
– Pursuant to Standing Order 28A, I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senators Bonner, Coleman, Collard, Colston, Davidson, Jessop, Melzer, Mulvihill, Georges, Mcintosh, Townley and Young to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
– Pursuant to Standing Order 38, 1 lay on the table my warrant appointing Senators Button, Collard, Grimes, Puplick, Rocher, Sibraa and Watson to be members of the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications.
– I inform the Senate that I have received letters from the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and the Leader of the Australian Democrats nominating senators to be members of the Senate select committees, the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees and Senate Estimates Committees as follows:
Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees
CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL AFFAIRS
Senators Evans, Hamer, Missen, Puplick, Tate and Wheeldon.
EDUCATION AND THE ARTS
Senators Colston, Davidson, Neal, Robertson, Ryan and Teague.
FINANCE AND GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS
Senators Evans, Lewis, McAuliffe, McClelland, Rae and Rocher.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE
Senators Collard, Knight, Mcintosh, Primmer. Sibraa and Sim.
Senators McLaren, Maunsell, Robertson, Tate, Thomas and Watson.
SCIENCE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Senators Jessop, MacGibbon, Mason, Melzer. Mulvihill and Townley.
Senators Bonner, Elstob, Grimes, Kilgariff, Melzer and Walters.
TRADE AND COMMERCE
Senators Archer, Coleman, Gietzelt, Lajovic, Sheil and Walsh.
Regulations and Ordinances Standing Committee
Senators Bonner, Cavanagh, Evans, Hamer, Lewis, Missen and Tate.
ESTIMATES COMMITTEE A
Senators Colston, Davidson, McLaren, Watson, Young and Hearn.
ESTIMATES COMMITTEE B
Senators Button, Evans, Hamer, Lewis, Rae and Tate.
ESTIMATES COMMITTEE C
Senators Bonner, Coleman, Grimes, Mulvihill, Sheil and Walters.
ESTIMATES COMMITTEE D
Senators Elstob, Gietzelt, Jessop, MacGibbon, Robertson and Townley.
ESTIMATES COMMITTEE E
Senators Archer, McAuliffe, Primmer, Rocher, Thomas and Walsh.
ESTIMATES COMMITTEE F
Senators Kilgariff, Mcintosh, Neal, Ryan, Sibraa and Sim.
PARLIAMENT’S APPROPRIATIONS AND STAFFING
Senators Jessop, Knight, McClelland, Mason, Missen and Robertson
PASSENGER FARES AND SERVICES TO AND
Senators Grimes, Rae, Tate and Townley
President, Senators Bonner, Coleman, Georges, Melzer, Martin and Young
President, Senators Colston, Davidson, Harradine, Knight, Mulvihill and Walters
Senators Button, Jessop, O’Byrne, Rocher, Sheil, Thomas and Wheeldon
Senators Archer, Bonner, Elstob, Georges, Lajovic, Mcintosh and Sheil
President, Chairman of Committees, Senators Baume, Button, Carrick, Georges, Knight, Robertson, McClelland, O’Byrne and Rae
Joint Statutory Committees
BROADCASTING OF PARLIAMENTARY PROCEEDINGS
The President and Senators Hamer and McClelland
Senators Georges, Lajovic and Watson
Senators Kilgariff, Melzer and Young
Motion (by Senator Peter Baume) - by leave - agreed to:
That the senators, having been duly nominated in accordance with Standing Order 36aa, be appointed members of the respective Committees.
Motion (by Senator Peter Baume)- by leave - agreed to:
That the senators, having been duly nominated in accordance with Standing Order 36ab, be appointed members of the respective Committees.
Motion (by Senator Peter Baume) - by leave - agreed to:
That a Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances be appointed, to consist of Senators Bonner, Cavanagh, Evans, Hamer, Lewis, Missen and Tate, such Senators having been duly nominated in accordance with the provisions of Standing Order 36a.
Motion (by Senator Peter Baume) - by leave - agreed to:
That, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders, a Standing Orders Committee, a Committee of Privileges, a Library Committee, a House Committee and a Publications Committee be appointed to consist of senators in accordance with the list circulated to honourable senators.
Motion (by Senator Peter Baume)- by leave - agreed to:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946, the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951, and the Public Works Committee Act 1969, senators be appointed members of the committees in accordance with the list circulated to honourable senators.
– by leave - I wish to make a request to the Government with reference to Estimates committees. Since the Parliament rose on 1 8 September many honourable senators have received letters from Ministers containing answers to questions raised by them at meetings of Estimates committees and during the consideration of the Appropriation Bills. At present I do not think there is any method whereby those answers are incorporated in some publication so that every person interested in those answers has access to them. I would request the Government, through the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Peter Baume), to devise some method of publishing those answers so that they are freely available to any person who may be interested in seeing them. I hope that Senator Baume will look at that request.
– by leave - I suggest that this matter be considered by the Standing Orders Committee next Monday, if it has time to do so. If necessary, the matter could come back to the Senate.
– by leave -I wish to associate myself with the condolences expressed in relation to the death of Pat Galvin. I regret that I was not present and apologise for not being present at the appropriate time yesterday. Pat Galvin was born in the town in which I was born - Quorn in South Australia, which is a great place. He was a very fine Australian, a great South Australian, and a distinguished member of this Parliament. He served the people of this country with great distinction over a long period of dedicated service, both within the trade union movement and within the parliamentary sphere. That tradition, of course, is being continued by his son, whom many honourable senators know because of his association with Senate committees and other matters of great importance to this place and to the nation. I associate myself with the condolences expressed in respect of the late Pat Galvin.
– I shall have the speech of the honourable senator included with the other speeches in the presentation of condolences in due time.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from Senator Peter Baume resigning as a member of the Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
Motion (by Senator Peter Baume) - by leave - agreed to:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964, the Senate appoint Senator Teugue to be a member of the Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Senator Peter Baume.
– by leave - In order to enable the more informed debate of the matter involved in Notice of Motion No. 1 standing in my name that will be possible when Mr Justice Mason’s decision in the High Court cases now pending is known, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The Address-in-Reply debate is a parliamentary occasion which we all value and appreciate. It is an occasion for expression of the importance of the relationship between the head of state and the national legislature. I move:
I am greatly honoured to be given the opportunity to move this motion on what will be the last occasion in which I will be participating in the ceremonies and procedures connected with the opening of a new parliament. My first involvement with a parliamentary opening was on 20 February 1962 when the then Governor-General, Lord De L’isle, delivered the Speech. Yesterday in this chamber we witnessed the traditional ceremony during which His Excellency the Governor-General opened the Thirty-second Parliament and outlined the Government’s programs and priorities for the next three years. In that ceremony there was the coming together of the three components of what we call the Westminster system - the Crown, the upper chamber and the lower chamber or, as I prefer to call it, the Sovereign, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Westminster system is a flexible system. It is one that is constantly under challenge and involved in debate, but one which has served the Mother of Parliaments well through the long years and one which serves the Australian Parliament and many other parliaments throughout the Commonwealth equally well. As I have mentioned, one component of the system is the Sovereign and in Australia the Sovereign is represented by the Governor-General, her personal representative. In the first few decades after Federation in Australia difficulties arose concerning the precise nature of the relationship between the Sovereign and the Governor-General. However, as Sir Zelman Cowen pointed out in his book the British Commonwealth of Nations, the issue was resolved following the appointment of Sir Isaac Isaacs in 1931. I would like to quote from Sir Zelman Cowen’s book, which he wrote in 1964. He said: . . The Governor-General was the Sovereign’s personal representative; he was not in any respect an agent of the United Kingdom Government, nor should the United Kingdom Government have any voice in his appointment, which should be a matter between the Sovereign and the dominion government concerned . . .
But the Governor-General is more than the personal representative of the Sovereign of the day. The Governor-General can and does represent Australia and all Australians to the world. I want to emphasise that the position of head of state in any country is recognition of a practical necessity in the handling of that nation’s affairs.
Sir Zelman Cowen and Lady Cowen, by the effective and accomplished discharge of their duties, have given and are continuing to give a splendid account of their stewardship. Sir Zelman brings to his office a wealth of scholarship and administrative ability. He brings to it a talent relating to the law and to the Constitution. He evinces his pleasure in the world of the arts and relates the lessons of history to Australian contemporary life. He gives a splendid example to all Australians by his capacity for hard work. He works hard and successfully at his important job and any study of the Vice-Regal columns will give an indication of the great distances travelled and the enormous number of appointments fulfilled. Most importantly, Sir Zelman and Lady Cowen are very fine Australian citizens. As I have said, on top of all these endeavours, Sir Zelman has contributed through his many works to the study of the role of the Commonwealth of Nations in the modern world. There were references to this in the Speech which His Excellency was pleased to deliver to the Parliament yesterday. 1 believe that the relevance of the Commonwealth is that within the Commonwealth of Nations, the association of nations, there exists a microcosm of the world. One of the emerging values in this microcosm of the world is the importance of regional associations, regional connections, regional values and regional conferences. For example, as a result of the adoption of this policy of the value of regionalism within the Commonwealth, in 1978 Australia played host to the first meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting in the Asia-Pacific region. The second meeting took place in India only a few months ago, and we are looking forward to the next meeting of all Commonwealth heads of Government which is to be held in Australia next year and which is to be attended by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
As His Excellency said in his Speech yesterday afternoon, and as we all know, a general election was held on Saturday, 1 8 October, and the Fraser Government was returned. It has in the House of Representatives a majority of some 23 seats, while the composition of the Senate after July of next year will mean that the Government will have 32 seats, the Opposition will have 26 seats, the Australian Democrats will have five seats, and there will be one Independent. However, this will not be the first time in our history that a Liberal Government has not commanded a majority in this chamber. There is a record of capacity of Liberal governments to govern under these difficult circumstances. Those who hold the balance in the Senate should look very carefully at their new found power and their new found authority. I am certain that for all of the high sounding phrases, they will be very careful before they put their own seats at risk.
In the recent election the swing was of the order of 4 per cent to the Australian Labor Party. But once again no across the board swing was achieved. In fact, the swing to the ALP varied from less that 2 per cent in South Australia to round about 6 per cent in Victoria. But even within States there were differing swings in different electorates. Swings are features of elections, and are the substance of which political controversies are made. The swing flowed from an election campaign which had a number of changing circumstances. The Government’s campaign was firmly based on its sound record. It pointed to stability in the economy and responsibility in economic management. It pointed to the need for a broad based and responsible program of national development. The policy included adequate provision, for those in need, from the prosperity which Australia generates, and it pointed to a sense of sound direction which has continued and will continue to guide Australia through a world of conflict, division and other problems. In response, the Opposition developed an obsession which did no more than multiply into an attack on the leadership of our country. Speaker after speaker launched attack after attack on the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). The attacks were political, personal, provoking, persistent and continual. The leaders of the Opposition in the election campaign campaigned day after day on radio, television and in the newspapers that the election was all about leaders and leadership. As a result of this persistence, policy matters appeared to have fallen by the way and the intention of the Australian people seemed to focus on some inaccurate and unreliable productions of the newspapers which somehow came to be known as opinion polls. In the event, the polls failed, and were all wrong. The campaign against the Prime Minister failed and, what is more, failed dismally. So much for the argument on leadership. The Australian people proved that they were not going to be influenced by figments of some Press deduction because when they went to vote, they voted for a leader they knew, for a record that they could trust, and for a leadership that was strong.
In South Australia, on two party preferred terms, the swing away from the Liberal Party was of the order of only one to two per cent, lt was the smallest swing away from the Government in any of the States. Of course, when one looks at specific results one sees that the swings are greater. For example, in the seat of Hindmarsh, Labor had a swing of 7 per cent recorded against it. The results recorded in South Australia are very satisfying in the face of the national swing. This result reflects the role of the Liberal Government in South Australia led by the Premier, Mr David Tonkin. In the year that his government has been in office a new confidence has returned to South Australia.
The new Ministry has been appointed and we offer congratulations to all its members. 1 am sorry to say that the South Australian component in the Ministry is small and 1 further press the case for greater representation for South Australia. We congratulate the honourable member for Sturt, Mr Ian Wilson, on his appointment as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. But I think we all very heartily congratulate Senator Tony Messner on his appointment as Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Treasurer. He is the first South Australian Minister in the Senate since the late Senator George McLeay. Senator George McLeay was Minister for Shipping and Transport and Leader of the Government in the Senate during the 1950s. Senator Messner brings to his office managerial and administrative skills which come from his own profession. He brings considerable political ability and an extensive knowledge of South Australia and its affairs. We recall with appreciation the ministerial work of Mr John McLeay for the Government and for South Australia.
The first important and sustained reference in His Excellency’s Speech yesterday was to the matter of employment and youth. His Excellency said:
In recent years, and for a number of reasons, the question of jobs for young people has emerged as a crucial one, not only in Australia but in virtually all Western countries. It is nol only an economic problem but a social one. Indeed, for the young people involved and their families it is a major psychological and human problem.
In the early 1970s, government policy sought to contract economic activity in an attempt to check inflation. However, as a result unemployment levels began to rise. Policies then became expansionist. These policies were carried on by the Whitlam Government and a new problem arose, because the annual rate of inflation doubled through 1973 to reach 11.3 per cent in the December quarter. Australia found that it had to cope with the twin problems of rising unemployment and rising inflation. By mid- 1974 Australia’s unemployment level reached 100,000. Within a few months it was 200,000. In fact, in the period between June 1974 to July 1975 unemployment rose by a massive 300 per cent.
Within the last 1 8 months positive signs have been displayed in relation to this problem. Over this period employment growth rates have risen. Teenage employment has improved substantially. Over the last year we have had the highest rises in this employment area for some 15 years. Last month saw the unemployment level for those seeking full time work fall. It fell to a level below those recorded in October 1979 and 1978, and the work force participation rate has been increased and now stands at almost the pre- 1973 level.
When this Government came to office it had to set about a number of things, one of which was the economy. In this task first priority was given to reducing the level of inflation - which it held and it still holds - restoring economic growth and therefore creating employment. This year, the inflation rate hovers at about 1 0 per cent per annum with a prospect of further reduction. As the Treasurer (Mr Howard) pointed out when bringing down the Budget, Australia’s inflation rate is some three points lower than the average for member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Gross domestic product is growing by over 2 per cent per annum. Between September 1979 and September 1980 the employment rate grew by 3.4 per cent or well over 2,000 jobs. Against the background of the situation which the Government found on assuming office these figures represent considerable achievements. They add support to the Government’s economic policies and add support and confirmation to the matters which His Excellency mentioned yesterday in his Speech. As a result of the Government’s policies areas of economic activity in Australia are expanding and as a result the potential for employment is constantly being created. Indeed, the Government has implemented many schemes to assist people in obtaining employment. During its five years in office it has assisted some 570,000 Australians through its manpower and training programs. Some of the results of these programs are quite outstanding. Volume 3 of the Myers report on technological change notes that some 75 to 80 per cent of the people undergoing on-the-job or intheplant training through the National Employment and Training Scheme are in employment six to 12 weeks after the completion of training. The report goes on to evaluate many other programs ranging from the Commonwealth Employment Service right through to the Government’s apprentice schemes.
All of these schemes, and the importance the Government gives to them, exemplify the Government’s determination to provide - indeed, they are a measure of the Government’s achievements in providing - assistance to all Australians who require assistance when entering the work force. They support what was said yesterday and they exemplify the Government’s desire to reduce unemployment. The Government is proceeding in that task. Furthermore, the launching of the transition from school to work program is designed to provide appropriate educational and training opportunities for young people with poor employment prospects. The schemes also tackle the problem of people in schools who are likely to be in difficulties when it comes their turn to leave. The ultimate aim is to ensure that all young people in the 15 to 19 years age group are provided with options in education, training and employment so that unemployment becomes the least acceptable alternative. It was therefore very fitting that His Excellency said in his Speech yesterday:
My Government has a clear and firm commitment to youth . . .
A framework is being established within which the Government’s training programs will provide a wide range of incentives . . .
A significant portion of His Excellency’s Speech was devoted to the subject of caring for people. Honourable senators will remember the heading ‘Caring for People’ in the speech. It was a significant reference, ranging from a reference to youth and their future to reference to the economy. The involvement of government in social services is very important. It deals with areas of need. There will always be differing opinions about the extent of any need. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech refers to the importance the Government places on this need. The speech commenced with an indication of concern for the family. Strengthening the family unit is basic to a strong society. The role, style and type of the family unit is changing faster today than ever before. Such things as mobility, community services, recreational facilities and educational styles and opportunities all influence the difference that exists between today’s family and yesterday’s family and the difference that will exist between today’s family and tomorrow’s family. Family links must remain strong. Whilst governments may have a major responsibility to sustain the family, I suggest that the community at large must recognise the contribution it should make in relation to this matter.
Similarly, for senior citizens the Government must do more than provide funds. This year social security and welfare expenditure will amount to a very large sum - some $9,000m. This represents nearly 30 per cent of the total Budget outlay. What is more, 50 per cent of that social security allocation is spent on providing services to the aged. I mention that because we have to take account of the demands that will be made on governments in this sphere in the next two or three decades. The national population inquiry states that there will be another 600,000 aged persons by the year 2000. That is in addition to the 1.3 million senior people recorded at 30 June last year. As a result, the proportion of aged, senior or older persons in the community will rise from some 1 1 per cent to some 14 per cent. What is more, in Australia today between 200 and 300 people retire from the work force each day. That statistic is relevant in considering what role the senior person in our society will play in the next two decades. Certainly, a great deal more research needs to be undertaken into the effect that will have. It will demand extra money from government and also will demand additional contributions from communities. The Government, through its programs, is providing and will continue to provide opportunities for communities to become aware of the problem. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech reflects the Government’s awareness of this matter. I commend it to their attention.
I mention only one other matter in the context of caring for people, that is the reference in the Speech to the International Year of Disabled Persons which has been proclaimed by the United Nations and has the theme of full participation and equality. The object of the exercise is to make the public more aware of the special needs of disabled people and to undertake means of providing for them so they will not feel deprived or inadequate. The Government has established a national committee of non-government organisations and has granted that committee substantial funds. State committees had been set up and already State Ministers have conferred. In Canberra the National Library of Australia has established a national advisory committee on library services to the handicapped, which I have the honour to chair. Currently, throughout the country, arrangements for co-operation and planning are being established through the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment (Mr Ellicott), the Prime Minister and the Premiers. In ali, the segment of the Governor-General’s Speech relating to caring for people provided the correct balance between national development on the one hand and providing care for those who need it on the other hand.
Finally, I turn to the last paragraphs of His Excellency’s Speech. I regard those principles as of great importance to the place of politics in this country and to the significance of parliament. That section of the Speech takes up the matter of beliefs and philosophies which underline the Government’s policies. The Speech rightly says that explanations and discussions on the underlying principles of government action are necessary to the Australian community. The absence of them has, as the Speech states, ‘diminished the quality of political life in the country’. For too long political parties on the one hand and the Australian electorate on the other hand have given their attention solely to material promises. I believe the time has come for the electorate to make up its mind on political principles, on whether, on the one hand, it will suffer the effects of big government with all its interference and controls or whether, on the other hand, it will appreciate and support the benefits of smaller government with more opportunities for personal development.
In the recent election the Australian people reflected their desire for a liberal society - one in which government administers policies that maximise the rewards of individual effort’ and respect the right of individuals to shape their own lives’. Above all liberal political philosophy takes its bearing from the rights of individuals and the right to choose. People must make the choice for themselves to go about their own business and to respect the rights of others to do likewise. Governments cannot make that decision. Australians want to make that decision for themselves and they expect governments to respect their right to choose. Yet, even as they do that they also expect governments to help the individual by providing certain social, political and economic conditions that are conducive to free choice. This does not mean inactive government for the Government’s duty is to provide the right conditions for all people to have equal opportunities to go about their own business. Government intervention, kept to a minimum, is necessary to care for those whose circumstances, not of their own making, have placed them in some position of particular difficulty. Government should be limited in its domestic policy to pursuing that goal of equality of opportunity.
We need to draw attention to the distinction between political philosophies and to make up our minds which political philosophy we believe in, which political philosophy we want, and which political philosophy we believe is best for Australia. Having made up our minds, we must work for it and support it because it finds expression through government and through Parliament. Ours is a system of representative government. The people elect a government to govern on their behalf. Free elections are the one great means of opening up government to public observation, public criticism, and public censure.
Then we come to the matter which I believe is very important: What happens between elections? How can the public who elect a government participate in that government between elections? It is here that the Parliament comes into the picture and parliamentary reform becomes important. Parliamentary institutions are meant to be open and representative, but as the machinery of government grows this becomes more difficult. People can become alienated from political and parliamentary institutions and even cynical about Parliament. Parliamentary reform can help to redress this imbalance, not only by opening up the Executive to parliamentary scrutiny but also by encouraging greater public input into the parliamentary system itself. It is here that the Senate has led the way in parliamentary reform in Australia. Its legislative and general purpose committees solicit public participation and allow people to see that it is their opinions and not those of special interest groups that are being represented in the committee reports which influence public policy. John Stuart Mill’s great phrase was that Parliament’s primary duty was not that of doing the work but of causing it to be done. The Committees can act as channels of communication between government and the people - channels which are open between elections to maintain the representative character of our parliamentary institutions. Committees can report the will of the people on specific policy matters and, therefore, cause the work to be done.
On the one hand, the Government’s program, reflected in the Speech delivered yesterday to the Parliament by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, pursues the Government’s successful policy of allowing for the development of the individual, and on the other hand the Senate’s program gives the opportunity to that individual to speak to the Parliament. This Address-in-Reply debate will continue. It will reveal contention and argument. It must do that. As long as parliaments and politics exist, contention and argument are part of the trade. As long as there are contention and argument the Parliament will be healthy and active. If contention and argument should cease,
Parliament and politics will die, and that must never be allowed to happen. I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to move the Address-in-Reply.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– It is certainly a great privilege for me tonight as a senator from Victoria to second the motion moved by Senator Gordon Davidson this afternoon “That the Address-in-Reply to the Speech by His Excellency, the Governor-General, be agreed to’. I heartily endorse also the sentiments of loyalty expressed by Senator Davidson to Her Majesty the Queen. I am also pleased to endorse Senator Davidson’s remarks on the role of the GovernorGeneral and his complimentary reference about Sir Zelman and Lady Cowen. Their continuing health and happiness in office is, I am sure, the wish of the Australian people.
Tonight, 1 intend to speak on a number of issues that relate to Australians generally. Bearing in mind that the National Country Party was formed through the sponsorship of the early Victorian and New South Wales farmers’ associations, it is not surprising that a senator from this Party would be interested in talking about problems relating to drought, rural credit, transport, communications, taxation and things of that nature which have special significance for the rural community. At this stage I would like to mention the National Farmers’ Federation policy on the subject of taxation. This is a subject upon which demands for reform are soundly based. The NFF is concerned to see a tax system which encourages enterprise and initiative and contributes to a higher rate of economic growth with higher living standards for all Australians. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the NFF policy on taxation.
The document read as follows -
NFF is concerned to see a tax system which encourages enterprise and initiative and contributes to a higher rate of economic growth with higher living standards for all Australians.
Taxation reform to provide u simple equitable and efficient system which will achieve a lower overall level of taxation.
Full lax indexation.
Rejection of any form of capital taxation apart from existing provisions covering short term speculative gains.
A commitment that the clearly inadequate remote zone allowances be increased and the boundaries be redrawn.
An increase in depreciation rates on expenditure for: soil conservation and structures for storage of grain, hay and fodder to 1 00 per cent in the year of expense. farm buildings, including buildings for employee accommodation, to 20 per cent; for grain and cane harvesters to 1 5 per cent, and for other items of plant and equipment to a minimum of 10 per cent.
– I thank the Senate. I wish to commend to all senators the progressive and unifying policies of the National Farmers’ Federation. An area of concern to me and many Australians is conservation and environment. The Government’s policy has been announced, lt is one of maintaining a responsible balance between development and conservation. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is to be congratulated on his world conservation strategy initiative. This strategy was jointly developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the United Nations Environment Program and also the World Wildlife Fund. It seeks to integrate conservation and development objectives.
This is a huge task. It is one which Australia and the world must tackle so that some planning and conservation sanity may be brought to the world generally. I ask that those who are listening or who will read these words support the Federal and State governments when they begin to seek a consensus in all such matters, especially between the principles of development and conservation. There has to be a middle course or the world as we know it, with its flora and fauna, will simply disappear. 1 seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the Executive Summary of the World Conservation Strategy.
The document read as follows -
The World Conservation Strategy is intended to stimulate a more focussed approach to the management of living resources and to provide policy guidance on how this cun be curried out by three main groups.
Government policy makers and their advisers: conservationists and others directly concerned with living resources: development practitioners, including development agencies, industry and commerce and trade unions.
. The aim of the World Conservation Strategy is to achieve the three main objectives of living resource conservation:
to maintain essential ecological processes and lifesupport systems (such as soil regeneration and protection, the recycling of nutrients, and the cleansing of waters) on which human survival and development depend:
to preserve genetic diversity (the range of geneticmaterial found in the world’s organisms), on which depend the functioning of many of the above processes and life-support systems, breeding programs necessary for the protection and improvement of cultivated plants, domesticated animals and microorganisms, us well as much scientific and medical advance, technical innovation, and the security of the many industries that use living resources.
to ensure the sustainable utilisation of species and ecosystems (notably fish and other wildlife, forests and grazing lands), which support millions of rural communities as well as major industries.
These objectives must be achieved as a matter of urgency because
the planet’s capacity to support people is being irreversibly reduced in both developing and developed countries; thousands of millions of tonnes of soil are lost every year as a result of deforestation and poor land management: at least 3,000 km2 of prime farm land disappear every year under buildings and roads in developed countries alone.
hundreds of millions of rural people in developing countries, including SOO million malnourished and 800 million destitute, are compelled to destroy the resources necessary to free them from starvation and poverty: in widening swathes around their villages the rural poor strip the land of trees and shrubs for fuel so that now many communities do not have enough wood to cook food or keep warm. the rural poor are also obliged to burn every year 400 million tonnes of dung and crop residues badly needed to regenerate soils.
the energy, financial and other costs of providing goods and services are growing: throughout the world, but especially in developing countries, siltation cuts the lifetimes of reservoirs supplying water and hydroelectricity, often by as much as half: floods devastate settlements and crops (in India the annual cost of floods ranges from $140m to $750m).
the resource base of major industries is shrinking: tropical forests are contracting so rapidly that by the end of this century the remaining area of unlogged productive forest will have been halved. the coastal support systems of many fisheries are being destroyed or polluted (in the United States of America the annual cost of the resulting losses is estimated at $86m).
The main obstacles to achieving conservation are:
the belief that living resources conservation is a limited sector, rather than a process that cuts across and must be considered by all sectors:
the consequent failure to integrate conservation with development.
a development process that is often inflexible and needlessly destructive, due to inadequacies in environmental planning, a lack of national use allocation and undue emphasis on narrow short-termed interests rather than broader longer termed ones:
the lack of a capacity to conserve, due to inadequate legislation and lack of enforcement, poor organisation (notably government agencies with insufficient mandates and a lack of co-ordination, lack of trained personnel, and a lack of basic information on priorities on the productive and regenerative capacities of living resources, and on the trade-offs between one management option and another.
the lack of support for conservation, due to a lack of awareness (other than at the most superficial level) of the benefits of conservation and of the responsibility to conserve among those who use or have an impact on living resources including in many cases governments.
the failure to deliver conservation-based development where it is most needed, notably the rural areas of developing countries.
The World Conservation Strategy therefore
defines living resource conservation and explains its objectives, its contribution to human survival and development and the main impediments to its achievement (sections 1-4).
determines the priority requirements for achieving each of the objectives (sections 5-7).
proposes national and subnational strategies to meet the priority requirements, describing a framework and principles for those strategies (section 8).
recommends anticipatory environmental policies, a cross-sectoral conservation policy and a broader system of national accounting in order to integrate conservation with development at the policy making level (section 9).
proposes an integrated method of evaluating land and water resources, supplemented by environmental assessments, as a means of improving environmental planning, and outlines a procedure for the rational allocation of land and water uses (section 10).
recommends reviews of legislation concerning living resources, suggests general principles for organisation within government; and in particular proposes ways of improving the organisational capacities for soil conservation and for the conservation of marine living resources (section 11).
suggest ways of increasing the number of trained personnel; and proposes more management-oriented research and research-oriented management, so that the most urgently needed basic information is generated more quickly (section 12).
recommends greater public participation in planning and decision making concerning living resource use, and proposes environmental education programs and campaigns to build support for conservation (section 1 3).
suggests ways of helping rural communities to conserve their living resources, as the essential basis for the development they need (section 14).
In addition the Strategy recommends international action to promote support and where necessary co-ordinate national action, emphasising the particular need for:
stronger more comprehensive international conservation law, and increased development assistance for living resource conservation (section 15).
international programs to promote the action necessary to conserve tropical forests and dry lands (section 16); to protect areas essential for the preservation of genetic resources (section 17); and to conserve the global ‘commons’, the open ocean, the atmosphere, and Antarctica (section 18).
regional strategies to advance the conservation of shared living resources particularly with respect to international river basins and seas (section 19).
The World Conservation Strategy ends by summarising the main requirements for sustainable development, indicating conservation priorities for the Third Development Decade (section 20).
– Again, I thank the Senate. The Governor-General’s Speech yesterday included references to Australia’s international relations. In seeking to have a portion of the Harries report entitled ‘Australia and the Third World’ incorporated in Hansard, I will do so in the hope that this incorporation will encourage Australians to learn more about their foreign policy and the relations between Australia and the developing world to our near north. I believe that Australians require their Government to reach out to those in countries to the north of us, and further, the starving and deprived people of the world - in particular, I stress those from the Third World countries - with a carefully targeted practical aid scheme which is guaranteed to reach into the world’s greatest areas of need. The World Conservation Strategy asserts that:
The dependence of rural communities on living resources is direct and immediate, for the SOO million people who are malnourished, or the 1 SOO million people whose only fuel is wood, or crop wastes, or the almost 800 million people with incomes of $50 or less a year - for all these people conservation is the only thing between them and at best abject misery, at worst death. Unhappily, people on the margins of survival are compelled by their poverty- and their consequent vulnerability to inflation - to destroy the few resources available to them. In widening circles around their villages they strip trees and shrubs for fuel until the plants wither away and the villagers are forced to burn dung and stubble. The 400 million tonnes of crop wastes that rural people burn annually are badly needed to regenerate soils already highly vulnerable to erosion now that the plants that bind them are disappearing.
I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the recommendations of the Harries report. These are the general propositions that Australia should adopt in world affairs in the coming decade.
The document read as follows:
PART B: RECOMMENDATIONS
Australia’s General Posture
Australia’s general approach to the Third World should reflect awareness that while we are a Western country, we are Western with a difference; that we are geographically isolated from the Western centres of power in Europe and North America; that in our region, as commonly if generously defined, there are over 20 countries which belong to the Third World and very few which do not; and that because of this the internal state of the Third World and the state of its relationship with the First and Second Worlds are of at least as great concern to us as they are to any other Western country.
Australia should not perceive the Third World simply as a problem or something towards which our normal state should be one of anxiety. It also offers us opportunities - to associate with its growth, to derive benefits from expanding trade, to exercise political initiatives, to demonstrate our technological skills and special experience, to exercise our idealism and to enrich our culture. We should also bear in mind that, unlike many Western countries, we have few major investments in Third World countries to protect, and can afford to be relatively relaxed about many of the issues which agitate other Western countries in this regard.
Our posture on Third World issues should be a moderate and constructive one. We should seek to facilitate compromise and cooperation and to ensure that Third World views receive fair and reasoned consideration in the councils of the developed countries.
Faced with impractical Third World proposals, or ones which we believe would seriously threaten Australian interests, we should not only point out their deficiencies and register our opposition but should actively seek alternate ways of satisfying the needs which underlie them. We should be resourceful, innovative and positive in this respect.
Our relations with Third World countries are likely to be most productive when those countries achieve a balance of economic growth, social development and political stability. Concentration on any one of these at the expense of the others is likely to be self-defeating. Insofar as it is within our means, Australia should seek to facilitate such a balance and to avoid courses of action which hinder it.
The Third World is too diverse for Australia to have a single foreign policy towards it. We need a variety of general, regional, individual country and issue policies. These policies will have to take into consideration both the merits of the case in each instance and their connection with wider and continuing aspects of the Third World movement, where such connections exist. That is, in dealing with a movement which has a significant ideological content and which itself emphasises linkages, a case-by-case approach which attempts to deal with issues as if they were essentially discrete is in itself inadequate.
In dealing with the Third World we should strive to behave in a way consistent with the standards and values we profess. This means that we should not be simply reactive or allow Third World opinion to become the main determinant of our policy; it also means that we should avoid hypocrisy and the taking up of positions we cannot ultimately justify. Self-respect, as well as the ‘moral’ dimension of the Third World and its demonstrated capacity to exploit discrepancies between proclaimed values and practice in others, make this important, lt is we who should observe our proclaimed standards; in applying them to others, different circumstances should be taken into account.
Bearing in mind the potential importance in the Third World context of the question of the treatment and conditions of Aboriginals, Australia should (a) be frank about the continuing problems which result from past policy, or its absence: (b) ensure that present policy is fairly presented and properly understood; and (c) work to remove any remaining deficiencies in that policy as quickly as is practicable.
In formulating our policies towards the Third World, and particularly towards the region, we need to give full recognition to the growing interaction between foreign and domestic policies and the need to coordinate them which Hows from this, lt has to be faced that if some of our foreign goals, particularly but not exclusively economic ones, are to be attainable they will require significant adjustments at home. To the extent that we find this unacceptable, we should recognise that those goals will become increasingly unattainable. To the extent that we find such adjustments acceptable, we should commit ourselves to preparing the ground for change and to actively building up support for it in advance.
We should support the principle of open and nondiscriminatory trade at the global level and take steps to demonstrate our commitment in both declaratory policy and actual practice.
1 . We should make a conscious effort to strengthen our relationships with some key Third World countries outside our immediate region - for example, India, Mexico and Brazil. We should do this because such countries are important in their own right and also because good relations with them could provide useful insurance in a variety of circumstances.
- We should be concerned to avoid the linking of Third and Second World interests and policies - based on their shared opposition to the status quo - generally, but especially in our region. We should avoid, where possible, presenting Third World countries with no option but to turn to the Soviet Union for support: where that is not possible, we should support efforts to establish that becoming the Soviet Union’s client does not pay.
While making no bones about the fact that we are a Western country, we should not proceed on the assumption that we have no option but to follow the prevailing Western line towards the Third World on all occasions. That line sometimes reflects circumstances and interests different from ours. We must be as ready to disaggregate ‘the West’ as we are to disaggregate the Third World. Sometimes what is called Western policy reflects no more than the particular interests of one or two Western countries, from which Australian interests may differ markedly.
Australia should not present itself as a Third World country, an -honorary’ Third World country, or one with a ‘special relationship’ with the Third World. This would be to put ourselves in a false and untenable position. Ultimately, it would nol be acceptable either to the Third World or to Australians.
We should not attempt to assume the general role of a bridge’ between the Third World and the West. To do so would be to overlook the fact that we have interests of our own to look after and that we cannot simply be a mediator between the interests of others, lt also ignores the fact that our relationships with the Third World and the West are not symmetrical; we want good relations with the former, but we are part of the latter. This does not mean that we cannot on occasion play a useful and constructive interpretative and mediating role on particular issues, but merely that we should not enshrine it as an end of policy.
– I thank the Senate. The Third World countries will, I believe, continue to play a vital part in Australia’s foreign policy development. The Harries report and its recommendations will do much to alert the Australian people to the directions which Australians may take in foreign policy in the years ahead.
Year by year the world becomes more interested in the vast still largely untapped resources of the sea in the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic waters. Protection of the Antarctic marine environment is becoming more important to Australia, particularly with the increasing pressure to explore and exploit off-shore resources. With other Antarctic treaty nations, Australia is taking part in the development of a convention for the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources. The Antarctic Division of the Department of Science and Technology administers, organises and provides logistic support for Australia in Antarctica, including the establishment and maintenance of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic stations. It plans and conducts approved scientific programs and co-ordinates and supports annually
Australia’s National Antarctic Research Expedition.
Another area of concern to me which was touched on in the Governor-General’s address is the International Year of Disabled Persons. I refer to the coming year as it is of great concern to the Australian people. In planning for the IYDP in Australia, a broad network of groups has been set up. This includes a Commonwealth and State ministerial council and State-level planning committees which are all made up of government and non-government representatives and local action and special interest groups. In addition, the Government has worked with the Australian Council for Rehabilitation of Disabled to establish a broad based committee of nongovernment organisations.
The success of the year will, undoubtedly, depend on the degree to which the whole community in Australia can be involved. At a regional conference held by Rehabilitation International in Manila two years ago, the then Minister for Social Security, the present Minister for Finance (Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle), said:
What is lacking is not commitment and energy by those involved in assisting the handicapped, but a national philosophy which mobilises public opinion to recognise the discrimination suffered by the handicapped in our midst; a philosophy which motivates employers, trade unionists, the man in the street to play a role in overcoming barriers which continue to deny the handicapped many of the fundamental human rights.
The IYDP offers the opportunity to develop this philosophy. It is through the commitment of all sections of the community that we can effectively break down these barriers. One of the proposals currently being studied in Australia is a national publicity and public education campaign. This campaign, among other things, aims to assist the community to become more aware of the extent and the diversity of disablement; realise that disablement can happen to anybody; and recognise that society is structured for able-bodied people and adapt to help disabled people who have special difficulties. It is my hope that, as a result of IYDP, all levels of government, nongovernment organisations, private enterprise and trade unions will bring their combined energies and skills to achieving a better understanding of the needs of disabled people. We should regularly spare a thought, for instance, for the countless thousands of people who daily battle to overcome physical problems which in themselves call for huge dedication of purpose. Often in performing a basic single act, such as getting out of a chair, the disabled achieve a major victory which the average person merely takes for granted. If I may quote again from a speech by Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle relative to the International
Year of Disabled Persons and its prime objective of breaking down barriers. She said:
Barriers, like bodies, come in all shapes and sizes, they may be architectural (like steps) or attitudinal (like pity or prejudice), they’re also educational . . . and informational. The barrier may be occupational … in housing . . in recreation. There’s also the personal barrier (like the lack of a sense of self-worth) that all the other barriers create and sustain. All these barriers are intertwined and everywhere.
In short, the handicapped should not be viewed as a single group. Policies must recognise their individuality, lt is crucial to offer handicapped people as much freedom of choice as possible in pursuit of this goal. The policy of the Australian Government encompasses four key principles: Income maintenance, improvement of services, support for voluntary organisations, and consultation with the handicapped to determine priorities.
I move to the matter of water resources, which touches many rural communities and city dwellers equally with great importance. Bearing in mind the frequently acknowledged urgent requirement to conserve the nation’s water resources, 1 make an appeal to the States to liaise with the Commonwealth to see that more water storage dams may be economically built. It is important, in thinking of water resources, that the Murray River be given some consideration. Honourable senators will be interested to know that a newly-amended River Murray waters agreement is about to be signed by the Commonwealth, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. I am proud to say that this revised agreement is largely the initiative of John Sullivan, Senator Tom Tehan, Bruce Lloyd, Peter Fisher, and the Honourable Wal Fife. They made a strong approach to the then Minister, the Right Honourable Doug Anthony, and an on the spot inspection by him was arranged towards the end of 1976. The Minister was greatly impressed with his reception along the river. He met with all the State water commissioners and the representative groups which work and live in the Murray Valley. Mr Anthony sponsored a meeting of the State waters Ministers in late 1976, from which meeting has come this new agreement - never an easy matter among different governments.
The new agreement will give the River Murray Commission a big role in co-ordinating the management of the river with regard to water quality, Hood mitigation, flood plain management, environmental matters, and recreation. Prior to this the River Murray Commission has been vested only with the authority to regulate river flows in response to the demands of the cities, the towns and the irrigators whose life is in the Murray Valley. I call for some currying of the three governments and the Commonwealth to avoid further delay in signing the new River Murray agreement. There are some very pressing problems to which the River Murray Commission will have to attend. Previously the river was a nonman’s land to all interests. It was operated only by a piecemeal approach. This approach has often worked against many of the valley’s inhabitants. I urge the responsible governments to ensure that the River Murray Commission urgently be given the facility to carry out its new role. I know it will do this in its traditionally high efficient and quiet manner and that, given the staff and funding, it will do an admirable job.
I move now to the Murray Valley League. In speaking of this great river it would be remiss of me not to mention the great contribution that has been made over many years to the advancement of the valley by people who belong to the Murray Valley League. This League’s executive director has been a tireless worker for the people who live in the valley and their interests. The strong support which almost 100 per cent of the local government authorities provide is testimony to his past successes. The League has often had to have a very strong voice throughout the nation. It has had to shout long and hard as far as Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra.
In conclusion, I am pleased to have been given this opportunity to second the Address-in-Reply and to mention a few of the topics which concern me and, I believe, many members of the Australian community. If there is one message above all that I wish to give to the people of Australia it is that there is a great need for consensus and a great need for Australians to work together for common aims and objectives. I believe that a community divided by bitterness and conflict is a community very much diminished; it is a community divided against itself. The word is ‘consensus’, and the need for consensus in Australia is present now. I have had very much pleasure in seconding the Address-in-Reply.
– In rising to speak in the AddressinReply debate I am in a bit of a dither. I suppose at this stage one could not oppose the motion which has been moved and seconded. I should have thought that there would be a strong amendment to the motion expressing to the Governor-General that the Senate is dissatisfied with his Speech, which in fact told us nothing; it was merely a repetition of part of the election policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). As the Opposition heard the Governor-General’s Speech only yesterday and discussion of it is taking place today, one can appreciate why we have been unable to put forward a proper amendment to the Address-in-Reply motion. One cannot object to the conveying to the Governor-General of our acceptance of his address and the restating our our loyalty, although I questioned that earlier today. But 1 have never heard a more disappointing address from a Governor-General than the one which 1 heard yesterday.
Like Senator Davidson, who moved the motion, I heard the 1962 Speech of the then Governor-General on the opening of Parliament. I have heard every Speech since on the opening of Parliament. 1 do not regret that yesterday I heard my last. I will not be part of that ceremony again. I think it is time that we considered the question of whether all this pomp and ceremony are necessary for the purpose of enabling the elected representatives of the people to do their business. However, the previous Speeches had some substance. The Speech of the Governor-General yesterday was nothing but a mouthing of cliches of the Prime Minister. It did not suggest how he will take remedial action to cure the problems of Australia about which the Governor-General told us the Prime Minister is concerned. That is part of the reason for my condemnation of this Speech.
As I said earlier today, it was possibly an attempt to denigrate the officer holding the position of Governor-General by getting him to make a speech, which took a quarter of an hour, on the legislative program of the Government but which did not mention any proposed legislation. It was a speech which any school boy could have compiled; yet the highest representative of royalty in Australia delivered it to the elected members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. I thought it was an insult to the Governor-General. I thought that the attempt today to adjourn the Address-in-Reply debate to let other business proceed, contrary to Standing Orders, could be regarded as a reflection - a further reflection - on the attempt to denigrate the high office of Governor-General. I should have thought that the Government decided to call Parliament together for a fortnight or three weeks in order to consider important business prior to Christmas, but the Governor-General should not have to wait until that is done before he finds out that we appreciate his attendance and his expressions to the House. I was satisfied. I accepted Senator Carrick’s assurance that the business would be completed in a short while. We must remember that he gave no such assurance when he moved the motion. It was only after my asking why he had moved the motion that he explained. I think the motion was moved to permit the Opposition to proceed with an urgency motion. We have never received this consideration before and there has been severe criticism of the mover of the motion during the course of his address. Obviously we are to concentrate on the Governor-General’s Speech. I take back any thought that the Government’s action in moving the adjournment was to further denigrate the office of Governor-General or the personnel of the Governor-General.
Everything we have heard from the Prime Minister we heard again in an abbreviated form for which the Governor-General apologised. He did not express all the promises given by the Prime Minister, but only certain of them, in order to keep his speech to a tolerable length. He did not go through the history. He started off by saying:
This 32nd Parliament assembles following a general election in which the people of Australia have again returned my Government with a substantial majority.
Of course, whilst one could claim that that was the case in relation to the number of seats, it was not the case in the vote overall. The return showed very little difference between Labor and Liberal. If we take into account the votes cast against the Government for the other parties it is questionable whether the Government has a majority. It would be more true to say - we accept this fact - that the people of Australia have returned the Government with a reduced majority. That is the position today. The Government has a reduced majority. As it has a majority - whatever numbers it has - we recognise its right to govern. The Governor-General then went on to refer to unemployment and youth. He stated:
In recent years, and for a number of reasons, the question of jobs for young people has emerged as a crucial one, not only in Australia but in virtually all Western countries.
But where in the Speech does he say what the Government will do about the matter? There is some mention of training to promote youth employment. But why do we train men, at a cost, for jobs which are not available? Whilst Senator Davidson gave us some figures of the number of people who have been engaged within six months of completion of training, he did not indicate whether they were engaged in the jobs for which they were trained or whether they were engaged in some other occupation. But we do know that every subsidised training scheme that has been in operation in industry has resulted in the replacement of the established labour force by those whom the Government subsidises. We cannot say that we are achieving anything towards reducing unemployment by simply training more people for jobs that are not available. The GovernorGeneral continued:
During 1981 my Government will take action to place increased emphasis on employment and training schemes.
As I have said, there is to be no creation of jobs. Further on the Governor-General stated: lt is evident in the programs developed in the context of the International Year of Disabled Persons 1981 to assist the education of severely handicapped children and to increase employment opportunities for the disabled. lt is evident in the commitment to improve aboriginal health standards.
Now, where is this commitment? This year there is an increased allocation for Aboriginal health as compared with 1979, when the allocation was reduced from the figure provided in 1975. We have been denying funds for the improvement of Aboriginal health. We reduced the commitment to Aboriginal health in 1979. This election year we are giving a greater allocation and it is to be accepted as a commitment to Aboriginal health. But again, there is no suggestion of any proposal on how to do it. The improvement of the health of Aboriginals is not only a question of money but also a question of housing, location and satisfaction. This is the humorous passage: lt is evident in the commitment to encourage excellence in a number of fields- for example, to provide greater support and improved facilities for research, to encourage the arts and to provide greater opportunity for young Australian athletes.
My word, the Prime Minister provided those opportunities when he took the federal grant away from the Australian Olympic Federation and when he would not let our athletes compete in the worldwide competition for athletes.
– He still sold his wool over there, though.
– What does it matter whether or not Fraser sold his wool? He permitted the sale of Australian wool to clothe Soviet troops. It does not matter whether it was his wool or someone else’s wool. He would not put any restriction on the sale of wool and he put only a partial restriction on the sale of wheat to Russia, but he stopped the athletes from going there. On the question of research, which is of interest, we see in today’s newspaper that the Australian National University must close down important areas of research because of lack of money. Possibly this is the greatest research institution we have and it has to decide whether to close its biggest section or whether to close down some minor sections in which the financial commitment is not so great. What is the excuse for this?
Today I asked a question about Radium Hill. The figures I produced showed that some 25 per cent of miners there had either died from or had lung cancer. That percentage is far in excess of the Australian average. I am told by the Minister for
Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Peter Baume) who represents the Minister for Health (Mr MacKellar) that the sample was too low to be accepted for the purposes of making a comparison. Research was being undertaken by the South Australian Health Commission into all those working at the mines to see what the final picture was. Today we have received the information that the research has been discontinued because of a lack of federal funds. Then we get the GovernorGeneral not only making pious platitudes but also telling deliberate lies in his opening Speech. That is the status to which we have reduced the Governor-General. In his Speech the GovernorGeneral stated:
This list is illustrative rather than exhaustive. My Government sets it out to establish that it cares deeply about the quality of life lived in Australia and that it is determined to give practical expression to that care. In doing so, my Government’s objective will be not to increase long-term dependence on the Government, but, consistent with its liberal philosophy . . .
The Government is trying to solve the unemployment problem by dismissing public servants and by restricting their activities. The Government says that it has a commitment. The GovernorGeneral said that the Government has had a commitment over the last five years to reduce inflation. Inflation has increased. The Government says it has a commitment to reduce unemployment. The rate of unemployment has increased. The Government will carry on with the same policies for the next five years. That commitment reduced the Fraser vote in the recent election. Is it proper for a representative of the Queen to talk about such trifles in the Senate?
I wish to direct some remarks to the election of the new Senate. I regret I will not be here to witness one of the most interesting occasions - that is, a new Senate. I will not be here to get the pumpkin scones which are cooked by the only person on record who can participate in an election for five senators and defeat two of her own party members. It is unthinkable. I do not know whether they are past recipients of pumpkin scones. Perhaps that is the penalty they have had to pay. I warn members of the new Senate against the generosity of pumpkin scones.
I do not think the Government will have much difficulty in the Senate despite the fact that it will not have a majority. The smaller groups in the Senate are not anti-government. They will go a long way to keep the Government in power. I believe there will be certain restrictions on the Government in the Senate. I do not think that gags will be applied. I do not think that adjournments will be negatived thus keeping members up all night. Obviously the Senate will have to sit longer hours. Debates will be more extensive and more business will be dealt with. I am very much opposed to those who fought the election on only one policy. They said: ‘We want the say in that House to keep the bastards honest’. Apparently the bastards are members of both political parties. I only hope that someone else can keep those appointed to keep the bastards honest as honest as the bastards they are keeping honest. We have heard claims such as ‘we shall introduce Bills that Labor must support’. Everyone knows that this is farcical. There is no attempt to pass legislation to improve the conditions of the people of Australia.
If a Bill is passed in the Senate - there will have to be some reliance on dissident members of the Liberal Party - it cannot be put into law until it is dealt with and meets approval in the other place. lt has been said that they will see how members vote. The position is that no vote will be taken. The Government will never bring the matter on for discussion. So who is being kept honest? This is not a solution; it is just propaganda. Opposition senators can oppose Government Bills when they are introduced in the Senate. They can amend the Bills. When the Bills go back to the other House it may or may not accept the amendment. Decisions then have to be made. The first decision to be made is whether to accept the quality of the Bill and the benefits it bestows. We have to consider whether the Bill is worth accepting without the amendments or whether we should deprive the beneficiaries by insisting on our amendment. There is always the threat of a double dissolution which has annihilated splinter groups, such as the Democratic Labor Party, right throughout the history of this country. Senator Chipp might win a seat for himself in Melbourne but he will not win it for the spanner king. If the Australian Democrats are honest and if the Australian Labor Party is honest and wants to do something and not just defeat the Government a power can be used. I refer to the power under which the Senate may operate on its own. Under the heading ‘Alteration of the Constitution’ the Constitution states:
This Constitution shall not be altered except in the following manner:
The proposed law for the alteration thereof must be passed by an absolute majority of each House of the Parliament, and not less than two nor more than six months after its passage through both Houses the proposed law shall be submitted in each State and Territory to the electors qualified to vote for the election of members of the House of Representatives.
That applies if the law is passed by both Houses. lt continues:
But if either House passes any such proposed law by an absolute majority, and the other House rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with any amendment to which the first-mentioned House will not agree, and if after an interval of three months the first-mentioned House in the same or the next session again passes the proposed law by an absolute majority with or without any amendment which has been made or agreed to by the other House, and such other House rejects or fails to pass it or passes it with any amendment to which the firstmentioned House will not agree, the Governor-General may submit the proposed law as last proposed by the firstmentioned House, and either with or without any amendments subsequently agreed to by both Houses, to the electors in each State and Territory qualified to vote for the election of the House of Representatives.
This power enables the Senate to initiate a referendum. I accept that we cannot have every law which we pass put to the electors. If this House decides on two occasions after an interval of three months not to pass a proposed law the Governor-General may submit the proposed law to the electors. I think that according to English law the word ‘ may’ must be interpreted - if it bestows a benefit on the people - as the word ‘shall’. I advise everyone to consider that point of view. If Senator Harradine and the Labor and Democrat senators vote on two occasions to submit anything to a referendum, it can go to a referendum, whatever may be the opinion of the other House or of the Government.
Senator Gareth Evans, in an address on the occasion of the John Curtin Memorial Lecture, submitted that questions such as human rights should be part of our Constitution, and that it should be the job of the judiciary to decide whether the provisions of Bills, the actions of government, or anything else conflict with human rights. If this were part of our Constitution, it would be binding upon Australia, and we would overcome the problems of the right of assembly in Queensland and the right of free speech in Western Australia when a breach of human rights was involved. It is a power this Senate has, if it is backed by the people of Australia, which overrides State governments and Federal governments. If honourable senators are honest in their alleged opposition, they should at least give consideration to that submission. Human rights is one matter for consideration and freedom of assembly is another.
The great cry from the Democrats that there should be a fixed term of Federal parliaments could well be a constitutional provision. Members of parliament would be elected every three years and would retain office for three years unless they lost the confidence of the people’s House. As to the one vote one value submission by the Labor Party and the Democrats - Senator Harradine would be embarrassed if he did not support it because he would have an explanation to make in Tasmania - it is well that members should be elected under the Constitution on that principle. The Democrats, members of the Labor Party, and
Senator Harradine can achieve something if they are sincere in their objective and are not simply using political catchcries for the purpose of propaganda. Aboriginal land rights and Aboriginal treaties could well be matters for constitutional alterations. They are issues that need consideration. 1 make this one appeal, and 1 make it to all parties, including the Labor Party. If for the first time in my parliamentary experience there is a progressive Opposition with a majority, rather than trying to score political points it should use its authority to achieve the things that the people of Australia want, desire and hope for.
I had intended to deal with a paper by Professor G. S. Reid on the activities of the Parliament, which has been provided by the Parliamentary Legislative Research Service, but obviously time will not permit me to do so. However, I commend it to those who want the Senate for the first time to accept this authority, to see that it has a role in the Australian Constitution. As Professor Reid pointed out, section 1 of the Constitution states:
The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a House or Representatives, and which is hereinafter called ‘The Parliament, . . .’
We are an essential part of that Parliament. This Senate will be rid of me next year and the remaining honourable senators will enjoy the pumpkin scones. Until then we in this Parliament should exert our pressure, and show our authority and our interest in the people of Australia by the legislation we enact.
– It is my pleasure to support the motion, so ably moved by Senator Davidson and seconded by Senator Neal, for the adoption of the Governor-General’s Speech. Firstly, I should like to say how disappointed I am that Senator Neal was not successful in the recent election and that we shall lose him on 30 June. I am disappointed not because of the numbers situation but because he is a very able young senator with a very good philosophy as far as politics are concerned. I worked with him in the campaign and we travelled around rural Victoria. I can assure honourable senators that Senator Neal is a very able, capable and worthwhile representative, and I hope that it will not be very long before we see him back in the Federal Parliament. I would also like to say what a great disappointment it will be to this Senate to lose on 30 June next Senator Davidson and Senator Cavanagh. Whilst I agree wholeheartedly with everything Senator Davidson says, and with his philosophy and his politics, and disagree totally with Senator Cavanagh ‘s politics and his criticism of the Governor-General’s Speech, I must say that both of them will be a sad loss to this Senate. They contribute in a very worthwhile way in the chamber and in their committee work, and we will miss them.
Turning to the area of the Governor-General’s Speech to which I wish to confine my remarks totally, in respect of the Public Service, the Governor-General said: lt–
That is, the Government - does not subscribe to the crude and usually uninformed hostility towards that Service which sometimes receives popular expression. It recognises and appreciates the contribution which the Public Service as a whole makes to the life of this country.
I adopt and totally support those remarks. I have found that the public servants with whom I have been involved are dedicated servants and do their best for this nation - not just for the people they serve but for this nation. The Governor-General went on to say: . . since my Government came to office. In that period the number of Commonwealth employees in areas subject to staff ceilings has been reduced by over 10,000. This has been achieved without weakening those areas of the administration where there are special needs. In fact, the numbers employed by the Department of Social Security have actually increased by 3,000 in the last five years, and the staff of the Commonwealth Employment Service has grown by about 1 ,000 in the same period.
I do not object to the increase of 3,000 in Social Security and 1,000 in the Commonwealth Employment Service because apparently the increases are necessary. I want to deal with the reduction in the ceiling by over 10,000. In 1684 a fellow by the name of Samuel Pepys was reappointed Secretary to the Admiralty, where he was faced with a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy and an over-ranked and greedy Navy. I am not suggesting those factors in relation to our bureaucracy and our Navy. Historically, Samuel Pepys appears to be the last senior public servant in our system of bureaucracy to have successfully contained and reversed the growth and featherbedding of the military sector and the Public Service.
Staff ceilings are cited as an important means of containing growth and are claimed to be responsible for reducing the number of Commonwealth public servants by over 10,000 in the past five years. That must be compared with the growth of some 52,000 public servants - that is 4.3 per cent per annum - during the last Labor Government’s term of office from 1972 to 1975. At that rate of management, under this Government’s initiative, it will take 25 years to undo the damage done by the Labor Government. Frankly, 25 years is too long to wait to reduce the Public Service by 50,000. The opponents of staff ceilings, the unions and certain honourable senators of the Opposition- -not all of them - blame those staff ceilings for every conceivable shortcoming, from their own poor performance to a cover up of every case of bureaucratic ineptitude. Yet staff ceilings do have shortcomings. Alone they will not reduce staff levels and improve efficiency because underworked departments have staff available to prepare exhaustive submissions for non-reduction and, clearly, they have fared better than overworked departments with neither the time nor the resources to set about preparing some sort of submission to enable them to increase their staff. Further than that, over-ranking has resulted from these staff ceilings either directly or indirectly.
According to the Public Service Board’s annual reports between June 1973 and June 1980 - I hope that the Opposition will not attack me for picking those dates which start just shortly after it took office - the number of Second Division officers increased from 934 to 1 ,402, an increase of 50 per cent. I presume there has been some reduction under our Government but still the number of Second Division officers is up 50 per cent since 1973. The number of Third Division officers has increased by 3.7 per cent and the number of Fourth Division officers fell by about 20 per cent. So we now have this result: We have 50 per cent more chiefs and 20 per cent fewer indians in the Public Service. Excluding employees of Commonwealth statutory authorities- - which I have had to take out because of the variations - for June 1973 the total number of Commonwealth employees was 134,617 and for June 1980 the total number was 166,434, an increase of 31,817, which is still 23i per cent more than in June 1 973 notwithstanding staff ceilings.
The organisational structure of the Public Service might be described as having the appearance of a bottomless well into which the taxpayers’ money sinks without a trace, rather than the conventional pyramid of management which we see in a commercial enterprise. But it is not only in the Public Service that we have these expensive overranking chiefs at the top. In Canberra alone in the Defence organisation there are 27 generals, admirals and air marshals, 56 brigadiers or their equivalent, and 131 full colonels or their equivalent, each duplicated by a civil servant on a similar salary. The navy has 14 admirals and 21 commodores for an overall strength of about 16,000 men and women whereas, at the height of World War II, with more than 100 ships and 40,000 men and women, there were only four admirals and three commodores. The present overranking can lead to a Gilbert and Sullivan situation where one of our United States built destroyers has a captain and four commanders in the Australian Navy, but in the United States its counterpart has only one commander. Samuel Pepys, as secretary to the Admiralty, faced a similar situation and, on taking office, he quickly sorted it out by the introduction of seniority lists and compulsory retirements. I suggest that equally drastic measures are needed today.
The introduction of modern technology, including automatic data processing and word processors, has always been argued in commercial terms in the business field as justified only when it will lead to substantial savings in manpower costs, improved efficiency over one’s competitors, or expansion without manpower increases. In other words, the motive has been competition and profit. According to the 1980 Public Service Board Annual Report, we now have 37 major and medium scale automatic data processing installations and 123 small scale computers with an ADP expenditure in excess of $54m plus an additional SI 3m for commercial hire and use of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and university computers, a total of $67m over the past three years, not including statutory authorities.
It is not possible to have the same guidelines as industry for the introduction of this technology into the Public Service, although it is frequently claimed that without the introduction of ADP there would have had to be substantial increases in staff. What is of concern to me is that the growth has been not just contained but has not been sufficiently reduced. We appear to have retained some of the manual tools of management that were more appropriate to the last century and, as a consequence, we have failed fully to utilise our huge investments in computers and computer equipment. We have created a whole army of second guessers who breed on interdepartmental rivalry and who breed on committees. The Department of Defence alone has over 200 committees. These interdepartmental committees have become notorious for the way in which they pass problems to and fro, up and down and round about among them. They are also notorious for their reluctance or inability to make firm recommendations or decisions. Would it not be better to have some sort of small think tank which is able in some way or other to punch the information and ideas into a computer to assess their costs, ultimately to enable the Cabinet to consider the options which are available, instead of having this second guessing by interdepartmental committees and Government bureaucracy?
The growth of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is an indication of the second guessing that goes on. That Department has grown by 62 per cent, from 329 officers in 1972 to 533 in 1980, with a growth of 60 per cent in the number of Second Division officers from 23 to 37 and 72 per cent growth in the number of Third Division officers from 160 to 275 and - this is the fascinating figure - with a salary total increasing by over 400 per cent in that Department from $2.479m to $10.1 13m. Would someone be wrong to assume that this growth is an indication that departments are not providing sufficient information to allow political judgments to be made, or does it indicate second guessing by expert departments? If a department is not providing the advice sought by Cabinet to allow it to make political judgments or, as sometimes appears to be the case, if it is fighting for its own power base, clearly there is a need for the drastic remedies adopted by Sir Samuel Pepys some 300 years ago which I have suggested. lt is not enough for the Government simply to impose staff ceilings. There must be a critical examination of management at all levels, and ceilings must be imposed at each level to reverse this overranking which is so expensive to the taxpayer. Better use must be made of the huge investment which we have in modern technology. Even that by itself would not be sufficient, lt has taken five years to reduce Mr Whitlam’s excesses by 20 per cent.
What should the Government do to really cut back the Public Service? Firstly, 1 suggest that non-essential services and authorities should be abolished. Duplication of State government services must be abolished. Why should we have a Department of Education when all the States have departments of education? The Government was given the mandate by the people at the last election. More than that, it was clear that the silent majority of the people of Australia indicated that they wanted taxation cut. The only way in which that can be done adequately is for the Government to reduce its functions to those essential to the welfare of the Australian community and essential to the defence of our country. They are our tasks. We need to look after the needy better and the greedy less.
Not infrequently union pressures have inhibited the modernisation and more efficient operation of the Public Service. They cannot turn back the tide of modernisation, although some attempts have been made to do so. This, in part, has been the cause of expensive duplication where modern technology has been introduced but manual procedures have been retained. Many cases of feather-bedding exist where staff levels are unreasonable compared with practice elsewhere. I have some examples which 1 shall give to the Senate. I do not want to enter into enormous debate on the issue, but I cite the example of government nursing homes in the Australian Capital Territory, where the ratio of staff to patient is 2.4:1 compared with the ratio of 1.8:1 in the States. I use this case simply to illustrate that there is a limit to the amount that the taxpayer is willing to pay for particular services, and beyond that limit the taxpayer will demand that government involvement ceases. Government authorities and unions need to realise that they can be priced out of business just as easily as private enterprise. It is in the long term interest of government unions and their members to assist the Public Service to become leaner and more efficient. That way the taxpayer will support continued involvement of governments in areas in which it might otherwise call for it to be dispensed with.
The Government, having dispensed with certain functions, should not then be parsimonious with those which it retains. I give the Senate another example. Let us look at the car fleet. Why do we have a car fleet? I do not think that a car fleet is necessary, but if the Government’s decision is to retain it, and apparently it is, why be parsimonious about it? If we want to economise in this area, let us cut out the car fleet. If the Government has decided to keep the car fleet, why does the Government upset the drivers and passengers by differentiating between cars used by Ministers and cars used by others. I refer not just to back benchers; I refer also to repatriation passengers and others who use the car fleet. I have been told by some Victorian drivers in the car fleet that frequently they have to take three or four repatriation passengers to hospital. They pick up some poor fellow who is not well and they put him in the back seat of the car, where he stays for an hour and a half while they pick up the other two or three passengers and take them to hospital. For that hour and a half he sits in the back seat of the car in a temperature of approximately 32 degrees. He becomes absolutely devastated by the conditions in the car during that time, but air conditioning of the car is not permitted. The fascinating thing is that what the Government has decided to do in these matters is to have the company manufacturing these cars remove the air conditioning and the radios from those cars. This is another thing the drivers complain about. By the time those things have been taken out, one wonders just precisely what saving the Government has effected.
– They lose it on the resale.
– That is right. It cuts down the resale value of the car. There seems to be the idea that we will keep most things but we will try to penny pinch on them. If we are to have a car fleet, let us have a proper car fleet. I approve thoroughly of the Government’s idea of reducing the car fleet to six-cylinder cars, but I cannot see any wisdom at all in removing from vehicles the air conditioners and radios which have already been built in. All that does is upset the drivers and the passengers.
Let us look at another area, the Australian Development Assistance Bureau. It is a statutory authority which in the past has built up an enviable reputation in developing countries. According to my information it is in danger of losing its goodwill because it now has teams of bright young economists who reduce all proposals from those developing countries to a question of strict economic viability as perceived through their Australian eyes. The quality of life or the cultural ambitions of our neighbours no longer seem to be an important factor in the decision-making. Is this a way to win friends or help one’s neighbours? Many of those programs are modest by any standards, and this is surely an area where we ought not to be miserly.
Let us turn back to the public servants in Australia. They are treated generously compared with the average person in private enterprise. Whilst I am not suggesting that the Government should be parsimonious with their salaries, overranking must not be used to boost their salaries and pensions. For those who will not conceive of the concept of a more efficient and leaner Public Service there is always the alternative of resignation and chancing their arm with private enterprise, where promotion prospects may be greater and the rewards may be greater but the risks associated with employment are certainly higher.
A major problem that faces the Public Service is overregulation. I know that it frustrates many of the dedicated public servants, and there are many dedicated public servants at upper levels in particular but also throughout the other levels. This overregulation creates myriads of paper work and administrative trivia and discourages delegation. The origins of many of these regulations seem to me to be lost in the cobwebs of antiquity. Originally they may have been intended to improve administrative practices, but today they are simply inhibiting. As an example, let us consider ministerial office equipment. Is it standardised? No, it is not. Is it held by the Department of Administrative Services? No, it is not. Apparently each department owns its own equipment.
In the past few weeks bodies of men have been seen in this building lugging photocopiers, safes, typewriters and other equipment from office to office as Ministers have changed departments.
– And pot plants, too.
– And pot plants, as Senator McLaren says. It should have been within the competence of a fourth grade clerk to achieve the same results by a simple paper transaction, although, given the way that our regulations are framed today, such paper work would probably require approval at a much higher level than a fourth grade clerk, probably by the secretary to the department. The cost of overregulation within government departments must be staggering. Its effect on industry is clearly indicated in the Confederation of Australian Industry’s Paper Number 1 of July 1980 entitled ‘Government in Australia’ in which it is said.;
Direct compliance costs to industry might be some $2, 500m in total for Federal and State regulation.
It is unable to be more precise than that. I wonder whether anyone has done the costing for government departments. The Confederation of Australian Industry in the same paper states:
CAI considers that a knowledge of the cost involved in regulatory programmes should be an essential element in government decision-making. We believe that few regulators have any notion of the costs which their enactments or programmes can impose on those who have to comply with them and on the general consequences for the wider community.
I support that proposition. I suggest that anyone who has had anything to do with business would support that assertion also, and in fact would support the proposition that in running any business someone at the top should be asking: ‘Why is it necessary? Why do you have to fill out that form? Why has this to be certified? Why do we have to go on with this nonsense?’ The same situation applies whether one is in government business or private business. The sooner that rubbish can be cut out the sooner the company or the country will run more efficiently and more economically. The CAI is not alone in its concern. The Joint Committee of Public Accounts has seen fit to present some 168 parliamentary papers since 1 952. Some of them are most critical. In the Committee’s 1979 annual report about its watchdog role it stated:
The Committee has for a number of years felt a distinct need for closer monitoring of the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations.
In other words, the Committee is unsure that its recommendations are being carried out; in fact, it has a distinct feeling that they are not being carried out. Two hundred and twenty two pages of the 1 980 annual report of the Auditor-General indicate more inadequacies. In an area not yet touched upon, the third report of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations had this to say about statutory authorities:
How is Parliament and the public to assess the efficiency and the economy of authorities and even the necessity for their existence if they are kept in ignorance of their activities, or if they only learn about these activities some years after they have taken place? In our view the presentation of timely and adequate annual reports is a first step in ensuring the proper accountability of authorities and therefore in assessing their ‘performance’.
Parliament has not set a good example. Only the House of Representatives presents an annual report; the Senate does not. Between 1972 and 1980 the Senate increased its staff by 57 per cent, from 85 to 1 34 positions. In the same period the House of Representatives increased its staff by 44 per cent, from 97 to 140 positions, and the Joint House Department, of all departments in this place, had an increase of 83 per cent from 146 to 268 positions. The Budget allocation increase for these three departments was $5.4m or 308 per cent in those eight years. It seems to me that with the vast amount that we have invested in modern computer technology it should be possible to provide better research and costing for the various options and problems it is the Parliament’s duty to assess. Modern technology reduces the time and effort necessary to probe all the viable alternatives, and all parliamentarians need access to this research. I would not be making this criticism of the growth if it had resulted in parliament being more efficient, but this has not been the case and we too engage in second guessing.
For a variety of reasons the bureaucracy has become too costly and cumbersome. It is often inhibited by red tape and over-regulation and because of its very size it sometimes is insensitive and unresponsive to the needs of the community. 1 call on the Public Service, the armed forces, statutory authorities and this Parliament to gear themselves to modern technology, to throw off the shackles of red tape and inhibiting overregulation, to examine critically rank structures and to pursue this goal with the same enthusiasm that Samuel Pepys used 300 years ago. In the final moment available to me to speak, I return to the Governor-General’s Speech, when he stated:
But my Government does believe profoundly that it is vitally important that the power and functions of the State should be limited and contained. It does believe that the State is likely to be in many ways an inefficient and wasteful provider and that many services can be better supplied in other ways.
I totally support those remarks.
– When I first spoke in the 31st Parliament I spoke in the Address-in-Reply debate. I had not planned that on the first occasion that I would speak in the 32nd Parliament I would also speak in the Address-in-Reply debate, but coincidentally that has happened. It is with pleasure that I enter this debate. My pleasure is due to the fact that I am able to make some remarks about the Governor-General. I do not want to make many remarks about the Governor-General’s Speech. I concur with what my colleague, Senator Cavanagh, said about the Speech. We must remember that that Speech is not written by the Governor-General but is written by the Government and when we heard the Speech yesterday it did sound as though it were written by the Government.
I make one or two remarks about the Governor-General. I recall that last time I spoke in the Address-in-Reply debate I mentioned the fact that the Governor-General only recently had come from Queensland where he had been ViceChancellor of the University of Queensland. 1 outlined how I had known him during my student days as well as after my student days. I also recall that I said this - I quote it because I think it is pertinent on looking back three years later:
When I heard that Sir Zelman had been appointed the Queen’s representative in Australia I was delighted. At that time I thought that if any person could restore dignity to the high position of Governor-General in Australia it would be Sir Zelman. Like many others in Australia I hope and pray that Sir Zelman does not let us down. Knowing him as 1 do 1 doubt that he will give us cause for disappointment. lt was almost three years ago that I said those words. Looking back over those three years it is sufficient for me to remark that I do not have any cause for disappointment. Sir Zelman Cowen, as our Governor-General, has not let us down and he has brought some dignity back to the position of Governor-General in Australia.
This evening I wish to speak about something that has been perhaps a little topical in the last few weeks and perhaps even in the weeks before the election. It is to do with the election and the electoral system under which we operate. Just prior to the election and after the election some remarks were made which were disparaging of the electoral system we have within Australia. Some other remarks suggested that in some ways our electoral system should be altered to serve the people of Australia much better than it does now.
Tonight I mention these facts about the electoral system because it will be all too easy for us in the Parliament in the years ahead of us in the 32nd Parliament to forget about comments made about the electoral system. Both members of the House of Representatives and senators become enmeshed in legislation in this place. We, as members of Parliament, have to deal with a myriad of other things, of which many members of the public are not aware. Because of this it is too easy for us to forget that perhaps we should have a look at the electoral system to make sure it serves the electors of Australia in the way it should; it is too easy for us perhaps to forget about it until the next time we hold an election. By that time it is too late. We talk about it again at the time of the next election and then forget about it. Perhaps if we now recall the things we should look at in the next three years we might be able to do something to make the electoral system work much better not only for the elected representatives but also, more importantly, for the people of Australia. If we keep in mind that something must be done and if we do something about the system our democracy may work better.
I intend to make some remarks about the electoral system and how it pertains to the Senate, but before doing that I will mention something about the system for the House of Representatives. After the election many statements were made about the composition of the House of Representatives not truly reflecting the votes received by the various parties at that election. Of course, we must remember that on the single member constituency basis on which we work we are theoretically not electing parties but are electing members for those electorates. But the reality of the situation is that we have major parties in Australia and that people in general vote for those parties. Of course, some people take a different stance and vote for individuals, but in general people vote for parties. So it is not wrong to think about votes for parties and the seats in the Parliament that the parties actually won. 1 would like to look at some of the facts and figures surrounding the votes that the parties received for the House of Representatives and the seats that they won. Of course, Australia has four major parties: The Liberal Party of Australia, the National Party - it may be called the National Country Party here, but in Queensland we call it the National Party so I will use that term - the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Democrats. There are some minor parties. For instance, in Queensland and, I presume, in other States, there is a party called the Progress Party. It gets a tremendous amount of publicity but it receives only about one per cent or 2 per cent of the votes. Let me concentrate on those four major parties - the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the Nationals and the Democrats. We can say for all practical purposes that the Liberal Party and the National Party are a coalition. I will take their votes in combination because they entered the last election as a coalition and ran a combined campaign, at least for the House of Representatives. There were some blemishes in Queensland. A person called Lou Rowan ran as an independent National against Mr Eric Robinson in the electorate of McPherson. But in general one can say that in the last election the Liberal Party and the National Party could be considered as a coalition. I do not mention that in any disparaging way. I mention it just to illustrate the fact that I will combine their votes and their seats, which I think is fair when we look at the results of the last election.
What votes were cast for and what seats were won by the parties following the 1980 general election? The coalition, the Liberals and the National Party, received 46.3 per cent of the first preference votes. For that 46.3 per cent of the votes they received 59.2 per cent of the seats in the House of Representatives. On the other hand, the Labor Party received 45.1 per cent of the first preference votes and won 40.8 per cent of the seats in the House of Representatives. The Democrats fared even worse. They polled 6.6 per cent of the votes in the House of Representatives election but, of course, received no seats in the House of Representatives. When I was looking at this phenomenon I was attracted by a quotation from Edmund Burke many years ago. He said:
The virtue, the spirit, the essence of the House of Commons consists in it being the expressed image of the feelings of the nation.
Does our House of Representatives really reflect the feelings of the nation if, for 46 per cent of the votes, the coalition received 59 per cent of the seats and if, for 45 per cent of the votes, the Labor Party received only 40 per cent of the seats?
I now turn to a calculation on a two party preferred basis. The Democrats would probably argue against this, although they would not be able to argue against it tonight because they have not been here for some time and are not here now. In the words of my colleague Senator Evans, they are a small party and they tire easily. Apparently that has happened tonight. The Democrats would probably argue against our using two party preferred figures, but it is a quite legitimate thing to do in Australian politics because the Democrats’ preferences were distributed to a great extent in the last election. If we look at the figures we see that on a two party preferred basis the coalition received 50.2 per cent of the votes. If it received 50.2 per cent of the votes and the electoral system were fair, that coalition should be in government. which it is. But with that 50.2 per cent of the votes it received 59 per cent of the seats. On a two party preferred basis the Labor Party received 49.8 per cent of the votes - almost 50 per cent - but could gain only 40.8 per cent of the seats. Does this really reflect the feelings of the nation? I do not believe it does. One of the consequences of single member constituencies is that a party with the higher proportion of the votes will often gain an even larger proportion of the seats. But the point is: Should we be satisfied that this occurs? I do not know that we should, especially when we have such a disparity in those figures that I mentioned. Should we really be satisfied that the Labor Party, with 45.1 per cent of the first preference votes or 49.8 per cent of the two party preferred vote, should receive 40.8 per cent of the seats? Perhaps on behalf of the non-present Democrats I should ask: Should they be satisfied, having received 6.6 per cent of the votes, that they have no seats in the House of Representatives? The fact that they do not probably suits the coalition and the Labor Party admirably, but perhaps we should heed the words of Burke and seek to have our House of Representatives express the image of the feelings of the nation more accurately than it does now.
I do not presume to have an answer to the problem. There is probably one method of electing members for the House of Representatives which would make the problem less severe than it is now, but I do not know whether it would be a complete answer to the problem. Because we do not have an answer to the problem or because it is a difficult problem we should not push the problem to one side and not try to seek a solution to it. At present the image that is expressed by the House of Representatives is not a real image of what is happening in Australia. It is a distorted image; it is an image from a distorted mirror. I would like to see the Parliament address itself to the problem to see whether it can make sure that the image in the House of Representatives more truly reflects the votes received by the various parties in a general election.
I would like now to address some remarks to the electoral system as it relates to the Senate. I refer first - and probably most of my remarks will be in this area - to the informal votes that were cast by electors in the last Senate election. If we take Australia as a whole and include the Australian Capital Territory - I will mention in a moment why I single out the Australian Capital Territory - we note that 9.6 per cent of the votes that were cast at the last Senate election were invalid or informal. That compares with 2.4 per cent of informal votes throughout Australia in the House of Representatives election. That 9.63 per cent informal vote means that almost one person in 10 who cast a vote in the last Senate election cast an invalid vote. That compares with about one person in 40 in the House of Representatives election. Obviously one person in 10 casting an informal vote is far too high a figure. Why does this happen? I think there are probably two factors. One is the number of candidates on the ballot paper. In the 1980 election there were 33 candidates on the ballot paper in New South Wales, 34 in Victoria, 33 in Queensland, 27 in South Australia, 23 in Western Australia and 13 in Tasmania.
The Australian Capital Territory had nine, the least number of candidates on the ballot paper. Of course, people in the Australian Capital Territory had to elect only two senators. Because they had only nine candidates from which to choose, the informal vote in the Australian Capital Territory was fairly low compared with the rest of Australia. It was 2.7 per cent, which was about the same as the informal vote for the House of Representatives. In the Australian Capital Territory the informal vote for the Senate was 2.77 per cent and for the House of Representatives it was 2.15 per cent - about the same. If we include the numbers for the Australian Capital Territory, as I did earlier, we find that the informal vote as a proportion of total votes for the whole of Australia is slightly depressed. I cited a figure of 9.63 per cent. If we exclude the Australian Capital Territory, it was 9.75 per cent. But whether it is 9.63 per cent or 9.75 per cent, it is far too high.
One reason for the high informal vote must be the number of candidates on the ballot paper. Whether there is a large or small number, it is necessary for the person casting a vote for the Senate to complete preferences for each candidate on the ballot paper. Suppose there are 33 candidates, as we had in Queensland. Can an elector really tell the difference between his twentysecond preference and his twenty-third preference or between his twenty-second preference and his twenty-sixth preference? I do not think he can. It is nonsense for us to insist that every one of those preferences be shown. I had the opportunity of scrutineeringfor some of the candidates in the recent Senate election in Queensland. Being able to scrutineer, I could look at what many electors did, and I can say that a number of electors in Queensland could tell what their thirty-third preference was. One candidate who was successful - perhaps she had better remain unnamed - received a tremendous number of thirty-third preference votes. There was a great deal of polarisation; people either liked her or they disliked her. She got a great number of first preference votes and a great number of thirtythird preference votes. Of course, the thirty-third preference votes did not really count. On our suggested how-to-vote card - I call it that because many people who took the card and voted for our candidates did their own thing with regard to preferences - I think she was No. 17 which was as good as a thirty-third preference vote anyway. A number of people changed that seventeenth preference to a thirty-third preference.
People can look at their early preferences and their later preferences and decide that that is the way they want to vote, but I do not think that they can differentiate between, say, their twentieth and twenty-second preferences. Perhaps we should not ask our electors to number all their preferences. When they are voting for people to fill five vacancies in a State, perhaps we should ask them to vote from No. 1 to No. 5 or, in an election following a double dissolution, to vote from No. 1 to No. 10, and let them list their preferences beyond that if they wish. The people who listed their preferences beyond that would probably be quite astute at working out where those preferences should go and would be unlikely to cast an invalid vote. Perhaps we should ask people in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory to vote for their first and second preferences and list their preferences thereafter if they wish. In the Australian Capital Territory the informal vote was low, but in the Northern Territory, where electors were casting votes for people to fill only two vacancies, the informal vote was still rather high, even though there were only 1 0 candidates. From those 10 candidates, two had to be chosen. The informal vote in the Northern Teritory was 7.32 per cent for the Senate compared with 4.9 1 per cent for the House of Representatives. Perhaps there is some justification for at least having a look at the possibility of changing the way the votes are cast for the Senate.
As well as looking at the way Senate votes should be cast, perhaps we should also consider reducing the number of people on the ballot paper. I know that this is fraught with danger, and I will outline some of the dangers involved in reducing the number of candidates on the ballot paper. At present a deposit of $200 is required from people who want to place their names on the Senate ballot paper. This figure was set many years ago, and if it had been adjusted in line with inflation that deposit now would be about $650. That amount, of course, would make some people think twice about whether they should nominate for the Senate, but increasing the deposit to an extent where it would deter people from nominating is not a course that I favour. I believe that every person should have the right to nominate for public office in Australia. Perhaps we should require some deposit so that people establish their bona fides, but there is a delicate balance between requiring a deposit and setting it so high that it will deter people from nominating. Perhaps there is some other way by which we can reduce the number of people on the ballot paper. Perhaps we should require the candidates to give an indication that they have some minimal amount of support within the electorate. Over one million votes were cast in Queensland, but some candidates received only 400 or 500 votes. Should we have on the ballot paper people who receive only that number of votes, thus swelling the number of candidates and, subsequently, the number of invalid votes cast?
– Who decides that?
– It is one of the things that we should look at. I said that trying to get the number of candidates on the ballot paper to a more reasonable size was fraught with danger. Perhaps candidates should be able to show that they can get a certain percentage of the vote. The established parties would be able to do this. The Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the National Country Party and, I imagine, the Australian Democrats would be able to show from the last election that they were able to get a certain percentage of the vote and they would therefore qualify. Perhaps other people should be able to qualify through some run-off procedure. I do not want to outline what that could be, but perhaps some procedure in a House of Representatives electorate could occur before the Senate election - for instance, a special election for the purpose of showing whether people could get 5 per cent, 10 per cent, or some other percentage of the vote.
– Do you think people would understand that any better than they do the present system?
– All I am saying is that people who could not qualify by saying that at previous elections they were able to receive a certain percentage of the vote should face some type of election prior to and separate from the Senate election to qualify to run subsequently in the Senate election. I am putting that forward as a proposition. It is something that could help us to keep down the number of invalid votes. I do not want to deter anybody who has some prospect of success from getting on the ballot paper for the Senate election, but the present system is open to abuse and should be looked at.
I believe that one day someone with $100,000 will nominate 500 candidates or provide the $200 deposit to each of 500 candidates. I ask honourable senators to imagine what it would be like. If we added to those 500 candidates the genuine candidates, we would have approximately 520 candidates on the Senate ballot paper. I believe that, if we do not do something about the present system, some day somebody will come along with that $100,000 and make the system totally unworkable. Electors would regard the whole election then as a farce and they would stay away in their droves. Those who decided to vole would have to vote one to 520, according to the way the present law stands, and the proportion of invalid votes in those circumstances would be extreme. The proportion would be phenomenonally high. Just imagine what a job it would be for the Australian Electoral Office to count those votes. It would take months to achieve a final result, and a recount would be an even greater nightmare.
I wish to canvass one other matter with regard to our electoral system and how it operated in October last. I refer to the time that it takes for us to receive our final result for the Senate. I suppose we could all have picked the first four successful candidates in each State. Perhaps in Queensland one could not - the task was a little bit difficult there - but in most States one could pick who would be the first four successful candidates. The real contest in the Senate election is for that vital fifth position. Why should it take so long for that to be finalised? I suppose most people did not really worry this time about how long it took - some of the candidates might have worried; they might have been on edge for quite some time - but there is a danger in a system where the determination of the fifth seat takes so long. In the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory, one could tell the day after the election what the result would be. In Tasmania it took 1 3 days to find out who the successful fifth candidate was. In Western Australia it took 19 days and then there was a recount. Subsequently it took 33 days. In South Australia it took 19 days; in Queensland it took 24 days; and in New South Wales and in Victoria it took 25 days to find out who had won that final position. 1 suppose it did not really matter at the last election because, after all, these candidates do not take their places until 1 July next year. But I can see that one day it will matter. One day we will have an election following a double dissolution and it will be necessary to get the Parliament back and working quickly for some purpose, but we might have to wait three or four weeks before we can do so because we have to wait for those final Senate positions to be decided.
– Six weeks in my case, and six weeks in Senator Peter Baume’s case.
– I take the point- six weeks. In an election after a double dissolution, those senators who are elected at that election immediately take their place in the Senate - or they should immediately take their places. They might not be able to do so for six weeks, as was mentioned. That, of course, could create very difficult problems for a government if that Parliament for some reason, had to be called together quickly. We must keep this possiblity in mind and look at the system now to see whether there is anything that we can do to make sure that we get the Senate election result declared much more quickly than it is at the present time. In the couple of minutes that I have left, I urge the Government to act in the three years that it has ahead of it to look at the electoral system that we have now and to carry out some reforms to make that system operate better for the people of Australia. If the Government does not act, I think it is incumbent upon all Government and Opposition senators to do something themselves and perhaps to bring into the Parliament some private members’ Bills to prompt the Government into acting to carry out some electoral reform. We should not forget that compulsory voting was introduced in this country as a result of a private member’s Bill, a Bill introduced by a Tasmanian senator, Senator Payne. Perhaps we should follow what Senator Payne did in the Senate and make sure we do not let electoral reform wait until we have next been to the polls and we think then that we should have done something in the past three years.
- Mr Deputy President, the Address-in-Reply debate gives an opportunity to honourable senators to consider many matters. The task is not necessarily to address oneself just to that Speech. Honourable senators may look at what has happened in recent months before the election period and, of course, consider what are the prospects for the Parliament and for the country.
One might say that we return here after an election and that an election includes a lot of nonsense - a lot of exaggeration and lot of features which are not entirely the happiest part of our democratic system. Perhaps we come back then to -
– Misleading advertisements?
– Advertising is a very necessary part of it. I am not decrying it.
– Misleading advertisements - are they part of it?
- Senator Ryan, I will get to all kinds of things like that. Do hold your patience for a moment. One finds that we can get back to serious politics in this chamber - I hope - but unfortunately, of course, just for a fortnight and then a delay of some months before we resume.
Let me first deal with a number of what I call major long term issues that suffer from an election and the election process. I refer to matters which do not actually develop during that period but which are with us and will be with us for the next three years. In the first place, I think we have constant problems in this country because we need to develop efficient industry just as we need to develop not only, of course, our mines, which we are doing, but also those facilities and abilities which can make this the country in South East Asia which can provide equipment and know-how to other countries and which can be a leader in this part of the world. I fear that, unless we tackle, at some early date, the question of protection, the extent to which tariffs and other protective barriers are erected in Australia, we will not achieve that result. We have to realise that we must trade more effectively with the countries of Asia and take more of their goods. Consequently, we must import more goods and, therefore, reduce the cost which the consumer has to pay for many goods at present.
I know that, following the Industries Assistance Commission inquiries, we did not achieve anything very much in laying down a period of change in the protection rate in this country. We rather have put aside the clothing, textile and footwear industries and, of course, also the motor vehicle industry situation. For these failures I blame more than anything else the members of the Australian Labor Party because it is their determination that there should be no change. They are prepared - unfortunately, this is one of the most myopic aspects of the Labor Party - to insist upon protection because they see political advantage in the protection of existing industries. Yet we have, I think, to take a bigger view. If we do this, I think all parties have to come together to lay down a certain rate at which, after a certain period, industries which may be seen to be unproductive and not to be likely to develop may have to be phased out to some extent. That is one of the areas in which we in this country have to recognise a long term need, and it is something which we are not facing well enough at present.
The second of these long term issues is that of taxation.This is a matter which is talked about a great deal. It is even talked about, of course, during election periods. There are often promises of some reduction in taxation. But we ought to face the fact that this country, although it is not a very heavily taxed country by most developed countries’ standards - that is the sort of statement which I think one can make, and which the facts back up if one looks at all the other countries - is one in which there is a great deal of emphasis on income tax, on direct taxation. Because some people desire to avoid that form of taxation they concoct and undertake avoidance schemes whereby a considerable amount of taxation is not paid. That is not only a matter of changing the balance, changing the burden and imposing it on other people such as the ordinary taxpayer, the wage earner, who has no choice but to pay and who is bearing more than his fair share. It is creating also in this country a moral state in which people can say: ‘Look at that doctor or lawyer. He does not pay any tax. He gloats about it’. Consequently this creates throughout the community an incentive for many other people to avoid their obligations.
We have to face up to these things. I believe that sooner or later we will have to face up to the fact that we have to have some form of capital gains tax or some tax of that nature in this country. I have felt for years - I suppose I am most unorthodox in my party at this stage - that there is a need for a moderate capital gains tax so that we can spread the burden, so that people do not spend all their time pushing their money into areas of capital gains so that they do not have to pay income tax and in this way distort the economy. It is my belief that in due course we will have to settle down to finding such a system and to ensuring that such a capital gains tax is not based upon increases in inflation rates, so that people are paying more tax just because of the inflated value of their properties, but one which fairly taxes, at a low rate, the actual capital gains in real terms of people in this community.
The third long term issue that I wish to mention is the issue of employment and the necessity in this country to find a means of removing the great burden of unemployment with all the social dangers that are involved in it. The Speech of the Governor-General refers considerably to this matter. It points out that the Government believes that the long term solution lies in the creation of new jobs by restoring healthy economic growth and that Australia is much better placed than many other industrial countries. I think that is correct.
– Which ones?
– Great Britain is an excellent example and Italy and other countries are further examples. There is a considerable number of such countries. There are others that are in a better position than Australia. I am not making an absolute statement on this matter. Although that is the main way in which the Government believes that jobs will be created, it says that ‘the matter cannot be left there, has not been left there and will not be left there’. A considerable number of Government schemes have been operating usefully and more activity is to take place in the early stages of this Parliament but one cannot be satisfied - I am not satisfied - that we have yet found ways of coping sufficiently with this problem of unemployment. Great Britain is in a dreadful situation insofar as unemployment is concerned. We do not want to reach that position but we want to find non-doctrinaire solutions. We ought to look at possible solutions without any suggestion of rejecting those that have not been properly examined. I believe that this is one of the long term areas in which more work has to be done by all parties. It is not just a matter on which they can play politics with each other.
Let me turn to the conduct of the recent election. We have just gone through an election campaign. There are some disturbing features of modern elections in Australia to which I wish to refer briefly. We are seeing a disturbing rush to have a television dominated poll, to the use of television. We are seeing too much reliance being placed on the leaders. The expectations of the capacities of leaders are too great. We are seeing the media spending much of its time highlighting statements of leaders. Too much is expected of them. Their statements are expected to be different from day to day and there is too little emphasis upon the statements of the other people who make up the ministerial or Opposition team. Moreover, in the last election we saw a very unfortunate concentration on negative politics. I believe that the Government had a good general record. It had a good general record in the management of the economy, in the taxation field and in the development of new industries and so forth, but as the election proceeded the affirmative and valuable things which the Government had done and even the valuable ideas which the Opposition had put forward tended to be lost. We concentrate too much on personalties. We concentrate too much on fears and the development of fears in advertising. I believe these things have to be taken in hand in this country.
Another development in this election which I think bears attention because it is worrying is the increasing concentration on single issue politics.
There are groups which concentrate on one idea or one policy and which are prepared to throw over a member of parliament, despite his general record because they have an objection to him on a particular score. There has been a failure to have balance. A very interesting article on this subject appeared in the Melbourne Herald of 16 October. It quoted Dr Kevin Foley, one of the most intelligent and able Victorian Liberal members. It was headed ‘The Monomaniacs’ - a term which he used about people who are prepared fanatically to promote single issues in politics. We know that in the United States there has been great concentration on spending money not on achieving some better result but on removing particular individuals from politics.
In the last election we saw claims made, whether rightly or not, that the defeat of Mr Short and Mr Simon in Victoria by the change of preferences was a victory for the Right to Life Association. I take it that this is just one of the examples of the more fanatical organisations that are pursuing this sort of course. Of course, some of these things are very misleading. If the Right to Life Association looks at the results of the election it will see that most of the people who suffered defeat on this side of both Houses of Parliament are people who were supporting the association’s campaign. So it should take very little comfort from the results of its efforts in this election. Nonetheless, the development in this country and in the United States of organised groups that are prepared to pay an enormous amount of money for the single purpose of defeating a parliamentarian, not for the promotion of some general policy or general view, is one that I think the parties should take in hand. They should ensure that they do not allow their members to be victimised and that their members receive the support which they deserve according to their talents and not according to someone’s negative campaign.
One other factor of the election which I should mention is the introduction during the campaign of the question of the refusal of Supply in 1975. It reared up for a day or two and, I am glad to say, then fell away. Nonetheless, I think those sorts of issues were quite helpful to the Australian Democrats. I think the Australian Democrats in Victoria can claim that a very considerable amount of their Senate vote, which was just about twice the House of Representatives vote, was due to the idea that to have the Democrats in the Senate was to have a type of bolster, an insurance against a crisis developing again. Unfortunately, because of this sort of view prevailing, first class senators, such as Senator Puplick and Senator Neal, have been victims of the election. Elections often remove the most able and promising senators and members. One can rest assured that they will be back in Parliament at a very early date because of their innate abilities, nonetheless that is one of the most regrettable features of elections.
The last thing I shall say about the 1980 election is that election advertising certainly requires to be looked at very closely. 1 am one who believes that we ought to have some sort of commission that is able to speak out on advertising during a campaign. It would need to be something which was very impartial; it would need to be something which had considerable powers. I believe that on all sides there are quite considerable claims of unfairness. I will not give examples, although I could; but on all sides there are claims of unfair advertising during the course of the campaigns. I certainly think that these areas should not be allowed to develop in our public life.
In the period that we held our election, the United States election proceeded. In fact, the United States election had been proceeding for a very long time. Perhaps in comparison we might almost feel a little happy about our electoral system. 1 am not complacent about the electoral system in Australia but it compares well by comparison with the United States. The idiocy of the system the United States suffers under means that over a period of a year or so the more intelligent and able candidates fall by the wayside. The parties are generally left with those who have sufficient money and doggedness to contest at the end. They were left at the end with what I believe was a relatively poor choice between two major candidates.
When one considers that here we are dealing with the greatest and strongest country in the world, the American system leaves a great deal to be desired. The system means that there may be successful candidates who offer 10 per cent tax cuts and vastly increased defence spending at the same time and people will accept that. The results of the election in the United States are relevant to this country. One wonders what will be the effect. As one who is concerned with human rights, I know that we would not be very satisfied with the spotty record of the Carter Administration in its failure to live up to early promises and its failure to deal with a number of the countries in South America where it had a real influence and where it could have exercised greater influence but did not do so. One fears even more - I hope my fears are not justified - that the interest in human rights by the new government is to very much take second place and that those people who, in their own self interest, have put the new President into power, will not be very keen to see the use of human rights pressure in the case of dictatorships in South America and elsewhere.
I have read about it and people have said that it is the end of a liberal era in the United States. Certainly many of the liberals of the United States Senate have been defeated. Some of them have been defeated by that single issue campaigning of which I spoke before. I do not believe this will be the end of the liberal era in the United States. I think we will see a resurgence. We may find that liberals - I say that in the broad sense of the word - who were tentative to qualify themselves, who tried to pass as conservatives, who saw a certain rush towards conservatism in that country and who did not stand forthwith upon their principles have recognised that that is not the way to survive. The way to survive is to fight for those liberal principles.
At the present time in our country, in Queensland we see Liberals who are likewise fighting for liberal principles. I must say that it is a very difficult campaign. They have to work in a gerrymander system of election, in an area where there are ministerial standards, which are not good Liberal candidates and a Liberal led government are promising that if they get elected to power they will create a new system of standards where Ministers do not gain economically from improper influence in the work in which they are doing and where they do not have the opportunity of becoming wealthy men because of their position and power in politics. One would, therefore, hope that this type of Liberal in Australia would manage to survive and win a battle which is going on there at present.
The Australian Labor Party in Queensland is broken into two factions. They live in two separate headquarters. There is the Breakfast Creek mob and some other mob. At the moment they have buried the hatchet. Senator Puplick once said that they had buried the hatchet in each other’s head. They will not take out the hatchets until the election is over. Would anyone know what would happen then? I do not want to disturb honourable senators opposite too much. The National Party relies on a very old Premier and a man whose ideas are surely, I hope, not suitable for Australia and not suitable for Queenslanders.
I believe that in Australia we watch current elections and are concerned that liberal views and liberal principles maintain their strength there. Let me say that since the election was held in this country there has been a fair development of what I would call conservative principles being expressed by a number of organisations. 1 believe there is every place in this community for conservatives. Many of my best friends are conservatives. 1 do not happen to be one myself. I notice that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Peter Baume, is smiling at me. He is familiar with liberal principles.
Sometimes one hears one’s friends talk and people write to us about the restoration of ‘liberal principles’. They really mean conservative principles. 1 am afraid that those principles sometimes leave me for dead. Let me just mention three of them. I refer to ‘small government’. I listened to Senator Lewis’s speech tonight. I found it to be a most enjoyable and interesting speech and one with which I was very much in agreement insofar as he was saying that there was a need to cut down on the Public Service. There is a need. He made a point tonight and cited figures which indicated that we have not managed to cut down on the chiefs, but we have cut down on the indians. This is the problem that faces those who say: ‘Let us have small government’. We can forget about the idea that we are a pluralist society and have a mixed economy and that we have a lot of obligations to people. Let us have a small government they say and let us get back to the 19th century.
Reference has been made to a ‘razor gang’ which is doing certain things. I trust that there will be intelligent surgery if anything is cut in our current programs, because when one looks at various areas one sees that there are various ideas where we are probably performing tasks which do not need to be performed by a Federal government. Probably we could consider means testing for the family allowance. It seems that at the moment we are nol giving to those who are most in need. In fact, we are providing a lot of money, much of which is going to people who perhaps do not have the need. We need to increase the amount which is going to those in need in order that we can update the payment. The payment was good two years ago but it is not adequate today. In this area I think one would find that the conservatives and the liberals would reach agreement. These are suitable areas for a small government idea.
– Do it by taxation.
– Yes. Taxation is perhaps a way in which it could be done. I think there are misdirected reforms proposed in the returning of responsibilities to the States. Here I am afraid Senator Lewis and I may temporarily part company to a slight degree. I noted in 1976, when we were returning items to the States - when we were cutting out things - that we cut out the Australian Assistance Plan which had strong support in the Liberal Party in this Parliament. I think that was one of the regrettable decisions. I have seen it working in the States under a new title in Victoria of the FACS program. That was a fairly bureaucratic program. It received a fair amount of criticism. We lost any control of a program which was designed to increase for organisations the opportunity of making their own decisions and of putting forward developmental ideas. Mistakes were made and I am sure there were wastages of money, but the idea in itself was a good one and accorded with liberal principles. Therefore, if we return responsibilities to the States let them be where there is actually real duplication.
Let me take universities as an example. I do not refer to education generally. I think there is a strong case for the continuance of a Federal interest in education, otherwise we would return to the situation of years gone by when some States greatly neglected education and others were quite good. I think that in the area of education it is not for Australia to move out as a Federal government from it but rather to look at the areas and see where we may save money. Recently in the La Trobe University paper entitled Record, Professor John Scott, the Vice-Chancellor, delivered an interesting lecture in which he said various things. The paper stated:
Referring to the planning difficulties. Professor Scott likened the seven organisational structures under which universities had to operate to ‘seven mountains’ which prevented easy communication.
Five of these were on a Federal level; the Minister for Education, the Tertiary Education Commission, the Universities Council, the Australian Education Council, and the Consultative Committee to the Chairman of the TEC.
Of the other two he said: . . which at first everyone thought were no more than hills - now appeared much higher than at first anticipated. These were the State Minister for Education and the Victorian Post -Secondary Commission.
There were seven different organisations. Professor Scott formed this conclusion:
The seven bodies surely provide a unique example of planning run riot. There is no sign that the system, which has only grown up in the past few years, is going to simplify in the near future. Indeed, there was even a recent suggestion that the State co-ordinating body, VPSEC should have a Universities Council under it to make an eighth layer.
I put it to the Senate - this is just an example - that this is the sort of area in which we certainly can do something. It is not a matter of removing the Federal interests and the value of the work done by the Federal Government and its education instrumentalities. It is a matter of finding and removing the areas in which there is duplication and unnecessary bureaucracy. That is what we should be setting about.
The last matter in respect of these rather misguided reforms is the suggestion that came out during the election campaign and since about a flat rate of taxation. Perhaps we can get away with a 20 per cent rate, they say–
– Who said that?
– The lady in Queensland who was mentioned before was very strong on this during her campaign.
– A senator-elect.
– Yes. If we send responsibility back to the consumers, if we take away government responsibility and if we do not have indexation of taxation, which to my mind is the way in which we can make governments honest, we might be able to get away with a lower rate of taxation. But I think that a flat rate for every one is so enticing to people that it is ridiculous. Fortunately it has been rejected by this Government as impractical. We must ignore some of the misguided claims about the Liberal principles. They are really conservative principles. We must put them in their place and ensure that they do not receive unnecessary support which will be only confusing and damaging to the development of this country.
I stand in this Parliament as a Liberal. I was elected as a Liberal and I am determined to fight for the strengthening of the Liberal Party both here and in my own State to ensure the triumph of its principles. I would like to refer to a document which is too little quoted in this Parliament - the Federal Platform of the Liberal Party of Australia. The following things are said about our general philosophy.
Liberalism aims to create a society in which individual economic freedom exists. It recognises that free enterprise is the crucial factor in achieving general economic progress, lt acknowledges the importance of effective competition as a preventive of the defects of monopoly power and as the incentive to creativity and productivity.
It recognises, too, the right and obligation of the State to intervene to ensure effective national development, to preserve and conserve the environment and its resources, to stimulate competition and to achieve equity, whenever such intervention can be clearly shown to be necessary.
Those are the principles that we need for the development of a great country and those are the principles that I will fight for in this country and in this Parliament.
– I intended to direct the main thrust of my submissions on this motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply at an effective manpower policy in the areas that I think are being persisted with by the present Government. But as a number of speakers have made some post-election observations I am going to do the same. In the first instance, I respect Senator Missen’s liberal concepts. I know that in the early 1950s he made a very big sacrifice that denied him advancement in his own party. Having said that, I would like to refer to the casualties that the Liberal Party suffered in Victoria. I have in mind the seat of McMillan and the forces that were unleashed against that member. It is remarkable that for years the Liberal Party throughout Australia used mercenaries under the name of the Democratic Labor Party but never have I heard anybody in this place since I became a member in 1 966 defend Labor men who were defamed. I will cite two classic cases.
The first national election I participated in as an elected member was in 1 966. 1 can well remember going to the Cowper electorate. The Labor Party candidate was named Burwood Gillett who had been a prisoner-of-war in Malaysia during World War II. Because that man was advocating what ultimately became the accepted line - the futility of the war in Vietnam - he, and others, were castigated and expressions of ‘treasonable’ and all sorts of epithets were thrown at them. 1 went across the border into Victoria where Mr Kennelly junior, the son of a very illustrious senator, was seeking election for the State seat of Essendon. He was also involved in several other ventures. He was slammed and buffetted with vitriolic outbursts which at the last election caught up with some Liberals. The members of the Liberal Party are the ones who gave encouragement to this Frankenstein concept in politics. The Liberal Party has lost a couple of seats. Maybe in future it will be necessary to curb the extravagant personal abuse that does come out from these sort of John Birch groups. I repeat, to me it is encouraging that as the Liberals have had casualties in the political battlefield it may be necessary, bearing in mind the laws of libel, to tighten up considerably. I say that because I well know of the disapointment to Pat Kennelly when his son had to face extreme smears in his bid for the State seat of Essendon.
The other matter I want to take further relates to electoral reform about which Senator Colston spoke. We all remember the 1972 to 1975 era when the Labor Party brought in a package of electoral reforms. None of the reforms was revolutionary. We suggested that the name of the party might be put in brackets alongside the candidate’s name. We suggested a host of things. The people who were running the Senate and the Opposition parties were not prepared to compromise on anything. They threw the suggestions out. I can well remember several of my colleagues asking questions on individual aspects of the suggestions. Senator Withers used to nod his head in a sage sort of fashion and say: ‘We will have a look at them individually’. Later Senator Chaney and other people took over responsibility for the Administrative Services portfolio, but nothing has happened. 1 believe that minor reforms can occur because at the moment some of the existing provisions are absurd. Senator Sibraa may correct me, but I believe that a person who aspires to enter the national Parliament - I instance the seat of Lowe in the House of Representatives - is required to have six electors sign his nomination form. The formal vote for the electorate of Lowe was 68,000, so Sir William McMahon, who happens to be my local member, represents 68,000 people. But in respect of the last Senate election the quota for the successful election of a senator was 480,000 or thereabouts. A senator needs only six people to sign his nomination form. I note sympathetically what Senator Colston said about not wanting to discourage people from standing for parliament, lt is the essence of democracy that people should have the right to stand. But I respectfully suggest that there is a prostitution of the Senate system when people nominate only because they think they may get some tax deduction for the following year.
I believe that if somebody aspires to become a member of the Senate he should get at least six nominees from each of the 45 divisions in New South Wales or a correspondingly smaller number of divisions in the other States. I believe he has to stand for something. 1 believe that apart from the parties that Senator Colston enumerated, the Douglas Credit Party, the Communist Party of Australia or the Socialist Party of Australia - the two wings of the Communist Party - and one or two other parties such as that representing Fred Nile’s Right to Life organisation would get their six nominees. But if my suggestion were adopted it would cull many other people who are mountebanks as far as I am concerned. At the same time the onus would be on them. If they were able to go to the electorates of Gwydir or Paterson and convince six people whom they had never met that they had something to stand for and they got the nominations I would say they would have a right to throw their hats in the ring. But beyond that, I think the system has been abused.
I again emphasise that I see nothing revolutionary in the fact , .iat candidates names should be on the ballot paper. It is rather ironical that in my own State, whether it be the State Liberal or Labor parties, they have been prepared to be pacesetters in electoral reform. In the Legislative Council election in New South Wales, when democracy was brought to our upper House, the present illustrious Premier of New South Wales, Neville Wran, brought in optional preferential voting. I note that the Liberal Party and the National Country Party have never said publicly that there is anything wrong with that. As a matter of fact, I think it was an earlier Liberal State government that shortened the voting hours and had a 6 p.m. closure. With all the agitation, it seems to me that we created a great morass of wordy ideas about negations of democracy; but these reforms will not affect democracy for one minute. I hope that in the next parliamentary session, if the Government wants to regain its credibility, it does not vote for the emerging coalition of the Labor Party and the Australian Democrats. I hope that it will show its good faith by bringing in some of these virtually minor reforms.
The Governor-General in his Speech referred to youth and unemployment, and 1 want to relate that to Senator Missen ‘s earlier remarks about the trade unions’ attitude to protection. It goes a little further than that. The dilemma in which this Government finds itself involves the Peacock school in the Department of Foreign Affairs. I do not know the views of his successor, the Hon. Anthony Street, but one of the views put forward is that we have to protect the economy of what are called non-communist nations such as Singapore and Malaysia, which means that we have to lower the barriers on our intake of clothing, textiles and rubber. It can be said that if we do that we will have a stable economy, and that they are non-communist countries and they will be good allies. I am always sceptical of countries that are supposed to be anti-communist and fight. Whilst I do not object to a reasonable intake of political refugees from any country, I know that there were some Vietnamese people who bought out the military obligations of their sons and Australian and United States servicemen were conscripted to fight their battle for them. That must be said again and again.
Having made that point, let us face the situation that we have. I think the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal Party accept the view which has been expressed about a reasonable intake of political refugees, but the Labor Party parts company with the Government because it believes that the intake is not equitable. Many honourable senators here have argued about the proliferation of military dictatorships in Latin America but, on a comparison with those people we are taking from one or two selected areas, we have not done nearly enough in extending the hand of friendship to help the victims, the trade union activists, the student activists, and the civil rights people generally in Latin America. No matter what quota we take, the real problem is that because many of those people are victims of oppression we reduce the requirements for physical standards and skills generally. When we get them here, it is obvious that, as taxpayers, we want to get them into the workforce and into the diminishing area of what might be called semiskilled categories. A vast number of those people are females, either married or single women. Perhaps 50,000 people are taken into the clothing and textile industries and into the rubber industry as process workers. I am leaving aside categories such as tyre builders and so on in the rubber industry. The moment we tamper with tariffs and reduce job expectancy and opportunity, we have a blockage caused by the fact that we have brought in people whose only avenue for becoming self-sufficient is in those very industries.
This Government has been remarkably silent about certain areas. Obviously the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has been a bit wary. He has made a few guarded references to Australia’s tariff policy. However a lobby still exists in the Department of Foreign Affairs about the need to stabilise those countries. If we are prepared to stabilise those countries and take more of their goods, in turn we have to say to Mr Lee of Singapore and to the Prime Ministers of Malaysia and Thailand that we cannot take any more political refugees because we cannot find job opportunities for them. I favour the retention of the existing tariff wall. After all, these 50,000 or 60,000 people are taxpayers who have a purchasing power, and if we put them out on the grass we get the secondary effect of diminished hire purchase agreements and all the other situations that arise in our capitalist economy. This is an area about which the Government has not said very much.
If we take it a little further and talk about job skills, it is very nice for the Government to talk about the effect of the computerisation program, but not every person who has been a process worker in the rubber industry or in the clothing and textile industry can be converted to a computer programmer. They are individuals. When we talk about job placement, there are human factors involved. Perhaps it is easier in European countries which have relatively small acreages, but I and other honourable senators know that families with teenage boys and girls or even children in their twenties who are coming out of the universities and have good family relations - we know that there are drug problems and things of that nature, but I do not want to be too morbid about it - are hesitant about their children going to another State where there may be job opportunities. On the question of job opportunities, I have had some experience on the manpower committee of my own party and I have links with the trade union movement in Sydney. I have good relations with senior public servants in the employment and industrial relations field - we get a bit dizzy with the various changes and restructurings of ministerial portfolios - and I know what happens when they try to place people. A whole host of telephone calls have to be made to find out just what is the prevailing position. We have Federal and State departments, but we have nothing comparable with the Scandinavian countries, which have an effective computerisation program whereby they know at any given time what are the needs in the various States for apprenticeships and kindred activities.
These are problems with which this Government has never effectively grappled. We have been given a host of figures that were plucked out of the air about retraining and the number of metal and electrical tradesmen that would be needed for the bonanza about which this Government has talked in relation to the off-shore North West Shelf development. So far it has not come to pass. The Government’s other problem concerns where some of these training programs will get people. The Government has said that its primary job is to reduce inflation, and it has talked about balanced budgets. Anybody who has studied the history of Australia would know - it is probably a terrible thing to say - that following the Depression of 1930 it was only because of the advent of the war and the rearmament in 1937 and 1938 which stimulated the engineering industry that this Government started to take up the compounded lag of unemployment. I suggest that anyone who disputes that should read The Mindful Militant, a History of the Amalgamated Engineering Union by Sheridan - a political scientist from Adelaide University. It contains tables galore which prove that until that stimulation occurred there was a completely sluggish situation. For many people in their twenties who had left school four years before, it was only army call-ups and a stimulation of the defence industry that provided them with jobs.
The program about which this Government is talking is not working. Mrs Thatcher talks about there being no U-turn, and I know that this Government has not gone that far. I receive letters from people in certain areas in Wales. It is very nice for Mrs Thatcher to talk about restructuring the British steel industry, but when we consider the massive unemployment figures in Britain I do not know what democracy is all about. I am nol saying that our problems have reached those dimensions, but until 1984, with this fairly heavy outflow of school leavers, we will have this problem. Another difficulty occurs with people who have had a better opportunity. In my own State there has been an expansion and uplifting of the railway system, but I know of two civil engineering graduates who were not slotted into their particular professions for eight or nine months. Even in those areas there is extreme competition. It is a sort of catch-22 situation. Where do they get jobs, even when they have a degree from a university?
I cannot emphasise too much the difficulties we have as far as an effective manpower policy is concerned. While we have avoided a lot of the racial tension that is plaguing Britain at the moment, we have to remember that some of the greatest sufferers have been the teenage children who came to Australia and went through our education system. These children came out at the age of 12 and 14 and have had to face various mathematical and other changes. When they come from overseas at a critical stage of their schooling it is very difficult. Many of these boys from overseas have found the barrier created by mathematics to their gaining apprenticeships to be almost insurmountable. No need exists for me to emphasise the difficulty in placing young people in employment in the average country town.
It may be argued that a single migrant without the pressure of family ties can go to another State. I and I am sure the Government do not wish to see that situation apply in Australia. Migrants are accepted on a permanent residence basis. We do not adopt the attitude taken by selfish European Common Market countries such as the fat cat countries of Germany and France. France wants to bundle out all the Moroccans, the Algerians and others from African countries. It wants to get rid of them. Having done that, France later will seek to bring people in from another area. I believe that the Government shares the views of the Australian Labor Party in this matter. We do not believe in the guest worker system as under that system people are treated like chattels. I do not wish to see the Government in this situation, although there have been vague talks about it.
I know that the Australian Labor Party was criticised on occasions when it was alleged that there was too close an affinity between the ministerial responsibilities for labour and immigration. Labor did not speak of using migrants simply as industrial cannon fodder. Labor was concerned with the right of each person to a job. The expectation of a job avoided exploitation. 1 make that point because today we hear of the anti-discriminator reforms that are sought in relation to sexual harrassment by some employers. This does not occur in highly unionised areas but is found in small areas of operation. For instance, a female cleaner or workers in similar positions may experience this fear. Sometimes a woman can get a job but her husband cannot. I refer specifically to those whom I call the ethnic battlers in Sydney and Melbourne, people in communities from Portugal and Latin America. I return to the point that Senator Missen made: If the Labor Party erred a little one way it was because it knew the penalties suffered by displaced individuals.
In 1980, freedom of choice is a matter frequently discussed. When the Firestone organisation abdicated its role in the rubber industry, a consolidation of that industry by Dunlop Australia Ltd took place in Victoria. Living at Bankstown, for example, were people in their 40s with children ranging in age from 1 1 to 1 5, all of whom were happy to be there. Those people were employed in that industry. How can they be told that because their industry has gone interstate they must take all their possessions to the new area and make a fresh start? It is all very well to have slogans about a new Australia and free enterprise. The people who have to move are not those from the north side of Sydney or Toorak in Melbourne who lecture on the need for workers to be mobile. The people who must move are those to whom I referred earlier. Those are some of the matters which I believe need emphasis tonight.
My next topic is a little different. I turn to the frequent references to industrial anarcy. For years the media has harped on union bosses and dictatorial attitudes. The picture has been created that every trade union official is unscrupulous, in the mould of the character created by Marlon Brando in the film On the Waterfront. Honourable senators cannot have the argument both ways. Today members of the rank and file of unions are more educated. No trade union leader, whether or not he has what some term charisma, can simply wave his finger at members of his rank and file and say: ‘You will go back to work immediately. I am happy’. On behalf of the Liberal Party, the Australian Press has issued the call to unionists to stand up to their bosses. 1 wonder whether any statistics have been taken to determine in how many disputes it is rank and file members and not paid union officials who are advocating a ‘stayout’? Each evening on television, rank and file members see instant action reports on all sorts of matters and they are moved to ask why they cannot get instant action in relation to their claims with respect to their jobs.
We can argue about the merits of relativities and other aspects. Recently, I attended a seminar at the University of New South Wales. It dealt with industrial matters. That seminar was attended also by an eminent retired man in the field of industrial relations. I refer to Sir Richard Kirby. Mr Justice Macken also attended. By no stretch of the imagination could his thinking be regarded as similar to that of Mr Justice Staples. I think we would all agree that there is a vast difference between the views of the two men. I invite honourable senators to read the criticisms by Mr Justice Macken of the short term selfishness of the Kentucky Fried Chicken organisation and other such organisations which constantly absorb in their workforce kids of 14 years to 16 years. People say: ‘That is a good show. The kids get a bit of pocket money for a couple of years’. But those companies throw those kids out when they reach 16 years of age. That is a policy based on short termed selfishness and such situations distort the whole work pattern.
While I am dealing with the matter of that industrial relations conference, I say to the Government that, whether it likes it or not, a 9-day fortnight will soon be introduced in certain industries and it will not affect productivity one bit. Government supporters can talk about the matter until they are blue in the face but it will happen. The 40-hour week was introduced in about 1947 or 1948. No matter what the industry may be, giant strides in techniques have occurred since then and if workers cannot enjoy the benefit of a little more leisure the failure to achieve that desirable end will be an indictment on society.
Let me mention to the Senate a classic case. In 1958-59, the Cahill Labor Government in New South Wales was the pacesetter in relation to long service leave entitlements. I think everyone will admit that, subsequently, one of the greatest stimulants to tourism has been people enjoying the first instalment of those long service leave entitlements. After 15 years’ employment, at a time when they are usually aged between 35 years and 40 years, people can take 3 months long service leave. Not everyone undertakes a Qantas overseas tour. Many people in New South Wales, for example, go to the far south coast or to the north coast for at least a couple of weeks. The money that they spend there finds its way back into the economy. Whatever reforms the trade union movement has achieved with respect to long service and annual leave entitlements, one of the spinoffs has been a stimulation of the economy through additional spending.
The final point that I wish to deal with concerns a great deal of talk that we have heard about stability in the wage structure. I have castigated the governments of many countries including those of Western Europe and the Scandinavian region about some aspects of their trade unions or wages structure. But there is one excellent point to be noted in those countries with respect to their national health systems. Even if changes should occur in the national health system of such a country, the people know that for 1 2 months that system will be stable. They do not experience as we do in Australia sudden changes in premiums applicable to health insurance.
I make that point for this simple reason: The Labor Party admits that behind the concept of Medibank was a levy on the overall salaries of workers. But the great difference between that and the present system is that the process worker on a low wage was not required to pay as much as the production manager for health insurance coverage. And therein lies the rub at present. If the Government could go to the Australian Council of Trade Unions tomorrow and say that a levy of 1.25 per cent would be imposed on all annual income for the purpose of health insurance cover, emphasising that such a levy would be universal in application and that only one fund would exist, a completely egalitarian concept would be achieved.
Honourable senators can emphasise to me as much as they like the advisability of taking out the top of the table health insurance cover. I will not lock horns directly with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Peter Baume) because I am only a simple one-time railway ambulance corps member, not a medico. But I pose this question to him: How often does one find that the parents of a child with some ailment are told that as the treatment for that problem is not on the medical table the service will cost another $700 or $800? I am not questioning the right of the medical profession to be paid for its skills. But I do argue that there is something wrong with our society if the cost of insurance coverage for medical and associated health costs cannot be stabilised. Rationalisation may be needed in some areas but a national health coverage such as exists in Britain or many European countries as a component of our wages structure would ensure stability.
I make these suggestions, which I have selected at random, to the Government. If it wishes industrial harmony, it must stabilise health coverage. It must accept as inevitable a nine-day fortnight if people are able to do their work in that time using new techniques. I believe that this change will come about. I hope that the Government will take notice of my strictures upon it.
- Mr President, as 1 join in this Address-in-Reply debate at a late hour this evening, 1 recognise that I will probably conclude my speech tomorrow. I mention first the reference by the GovernorGeneral in his Speech when opening Parliament yesterday to the return of the Government with what he described as a ‘substantial majority’. The Governor-General continued:
My Government regards this manifestation of the people’s choice as a mandate to maintain the basic thrust of the policies which have been followed over the past S years.
These policies are designed to work for the well-being of all Australians and to develop a society which maximises the rewards of individual effort and initiative, and which also respects the right of individuals to shape their own lives.
He than made reference to the Government’s program which he claimed was set out comprehensively in the policy speech which the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) delivered to the nation on 30 September this year and in the supplementary statements which accompanied that speech. The Governor-General continued:
My Government is committed to the whole of that program and will work with determination to implement it as fully and as rapidly as possible.
I make no reflection on the Governor-General who read to this Parliament from a document which was prepared for him by the Government.
We might recall that, several times during the recent Federal election campaign the Prime Minister saw fit to alter his policy when he read the opinion polls. If it was not political panic it was very close to it. From time to time he changed the general thrust of what he claimed his policy would be. Some of these changes did not even faintly resemble the policy points delivered at the beginning of the campaign.
I shall now raise a couple of other matters. As Government senators may be aware, a State election will be held in Queensland on Saturday, 29 November. I have a document which I shall seek to have incorporated in Hansard and which has been examined by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Peter Baume). He has suggested that, in accordance with Standing Orders and perhaps parliamentary good taste, a few lines ought to be deleted. I am not terribly happy about their deletion because everything in the document is factual. Its contents either have been published in the daily Press, for which no writs have been issued, or are straight extracts from the Queensland Hansard and consequently are true.
I wish to make a couple of other remarks before I seek leave to have the document incorporated in Hansard. The main reason for doing so is that there has been a lot of misrepresentation. Whilst from time to time the coalition parties in Queensland have ignored the Australian Labor Party and have continued their battle to obtain supremacy in the State Parliament, be it in opposition or in government, a number of statements have been made casting aspersions, directly or indirectly, on the policy of the Labor Party. On a recent visit to northern Queensland the Deputy Premier and Leader of the Liberal Party in Queensland, Dr Llew Edwards, made a statement on the two Acts which govern Aborigines. Those associated with the Parliamentary Labor Party’s committee on Aboriginal affairs frequently have complained about the apartheid-like Acts which were introduced in 1972, both of which were successors to the 1965 Act which disappeared about that time. We have complained about the lack of land rights and about the application of the Acts which, in fact, make Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in my State second class people.
The Deputy Premier said that his party had decided to abolish the Acts. He then claimed that what he called the three major parties - I assume he included the National Party, although in other speeches he claimed it was not a major party anymore - had a similar policy in relation to the abolition of the Acts and the opening of Aboriginal settlements. In the local area I found it necessary to repudiate his claim that he was speaking for the Labor Party as well as for his so-called coalition partner. The result was that a few days later the Premier made a statement that went even further than Dr Edwards did. But his claim was that he would open up all of the settlements to people generally. In other words, private enterprise would be able to take over the land, build its motels, build resorts and do all those sorts of things that the Aboriginal and Island communities do not want done to their property.
There is only one real way to solve the situation and that is to give the people land rights. Many people, including the Torres Strait people, who live in these communities have cultural ties with the land that probably go back many thousands of years. In other places, such as Palm Island, only a minority of the original tribe is left. That island was used first of all as a penal settlement and several generations have lived there since then. As a matter of fact, Palm Island was first settled in 1918. Yarrabah was first settled in 1890 or thereabouts. Two major tribes have some claim to both the northern and southern ends of the Yarrabah settlement. Those groups of people have ties with the land and other people who have been sent there from other areas - in fact, some of the Fraser Island people were sent to Yarrabah many years ago, two or three generations ago - have developed ties with the area.
Consequently, my party believes that the only just way in which these communities can be treated is to enable them to remain in those areas and to give the land to them. This is not the policy of the Liberal Party of Australia, which has on the never never a plan to abolish the Acts. Of course, the National Party will do what it did at both Mornington Island and Aurukun; in other words, it will de-reserve the two areas and make them local government areas which people then will be able to enter, and buy up land at will. Consequently, once more the Aborigines will be put on the run. 1 felt that those points ought to be raised. The Liberal Party, ambitious to become the senior party in the coalition, has by inference and statement claimed it is not responsible for almost all of the unpopular legislation implemented in Queensland over the past several years.
The document that I will seek to have incorporated in Hansard refers to a number of other points which directly or indirectly affect the Australian Government. One of them is education, which should be a direct Commonwealth responsibility, although there is some argument as to the interpretation of the Constitution in this regard. But there are enough precedents to indicate that in fact the Commonwealth must accept responsibility on a national level for education. Another major responsibility that should be a Commonwealth liability, if one wants to describe it that way, is the responsibility for civil liberties. We claim that under the Constitution we are a democratic country, but of course some governments do things that indicate that in fact we are not a democratic country. Perhaps the easiest reference that will be understood by everybody in Australia is the decision by conservative governments at the national level from about 1964 to plan to send and then to send troops from this country to fight in a private war in Vietnam. Of course, that is now one of the murky parts of Australian history. I think that many members of the Liberal Party - certainly those who might be described as small ‘1’ Liberals - are properly ashamed of our intervention in that conflict.
The result of the 1967 referendum was quite clearly interpreted in the report presented last year by the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. In it the Committee indicates that in fact this Government and not the State governments ought to have responsibility for Aboriginal affairs. My party when in government during an harassed three years tried to interpret the policy in that manner. But there has been much backing off by the Fraser governments elected in 1975 and 1977. My understanding of what is about to happen in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs is that that policy will be rejected again. Of course, the great battle that took place at Noonkanbah is one of the blots on our society. I suppose one of the cynical things that one can say now is that the people responsible for taking the drilling rig in to Noonkanbah will not get the job of taking it out - it will be given to another organisation. I suppose that people who scab eventually find their actions coming home to roost. The people who did scab there will not get the golden handshake to get the drilling rig out of the area.
Another murky spot on the history of conservative government in this area was the appointment of a candidate from Queensland to fill the vacancy caused by the sad and unfortunate death of the late Senator Bert Milliner. Pat Field, the man appointed on that occasion, created the sort of vacuum that enabled Supply to be blocked in 1975 and enabled the sacking of a Commonwealth government by a Governor-General who still lives in disgrace, who is now making a secret visit to Australia, who is not making any public appearances, who is not wanted at Government House and who will be thrown out of this Parliament by the Prime Minister if he attempts to come into the Parliament. The man, his family and all those associated with him have been disgraced and discarded by conservative governments. The document to which I have referred is factual. I think that some disenchanted members of the National Party or of the Liberal Party might have had something to do with its compilation. lt is entitled ‘The Liberals did nothing!’ and refers, of course, to Queensland. It refers to the Jellyfish Award’ and defines a jellyfish in this way:
A spineless, anonymous mass floating with the current. A life-form which most people can almost see through!
I want to quote two or three paragraphs just to highlight its general tone. On page 2 there is a statement which I have agreed not to incorporate. It refers to that newspaper headline about which my colleague Senator McLaren got into so much trouble after, I think, a mini-Budget. In other words, it refers to untruths. To give the matter proper sense I will quote that paragraph with that deletion. It states:
A former National President of the Young Liberal Movement is on record as describing the Queensland Liberal/ National Party as follows:
I think this statement was made in Sydney but it certainly received wide publicity. It continues:
They are a pack of cronies who are prepared to destroy police reports and . . . who are prepared to try and turn the police into a political tool and who see the workers in trade unions not as people, but as potential victims to be used for the purpose of political confrontation.
After the words ‘police reports and’ are words that indicate untruths which I have agreed not to incorporate. It continues:
The Premier daily brought public contempt on Parliamentary Government and the democratic process.
But that is not the tragedy - the tragedy is that he only manages to get away with this because the Liberal Party of Queensland willingly and knowingly connives to sustain this iniquity.
That is the view of a ‘Liberal’.
I quote now from page 4 of the document which again gives the general trend of what it is all about, lt states:
All the controversial, irresponsible, unpopular, totalitarian legislation has been passed because the Liberals have voted to support it.
Of course, from time to time the odd Liberal has shied away. The destruction of the Belle Vue Hotel was agreed to by both members of the coalition. lt was only when there was a very strong public reaction to it that some members of the Liberal Party actually made quite wild public statements. But it was too late. The bulldozers had gone in at about 1 a.m. and that grand old building, which should have been part of the historical estate of this country for many years to come, disappeared in a mass of rubble.
– As well as the street lights on the corner.
– The traffic lights were out of action for many months afterwards because of the massive damage done by the contractors. I understand that the contractors and the State Government refused to pick up the tab. I am not quite sure how that matter finished up. Of course, at that time the Belle Vue could have been saved because the Liberal Party, the junior member of the coalition, had 25 votes and the Labor Party had 23 votes which would have given them a majority and would have saved that historical building. The document continues:
I f the Liberals were truly opposed to Bjelke-Petersen’s reactions on street marches, education, ‘Belle Vue’, SEMP, MACOS-
They are the two controversial educational matters -
Essential Services Legislation, Tarong, Electricity charges, they have the right to vote with Labor -
That would have defeated every one of those measures. The Deputy Leader of the Liberal
Party, who is more commonly referred to as Joh’s little helper, although he has not been helping him much over the last three or four weeks, saw fit to back away from those issues. There are two passages on pages 7 and 8 which will also be left out. I will make reference to them without quoting them. One is the heading to a story concerning Ministers and families who share interests in companies. That one will be deleted.
– Who applied the censorship?
– It has been done by agreement with the Minister because of the rules in the Senate at the moment. I see nothing wrong with the half dozen lines that have been taken out, but so as not to keep the chamber sitting until tomorrow morning, as the document is fairly lengthy, I have agreed to the deletion of those few lines. The other deletion refers to Japanese business interests, but the balance of the story remains intact. I now want to quote from page 1 3 to give a further indication of the thrust of the document. Page 1 3 carries these notes:
Street marches - the Liberals would not support moves for the matter to be debated in Parliament.
Whilst some said that they did not support the legislation, almost all of them voted with the Premier of Queensland. There was an attempt both by the public and by the Labor Opposition to have a full scale debate on these matters, but on almost every occasion that an attempt was made to do this the gag was applied in the Parliament. The document continues:
The Liberal/National Party Government refused to support the call by doctors in Cairns area into birth defects caused by pesticides.
That is one of the tragedies. I think there is enough circumstantial evidence at least to indicate that the use of pesticides in Queensland has led to birth deformities, and in any case it required a proper investigation. The situation is a bit like the statement made this year by the former Minister for Veterans’ Affairs when he set up a twoyear inquiry. If agent orange is responsible for birth defects and ill health amongst Vietnam veterans and their families, it may be too late for many of them by the time the inquiry is completed. That is why we stated in our policy prior to the federal election that we would take immediate action. The document continues:
The Health Minister . . . ordered an inquiry, but the Premier cancelled it.
The Liberal Party never even complained about that. In the first instance, Sir William Knox, the Minister for Health, said that he would have an inquiry, but then he had to retract, as he has had to retract so many things when the Premier has refused to co-operate. That is a little like what happened at the last Cabinet meeting when the Minister for racing, or whatever he is, and deputy premier, said he was going to bring in a new racing Bill. But he found out a few days before from the likely new head of the Totalisator Agency Board that he would not have the numbers if he took it to Cabinet. He said that the only thing he objected to was being told by somebody outside the Parliament that he did not have the numbers in Cabinet but that he might bring it back after the election. The chances are that he will not get a chance to bring it back after the election because the Labor Party will be in government. He may be able to discuss it when he goes to collect his pension because he will almost certainly lose his seat. The document continued:
The Premier has refused to accept suggestion of public accounts committee to check public spending by Ministers and departmental heads.
One thing that the Labor Party in Queensland has said it will do is to set up a public accounts committee, similar to that which operates in this place, to keep a proper check on how the taxpayers’ money is spent. But the Liberals have not objected. As the time for the cessation of debate this evening is close, 1 seek leave to incorporate the balance of this document. I have also agreed to delete another reference on page 1 5.
The document read as follows -
THE LIBERALS DID NOTHING!
The information in this booklet was used as background leading to the ‘Jellyfish Award’ being given to the Liberal Party. (A spineless, anonymous mass floating with the current. A life-form which most people can almost see through!)
A search through the official record of Parliamentary Debales (Hansard) shows that almost all of the time all Liberals vote with Bjelke-Petersen.
Dr Llew. Edwards has always, without fail, voted with, and for, Johannes Bjelke-Petersen and his infamous legislation.
On a rare occasion, one or two cross the floor and vote with Labor, but rarely in sufficient numbers to defeat legislation but, at the same time, they always seek maximum media exposure.
A former National President of the Young Liberal Movement is on record as describing the Queensland LiberalNational Party as follows:
They are a pack of cronies who are prepared to destroy police reports and . . . who are prepared to try and turn the police into a political tool and who see the workers in trade unions not as people, but as potential victims to be used for the purpose of political confrontation.
The Premier daily brought public contempt on Parliamentary Government and the democratic process.
But that is not the tragedy- the tragedy is that he only manages to get away with this because the Liberal Party of
Queensland willingly and knowingly connives to sustain this iniquity.
That is the view of a ‘Liberal’. He would not be acceptable to the Liberal Party in Queensland.
A vote for the Liberal Party is a vote for Mr Bjelke-Petersen.
Whilst some Liberals do a lot of talking in the newspapers and on T.V. about their opposition to Johannes BjelkePetersen, their record in Parliament shows that BjelkePetersen cannot implement his undemocratic programmes without Liberal support; or, to put it another way, if the Liberals voted against the Premier’s outlandish proposals, they would be defeated.
These are the facts -
All the controversial, irresponsible, unpopular, totalitarian legislation has been passed because the Liberals have voted to support it.
The Liberals have 25 votes.
The A.L.P. has 23 votes.
If the Liberals were truly opposed to Bjelke-Petersen ‘s actions on street marches, education, ‘BelleVue SEMP, MACOS, Essential Services Legislation, Tarong, Electricity charges, they have the right to vote with Labor and the total of 48 (25 + 23) votes would defeat these measures.
Let’s look at the Liberals and what they have voted for, adopted, endorsed and enforced on your behalf.
The Destruction of the ‘Belle Vue’
Sufficient Liberals voted in support of the Liberal /National Government’s action in the midnight destruction of the ‘Belle Vue’.
Some Liberals crossed the floor but only after the ‘Belle Vue’ was down and the damage was done.
Amendments to the Police Act
These amendments allow a police officer to pass on any allegation, however scandalous and unsupported it may be, to Government Departments and insurance companies to be used against the unsuspecting citizen.
No Liberals voted against these amendments.
A Draft Proclamation was Printed after a Premier’s Aide had approached the Mines Department.
This proclamation, if proclaimed, would have given land owned by Bjelke-Petersen exemption from provisions of the Mining Act.
This exemption is not available to ordinary Queenslanders. The Opposition sought a debate on this highly improper move.
No Liberal voted to have the matter debated.
The Essential Services Legislation
This was pushed through Parliament to create a situation where one Minister could direct public servants to betray their fellow workers in an effort to create industrial disunity asan election issue.
No Liberals voted against these measures.
Some Ministers and their families have share interests in Companies involved in major deals with the Queensland Government, in which the Ministers make decisions of vital concern to the Companies. (This does not happen in any other Western democracy in the world - only Queensland).
As always, the Liberals did nothing
Some Cabinet Ministers, for example, own shares in Comalco, which has signed major deals, including cheap electricity, with the Government.
Again, the Liberals did nothing
Remember the Japanese ‘junkets’ financed for Ministers and their families by Iwasaki, Mitsui and Mitsubishi.
Again, the Liberals did nothing
Remember the special Bill rushed through Parliament in an all-night sitting to allow Iwasaki the rights to control freehold land in Central Queensland in circumstances that will brush aside the provisions of the Local Government Act, the Clean Waters Act, the Clean Air Act, the State’s Licensing Laws and many other laws that bind our fellow Queenslanders.
The Liberals voted with Joh on Iwasaki
Remember - Job’s son, John, has become a partner in beef production with Mr A. M. Oaki a business associated and adviser of the Japanese millionaire, Iwasaki.
Remember the allegations from Mr G. J. Werner, an Exploration Supervisor with Houston Oil and Minerals, which he followed up by a statutory declaration that said:
Mr Bjelke-Petersen had sought a meeting with the Company’s Managing Director proposing that they should buy a rig owned by a Bjelke-Petersen Company if they were granted a Govenment Authority to Prospect.
The Company was given the Authority to Prospect over an area containing large amounts of valuable coal in strange circumstances and it was later given other valuable rights over coal areas without public tenders being called.
The Liberals did not act on this issue. They would not support an inquiry.
Remember when Joh over-ruled the Port of Brisbane Authority allowing the formation of a container monopoly (overseas-controlled) which will result in increased prices for all goods flowing through the Port.
Only one Liberal spoke out against the proposal. All other Liberals supported this move, which was opposed by the U.G.A., Customs Agents and Shipowners.
Remember when Wondai dairy farmers spoke of $10,000 kick-backs’ to the National Party, which allowed big milk producers to keep lucrative milk quotas.
Again, the Liberals did nothing.
A Southern Land Developer paid a Million Dollars to have Land, set aside for a School, Re-zoned as a Shopping Centre. ls this proof that in Queensland, if you give substantial donations, the Law will be bent or changed for you.
Two Liberals voted with Labor, but twenty-three stuck with the National Party and Mr Petersen.
Top Government public servants advised the Government (on at least thirty occasions) not to register land subdivided under water. The Government overturned the advice, registered the land, resulting in millions of dollars being ‘ripped off’ from unsuspecting Queenslanders.
Government Members, including Liberals, attacked Labor spokesmen who demanded justice; yet sixteen people were finally charged years later.
Who stood up for your rights, the Labor Party or the Liberals?
The Liberals, both Ministers and backbenchers, supported the Government’s cover-up on Russel Island.
Company failures in bankruptcy are rarely investigated by the Queensland Government, even though thousands of Queenslanders have lost their life savings.
Remember when the State Electricity Commission was accused of misleading Cabinet.
Again, the Liberals did nothing.
Remember when Tarong was chosen as the Powerhouse site, despite top Departmental reports of an additional $259m cost to Queensland taxpayers (Joh owns land and has mining leases in the area).
Again, the Liberals supported the cover-up. They failed to support a Labor call for the matter to be debated.
The Liberals have allowed the recommendations of a toplevel Criminal Law Inquiry to be watered down by a low-level Cabinet review. No action taken on recommendations in relation to Police verballing and other matters of vital concern to our citizens.
The Liberals have allowed the victimisation of people of independent views.
The Liberals refused to support a Referendum on the takeover of B.C.C. power supply, resulting in higher electricity bills for all householders, even though their Aldermanic colleagues spoke long and loudly about their opposition.
Liberal Ministers were protected by Acts of Parliament pushed through with retrospective provisions to prevent action against Government Members who had breached the provisions of ‘Office of Profit under the Crown’.
The Liberals refused to allow debate or force the Government to provide details of Premier’s costs and expenses. (His plane, his interstate campaigning, etc.).
The Liberals by their actions condoned the burning of homes and possessions at Cedar Bay.
Enough Liberals supported Bjelke-Petersen to allow the appointment of Albert Patrick Field to the Senate, breaching the political decencies observed for a quarter-of-a-century
Street Marches - the Liberals would not support moves for the matter to be debated in Parliament. Whilst some said they did not support the legislation, most Liberals supported Joh.
The Liberal/National Party Government refused to support the call by doctors in Cairns area into birth defects caused by pesticides.
The Health Minister (Liberal) ordered an inquiry, but the Premier cancelled it. (No Liberal complained).
The Premier has refused to accept suggestion of public accounts committee to check public spending by ministers and departmental heads.
The Liberals have stood meekly by and let him get away with it.
Accountability to parliament and, through the parliament, to you???
Joh is the only Premier in Australia to face conspiracy charges and force an Amendment to the Justice Act to prevent his personal appearance in Court.
Joh and the Church
Church leaders are called ‘Corns.’ and ‘Heathens’ when they want to march and ‘Corns.’ and ‘Athiests’ when they don’t.
The Liberals did nothing
Cabinet forcibly took over Church Missions without any consideration or consultation with the Aboriginals or Church leaders involved.
The Liberals talked ‘big’ but backed down under pressure.
Quote from a Meeting of Concerned Christians representing Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists and Quakers–
We fear that in Queensland a style of government is being developed that is reluctant to listen to voices of dissent, that resorts to intimidation in the name of law and order, and that justifies abuses of law and order in the name of higher moral standards and as representative of the Christian viewpoint.
A further quote -
I have been in anguish over the last couple of weeks as I observe from a distance the evasions, manoeuvrings, manipulations of the Queensland Premier re the conduct of inspectors of police, inquiries into the same, removal of ministers who try to reform police forces ‘too quickly’, etc.
Quote - The Dean of Brisbane, The Very Rev. Ian George:
Never at any time during the period when BjelkePetersen and Liberal ministers were attacking the State’s churches and religious leaders did the Liberal parliamentarians seek to use their numbers in parliament to have the matter debated or to defend church leaders.
Joh and Education
He has conducted a war against the State’s school teachers, both employed and unemployed.
A quote from 23.2.78 by Johannes Bjelke-Petersen:
There is someone in the education department who does not seem to know what the government wants to be taught. (Shades or Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia).
He and his Liberal/National Party Cabinet banned SEMP without study or reason.
Government-appointed education planners were accused of corrupting young minds by the Premier and his Ministers.
He, with Liberal support, has refused to allow Sex Education in schools.
Even Liberal voters are saying that Mrs. Joyner now effectively controls Queensland’s education system.
Joh and the Local Authorities
They sacked the Gold Coast City Council. (They wouldn’t puss Hinze’s land deals and developments proposed by donors to the Bjelke-Petersen Foundation)- (A National Party “Slush” Fund).
The by-passed the Livingstone Shire Council (Iwasaki).
They removed the power of Local Authorities to control quarrying. (Russ Hinze owns a quarry) .
They intervened in Local Authority planning processes. ( How else can you return favours to Liberal Party donors?).
They altered the voting system and boundaries to try to defeat their opponents (Clem Jones - Brisbane).
They altered the voting system and boundaries to keep their cronies in power (Redlands) - 3 years ago. Some Divisions have up to ten times as many people enrolled as have some of the smaller Divisions. Remember this when they talk of ‘one vote, one value’ for the State Government.
Only on rare occasions has a lone Liberal voice been raised against the manipulation and centralisation of the Local Government system.
Gerrymander- Electoral Boundaries
The Liberals stand condemned for their obeisance to the National Party through their voting record.
On this legislation, have shown that their present claims that the electoral boundaries in Queensland are grossly distorted and a negation of democracy is a ‘sham’.
They stand as hypocrites or completely lacking in the principles they now claim to have re-discovered.
– I thank the Senate for its co-operation. I hope that the publication of this enlightening document in Hansard will enable people, particularly in the remoter parts of
Queensland, who do not have the opportunity to keep up with parliamentary debate to see the sort of government operating currently in that State. 1 believe the points that I have raised will be of considerable value.
I return now to the Governor-General’s Speech. As I said a moment ago, it is not the same program that the Prime Minister announced when he delivered his policy speech, because of alterations made afterwards. Perhaps one of the things for which the Labor Party ought to thank Rupert Murdoch is the edition of the Australian which showed a photograph of the Prime Minister when he was addressing the Bourke Street rally. The two faces of Malcolm Fraser were shown. There was a huge smiling portrait in the background with the Prime Minister haranguing the crowd with a Hitler-like look on his face showing him in his true mood. That is the sort of mood we will see from the Prime Minister frequently as the weeks and months roll by. I forecast now that the new Senate will become so embarrassing for him that it is likely that we will not have to wait until 1983 for another election. In a fit of pique, or otherwise, he is likely to dissolve both House of Parliament within 1 2 or 1 8 months.
– Order! It being 1 1 p.m., under Sessional Order, I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I think all honourable senators will want the Senate to note and express condolences at the recent death of Wally Lee who had given long and dedicated service to Australia, particularly through his long period of service to the Parliament, with the support of his wife and family to whom, of course, we express our very deep sympathy. Wallace Sydney Lee was born locally in Queanbeyan in February 1917. He was employed when he was 17 years old in the Public Service with the then Department of the Interior. He began his service with the Parliament in 1950 in the Joint House Department and then served with the Department of the Senate from 1955 to 1977. In all he spent some 43 years in the Public Service and in service to the people of Australia. As I have noted, his period of service with the Parliament began in 1950 with the Joint House Department. In 1955 he joined the staff of the Department of the Senate as an attendant. He was appointed transport attendant in 1960 and was promoted to transport officer attendant in 1964 and transport officer, grade 6, in 1969. He retired from the Senate service in 1 977.
I think that Wally Lee gained the respect and affection of senators throughout his period of service. He certainly gained my respect and affection during the time I knew him. After his retirement he and his wife went to live at Narooma on the South Coast but, unfortunately, that retirement was curtailed by his untimely death. I believe, as I said at the outset, that all honourable senators would want to put on record an expression of our sympathy and our condolence to Eileen Maud Lee, his widow, and his family. His death a loss to them and to all of us. We very much appreciate the service that he gave to us and to Australia through his work in the Parliament and with the Department of the Senate.
– I join with Senator Knight in paying a very deep tribute to Wally Lee for the way he looked after every senator in this place. I had the honour- I term it an honour - of attending Wally’s funeral at Narooma on 5 November as a representative of the Parliamentary Labor Party to pay tribute to Wally in that capacity and also as a personal friend. I was accompanied by Arnold Drury who was a South Australian senator in this place for many years. Arnold Drury had a very close personal relationship with Wally and his wife and family. I place on record that Mrs Lee very much appreciated ex-Senator Drury’s efforts in journeying from Adelaide to Narooma to pay his last respects to Wally who was well known to him over many years. He was not so well known to me. I knew him for about 10 years.
Wally Lee would always go out of his way to help senators and, in particular, their wives who came to Canberra. When new senators brought their wives to Canberra they were usually at a loose end. If Wally Lee could do a service to the women folk he would do it as do our present transport officers. Wally Lee’s popularity among the people in Canberra who knew him was borne out by the number of people who attended his funeral service in Narooma on 5 November. The church was so packed that there was no seating room. Many people had to stand. I was very taken by the guard of honour which was put up that day by the members of the Narooma Bowling Club. I think that spoke very highly of the respect people had for Wally Lee and his sporting prowess and the way in which he entered into community life wherever he was. We know that he lived in Narooma for only three years upon his retirement but he was a keen sportsman for all his life. He entered into the sporting sphere in Narooma. The fact that he was so well respected was borne out, as I said, by the large attendance of his Bowling Club colleagues at his funeral service that day.
Senator Knight has related to the Senate tonight the fact that Wally Lee served the whole of his working life as a servant of the people. He started work in the Department of the Interior at the age of 1 7 years. He worked in various spheres in government service until he retired from the Senate due to ill health in December 1977. I had the pleasure, along with my Labor Party colleagues, of tendering Wally a farewell and making a presentation to him before he left the Parliament. To his wife and family I extend again heartfelt sympathy. I hope that his wife can go on in life with the bright outlook she appeared to have on the day of Wally’s funeral. They had a good life. Wally was a good husband and father. He will be sadly missed, particularly in Narooma. I join with Senator Knight in expressing my deepest sympathy to his nearest relatives.
– I can add very little to what has already been said about Wally Lee, but I will single out some things which were very important to me personally and, I am sure, to all honourable senators. The first was his very great efficiency in his job as Senate transport officer. Many of us will never forget that. The second was, as other senators have said, his relationship not only with us as senators but also with our families. This was tremendously important. On a personal note, my own children came to Canberra when they were relatively young. At that time they had the opportunity of meeting Prime Ministers, Ministers and people of that kind. The person who made the most profound impression on them was Wally Lee. There is no doubt about that. They certainly were always pleased to see him when they came back to Canberra.
I make one other point which relates to his very good humour and his wisdom, borne of experience, about his fellow human beings. If I may say so without in the least sense being derogatory, Wally Lee knew more about politicians than was good for any human being to know. He had a profound insight into the behavioiur of all of us. We can all be grateful that he saw his Public Service role very clearly and refrained from writing his memoirs. I am sure that they would have been a best seller. For these reasons I would like to be associated with the expressions of sympathy in respect of someone who made a considerable impression upon all our lives. I join in extending my sympathy to his wife. I hope that her bereavement will be alleviated somewhat by the recollection of many happy memories of a very good man.
– I briefly associate myself with the condolences expressed in regard to our late friend, Wally Lee, who served the Senate so long and well. I wish to put on record my view of someone who spent a lot of time in the Parliament. It became a second home, Wally Lee’s almost permanent home, because I am sure that he spent more of his life here in the Senate than he did with his own family. That is a sacrifice that is willingly made by conscientious and dedicated people. We forget the wonderful service they give because of the hurly burly of life in the Senate. I must say that Wally Lee was the right man in the right job. He was a very pleasant and co-operative person. He was always helpful and ready to go beyond the limits of service to make certain that senators’ transport arrangements were carried out efficiently, and he would follow them through.
He had the capacity to endear himself to a family, as he did particularly to my family. He often reminded my eldest daughter that he helped to carry her in a little basket on her first visit to Canberra. Up until the time he retired he continued to make inquiries about her progress in her schooling, her sporting activities and the like. To me, this was a little thing that was special to Wally Lee. He had the capacity to become part of a family. He was almost a part of our family, but he was a part of the family of the Senate. A lot of people do not realise that, despite the thrust and the parry and all the other things that happen here, underneath it all there is this loyalty of the people who make the place work and keep the machinery going.
I pay a tribute to Wally Lee because he was one of those important people who gave to the limit of his ability for that purpose. I extend my sympathy to his wife, Eileen, and to his family in their very great loss. I am certain that they knew more about him than we did from a distance, but it is a personal loss to me that he has gone so relatively early, and it must be an enormous loss to his family. I extend my sympathy to them.
– Wally Lee’s life and his passing are surely a reminder to us all, as evidenced tonight, that not only is it the parliamentarians who make the institution of democracy function but also there are people of particular significance who are unnoticed by the public from day to day but who make a contribution quite unique and quite vital to the institution. I am delighted tonight - if that is the right word in such sad circumstances - that we should join together to acknowledge somebody who was of particular stature in this institution and whose work has been acknowledged as being quite outstanding in dedication, in skill, and indeed in personality. He gave to us what I think is the real achievement of any man. We can say, not in terms of greatness as historians measure it, that we were privileged to walk alongside him in this journey for varying periods, and that in that walk and in that journey we were richer for the experience. We shared the library of our minds and our experience with him. He added to our own dimension of experience by the warmth of his personality and his gentleness and kindness. He had that gentleness of strengths that I admire so much and that is so rare in people.
I of course join my colleagues in the Senate tonight in the tribute paid to the way in which he went into the hearts of our families and gave to them something which is quite precious in the turmoil of this place - a help, an understanding and I think an affection. Very few people in this world are capable of giving that warmth and affection overtly as he did. We pay tribute from the floor of the Senate to many people of greatness and stature. Wally Lee, in his own way and in his own unique character, walks with equality alongside the others. I join in expressing sympathy to his widow and family, and our thanks that we were privileged to walk with him.
– It is fortunate that at the time of Wally Lee’s retirement we were able to say to him with deep feeling what we thought of him, but I think it is necessary to reiterate it at this moment, to place it in the record, as has been done so well by the speakers who have preceded me.
I had a close association with Wally Lee, as did others. Senator Peter Baume and I, as Whips, knew very well his worth. He had a skill which I think all of us have measured. Nothing can be said to add to what has already been said, but on behalf of my own family I wish to express to his family our sympathy. He was a man who had a tremendous energy and thirst for life and enjoyment and he had hoped to live life to the full - as we too hoped he would - for a further number of years. It is unfortunate that that did not come to pass. Yet, in the two years or a little more of his retirement I think that he did impress his worth on many of his associates outside of the Parliament. To his wife I express my sympathy and trust that she will accept from this Parliament our condolences, which are extended not as an afterthought but as a very sincere expression of our good will.
– I join my colleagues in paying a tribute to Wally
Lee. He looked after the new senators so very well when we first came to Canberra. He seemed to me to be my only friend on my first couple of days. He got me here and got me home and always did so with the best of humour, no matter what time of the day or night it may have been. As a matter of fact 1 can remember that when I asked the Whip at that time, Senator Chaney, when we were likely to go home, he said ‘Why ask me? Go and ask Wally’. Sure enough, Wally always knew what time the Senate was getting up. It was of no use asking the Whip because he never knew, but Wally Lee could always tell us.
Many of us here have spoken about how kind Wally was to our relatives. He was just that. It did not seem to matter how often I changed my mind about my plans or how often I decided I was not going here but I was going there, Wally always fitted it in, with the best of humour. I do not think many people realise how important our transport is to us. It always seems that it has to be arranged at the very last minute - we have to be somewhere, almost as it were, yesterday. Wally had such a wonderful rapport with the airlines that I can only assume that their staff thought as much of him as we did. He was always able to get us that extra seat which it was so imperative for us to have. He would phone one and say: ‘Good heavens, where are you? Your plane leaves in 10 minutes. I have a car here. Come. He always made sure that not one of us ever missed a plane. There is very little that I can add to what has been said tonight. I, too, wish to extend my sympathies to his wife and family.
– One of the bugbears of Senate transport officers and, I presume, of Government drivers as well is the adjournment debate in this chamber. I am sure that none of them would begrudge us having our say on the very important issue that is before us tonight. That is to pay our respects to the late Wally Lee. He was a fount of knowledge not only in respect of his own job but also, as Senator Walters has said, in a number of other areas. I well recall, as a new senator trying to find out from the Government when we would be adjourning on a particular occasion, that somebody said to me: ‘Well, why don’t you go and see Wally Lee?’ That was precisely the same experience as Senator Walters had.
It must be recalled, of course, that, during his very long service to the country - a service that spanned 44 dedicated years - he must have seen many changes. For example, in his own area as Transport Officer he must have seen the change to computerisation in the airline industry. Over all of that period he was able to adapt and he was able also to get that ‘vital seat’ about which we always talk but which does not have on this occasion the same meaning. The vital seat is the seat that gets one home. He was always able to get that. I wish to note my appreciation for that service. I express my deepest sympathy to his widow.
– I wish to associate myself with the expressions that have been made. It is a long time since I received the first welcome from Mr Wally Lee when I entered Parliament. I always remember his goodwill and his good cheer when we returned to Canberra. I also remember his great kindness to my wife and to me in our various movements, as he was to all other honourable senators. I remember that on occasions when a car was not available he would put me in his station wagon at the side of the Senate, drive me home himself and then return. There were a thousand gestures of this great man for all of us. We all have very warm memories of this great officer of the Parliament. It is a moment of sadness for us all to learn that he has not been able to enjoy the retirement which he so richly deserved. But I am glad, as Senator Carrick was, to be in a position to pay this high tribute to him and to thank him for his service and his involvement in the public affairs of this nation.
– I heartily endorse the very warm expressions of appreciation of the services of this fine man to this institution and, as has been said, to the family of the Senate. This man served us well. To hear this evening the tributes paid to him has been quite moving. To know the words that have been uttered in this chamber tonight, will, I feel, be a source of comfort when they are presented to Mrs Lee and to her family. That shall be done.
– I raise a matter in the adjournment debate tonight because I think this is probably the appropriate time, and the only time, for me to do so in this short sitting of the Parliament. I do so because I have tried other means, as has the lady concerned, to achieve what I consider justice. I think as a last resort I must raise this case in the adjournment debate in the hope that the Minister for Social Security (Senator Chaney) will expedite a satisfactory resolution.
The matter I raise involves a case under the Compensation (Australian Government Employees) Act and I believe it demonstrates the delays, the distress and the injustice which can arise when someone gets caught up in what can be described only as a bureaucratic jungle. The lady involved in this case has been pushed from department to department and from Minister to Minister, and she now faces considerable costs defending what in fact is a test case in the Federal Court of Australia. Mrs Kathleen Beattie of Wanniassa in the Australian Capital Territory suffered an injury while on leave in July 1978 and later that injury was aggravated by work she was doing for the Department of Housing and Construction. In December 1978 she claimed compensation for that aggravation. On 28 June 1979, some six months later, a delegate of the Commissioner for Employees’ Compensation decided that she was not eligible for compensation. On 10 January 1 980 the Commissioner reversed this decision and thus Mrs Beattie found herself eligible for compensation. The Department of Social Security, not satisfied with that, appealed against the Commissioner’s decision to the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Tribunal. That Tribunal determined that under the Act Mrs Beattie’. symptoms were in fact due to aggravation and therefore she was entitled to compensation. In other words, after initially unsuccessfully attempting to obtain compensation she had her rights confirmed by both the Commissioner for Compensation and then, on appeal, by the Compensation Tribunal.
The decision of the Tribunal has now been appealed against by the Department of Social Security to the Federal Court of Australia, that appeal being lodged on 1 May 1980. Such an appeal will involve Mrs Beattie and her solicitor’s briefing counsel so that she can be properly represented. One can be sure that the Commonwealth will be represented by senior counsel in such a case. The cost of such defence counsel and the preparation of the case will be considerable for someone who is a wage earner. I put it that we are dealing with a test case - a test case with implications for future decisions on compensation claims within the Commonwealth Public Service. This has been clearly stated in correspondence to me by the previous Minister for Social Security, the Minister for Finance (Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle). The Department of Social Security realises this, and this is one of the reasons that the Department is taking the appeal - an appeal it has already lost before the Commissioner for Compensation and before the Compensation Tribunal - to the Federal Court. Mrs Beattie is fighting not only for her own rights but also the rights of others who will be in similar situations in the future. She is not eligible for legal aid because of her financial position, because as we all know the restrictions on legal aid are very stringent.
I have made representations on her behalf to the Minister for Social Security, the Minister for Finance and the former Minister for Housing and Construction. She has been referred to the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) and she has approached the Ombudsman. She has also attempted to approach the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). We still have not resolved this situation, the best means I have of describing what has happened to her and how she feels is to read her latest letter to me, which is dated 24 November 1980. I believe it describes first hand the feelings and problems of someone in this situation. The letter states:
This letter is an idea of the amount of bureaucratic runaround 1 have been getting in trying to get an answer to my request for legal aid.
As you know I originally approached you in mid May. In response to this meeting you contacted Senator Guilfoyle, then Social Security Minister, who suggested I seek legal aid. 1 again approached legal aid to be told again I was way outside the criteria for aid.
She had previously applied for legal aid before seeing me. The letter continues:
In July, on your representation to Mr Groom, then Minister for Housing and Construction, Mr Groom though it might be of benefit to apply to the Attorney-General for assistance. He also said officers of his department had been asked to maintain personal contact with me to make sure no possibility for assistance was overlooked. That department chose as much as possible to ignore the situation but did allocate one of their personnel officers to keep in token touch.
You then approached Mr Robinson, then Minister for Finance, on my behalf. I guess this was loo large a decision for him to give an answer to so the file was moved to the too hard basket.
I as well wrote to Senator Durack seeking help in my quest for aid. His suggestion was to go back to legal aid. Although I advised him that on two previous occasions I had been refused aid still on the same grounds of being outside the criteria for aid.
I then requested another interview with the Review Commission of the Legal Aid Office. In August this 3 man commission refused me aid, again on the same grounds as before, lt was verbally stated to me by this commission I seek help from the Minister for Finance. I did this but instead of being totally ignored I was advised to contact the Attorney-General. At this time I asked for an appointment to see the AttorneyGeneral. No appointment was granted. I also asked for an appointment to see Mr Robinson. No appointment was granted . . .
In late August in the Estimates sittings you asked a question on my behalf. The answers appeared to me a little bit vague.
In September Mr Robinson replied to your letter of 1 7th July stating the matter was in the hands of the AttorneyGeneral. I then chased the Attorney-General’s office and managed to find out that my file was located in the legal aid section of that department. From that source I was told I could expect an answer from Senator Durack before the election. Then the reply struggled on to after the election. Meanwhile time marches on.
By now 1 am starting to be a little bit annoyed so 1 phoned the Prime Minister’s office and asked to make an appointment to see the P.M.’s senior secretary. He does not do this and I was transferred lo another person of that office. He suggested I place my complaint with the Ombudsman. I went in and had an interview with the Ombudsman’s officer. They were of no help and appeared lo be confused about the whole situation.
Once again 1 spoke to the gentleman in charge of my file in Attorney-General’s department. I asked him what was happening lo my request as 6 weeks had now lapsed since he had received the file. He was annoyed I had been in touch with the P.M.’s office and was indecently arrogant in telling me I was lucky he was a rational person. I felt it was harrassment by this officer. He then informed me it was outside the jurisdiction of the Attorney-General’s department to grant aid and my file had been forwarded on to the department of Social Security. The officer in this department is the same one who lodged the appeal for the crown against me.
My last instruction from him is he is waiting on a reply from the department of Finance before he can speak to Senator Chaney.
Thanking you for your assistance.
Yours faithfully KATH. BEATTIE
Mrs Beattie is obviously a determined lady. She will defend her case against the Government in the Federal Court, as she should. She will, however, have to worry about the cost of this appeal. A less determined person, I would suggest, would have been frightened by the potential loss and given up. Perhaps this is what some departmental officers thought would happen. I repeat that the Department is appealing, not because of the potential cost involved in this individual case, but because of the implications that the interpretation of this case will have in future cases of a similar type. I am not arguing against the Department’s decision to appeal. What I am saying is that in every sense of the word this is a test case. Mrs Beattie has at every step gone through the correct channels, and this is one.
The case is before the Federal Court as a result of an act of the Department to prevent or to hinder someone like Mrs Beattie from pursuing her defence against the Government because of the cost of such a defence. That, I suggest, would be to deny her justice. Quite clearly in a case such as this the costs should be borne and guaranteed by the Government. None of the departments I have approached has denied this. The problem seems to be that no department and no Minister will take responsibility for making the decision to bear the costs. Therefore I am making a plea tonight to the new Minister for Social Security, Senator Chaney, as the Minister for the department that has initiated this court case, to take the initiative and accept the responsibility for the costs. If this is not done we will continue with this duck shoving and I suggest that justice in this case will neither be done nor seem to be done. It is important in a case like this before a court at this level that people have access to the court to defend themselves as Mrs Beattie was able to do at the lower jurisdictions. It is important that a case like this with such wide implications should be able to be presented to a court without fear and the worry of the considerable costs which may be sustained.
– I can understand the honourable senator’s raising this matter on the adjournment. It appears to me that this matter raises a couple of quite separate issues. The first issue is the problem which has been faced by Mrs Beattie in having to apply to a multiplicity of agents and departments and her inability to get a final positive decision, which is the object of her efforts. The second question is the principle as to what attitude ought be adopted by the Commonwealth as an employer. I stress that here it is the Commonwealth in its role as an employer that we are concerned with rather than the Commonwealth in its role as the Government which is generally responsible for legal aid.
With respect to the first point, that is Mrs Beattie having to deal with a multiplicity of parties, 1 am unable to give the immediate answer which was sought tonight by Senator Grimes. The reason I am unable to do so is that the briefing which I have sought and obtained from my Department indicates a substantial question of principle. It also indicates that there are existing rules which are applied to applications of this sort. Quite frankly, I am a little puzzled by the application of those rules to Mrs Beattie’s case. That is a matter which I want to take up with my Department and to discuss further. I will, however, give an undertaking to the Senate that I will deal with this matter and that, whether or not I am the Minister responsible in the ultimate for the decision, I will undertake to ensure that she can deal with me, that I will co-ordinate the attention of my colleagues to this matter and ensure that she has one head to deal with and not more than one. I understand that she has sought a meeting with me and, subject to what I am about to say, I would be very happy to see her.
With respect to the granting of aid in cases of this sort, my advice - and it is advice which has only just come to hand - is that the rules which are applied are set out in a Press release of the then Treasurer dated 4 June 1967. So it is something of rather long standing. It was actually enunciated with respect to appeals by the Commissioner of Taxation against decisions of the Taxation Board of Review. However, I understand the same rules have been applied in this area. The Press release of the then Treasurer, the
Right Honourable William McMahon, states in part:
Although it will still be necessary to consider each case on its merits, it has been decided that, when the Commissioner appeals against a decision of the Board of Review, the Commonwealth will, as a general rule, be prepared to bear its own costs and the reasonable costs of the taxpayer in connection with the appeal, irrespective of the outcome.
The Treasurer said he would not be prepared to enter into any arrangement regarding costs in cases where the taxpayer was seeking some benefit which the legislature clearly had not intended to grant.
I am a little concerned as to the application of those final words. I am a little concerned about how one would apply those words to the facts that have been put forward this evening by Senator Grimes. I will undertake to examine that at the earliest opportunity and to confer with the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) on it.
Mr President, it puzzles me that this sort of situation has not arisen more often. I would have thought that appeals would have been a reasonably frequent occurrence bearing in mind the large number of Commonwealth employees. I will therefore also pursue with the Attorney the suitability of the rules, which were promulgated for application in the taxation area, for this area in the hope that future cases might be able to be determined with more dispatch than Mrs Beattie’s case. So that there is no misunderstanding may I very quickly repeat that, firstly, Mrs Beattie may deal with me on this matter and 1 will undertake to get her a firm and final response; secondly, I will confer with the Attorney-General on the application of the present rules to Mrs Beattie’s case; thirdly, 1 will confer with the Attorney-General in respect of an appropriate set of rules for the future. (Quorum formed).
- Mr President, I note that a large number of Liberals have responded to the call for a quorum. I just wonder, Mr President, whether you have noted whether Senator Harradine is present.
– A quorum is present in the Senate at the present time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1 1.43 p.m.
The following papers were presented, pursuant to statute:
Customs Tariff - Orders 1980 - Developing Countries Nos 6 and 7.
Public Service Arbitration Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, accompanied by statements regarding possible inconsistency with the law - 1980 -
No. 12 - Australian Theatrical and Amusement Employees Association.*
No. 406 - Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia and others.
No. 407 - Australian Public Service Association (Fourth Division Officers).
No. 408 - Professional Radio and Electronics Institute of Australasia.
No. 409 - Association of Professional Engineers, Australia and others.
No. 410 - Australian Public Service Association (Fourth Division Officers).*
No. 411 - Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights Union and others.
No. 412 - Australian Public Service Association (Fourth Division Officers).
No. 413 - Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights Union and others.*
Nos 414 and 415- Federated Liquor and Allied Industries Employees Union of Australia.
No. 416 - Administrative and Clerical Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service and others.*
No. 417 - Administrative and Clerical Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 418 - Electrical Trades Union of Australia.
No. 419 - Australian Public Service Association (Fourth Division Officers).*
No. 420 - Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights Union and others.*
No. 421- CSIRO Laboratory Craftsmen Association.
No. 422 - Australian Public Service Association (Fourth Division Officers).
No. 423 - Administrative and Clerical Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service and others.*
No. 424 - Australian Public Service Association (Fourth Division Officers).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 November 1980, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1980/19801126_senate_32_s87/>.