32nd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 286 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
We, being the undersigned, being concerned citizens of Australia and of the world noting widespread violations of the fundamental Human Rights around the world observing that Australia has taken a leading role in the United Nations Commission for Human Rights being aware that less than 40 per cent of money raised by Amnesty International is remitted outside Australia urge the Government to support Amnesty International in a practical way by permitting donations to it to be deductible from income for taxation purposes.
And your petitioners as in duly bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
-I present the following pet ition from 1 30 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That Aboriginal land rights, religion, sacred sites, and culture are being threatened and denied by the West Australian Government which is denying the Noonkanbah Community the right to consider and negotiate the Amax mining company’s proposals by bringing in police to intimidate Aboriginal people and by instructing the Western Australian Museum to allow drilling on sacred sites at Noonkanbah.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government honours its responsibilities to Aboriginal people according to the spirit of the 1967 Referendum vote giving the Commonwealth Government power to intervene in Stale affairs where Aboriginal matters are involved; that it takes actionto ensure that the Noonkanbah community have the right to engage in full negotiations with the Western Australian Government and Amax Co. without intimidation and with sufficient time and information to consider the proposals and with a Commonwealth Government presence in order to ensure fair-dealing; and that the Commonwealth Government ensure that the administration of the Aboriginal Heritage Act by the Western Australian Museum is not tampered with by the Western Australian Government for political expediency against the spirit of the Act and the wishes of the Aboriginal people who have entrusted their culture, their religious objects and law to the Museum.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 140 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth its objection to the removal from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme of all goats milk formulae. We request that the Government restore to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme this basic natural food which is essential to many babies who are allergic to both cows milk and soy and corn substitutes. The failure to do so will place an intolerable cost burden on their parents and no alternatives for the child as the only manufacturer will cease production if the product is withdrawn.
And your petitioners as in duly bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 91 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
We, being the undersigned, being concerned citizens of Australia and of the world, noting widespread violations of the fundamental human rights around the world, observing that Australia has taken a leading role in the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, being aware that less than 40 per cent of money raised by Amnesty International is remitted outside Australia, urge the Government to support Amnesty International in a practical way by permitting donationsto it to be deductible from income for taxation purposes.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
-I present the following petition from 102 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
We, being the undersigned, being concerned citizens of Australia and of the world, noting widespread violations of the fundamental Human Rights around the world, observing that Australia has taken a leading role in the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, being aware that less than 40 per cent of money raised by Amnesty International is remitted outside Australia, urge the Government to support Amnesty International in a practical way by permitting donations to it to be deductible from income for taxation purposes.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition from 89 citizens of Australia:
We, being the undersigned, being concerned citizens of Australia and of the world, noting widespread violations of the fundamental Human Rights around the world, observing that Australia has taken a leading role in the United Nations
Commission for Human Rights, being aware that less than 40 percent of money raised by Amnesty International is remitted outside Australia, urge the Government to support Amnesty International in a practical way by permitting donations to it to be deductible from income for taxation purposes.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition from 95 citizens of Australia:
We, being the undersigned, being concerned citizens of Australia and of the world, noting widespread violations of the fundamental Human Rights around the world, observing that Australia has taken a leading role in the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, being aware that less than 40 percent of money raised by Amnesty International is remitted outside Australia, urge the Government to support Amnesty International in a practical way by permitting donations to it to be deductible from income for taxation purposes.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition from 97 citizens of Australia:
We, being the undersigned, being concerned citizens of Australia and of the world, noting widespread violations of the fundamental Human Rights around the world, observing that Australia has taken a leading role in the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, being aware that less than 40 per cent of money raised by Amnesty International is remitted outside Australia, urge the Government to support Amnesty International in a practical way by permitting donations to it to be deductible from income for taxation purposes.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
We, the undersigned, being concerned citizens of Australia and of the world, noting widespread violations of fundamental Human Rights around the world, observing that Australia has taken a leading role in the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, being aware that less than 40 per cent of money raised by Amnesty International is remitted outside Australia, urge the Government to support Amnesty International in a practical way by permitting donations to it to be deductible from income for taxation purposes.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senators Chaney, Coleman, Puplick (2 petitions) and Walsh.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth its objection to the removal from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme of all goats’ milk formulae. We request that the Government restore to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme this basic natural food which is essential to many babies who are allergic to both cows milk and soy and corn substitutes. The failure to do so will place an intolerable cost burden on their parents and no alternatives for the child as the only manufacturer will cease production if the product is withdrawn.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Ryan.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth objection to the metric system and request the Government to restore the imperial system.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senators Rae and Scott.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate, in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth, do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
Note that legislation establishing plant breeders’ rights in other countries has had serious adverse effects, namely:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Puplick.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the National Women’s Advisory Council has not been democratically elected by the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is not representative of the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is a discriminatory and sexist imposition on Australian women as Australian men do not have a National Men’s Advisory Council imposed on them.
Your petitioners therefore pray: That the National Women’s Advisory Council be abolished to ensure that Australian women have equal opportunity with Australian men on having issues of concern to them considered, debated and voted on by their Parliamentary representative without intervention and interference by an unrepresentative “Advisory Council”
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senators Lewis and Scott.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the Federal Government did not make increased funding available for government school programs such as:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled should restore and increase substantially, in real terms, the allocation of funds for government school programs. by Senators Button and Carrick.
To the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned citizens respectfully showeth:
That there is an urgent need to ensure that the living standard of pensioners will not decline, as indeed, the present level of cash benefits in real terms requires upward adjustment beyond indexation related to the movement of the Consumer Price Index, by this and other means your petitioners urge that action be taken to:
Taxation relief for pensioners and others on low incomes by:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senators Puplick and Scott.
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate of the Australian Parliament in Canberra assembled. The petition of certain citizens respectfully showeth -
That the right to work without discrimination on any ground including, inter alia, discrimination on grounds of race, ethnic origin, pregnancy, marital status, sex and/or sexual preference is a fundamental human right; and
That it is both the duty and responsibility of society to fully support those denied work and therefore those who are unemployed as a result of society’s inability to provide full paid employment should be guaranteed an adequate income without discrimination on any ground, including inter alia discrimination on grounds of race, ethnic origin, marital status, sex and/or sexual preference, or pregnancy.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray-
That appropriate and adequate laws be formulated and passed to outlaw discrimination in Commonwealth employment, in employment of persons by statutory bodies and quasi-governmental organisations, in employment of individuals under federal awards, and in employment of all persons in areas over which Commonwealth and Australian Capital Territory equal opportunity legislation should have jurisdiction; and
That appropriate laws be formulated and passed to outlaw discrimination in the provision of unemployment benefits to all persons without regard to race, ethnic origin, marital status and/or sex.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Chaney.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we are gravely concerned by the invasion of privacy caused by Government agents seizing patients medical records:
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should -
Legislate to protect the private and confidential nature of medical records from scrutiny except on the express and informed consent of the patient or an order from a presiding judge.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Carrick.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate of the Australian Parliament assembled. The Petition of certain citizens respectfully showeth:
That allegations have been made by litigants that unjust decisions in relation to ancillary matters are being made at the Family Court of Australia.
We call on the Government to amend Section 79 ( 1 ) of the Family Law Act, to allow all Family Courts to be open and publication of details of proceedings permitted, provided names of parties and other identifying information is prohibited from disclosure.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senators Carrick and Puplick.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Parliament defer introducing the legislation until full and informed public discussion of the issues involved has taken place.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Walsh.
Notice of Motion
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That leave be givento introduce a Bill for an Act relating to costs in Federal courts and courts of certain Territories.
– I ask the Minister for National Development and Energy: Does the Government still vehemently reject the advice of the Treasury and an interdepartmental committee which suggested the imposition of a resource rental tax for the mining industry? What are the Government’s current intentions relating to such a tax? Is the Minister in a position either to affirm or to deny that the Government in its three-year period in office will not introduce such a tax?
– The Government believes, and has ample proof for its belief, that its present oil levy is achieving a mechanism to carry out a program to get an energy balance in this country - that is, to conserve, to convert to other fuels, to encourage exploration and to encourage the development of synthetic fuels. The Government has no plans for and does not contemplate the introduction of a resource rental tax. That was indicated during the election campaign.
– I asked the Minister: Does he reject as a matter of principle the concept of a resource rental tax, as distinct from his saying that it is not within the Government’s current contemplation?
– The question of the philosophy of a tax is one that the Government would look at in policy terms. It has not found it necessary to depart from its oil levy and does not intend to substitute a resource rental tax. Therefore, there is no question of acceptance or rejection; the Government is not proceeding along those lines.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister representing the Minister for Education: Has his attention been drawn to the ubiquitous presence of Mr Rupert Murdoch on page 3 of today’s Australian Financial Review?
– What about his presence in the parliament yesterday?
– Those various articles allege that Mr Murdoch had talks regarding airlines legislation, has been pressing for amendments to the Broadcasting and Television Act - whichI add would be vigorously opposed by some Government senators–
– Hear, hear!
– Let us see their backbone first.
– If the honourable senator had one he would recognise it in others. The articles allege also that Mr Murdoch has been appointed Interim Chancellor of the Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory. My question relates specifically to the latter point. If the Northern Territory Government proceeds unilaterally to the establishment of a university - clearly not needed in Australia at this stage - will it be made clear to the Northern Territory Government that it will be its exclusive responsibility to pay all of the costs of this establishment and that funds will not be provided by the Commonwealth’s diverting funds from existing tertiary institutions?
– Concerning the first part of Senator Puplick’s question, I have not seen the Australian Financial Review today. Therefore, I do not know of the matter to which he referred. I will acquaint myself with this in the future. With reference to the earlier interjection, I was not aware that Mr Rupert Murdoch, or any other leader of commerce and industry, had been in this parliament in recent days. If Mr Murdoch was here, he had the same full right to be here as any other citizen of Australia because parliament exists for the citizens of this country. Whether a person succeeds or otherwise in his self-interest, which is a right of any citizen to advance, is a matter for the judgment of Cabinet. The Cabinet and this Government, both its front bench members and its back bench members, can be relied upon to make objective value judgments in the interests of the people of Australia. Therefore, it is not in any way improper for any citizen to approach any element of government in this country.
As to the second part of the question, I am not aware at this moment of the pressures for the development of a university. There is in Darwin a good and functioning community college which in many ways is still at the developmental stage, particularly in the need to develop strongly the technical and trade processes. Of course, there is an adjunct of it in Alice Springs. Whether an area such as the Northern Territory could cope with another tertiary institution is a value judgment in itself. From memory the Tertiary Education Commission has indicated in the past that it does not envisage the development of additional universities in Australia for the immediate future. The question of who should pay is a matter which would arise, firstly, out of the advice of the Tertiary Education Commission and, secondly, out of the volume of funds available. I will direct the attention of the Minister for Education to the suggestion made by Senator Puplick that if such a matter were to develop the Northern Territory Government should understand that it might bear the costs involved.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, follows on from Senator Puplick’s question. I ask the Minister whether, in directing that question to the Minister for Education, he will also advise the Minister for Education that Senator Puplick’s question is perhaps more explicit if it is understood that the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory has undertaken that there will be a university in Darwin by 1983.
– I will add the comment made by way of a question from Senator Button to the text of Senator Puplick’s question and my reply when I transmit them to the Minister for Education in another place.
– I direct a question to the newly appointed Minister representing the Minister for Communications. I am sorry to see that Senator Chaney has moved further afield. I am now not able to ask these questions of him. I ask: Are sales of push button telephones as high as Telecom Australia had expected? If not, is Telecom planning to reduce the rental and extra costs of push button telephones to promote their use? Does Telecom intend to alter the method of transmission of the numbers that are dialled on push button telephones from digital pulses to the much more rapid touchtone method of transmission? Finally, is Telecom developing a push button telephone which will re-call a number that may be engaged by simply pushing one button rather than redialling the whole number?
– I thank Senator Townley for his question and on Senator Chaney’s behalf I am certain that I can indicate that Senator Chaney is not sorry for the move that has taken place. The honourable senator has asked whether sales are as high as Telecom had expected. I cannot answer that question but will address it to Telecom. He also asked whether there is an intention to reduce the rental and other costs of these telephones. I will make sure that this question is directed to Telecom. The honourable senator then asked two highly technical questions which I would not attempt to answer now. I will undertake to obtain answers for him and to pass them on.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Who made the decision to drop the conspiracy charges against 1 1 1 people in the alleged social security fraud case which has been going on for a long time in Sydney? When was that decision made? In particular, was it the AttorneyGeneral’s final decision or was it one for the Cabinet?
– 1 made the decision to drop the conspiracy charges and to replace them, in many cases, with different charges. I cannot put a date on when the decision was made. The 1 1 1 accused were remanded until 30 October. I made the decision a few days prior to their cases coming forward. The matter was reported by me to the Prime Minister and I had a discussion with him in relation to it. But as is, of course, well established, the actual decision in these matters is for the Attorney-General and not for the Government.
– Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in a position lo advise whether the report by Mr B. W. Rowland, Q.C., entitled Examination of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act’, is to be tabled in the Senate? Can the Minister advise whether the Government intends to take any administrative or legislative action following perusal of the report? If the report is to be tabled in the Senate will it be made available to interested persons? Will the Minister accept submissions relating to the report and take such submissions into account when considering future action?
- Mr Rowland, Q.C., was appointed last year to make an examination of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act specifically in regard to certain matters but not so as to have any detriment to the basic principles of the Act. His report of 1 1 August 1980 was released by me last week for public consideration. Copies have already been distributed to interested persons and organisations. I understand that, for example, Senator Ryan received a copy as did Northern Territory honourable senators. No decisions have yet been taken on the matters discussed in the report, nor will they be taken until all interested parties have had an opportunity to comment and make their views known.
I can see no reason why the report should not be tabled in the Senate. I will undertake so to do. However, before any decisions are taken by me or by the Government opportunity will be given to the Northern Territory Government, the Northern Territory land councils and all other interested parties to make known their views on the matters discussed by Mr Rowland in the review of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. How many people from East Timor have been reunited with their families as a result of the Minister’s decision to allow into Australia those refugees who were able to get out of East Timor by 30 September? How many remain in Portugal, Macau, Taiwan and Indonesia awaiting processing of their applications? Has the Department been able to overcome the situation in which people wanting to leave Indonesia have to pay bribes of $ 1 ,000?
– I will refer that question to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and ask him to give me an early answer for Senator Robertson.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development and Energy. Has the Minister noted an item in the interim annual report of 1979-80 of the AlburyWodonga Development Corporation stating that the Corporation has undertaken to supply the proposed newsprint mill with water and that work has commenced on augmentation of the system? Can the Minister inform the Senate firstly, what will be the total cost to the taxpayer of this service to the mill, secondly, what will be the effect on the environment of the area, and thirdly, what will be the cost and supply effect of the new extension of this service to the mill to the traditional users of water in that area?
– As to the first part of the question, I believe I have seen such a statement. The second part of the question, which is in three sections, requires specific information on costs and the effect on the environment. They are technical matters on which I do not have information immediatley available. I will seek the information and let Senator Lajovic have it.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General as the first law officer charged with upholding the Constitution. It relates to the matter raised by Senator Chipp yesterday concerning two Royal Australian Navy Reserve chaplains from Western Australia who, it has been reported, have been disciplined and relieved of some naval duties for their part in an ecumenical prayer meeting on the Noonkanbah Aboriginal dispute. Has the Attorney satisfied himself that the Commander of HMAS Leeuwin acted in a way permitted by section 116 of the Constitution which prevents the Commonwealth from discriminating in its employment against a person for actively expressing a religious conviction? Does the Attorney agree that this matter is appropriate to be referred to the Human Rights Bureau which he established in August of this year so that it might inquire whether the action of the commanding officer or such a practice within the armed forces conform with Australia’s international obligations in the field of human rights? Finally, will the Minister report to the Senate as fully as possible on this matter of grave concern before it rises for the Christmas recess?
– As a result of a question asked by Senator Chipp yesterday I have taken the matter up with the Minister for Defence. I am having some further discussion with him. 1 am not in a position to give an answer to Senator Chipp today, but I will certainly undertake to do so before we rise for the Christmas recess. Senator Tate has added another perspective to the problem. 1 do not know that I am grateful, but I am interested in it. I will certainly take note of it when considering the matter and the answer to be given.
– My question to the Minister representing the Treasurer follows previous questions I have asked and the response from the Government that it would consider exempting cricket helmets from sales tax in the 1980-81 Budget. As this exemption was not included in the Budget, will the Government exempt cricket helmets from sales tax as they are necessary to protect young cricketers from serious head injury? This also would overcome a farcical situation which exists at present as exemption already is given to cyclists’ and motor cyclists’ helmets. Could cricket helmets not be regarded as safety equipment rather than as sports items and at the same time be given a stamp of quality approval as some of these helmets being marketed are of inferior quality?
I am not aware of previous questions on this matter. I have not followed them through. I do not know what consideration has been given to this matter by the Treasurer. I will refer it to him to seek information and, perhaps, to draw to his attention the claims which are made by Senator
Young. I can only say that I am sure that matters of sales tax in general were considered at the time of the recent Budget, but I will draw the further facts that have been given by Senator Young to the Treasurer and seek an answer.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to a speech with political overtones made by the Soviet Ambassador to Australia at a formal luncheon given by the Tasmanian Government on 17 November of this year. Has the Minister read of the embarrassment of the Premier of Tasmania over this incident? Did the Department of Foreign Affairs take the unusual but diplomatically significant step of calling in the Soviet Ambassador, as I publicly called for, two days after that incident? In particular, how could the Soviet Ambassador explain away his insult made during the official luncheon against Australian citizens, including those of Baltic and Polish origin - he described them as miserable people in some respects - who peacefully protested Soviet action during his visit?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEI have read reports of the statements made in Tasmania recently by the Soviet Ambassador. 1 am advised by the Minister for Foreign Affairs that, technically, the remarks which the Ambassador is reported to have made do not constitute a departure from customary diplomatic behaviour. I understand that, on the instructions of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Secretary to the Department of Foreign Affairs called in the Soviet Ambassador on Monday in order to hear from him exactly what he had said in Hobart. I am advised that in the course of outlining his remarks the Soviet Ambassador clarified the reference which he had been reported to have made to ‘a miserable group of people’. The Ambassador said that what he had intended to convey, but what might have been lost in translation, was that it was only a small group of people and that he did not intend any more than that.
I wish to make one further point about this matter on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In Australia the Soviet Ambassador enjoys rights of free speech and access to a generally free Press which neither he nor any other Soviet citizen nor any foreign visitor can enjoy in the Soviet Union.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health by saying that for many diabetic sufferers insulin is required to be administered once or sometimes twice a day. Although the insulin is subject to the normal national health benefits, the cost of applying the insulin is quite considerable for most patients. I therefore ask: When will the Government give consideration to assisting diabetic patients by including these life-saving injection syringes and needles in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme?
– I know that insulin is available as a benefit. I also believe that some urine-testing equipment is available to assist diabetic patients in their day to day management.I hear the voice of a diabetic colleague in the background.I know that there has been a recent change in the availability of injection equipment - a new standard injection syringe has been developed, for example - but I am unable to answer the question about the availability of these new items as pharmaceutical benefits. I think the question will need to be referred to the Minister for Health for a detailed response.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the Australian government raise with the Uruguayan authorities and other bodies such as the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the International Red Cross the whereabouts and state of health of one Raul Martinez, prisoner No. 758, who has been incarcerated in Libertad prison in Uruguay for the past nine years?
– I undertake to refer that matter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and to see that investigations are made wherever possible. I also undertake to advise the Senate accordingly.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Yesterday the Minister expressed doubt that 17,000 Aboriginals in the Northern Territory were without reliable telecommunications. Is the Minister aware that a Study of Remote Area Telecommunications in the Northern Territory, commissioned by Telecom Australia and prepared by the Implementation and Management Group Pty Ltd, was published in May 1980? At page 17, volume 1 of the report, it is stated:
Approximately 17,000 Aborigines and nearly 4,000 nonAboriginal people at present live in the Northern Territory in remote areas which are not provided with high quality telecommunications services.
Is the Minister aware that although major Aboriginal settlements in the Northern Territory have two-way radios and some have radio-telephones, these radio communications services are unusable for a significant proportion of the time due to adverse weather conditions and that such services operate on only a very limited number of frequencies so that often a single line of communication must be shared between several hundred Aboriginal people? In view of these facts, does the Minister still claim that such communications services are adequate for the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory? If not, what does the Minister intend to do to improve communications services to the Northern Territory Aboriginals?
– The honourable senator has referred to a small part of an answer I gave yesterday to a question she put to me relating to the Docker River Aboriginal community and to the outstations connected thereto. I am grateful to the honourable senator for the extra information she has given to me, including the information about the study to which she has drawn my attention. 1 will undertake to look at that and to read the information she has mentioned. I am not aware that the radios or radio-telephones are unusable for part of the year. I will look into that matter and, having done so, I will communicate with the honourable senator. I did not ever claim in the Senate that the communications situation was satisfactory. It is one that has been under constant review and one which we have been attempting to improve constantly. That will continue to be our aim.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Health agree that Medibank Private is an autonomous body and is carefully emphasised by the Department of Health as being in strict competition with private funds? If so, could the Minister explain why on page 23 of the Newcastle telephone directory Medibank and the Health Commission are listed under the heading ‘Commonwealth Government Services’? Will the Minister, on investigating this, correct the situation and ensure that Medibank does not appear under ‘Commonwealth Government Services’?
– I understand that Medibank Private is a statutory corporation. I am not in the habit of reading the Newcastle telephone directory in any detail and am quite unaware of the details contained on page 23 of that publication. I will refer the question to my colleague, the Minister for Health, and have the substantive point being made by the honourable senator examined by him with a view to getting a response for Senator Walters.
– ls the Minister for Social Security aware that some family day care schemes in Tasmania are understaffed and that, although inflation has risen by 46 per cent in four years, there has been no increase in funding? ls the Minister aware that the Federal Government’s formula for funding makes no special operational grant for areas of special need, such as migrants, the handicapped and the economically disadvantaged? Is the Minister aware that communitybased schemes are especially disadvantaged as against council-based schemes? Will the Minister review the funding formula for family day care schemes to include indexation increases, and when will this be done?
– The honourable senator has asked a series of questions about family day care schemes, not all of which, I am afraid, I can answer without notice. I will examine the various matters she has raised and give her an early reply.
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEI will take on notice the matters raised by Senator MacGibbon and refer them to the Treasurer and also perhaps to the Ministers concerned with those organisations.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, lt concerns the Ralkon Agricultural Co. which is a very successful Aboriginal farming enterprise at Narrung in South Australia, with which the Minister is no doubt very familiar. I ask: When can I expect a reply to my telegram to the Minister of 3
November 1980 requesting his earliest consideration to the granting of title to the company of that portion of land known as Bartlett’s Farm? Will the Minister at the earliest convenient time pay a visit to the farm in order to take part in discussions with the directors and shareholders with a view to learning at first hand the problems being experienced by the company because of the long delay in the granting of title?
– As honourable senators would know, Senator McLaren has had an interest in the Ralkon Agricultural Co. for some time. Some matters required the attention of the Senate during the last year. I do remember seeing Senator McLaren’s telegram earlier this month. It has been referred for attention. I am anxious to obtain an early response for him. As soon as 1 can get a response I will come back to him with an answer to the question he raises. I am not certain, but I believe this matter may be one which falls within the purview of the Aboriginal Development Commission. If that is the case, I will have to await a response from that Commission, which, as you know, is now headed by Mr Charles Perkins.
The honourable senator added to his question a hope that I would visit Bartlett’s Farm. It is my hope to visit as many Aboriginal communities as I can. Once the Parliament rises for the summer recess, it is my intention to get out and I hope to include South Australia in any program of visits.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. How far advanced is the radioactive waste management program for the Monte Bello islands? With whom does responsibility for management of the islands rest? Is it envisaged that the Monte Bello islands will be returned to Western Australian control? If so, when will they be returned?
– Radioactive waste management as a program on the Monte Bello islands was completed last year. That was announced in a Press statement of mine which Senator Rocher may not have seen. I will be happy to let him have a copy of it. A detailed description of the work program undertaken during 1979 is contained in a report on rehabilitation work at the atomic test site. That report is scheduled, from recollection, to be tabled in this Parliament in the course of the next week. The matter of the sovereignty of the Monte Bello islands escapes my recollection at the moment. I will take it in hand and get an answer for Senator Rocher.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. I have here an advertisement from the Sun News-Pictorial in Melbourne implying that under a Labor government the price of a chop would rise to 80c. I also have here three chops purchased two weeks ago. The price paid was $2.52, as marked on the packet, which means that these chops are worth 84c each. The advertisement was authorised by a T. Eggleton, Canberra. Will the Government refer this matter to the Trade Practices Commission for investigation?
-I think we should thank Senator Melzer for her originality in bringing this matter forward but I doubt very much whether such political matters are the concern of the Trade Practices Commission. Nevertheless, I will refer the matter to the Minister and ask for his reply.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware of the letter written by the Premier of Western Australia, Sir Charles Court, and sent to thousands of Western Australian voters urging them not to vote for a Labor government in the recent Federal election? Does the Minister know the cost of this exercise and the source of the funding? I am particularly concerned to establish whether taxpayers’ money was used. Is the Minister aware of the extent of the distribution of the letter? Does the Minister consider this letter to be an abuse of the Premier’s power and position and a case of unwarranted influence over electors?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEThis question was addressed to me on behalf of the Treasurer. I am not aware of the Treasurer’s having any knowledge of the matter. I will take the question on notice and see whether there is any information that should be provided to Senator Coleman.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In view of the fact that at present thousands of millions of people of the world are either starving or undernourished, will the Minister inform the Senate, firstly, what is the current budgeted for figure which the Commonwealth Government provides for famine relief in Third World countries? Secondly, can the Minister recommend which aid agencies volunteer donors should use to ensure that their contributions get to the most deserving causes?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEThere are figures in the Budget for famine relief. I understand that over $78m is the expenditure figure for this year, compared with $61m for the previous year. There are also commitments for food grain for a number of countries. In addition to this there is further assistance for specific disaster situations and some $600,000 is being provided for this purpose. This year Australia will continue to provide assistance to refugees and displaced persons through international organisations. An amount of over $5m will be contributed to the general programs of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. An amount of $500,000 will be provided for Kampuchean refugees in Thailand.
I was asked about aid agencies. The Government recognises the valuable contribution made by non-government organisations to the alleviation of human suffering which results from natural or man-made disasters. The Government provided an amount of$1. 2m for the support of Australian voluntary organisations involved in the Kampuchean relief programs. A further $2m was provided this year for voluntary aid projects through the non-government project subsidy scheme. The Government has also expressed support for African relief appeal of the International Disaster Emergencies Committee when it was launched in July this year and granted tax deductibility for contributions of $2 or more to this appeal. Gifts made to a further 21 nongovernment organisations have been made tax deductible and many of these organisations are involved in famine relief.
Volunteer donors can be assured that gifts to the organisations which qualify for this concession will be applied to the purposes for which they are given. A number of organisations have very high reputations. The 21 non-government organisations on this list which have qualified for the tax concessions certainly would see that the assistance that is given by the Australian people would go directly to alleviate the suffering which it is intended to alleviate. Beyond that list of 21 organisations people would have knowledge of many other organisations, religious groups and others which provide assistance. There now is a list of 2 1 organisations which have qualified for a tax concession.
– I ask the Attorney-General: Does the Government share the profound concern of the Opposition with the decision of Mr Justice Wilson of the High Court in the Scientology case early last month to the effect that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is nol subject to any legal constraint in respect of the surveillance activities in which it may engage, with the result that the Director-General of ASIO is not only not fully accountable to the Minister, and not accountable at all to the Parliament, but also neither he nor his organisation is accountable at all, however far reaching and beyond the charter of the Act the activities might be, to the courts. Will the Government undertake to introduce, as a matter of urgency, remedial legislation to correct this alarming state of affairs?
– Senator Evans’s question presents a difficulty which occurs so often with questions in this place in relation to matters in the courts. Mr Justice Wilson’s judgment has been taken on appeal. The plaintiff in that action has appealed to the Full Court of the High Court. Therefore, I do not think it is at all appropriate for me to make any comments about Mr Justice Wilson’s decision, or the reasons that he has given. There has been a good deal of misunderstanding and misrepresentation in the Press implying that the decision has had the effect of putting the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation above the law. Of course, that is not the case. If officers of the organisation act outside the law they are accountable for their action in the ordinary way. There has been talk that those officers can proceed to search premises, tap phones and so on. I think Senator Evans will agree that that is not the effect of the decision.
As to the question of the functions and the charter of ASIO in the legislation, I point out that I have had some discussions with the SolicitorGeneral in relation to the argument he presented. Senator Evans asked me a question about that matter some time ago. I propose to discuss the matter with the Solicitor-General prior to the argument in the Full Court of the High Court. At this stage 1 propose to wait until the final decision of the High Court is given.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. Will the Attorney-General let us know whether the argument advanced by the Solicitor-General and accepted by Mr Justice Wilson in that case was the result of instructions from him to the Solicitor-General, and did in fact represent the Government’s view as to the proper scope of this Act? Will he further acknowledge that whilst it is indeed the case that ASIO officers cannot lawfully physically intrude upon premises and do other things of that kind, nonetheless the effect of the decision is to enable the Organisation to engage in surveillance activity and reporting on the activity of outside individuals and organisations, notwithstanding that the security of the country may not be in issue?
– I had some discussions with the Solicitor-General about the case before it was argued before Mr Justice Wilson. I did not instruct the Solicitor-General to put forward a particular argument. The question of the defence that would be made in the proceedings was discussed with me. I think Senator Evans would agree that the decision does not have the effect that a lot of Press speculation and comment has indicated. There is certainly an area of the extent to which surveillance may be conducted within the terms of the legislation. I do not propose to make any further decision or comment in relation to that until the decision of the High Court is given on the appeal.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Communications. As delays in mail posted in the Sydney area are now reported to be up to two weeks, and as it is being claimed that this is as a result of recent decentralisation in sorting arrangements, can the Minister advise whether these periods of delay are admitted? Is the reason for the delay faulty equipment, inadequate planning or manpower failure? When will a proper service be restored?
– I can advise the honourable senator that for many years mail performance in New South Wales has been consistently below that of other States. It could be the case in isolated instances that delays of up to two weeks have occurred. I have been advised that when Australia Post becomes aware of such excessive delays steps are taken to investigate the circumstances so as to ensure that delays are avoided, if at all possible. I cannot nominate any specific cause for the poor performance in New South Wales, but I can assure the honourable senator that Australia Post is well aware of the problems and that it does have a plan to decentralise the mail service in New South Wales in an attempt to improve the service. Honourable senators will know that this decentralisation plan will result in the eventual elimination of the Redfern Mail Exchange. Once this decentralised network is completed, it is thought that the performance in New South Wales will come up to that in other States. Until that happens we expect that some of these deficiencies in service performance in New South Wales will remain.
Honourable senators might be interested to know that it is expected that the plan for decentralisation in country areas will be completed in 1981, and in the metropolitan area of Sydney in 1982-83. The implementation of the plan is being resisted by some staff organisations which see the move to close the Redfern Mail Exchange as a threat of some kind. Australia Post is confident that full implementation of the plan will result in a level of service comparable to that which occurs now in other States.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services aware of the growing concern in the community over the workings of the electoral system, and in particular the concern of the electorates, States and Territories which do not have the representation that they want in the House of Representatives, the use of misleading advertising during the 1980 election campaign, the discrepancy between the percentage of votes gained at the election and the percentage of seats gained in the new House of Representatives, the huge discrepancies in the size of electorates, the most populous having twice the population of the smallest - I refer to Kalgoorlie and Wilmot - and the very high informal vote? Does the Government contemplate an inquiry into these matters with the view of ultimately reporting to Parliament on electoral deficiencies?
- Senator Gietzelt has raised a number of quite substantial matters in his question. I think it appropriate that I refer those to my colleague, the Minister for Administrative Services, so that they can be answered seriatim and in some detail. I will come back to the honourable senator with the information.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer and refers to the pending amendments to tax legislation which will give a substantial and very much welcomed incentive for investment in the Australian film industry. When will that legislation be introduced in the Parliament? Does the legislation provide safeguards to avoid the production of third rate films when overseas and local investors are interested only in taking advantage of these tax laws for financial gain, irrespective of the quality of the film produced? If the legislation does not include such safeguards, can attention be given to their inclusion, nevertheless avoiding any odious procedure of bureaucratic censorship?
I will need to make inquiries about the introduction of the proposed legislation. I do not think it is to be introduced in the forthcoming week. However, I will make inquiries with regard to it and also with regard to the several matters raised by Senator Teague and see that he is advised accordingly.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. By way of preface I refer the Minister to the latter stages of the previous parliamentary session, prior to the election, when questions emanated from, in particular, Senator Evans, Senator Chipp and me about the way Australia appeared to be pussyfooting in its relations with Latin American diplomats in Australia and not conveying to them our disquiet at their response to pleas on behalf of people who had been offered political asylum here at the request of relatives. In view of the apparent changed attitude evidenced by the Hobart episode to which Senator Harradine referred, can we expect the same militancy in the near future when we tell the Argentinian Ambassador that the relatives of Anna Mohad, who is in the Cordoba Penitentiary, have made a request on her behalf and that the previous Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Mr Macphee, has written letters to the effect that he would accept that girl as a genuine political refugee? Will we bring in the Argentinian Ambassador and tell him of our grave disquiet at the contemptuous way in which the Argentinian Government is handling this case?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEI will ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs to direct his attention to the case mentioned by Senator Mulvihill and see what comment and information he is able to make available. If an application can be expedited,I will ask that that course be undertaken in this case if the Minister thinks that it is the proper course of action.
- Mr President, I direct a question to you in your capacity as the officer of the Parliament in charge of the Parliamentary Library. I take it that that is one of your prime responsibilities. Is it a fact that the Library purchased the book Documents on Australian Defence and Foreign Policy 1968-19751 Is it also a fact that the Librarian on his own authority withdrew that book from the Library? If that is the case, does his authority permit him to withdraw a book purchased by the Parliament for use in the Parliamentary Library? Will you make the necessary inquiries? Will you further consider tabling that book in this House so that senators may judge for themselves whether the Government was justified in withdrawing the book from circulation?
– These are the facts on this matter as I have been given them. The Accession Librarian did not buy a copy, as was suggested by the report; it was received from the book distributors as part of a standing purchase order. The representative of the book distributors advised the Head Librarian, Mr MacLean, that, because the book was subject to action in the High Court, libraries receiving the book were locking it away until the results of the High Court action were known. Mr MacLean acted on that advice. The Parliamentary Librarian, Mr Harold Weir, was not aware of the book’s arrival or the action taken and did not order the book to be locked in a safe. Subsequent to the report in the National Times, Mr Weir sought advice from the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and on that advice the book has not been placed on the Library’s shelves at this time. Those are the facts that I have in respect of this matter.
– I have a supplementary question. What right has the Attorney-General to take action against a department of this Parliament over which you, Mr President, on our behalf have the responsibility?
– Legal advice is sought from time to time from the source to which I referred.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, refers to the general question of the profitability of Qantas Airways Ltd but also in particular to an approval by the Government of extra flights by South African Airways into Australia. The Minister will probably know that more than a month ago the Australian Government approved those extra flights. As far as we know, the Government is aware of the general decline in the profitability of Qantas. How does the Government justify that approval in the circumstances of the operations of Qantas? In view of the fact that Australian interests in the general area of Africa have been favourably improved over recent years, would it not be to our advantage to operate the services again?
– I note Senator Bishop’s particular interest in this matter since he has recently returned from Africa, but he would recognise, I believe, that this is a matter of Government policy and that I would need to refer it to the Minister for his advice.
– I ask the Minister for Social Security: Is it correct that considerable work is now being carried out by the Department in outback Aboriginal settlements in the Northern Territory to include the people of those areas as recipients of social security unemployment benefits? Does this not cut across the efforts of the interdepartmental committee whose responsibilities are to encourage employment opportunities for Aboriginals on settlements assisted through the committing of Federal funds for local government community work projects and so on which could generate considerable employment?
– I do not think there is the conflct which is suggested by the honourable senator in his question. The long-standing position in Australia has been that Aboriginals generally have not been social welfare recipients in the full sense in that many of them have simply not had access to the benefits. Over recent years, the Government has endeavoured to ensure that Aboriginals receive the same social security benefits as other Australians. Under the administration of my predecessor, Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle, Aboriginal liaison officers have been employed, for example, to work specifically with Aboriginal communities to ensure that their entitlements are obtained. It is true that in the electorate represented by Senator Kilgariff, the Northern Territory, such officers are employed and that in addition non-Aboriginal officers visit communities to ensure that such benefits as family allowance, the old age pension and so on are received by Aboriginals who are entitled to receive them.
The honourable senator also referred in his question to the unemployment benefit. Again the effort is made to ensure that those Aboriginal people in those communities who are entitled to unemployment benefits receive them. I am aware of the considerable administrative difficulties that that often involves because of remoteness and so on. The community development employment schemes which are running in some of those communities and which are run under the jurisdiction of my colleague Senator Peter Baume, through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, are meant to provide an alternative to the unemployment benefit, but those schemes operate in a limited number of communities. They are still of a pilot nature and there are, I think, still administrative difficulties which are the subject of review by both my Department and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. I think the very promising experiment of the community development employment project is still no more than that. It is true that there are still difficulties. In many Aboriginal communities the unemployment benefit is still the form of income maintenance which is both relevant and available. It is probably true that it is not a particularly satisfactory form of income maintenance. That is under review by my Department, again in conjunction with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The Government is awaiting the outcome of that review before examining the problem.
– Has the Minister for National Development and Energy read a report in the Adelaide evening newspaper of 12 November citing a Japanese industrial newsletter which stated that Japan is considering growing eucalyptus trees in Australia and setting up factories to extract the oil? With such a project Japan hopes to meet the major part of its demand for heating oil and oil for the automobile industry. Has the Government been approached on this project, has any land been earmarked for or by the Japanese and is Australia to benefit in any way from this venture?
– I have not seen the article in the Adelaide evening newspaper of 12 November. I will look it up and acquaint myself with the claims made in it. Indeed, I have not heard of any such project. As I understand Senator Elstob the suggestion is that eucalypts in general - there are hundreds of different varieties - might be grown for the extraction of oil for heating and motor vehicles. It is well known to all of us that certain oils can be extracted. I am not aware that the eucalypts in themselves offer any significant solution to energy source problems in the world. Of course, there is keen interest in all forms of biomass, including the wild rubber plant, but as yet the scientific evidence has not hardened into any real feasibility. I am not, therefore, aware of any approach from the Japanese for land to which the honourable senator referred in the remainder of his question.
Should any project for the development in Australia of energy sources come before us, Senator Elstob and the Senate can be assured that the one aim of the Commonwealth Government will be to safeguard the interests of the Australian people and to ensure benefit for them. For example, we have made arrangements in principle that in energy developments in Australia product sharing may be used. That means that Australia may agree to a foreign co-partner exporting part of the product, but such matters will be determined case by case. In every case, the overall interest of Australians will be preserved.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services. It follows on a question by Senator Gietzelt and is related to the complaints by the Australian Labor Party after the last election. Does the Minister believe that it is possible to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act without resorting to a gerrymander so that the age old demographic problem of Labor voters being clustered together in the centre of cities rather than being spread throughout the community makes the correlation between the percentage of votes cast for that party and the percentage of seats won variable?
– There is a difficulty while we have an electoral system with single member electorates. That difficulty may give rise to the kind of result to which the honourable senator has just referred. It is certainly possible to conceive of some means of amending the Commonwealth Electoral Act, perhaps by producing a different electoral system, but I do not want the honourable senator to think I am suggesting that such a method is desirable. I will refer his question to the Minister for Administrative Services to see whether he has any further comments to offer.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Finance, and it follows a question which I asked yesterday. Last Friday the Minister for Communications said that the present inflows of foreign funds should be used to increase the supply of bank credit and thereby keep interest rates down. When he said that, was he speaking for the Government?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEThe Minister for Communications made statements with regard to certain matters last week.
The statements that he made are well known. They refer to interest rate matters. They are not matters on which I intend to comment.
– Mr President,I wish to ask a supplementary question. Given that Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle knows nothing and is responsible for nothing, will she present to the Parliament next week a statement, on what are her actual responsibilities, if any, as Minister for Finance?
– I can fully understand that there is evidence that Senator Walsh has no comprehension of the responsibilities of Ministers with regard to speculation about interest rates. Any responsible Treasurer–
– That was not the question. The question was: Does Sinclair speak for the Government? Now, answer it.
– Order, please!
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEThe question to which I address myself at the moment is Senator Walsh’s question regarding my responsibilities. The Treasurer - any responsible Treasurer in this country - will not speculate about interest rates.
– Any responsible Treasurer does not let some hillbilly get around undermining government.
– Order, please! Senator Walsh, cease interjecting.
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEThe Treasurer has made a statement as recently as today that for the three years of his period as Treasurer of this country he has not speculated about interest rates. He does not intend to speculate about interest rates. As his representative in this place I do not intend to add to any speculation that was made about interest rates. If Senator Walsh had any understanding of the responsibilities of government he would not repeatedly ask the questions that he asks in this place. If he wishes to know what my responsibilities are as Minister for Finance, I point out that there are certain Acts for which I am responsible. I am responsible for the public account. I also represent the Treasurer to provide information that can be given. That does not include speculation on interest rates at any time.
– Order! Senator Walsh, I asked you to cease interjecting. The authority of the Chair in this place, with your attitude, Senator Walsh, is at risk. I will not give you any further chances when you consistently disregard the authority of the Chair. The place is bigger than youbigger than all of us - and we have to abide by those basic principles which enable this place to operate.
– Yesterday at Question Time Senator Grimes asked me a question relating to a management consultant’s report on the review of the Department of the Senate. The consultant’s report was presented to me in July last and, consistent with practice in the Public Service, is being treated as a document which is confidential to me. In accordance with one of the recommendations contained in the report it is currently being examined in detail by an implementation committee consisting of senior officers in the Senate. That committee is at present preparing a submission to me setting out the progress made to date and observations on the report and its recommendations. Recently, following a request from the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Parliament’s Appropriations and Staffing, a copy of the report was made available to that committee on the understanding, which was specifically indicated in the request, that the report would be treated as confidential to the Committee. Other than by that release the report has not been made available to any individual senator.
Senator Grimes, in his question, referred to a document dated August 1980 prepared by a committee of government senators in which reference is made to discussions with the consultants. During the consultants’ deliberations arrangements were made for the chairmen of legislative and general purpose standing committees and estimates committees to have discussions with the review team. These discussions were held prior to the production of the report. The statements made in the document must be taken to refer to views expressed at that time because, as I have said, the report itself has not been made available to the committee chairmen or to any other senator, other than the members of the select committee. Senator Grimes also asked why senators of the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Democrats and the independent senator, Senator Harradine, did not have access to the consultants. In reply I can only say that when I announced the appointment of the consultants to the Senate all senators were invited to express their views to them. In addition, I understand that the consultants initiated discussions with leaders of all parties, Whips and a number of other senators.
– by leave- I raised this matter not with the intention of particularly criticising you, Mr President, or anyone involved in this report, but because of my concern to make this place work more efficiently than it has in the past. Consultation with people on both sides of the chamber is needed. Since the election changes have been made to the arrangements of the Senate staff with the Opposition, changes with which I do not particularly disagree but which were made without any consultation with us as to either the position or the person appointed to the position who will liaise with us. 1 certainly mean no criticism of that gentleman.
Secondly, we have proposals coming forward which arise out of the Committee of Chairmen who, because of the nature of committees in this place, are all Government senators. In their report it is clear that they had access to at least the views of the management committee which investigated the Senate procedures. I merely make the comment that if the Australian Labor Party, the Australian Democrats and Senator Harradine are to consider this report and its recommendations they should also be able to consider the evidence which was given to the committee which produced the report. Unless we can do so I doubt that we on this side of the chamber will feel that we are considering or debating the report with the full knowledge of what went into its compilation. I just request that in matters such as this - the organisation and structures of the Senate and its committees are being considered - both sides of the chamber should receive equal access to the information that is available so that we can have an equal opportunity to consider seriously the proposals being made.
– by leave - A meeting of Opposition senators discussed the matter that has been raised by Senator Grimes on Monday or Tuesday of this week. I noted that in your statement this morning, Mr President, you said that the report of the consultants was made available on a confidential basis to the committee established by the Senate to inquire into parliamentary appropriations. I, as a member of that committee, assure you, the Senate, and particularly my colleagues that I have not yet seen a copy of the consultants’ report. I am given to understand from the brief inquiries that I have made that the report was made available to the committee only about a fortnight ago and, of course, because the Parliament has not been sitting in that time the committee itself has not been sitting and the report as yet has to be distributed to the members of the committee. So whilst it may in theory have been made available to the Select Committee on Parliamentary Appropriations, the fact is that 1 certainly - I think I speak for all members of the committee - have not as yet seen the consultants report.
– I have received an acknowledgment of it. A letter from the chairman states that the report has been received and confirms the conditions under which it was arranged or requested to be made available.
– by leave - In a Press release of yesterday’s date the Minister for Transport, Mr Hunt, on the question of the Holcroft inquiry into air fares said, amongst other things, that he understands the concern of all the Western Australian Liberal senators and members about the air fare structure and that there has been concern among Government members and senators from Western Australia about the level of air fares between Perth and the eastern States. The clear implication is that this concern has come from only one side of the Parliament, which is quite wrong. I and several of my Western Australian Federal Australian Labor Party colleagues have issued numerous Press statements on this subject over the last two years.
Several of my colleagues either have made or will be making submissions to the Holcroft inquiry. I sent a submission to the Holcroft inquiry last week which, amongst other things, pointed out the injustice of the present cross-subsidisation from long to short routes; the absurdity of parallel scheduling; the administratively-determined fares which pay no heed to demand realities; the subsidisation of first class passengers by economy class passengers on Boeing 727s; and the low priority given to Western Australia. All of these complaints are caused by the two-airline policy to which Mr Hunt and the Government are committed.
– by leave - As the chairman of the implementation committee of Government senators which prepared the report to which Senator Grimes has referred, I affirm and assure honourable senators that the situation is as has been explained to the Senate. Discussions were held, and those discussions were referred to in the report which has now been made available to all members of the Senate. The matter was approached from a point of view which I think is exactly what Senator Grimes suggested ought to take place. That is, consideration was given to suggestions of some possible changes in the operation of the committee system in the Senate. The report, having been discussed by some Government senators, was then made available to all honourable senators so that they could see exactly what was discussed and consider it. If agreement is reached, then changes can be made to the general benefit of the Senate as a whole. There was no attempt either to go behind anyone’s back or do anything which was in any way untoward. I think there would be general agreement that the principles lo which Senator Grimes was referring ought to be applied and, in fact, have been applied.
– by leave - The principles which Senator Grimes advanced have not been applied. I suggest that as quickly as possible, Mr President, you should accept what Senator Grimes has advised, and ensure that at least the leaders of the parties in this place are privy to the consultants’ report. It does not seem to me–
– Why only the leaders? Why not everyone?
– I am sensitive about the withholding of information. In this case 1 think the matter would be covered if the leaders of the parties were given a copy of the consultants’ report.
– Well, I disagree.
– Very well, I will go further and say: ‘Why is it necessary to withhold it from us all?’. I would be satisfied if at least the leaders were consulted about the far-reaching changes that are now taking place without us being fully aware of what is behind those changes. It seems lo me that the principles Senator Grimes advanced have not as yet received a response from you, Mr President, as to their desirability.
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEMr President, I wish to give some information relating to a question raised yesterday by Senator Teague about India’s relations with Pakistan. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has advised me that the Australian missions in New Delhi and Islamabad maintain close contact with the respective governments of India and Pakistan. From the reports which the Government has received there is no reason to suppose that the Government of India is being pressured by the Soviet Union to go to war with Pakistan, as the Press reports suggested. There has been some decline in the relationship between Pakistan and India recently but their relations since separation and independence have been difficult, including three armed conflicts between the two since Independence- 1948, 1965 and 1971.
Honourable senators will be aware that Australia has been and is still providing personnel for the United Nations military observer group in India and Pakistan which was set up as the result of a Security Council resolution in 1 949 to investigate violations of the ceasefire agreement and to ensure that the agreement is implemented. It was strengthened in 1965. Australia believes it to be essential that Pakistan and India maintain a dialogue with a view to removing misunderstanding and establishing the basis for a resolution of their outstanding differences.
– Mr President, papers are tabled in accordance with the list circulated to honourable senators with the exception of item 26, the annual report for 1979-80 of the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs. It so happens - and I apologisethat copies of the report are not available. I seek leave to incorporate the list in Hansard.
The list of papers tabled read as follows -
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– (1 1.57) - by leave-I move -
That the Senate take note of the paper.
This report is becoming increasingly more imporant in the deliberations of the Parliament because the Overseas Telecommunications Commission must come under increased scrutiny as a possible contender for control or ownership, in the loose sense of the term, of the proposed domestic satellite. I place on record the Opposition’s view that the allocation of entitlement to use of the proposed domestic satellite must be under public ownership and public control. We of the Opposition would argue that, in spite of the statements that have been issued recently by the Minister for Communications (Mr Sinclair) and the advertisements which have been issued by the Department of Communications, private ownership of a domestic satellite is inappropriate for a variety of reasons. The major reason private ownership is inappropriate is simply that the ownerusers - that is, those who wish to own a portion of the domestic satellite and use it - would be placed in a very favoured position and possibly would have and would be seen to have an unfair advantage compared with those who were merely seeking to be users and were not in fact in any sense owners of any part of the domestic satellite itself.
The second important point I make about the importance of a consideration of public ownership of a domestic satellite is that information should be a public commodity and the control and dissemination of information by means of a satellite or any other advanced form of technology should be seen as being a public commodity. There must be very grave doubts about how a satellite controlled by the overseas telecommunications system would mesh with Telecom Australia’s present terrestrial network. That is a matter which has to be debated and considered in great detail. But it is another reason for expressing concern about the possibility of private ownership of a domestic satellite in Australia.
I would like to draw attention to the wider issues which arise in relation to world satellite development and to query whether there would be pressure for an Australian satellite, particularly if it were not controlled by a government authority or instrumentality, such as the OTC, to beam directly into Australian homes foreign satellite programs and cable systems, if we embark upon cable television systems. Finally, I would like to make a point about the need which this Parliament has consistently ignored over the last few years to develop a national information policy with the very clear purpose of forestalling the arising of a situation in which the dissemination of information in Australia, which is an increasingly important commodity, would be the subject of multinational domination or control, or at least would be in the position of being subject to the allegation that it was susceptible to foreign domination or control. These are matters about which this Parliament should be very alert. Honourable senators on both sides of this chamber should be alert to these very fundamental questions which concern the future of this country and the dissemination of information in this country. Whatever the concern of the Government might be to satisfy particular persons in particular companies in Australia at the moment on the basis of the Mafia doctrine of ‘You be kind to us and we will be kind to you’, the Government cannot ignore both international developments and potential developments in Australia in relation to the control of a domestic satellite.
I wish to make one other point. I want to draw the attention of the Senate to an article which appeared in the 15 September 1980 issue of the American journal Computerworld. Rarely is Australia given the attention of international journals, but the article in Computerworld of 1 5 September 1980 pays particular attention to this country. The article is headed: ‘Threatening
Telecom’s Monopoly - IBM Venture Spawns SBS Clone Down Under’. The article has this to say:
An IBM subsidiary and another 10 of Australia’s largest corporations have moved to take control of this nation’s longrange communications planning away from the federal government by forming their own version of Satellite Business Systems (SBS).
SBS is a big United States consortium. The article continues:
Called Business Telecommunications Services Pty Ltd (BTS), this joint venture will be headed by Peter Holmes A ‘Court, former external affairs director of IBM Australia Ltd.
The article then details the functions of the company and says, amongst other things:
BTS will do much to prepare Australia for its first domestic communications satellite, informed sources predicted when news of the company’s founding broke last week, in opposition to the federally run Telecom monopoly, which wants to keep data flowing through its telephone lines.
The passage which I quoted from the article raises an issue of fundamental political importance to this country. It is one about which we have to be very alert and very concerned. I have spoken on this report merely to give notice of the general position which will be adopted by the Opposition in relation to these issues. I wish to make it quite clear that in the context of the next decade or so in the development of information policies we will be very concerned to see that the potential for controlling information flows in Australia does not disappear into private hands and, more particularly, does not disappear into private foreign hands. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I seek leave to move a motion concerning the fifth and sixth Annual Reports of the Health Insurance Commission.
– Mr Deputy President, I take a point of order, and have done so before, about the way in which these papers are tabled. Today honourable senators received a list of 82 papers. It appears that everyone is trying to take note of these papers. We have dealt with the third and fourth papers on the list and now Senator Grimes has gone to the third page of that list. People have great difficulty in following this procedure. There are certain reports which some honourable senators want to be noted by the Senate. 1 suggest that we deal with them numerically, as we did prior to rising for the election, and in that way there will be no confusion. I made this plea to the Government then, lt appears as though we have just fallen back into the stupid routine of taking papers from all over the place with the result that no honourable senator knows where he stands.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- That is a decision of the Senate and that is the way the Senate has been operating.
– I will cede to Senator McLaren if he has an earlier report which he wishes to be noted by the Senate.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Is it the wish of the Senate to deal with reports numerically?
– We have always dealt with reports numerically. That was the case until just before the election. I am opposed to the present course being followed and suggest that we deal with them numerically.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I call Senator Grimes.
– I have ceded to Senator McLaren.
– I cede to Senator Georges, who wishes to deal with a report listed before mine.
– The only way in which we can take these reports numerically is if they are called one at a time. We are in a bind. I wish to have a number of papers noted by the Senate. It would be easier for me to nominate at the one time the ones I want to be noted, unless someone else wants to speak to one of them. Nevertheless, I will merely seek to have the third paper on the list noted. I seek leave to move a motion in relation to the third paper, which relates to the Ranger Uranium Project.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- It has been dealt with already.
– I listened to and was interested in what Senator Button had to say, especially his quotation from an overseas article. The third paper is about five documents relating to the divestment of the Government’s interests to Energy Resources of Australia Ltd on 12 September 1980. That is not the paper which Senator Button moved to be noted.
– Perhaps I can assist Senator Georges by saying that I moved that the third paper, which is about the Ranger Uranium Project, be noted. I sought leave to continue my remarks later. If Senator Georges wants to take any subsequent course it is open for him to do so, but that is what happened.
– by leave- I move:
That the Senate lake note of the paper. 1 wish to make a few remarks concerning the annual report of the Snowy Mountains HydroElectric Authority for 1979-80. The Authority was established by the late Ben Chifley. In discussions about the energy crisis we hear claims from the Government, particularly from Senator Carrick, that the Australian Labor Party has had no foresight and has never been interested in considering the possibility of an energy crisis arising in this country. If we look at this report we will see that it was the first body in Australia to express some concern not only about the possibility of an energy crisis arising in this country but also about the availability of water for irrigation, particularly in my State of South Australia. Legislation for the establishment of this Authority was introduced by the late Ben Chifley, and when the opening ceremony for the hydro-electric scheme was held none other than the late Bob Menzies boycotted the opening, saying that it would not be of any benefit to this country. We have further proof in the tabling of this document today that it was through the foresight of the Australian Labor Government that we have one of the greatest projects ever seen in this country. That body is now known as the Snowy Mountains Council in one area. It is also known as the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. All of these bodies were brought about because the Liberals could not bear to see any organisation which had been set up by a Labor Government going through in its entirety. They had to break it up into small components. I will be having something to say about the annual report of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation when it is tabled. But I want to place on record again that it was the foresight of a Labor Government, criticised by the Liberals and the Country Party - I think they called themselves the Nationals then, but they change their name with the political wind - which brought about this great instrumentality on which we rely so much today. It provides us with electricity, and with the water supply not only for New South Wales and Victoria but also for my State of South Australia, where at the moment there is a great argument going on in relation to the quality of the water which we get out of part of this scheme. I will have something to say about that matter during the Address-in-Reply debate. I shall answer some of the claims that were falsely made last night by people who are responsible for trying to do something about the River Murray. Having said those few words, I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I wish to speak very briefly to the motion. This is a report which, as a result of years of neglect, does not receive much attention in this Parliament. The reason for this is that decentralisation in Australia has been a matter to which lip service has been paid for many years, particularly by the National Country Party, but essentially nothing has been done. There are very obvious political reasons for that, but I think it is worth noting that in the pursuit of that process of lip service, the Decentralisation Advisory Board has continued its activities. In many ways the report is of some interest. In a very relevant way it does alert the Parliament to some of the things which are important in terms of provincial towns in particular, and rural matters generally, which should be the subject of debate and discussion in this Parliament.
On page 7 of the report the Board notes the importance of joint feasibility studies relating to fishing. It notes that feasibility studies jointly entered into with overseas interests are being undertaken for the purpose of assessing the economic potential of fish resources within the recently proclaimed 200 mile limit. Similarly, on the same page of the report there are a number of references to the changing structure of communications in non-metropolitan or in provincial Australia, and the need to provide services in those areas to those people who do not live in the major cities. There is also reference to the proposed national satellite-based communications system which is seen in the report as something which is likely to have a fundamental impact on the social and business environment of nonmetropolitan areas. There is some reason for scepticism in relation to the view which is put forward in the report. In spite of all the talk, it is quite clear, I think, that the Government has not in any sense worked out how the communications satellite will benefit telephone users in remote areas, and users of television services in remote areas. There is also reference to the changing structure of both international and domestic air fares having a profound effect on tourist development, again in non-metropolitan areas. This is also an important area about which this Parliament should concern itself.
In commenting on this report, I think the point has to be made again and again that healthy and sufficient rural communities necessarily involve a consideration of a number of problems which they specifically have. First of all, they do not have a range of job opportunities such as exist in metropolitan areas. Unemployment is higher - usually three times higher - in country areas than it is in the cities, and that is especially so for young people. Secondly, there is a need to give consideration to diversifying economies of provincial areas so that they are not so subject to depression in any particular industry as those economies currently are in one particular industry. Thirdly, it is important to consider the need for a range of services equal to those provided in the cities. There is no reason why anybody should be disadvantaged in the provisions of government services because they do not live in large metropolitan areas. I refer to such matters as schools, libraries, medical services and other government-provided special services of a similar kind.
It is essential that any question of resource development, particularly in provincial areas, be directed primarily towards consideration of creating jobs, not just export income, otherwise society will become increasingly polarised between those people who live in the city and those who do not, and those who are employed and those who are not. The two groups may in a way become identical if present non-provincial policies are pursued in the way that they have been over the past ten years. Job policies must be tied to decentralisation policies.
Earlier I mentioned the satellite and its alleged importance to non-metropolitan communities. I stress that in terms of the provision of government services there is a need for cheap modern communications to enable country industries to compete, and to enable residents in the country to have the same access to facilities as those who live in the big cities. That is yet another reason why there should be public ownership and control of a satellite. It would also enable an equality of service to be provided for those who use it. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave- I move:
I think it was interesting to read the comments of Mr Leslie, the Chairman of Qantas Airways Ltd, in the Australian newspaper this morning. The newspaper states:
Mr Leslie also said Qantas was looking for new business and trying to overturn the Government’s ban on flightsto South Africa.
Qantas was eyeing South America and talks had been held with a number of airlines there.
He criticised the Government’s uneven policy on South Africa, claiming it should outlaw all flights or give half the business to Qantas.
I take the view if you don’t like South Africa then don’t let anyone fly there,’ Mr Leslie said.
Of course, United Nations member countries can deny landing rights to South African passenger and transport aircraft. I found one part of the statement particularly interesting. It is a matter I have been interested in for a number of years now; I have raised it within the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and Estimates committees. This is the first time that anybody has admitted that the decision that Qantas should pull out of South Africa was political.
Over the years I have been told, firstly, that it was an industrial problem. The industrial problem had to do with the number of standover days required when Qantas flew into South Africa. This has been denied by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots. Then we were told that it was a decision of the’ Qantas board because at the time, in 1976, there was insufficient traffic. That has proved to be nonsense, because in 1976 South African Airways and Qantas combined were taking 26,000 passengers a year from Australia to South Africa. By 1979 South African Airways alone was carrying over 30,000 passengers. As Senator Bishop said this morning in Question Time, only recently South African Airlines was given permission for another three flights a week from Australia to South Africa.
If the decision made in 1976 was a political decision, it is about time the Government said so. Australians who wish to get into South Africa or into Africa generally could do so in a number of ways by travelling with Qantas. Firstly, passengers could go to Mauritius; secondly, aircraft could fly to Kenya and discharge passengers there. The third option would be that aircraft could discharge passengers at Kenya and continue on to London. That certainly would be a popular political decision in Africa, especially in light of the strong stand on African issues by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) over the last couple of yea rs.
A number of other questions were raised in the report. It stated that negotiations were taking place with South American governments. If this is true I think it shows a lack of foresight on the part of Qantas. It is not so many years ago that Qantas had the right to fly into Mexico, one of the gateways to South America. At the moment Qantas cannot return to Mexico. I think that it is due to a lack of equipment. This is where the company has shown a lack of foresight. It is happening at a time when saturation point has been reached by the airlines flying from Australia to the west coast of the United States of America. Every day there are at least three flights between Sydney and Melbourne and the west coast of the United States. Sometimes, five daily flights are shared between the three airlines flying the route. There is a tremendous waste of equipment because at the moment the airlines are achieving only 50 per cent capacity. A number of other issues were raised in the report. I do not think there is any logical argument for Qantas not being allowed to sell vacant seats within Australia on the long domestic sectors of travel. The issue of discounting air fares was raised. I do not think that issue will be solved by government interference. Mr President, I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
– I seek leave to make a statement on the same subject, Mr President.
- Senator Sibraa sought leave to continue his remarks.
– I would still like to speak on the same subject.
– If Senator Sibraa does not seek to continue his remarks–
– I will cede to Senator Bishop.
– I briefly want to support what Senator Sibraa has said.
– Let us get this quite clear.
– 1 seek leave to speak, Mr President.
– Mr President, I understood the general principle to be that there would be only one speaker on such a motion and that the debate would then be adjourned to another day. If an honourable senator particularly wishes to speak on the matter I do not want to prevent that from occurring. But I hope that discussion on the matter will be kept very short.
– I want very briefly to respond to what the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Durack) said as he graciously gave me the chance to speak. I suggest, Mr President, it has been the custom in tabling reports in this place that if a second or third honourable senator wants to speak on a report–
– The Senate should not have given Senator Sibraa permission to continue his remarks.
– Yes, that is right. I support briefly what Senator Sibraa said. It seems to me that not only Opposition senators but also honourable senators on the other side of the chamber who are concerned about a number of important national enterprises should adopt a strong position on this isue. Honourable senators well know that over the years we on this side have always expressed concern at the way in which both Qantas Airways Ltd and Trans-Australia Airlines have been treated by Liberal governments. This leads to the conclusion that Liberal governments are not much concerned about what they call socialist enterprises. That is why, when questions such as those raised today by me and Senator Sibraa are raised, occasionally an honourable senator from the other side suggests that we should sell off the enterprises.
I want very briefly to direct my remarks in the way that Senator Sibraa directed his; that is, to ask how the Government can justify the action it has taken recently in approving extra flights by South African Airways. I understand that matter was under consideration for some months. Some five weeks ago a public announcement was made that the Government had approved such flights. Of course, this meant a very profitable business for South African Airways but denied our expert, reputable national carrier the right to participate in the services. In addition to what Senator Sibraa very logically pointed out, if we decide to frown upon South Africa - having regard to what the Australian Government did in Zimbabwe and its new interest in that area generally, including Zambia, and the reputation which, I agree, has been advanced by the appearance of the Heads of Government at Lusaka and by our appointment of extra high commissioners in the area - I would have thought this Government would be anxious to provide an alternative service, as Senator Sibraa has indicated is possible.
I think the issue is of so much importance that not only should the responsible Minister reply to the Chairman of Qantas but also he should justify in this Parliament the decision to give extra flights to South African Airlines, in the knowledge that at the time of the decision the general profitability of Qantas was declining. I ask the Minister to regard these matters as urgent and of public concern. That might reassure the public that the Australian Government presently is concerned about Qantas and also TAA our other airline.
– by leave -I move:
The production of both annual reports brings up to date the reporting to this Parliament of the Health Insurance Commission, which now runs Medibank Private. There has been considerable difficulty in finalising the fifth annual report covering the year 1978-79. Of course, this was due to the dismantling of Medibank Standard. It resulted in halving staff numbers at the Health Insurance Commission from 4,500 to 2,100-odd. It involved the Commission and its staff in considerable difficulties in distributing the assets and liabilities between Medibank Standard and the new Medibank Private system. It resulted in some criticism in this Parliament and in the Health Commission’s having to spend a considerable time resolving the difficulties. Although we all insist on accurate and timely annual reports, I think in this case, from reading both reports, it is obvious that there were good reasons for the delay in the presentation of the fifth annual report and that the delay was beyond the control of those in the Health Insurance Commission. I welcome the appearance of both reports and I am sure that in future we will have timely reports each year from this efficient Commission.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I draw the attention of the Senate to a comment in the annual report under the heading ‘The year in brief. It points out that the level of water storage in the Snowy Mountains Scheme at present is the lowest level of storage held since November 1968. I think that statement is a matter of very grave concern to every person in this country who relies on stored water, particularly from the Snowy Mountains Scheme, for his existence, and again I refer to my State of South Australia. With the very high level of unemployment in this country at present, I think the Government should be looking at more capital works to increase water storage and not just giving political handouts such as the Burdekin Dam. It ought to have an ongoing program to ensure that we have sufficient water storage. For all that the Snowy Mountains Scheme was constructed in one of the highest rainfall areas in the lower part of Australia - we know that it is much higher in the northern parts of Queensland - we ought to be doing something about securing increased water storage. When people read this report and see that storage now in the Snowy Mountains Scheme is at the lowest level since 1968 - 12 years ago - they will be very concerned, particularly in view of the fact that the New South Wales Government is contemplating massive increases in the number of water licences. In a recent publication we read that the Darling River is dry and that children are riding bikes on the bed of the river. That is a cause for further grave concern, but it is not embodied in this report. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I am concerned about the question of yellowcake shipments. I note that the Safeguards Office in its report says that Australia has agreed to notify the International Atomic Energy Agency of each shipment of Australian origin uranium ore concentrates and that that requirement has been complied with for all shipments of Australian origin UOC. There have been rumours around Australia that shipments of uranium concentrate were smuggled out of Darwin to places such as Singapore. That fills many people with great concern because we do not have any agreement with Singapore on the safeguards that would be required for selling yellowcake to Singapore and we do not know where the material may have gone from Singapore. I do not think that this report covers in great detail any of the matters that concern Australians, and I think such a report should do so. On that basis I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave -I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
The existence of the Primary Industry Bank of Australia Ltd draws attention to the incongruity of the Government’s professed commitment to small government and its simultaneous establishment of superfluous institutions such as the Primary Industry Bank of Australia. The PIBA was not wanted by the farming community or by its official representatives. It was not wanted by the Australian Labor Party. It was not wanted by the trading banks. However, its existence became inevitable as a result of the agricultural fundamentalism of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), which was recently described by a leading academic author as physiocracy, and as a result of his political opportunism. He promised in 1975 to establish the Primary Industry Bank for reasons which were not and have never been explained.
The ultimate form that the institution took was dictated, of course, by the Australian Bankers Association. That Association, having initially resisted the establishment of such an institution, brought its political pressure to bear on the Government and dictated the actual form which the institution would take. In particular, it headed off what would have been a defensible and sensible proposition - a proposition long advocated and still advocated by the Australian Labor Party - that all that was ever required in this area was an extension of the charter of the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia and, in particular, the removal of the lender of last resort constraint. Of course, that would have been anathema to the Australian Bankers Association and the institution which finally emerged took the form dictated to the Government by that Association.
Having been established, this superfluous qango provided and continues to provide ad infinitum sinecures for members of the establishment. Those members of the establishment who hold the sinecures will fight and use whatever insidious influence they can bring to bear to preserve their sinecures. They have been absorbed into the old boy network. There was no need for the institution in the first place. There is no current need for it. It would be more appropriately replaced by an expanded Commonwealth Development Bank. When the existence of institutions such as PIBA is considered, the Government’s rhetoric on small government disintegrates into humbug.
So much for the institution itself. I will make some more specific comments about the report and, in particular, what 1 call accounting queries or apparent deficiencies in the way in which the accounts are presented. I suspect that it is no accident that these deficiencies appear because the institution, being aware of the fact that it is superfluous, does not want to draw attention to the administrative costs of its existence. One cannot be certain, looking at the statement of profit and loss and the attached notes, what are the administrative expenses of the institution. In a one line entry it shows expenses of management including interest paid and accrued on deposits as $ 17,669m. In other words, the expenses of management are not isolated anywhere in the accounts presented by the institution. By deduction - I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this - from that entry and from the entry on page 9, under item 1 1 showing interest paid or due and payable to depositors and others and provision for the effect of interest rate fluctuation, which totals $ 16.701m, it appears that the administrative costs of the institution were just under$1m. I cannot state with certainty that that is the case because of the inadequacy of the way in which the figures are presented. I suggest that they have been deliberately presented in this way in order to avoid drawing attention to the fact that $lm is being thrown away unnecessarily in the administration of this institution and in providing sinecures for members of the establishment.
I thought that Senator Rae may have been in the chamber. I suggest that this report is one which would well be commented upon by his Committee, given its continuing interest in the way in which information is presented to the Parliament by qangos and the inadequacy of that information. This is an important, although small, example. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
-by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
In taking note of this report, I think the Senate should also note that this is a milestone in the history of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. It is the tenth annual report. Australians have much to be proud of in the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. It operates in 23 countries. I draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that when this scheme was started by a Labor Government, as Senator McLaren pointed out, at least our forefathers had the foresight to see the necessity for the scheme. They were not frightened off the way people are today by that little word ‘viable’ into handing over to foreign investors who are concerned about profits and not so much about people. Our forefathers started this project in order to create work. Obviously, they had more foresight than we have today. They were also more aware of the country’s potential and the ability of its people to develop it without waiting for foreign enterprise to come in. I think that the Corporation is a very worthy organisation.
I f we tried to do the same today I am quite sure that we could create a lot of work for our own people. This big country with its rich resources and very small population has no excuse for the number of unemployed people it has. We should look at the north-west of Western Australia to see what can be done with the water scheme in that area. We should consider the housing that needs to be built. If the Government can find money for other things, surely to goodness it can find money to create work and at least try to follow the examples of our forefathers who were not scared by the word ‘viable’ the way we are today. We should follow the example of the people who established the Snowy Mountains scheme, the pipeline to Kalgoorlie, the Commonwealth Railways and the Commonwealth Banking Corporation which was started on a promissory note. Today we have learned nothing. But I am pleased to see that the Director of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation has learned a lot and is continuing to learn a lot. He notes in his report that he is concerned about the recent turnover in staff. The Corporation intends to do something about this and train people under a selective staff development scheme to ensure continuation and updating of technical and management skills. It has initiated a number of other projects to make sure that it can cope with modern technology which is a lot more than this Government is trying to do.
– I place on record my appreciation of the work done by the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. It is a very successful and proficient body. One has to look only at the chart on pages 8 and 9 of the report to see that the organisation is in great demand all around the world. Twentythree countries sought the services of the Corporation in 1979-80. As a member of the Australian Labor Party, I feel very proud, as I said about the tabling of another paper, that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority was the brainchild of the Labor Party. If Senator Mulvihill were in the chamber while we were debating that paper he would have had some very lengthy remarks to make about it because he has been pressing for a long time for recognition of all the countries involved in the Snowy Mountains scheme.
– That has been done, I think.
– I think it has been done, but I do not think the official recognition ceremony has taken place. I understand that Senator Mulvihill will be there.
– It will take place very soon.
– I understand that it will take place very soon. Senator Mulvihill will be very pleased that his persistent efforts have at last borne fruit. But the Corporation is something of which all Australians can be proud. If honourable senators look at the profit and loss account shown in this report they will see conclusive proof that government-run or government-sponsored organisations can be just as successful as the private enterprise organisations which honourable senators opposite are always championing in their endeavours to belittle things which Opposition senators look upon as socialist enterprises. They can be just as successful and just as efficient, as is borne out in this report.
Whilst it suits the political aims of honourable senators opposite to try to downgrade socialist enterprise in favour of private enterprise, I think we ought to do all we can to promote government-sponsored enterprises such as this one. As I have said, there is conclusive proof in this report that the enterprise is successful. If honourable senators look at the reports of many other corporations sponsored and supported by governments they will see that they too are very successful. There are some failures, but I doubt that in percentage terms there are as many failures in government enterprise as there are in private enterprise. I place on record my appreciation of the work being done by everybody associated with the Corporation and say again that I am very proud to be associated as an Australian with the work that they do. As no other honourable senator wants to speak to this report, 1 seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I react in a Pavlovian way every time I see the words ‘Applied Ecology Pty Ltd’. I have had a long interest in that body and I like to follow its progress. Applied Ecology has had a troubled development and has passed through the hands of a variety of Ministers. I do not know whether I am pleased that it is now the responsibility of the new Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Peter Baume. I have not had an opportunity to read the report, but it is still my view that the activities of Applied Ecology need to be under careful scrutiny. It was an initiative that I believe was wrongly based and on which money has been expended without any effective result. I trust that the annual report will display just what corrective measures have been taken. I do not doubt that they have been taken because I am told that the turtle project in the Torres Strait has been wound up, but it would be interesting to find out how it was wound up and what has happened to the considerable assets which were accumulated by the turtle project. It is also necessary to scrutinise carefully new initiatives that have been taken and, perhaps, a project in the Cape York Peninsula, the crocodile project.
– Oyster farms.
– Some of the new initiates are closer to a chance of success in a practical way. One of the problems with some of the schemes is that they are too exotic and are not properly based. There was a desire to help the Aboriginal people, but much money has flowed through Applied Ecology without direct benefit to a great number of Aboriginal people. When I have a chance to have a look at the report I may have something more to say.
– I support the motion about taking note of the report. I want only to say that I had a worrying experience with Applied Ecology Pty Ltd when I took over as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. It is based on the concept of trying to create employment opportunities for Aboriginals who live in areas where nothing grows. Applied Ecology was established before 1 took over the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio. It was established, I think, by Gordon Bryant, the then Minister, for the purpose of investigating whether there was any native operation that could be applied in that district which would give the Aboriginals useful occupations and, perhaps, bring in some return. I cannot imagine that any of the proposals, if they are successful, would ever be a profitable proposition, perhaps justifying the expenditure. But if one looks at the quality of life it creates, the desire on the part of Aboriginals to do something and to be occupied, it has an immense potential. Among the projects was a turtle farm. Whilst we had a man who was experienced in that field and who had a full knowledge of turtles, he turned out to be unsatisfactory and cost the Commonwealth a lot of money and attracted considerable criticism.
When I took over as a Minister of state, the Whitlam Government established a commission to investigate the possibilities regarding the breeding of turtles. The turtles were in tanks around little settlements, and the Aboriginals got so much for each turtle. It was never successful. Even if it had been successful there were bans placed on the import of turtles by countries such as America because the turtle is a protected species. We brought out an expert from an American university. The Carr-Main report dealt with the feasibility of turtle farming, and it indicated that what we were doing in the Torres Strait Islands was hopeless insofar as we were trying to keep turtles in an enclosure, feeding them on fish and sardines that were caught and ground up, when fish was not part of their diet. We had at least to put a pound in the ocean in which to put rescued eggs, breed from them and protect the young. At a certain stage we had to put them in the pound and use the ocean for the purpose of developing growing turtles.
– When there was a high tide they went over the top.
– They did not because it was never placed there. They knew nothing of it. We had also to grow seaweed in the ocean, a process which involved certain fertilisation. That scheme was cut out by Senator Chaney, but the pound was never created and was never put into operation. Whether the Carr-Main report was of any value, no one knows. It is no good condemning it as turtles are being bred in other parts of the world.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.1S p.m. (Quorum formed).
– I am sorry to have to take up the time of the Senate on this matter. I have seen the trend of the report and some of the remarks that have been made. Possibly there has been a tendency to underrate the function of Applied Ecology Pty Ltd and to base its success or failure upon its financial capabilities. I am very much afraid that the present Government in cutting down on expenses could place greater restrictions than are justified on this organisation. Its functions should never be measured by its profitability but by the good it does to Aboriginals who, in the locations in which they reside, have no other purpose in life. If the company can make some contribution to Aboriginal welfare in those areas, I think it must be supported.
In relation to the matter of turtle farming, which was one of the big schemes, I was corrected by Senator Georges and I thank him for it. I referred to the pound that was suggested in the Carr-Main report but the proper name for what the company should have built in the ocean is a crawl. Nevertheless, I notice that among the things that have to be considered are unusual developments in the cultivation or breeding of turtles. Perhaps we do not have a knowledge today of their commercial value, lt is unfortunate, I think, to read in the report that the aim of Applied Ecology is to examine and develop those areas or those activities which are commercially viable. The company concluded that turtle farming was not commercially viable and recommended its disbandment. This was carried out. My complaint is that the project was accepted as commercially non-viable without any attempt being made to adopt the recommendations of the experts who had established this commission to study such matters and who had reported accordingly. Even if the scheme were not viable, it kept many Torres Strait Islanders in occupations. I think it could have been developed, even at a loss. But one of the responsibilities of the company is to develop viable industries.
Of course, we read in the report that it has developed a crocodile farm. The same circumstances apply to the crocodile farm as applied to the turtle farm. International conservationists, with power to influence governments, have placed a ban on the purchase or the importation of the products of our wildlife, because they suggest that we are denuding our country. Therefore, if the turtle industry was to succeed we had to farm turtles. Not only did we have to thieve the turtle eggs which were laid on the beaches but also we had to develop the industry by breeding our own turtles. The case is the same with crocodiles.
I see the report suggests that crocodile farming has a possibility of being commercially viable.
The oyster farm has apparently been a great success on Palm Island, where there are now some 200,000 oysters under cultivation. According to the report, in July of this year, the oysters were to be handed over to the Palm Island community for development. That is one of the successful projects. Among the developments at Wiluna in Western Australia is the emu farm. Emu eggs are valuable to the natives who have a skill in carving them. They have a commercial value on the Australian market. The report mentions the sale of emu skins. I did not know that they had a value but Applied Ecology says that they have and that it can market them.
My plea is that in the difficult economic climate of Australia we do something for Aboriginals in areas where there is no other employment for them. We either have to let them degenerate and starve or force them on to the fringe areas of the city. Whatever the cost, we should be generous in the promotion of such industries. I hope that the new Minister will take that into consideration. I do not know whether the following was the fault of the previous Minister or whether pressure was applied to him, but the report states:
The Company requested a grant of $1.364m for the year ended 30 June 1980 to permit the development of existing projects at an increased speed and to permit an initial investigation into four new project proposals, with the establishment of one new project during the year. The Company received a total grant of $0.96m.
Obviously it follows from that that some of the new projects the company wishes to investigate cannot go ahead this year. That is my complaint about the whole of the application of this Government’s direction of finances to particular areas. The company should be given priority because of the benefit it gives to a deprived section of our community.
I have been concerned this morning and on many mornings because of the method that is used in order to adjourn a debate when an honourable senator has spoken on a particular report. If one gets leave of the Senate to move a motion, one moves that the Senate take note of the paper. It seems to have become the practice that if one has said all that one wants to say, then one seeks leave to continue one’s remarks. That means that no one else discusses the contents of the report because the matter then goes on the Notice Paper, cluttering it up, until the end of the Parliament. If a senator did not seek leave to continue his remarks, the President would put the question that the Senate take note of the paper. Of course, we would know whether anyone else wanted to speak. If the mover of the motion feels that, at some time in the future after he has studied the report he may like to speak again, I think he is in order in asking for leave to continue his remarks. Whether a senator who wishes to speak after someone has received that benefit is friend or foe in this House, the chamber has an obligation to refuse leave, and should do so.
I mention this because it is my attitude that, rather than have these reports placed on the Notice Paper after a senator has been given leave to continue his remarks, if no one else wishes to speak the question should be put that the Senate take note of the report and the report should not then appear on the Notice Paper. If anyone else wished to speak on the subject they would have a right to do so providing the mover of the motion sought leave to continue his remarks. If I conclude now without seeking leave to continue my remarks at a later date and no one else wishes to speak the question can be put.
– I ceded my right to continue my remarks because I knew that Senator Cavanagh wished to speak on a matter. He has not chosen to seek leave to continue his remarks. Therefore, my option to speak at a later date on this matter is now closed. I cannot move that the debate be now adjourned because I have already spoken.
– I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
Having looked at the profit and loss account and having spoken to one or two people in my electorate during the suspension of the sitting for lunch I refer to the fact that the revenue from parcels and mails has dropped in the last financial year from the previous year. In 1978-79 the revenue was $1,915,000 and for 1979-80 it has dropped to $1,769,000. My guess is that from the way the ANR is now operating that revenue will continue to drop. It would appear from the actions that the ANR has taken, particularly in respect to country rail services, that the prices it is now charging small business people for the carriage of small parcels has practically become prohibitive. The ANR is just handing over its freight carrying services to private road transport.
I would not like to think that this is because of an instruction from the Commissioner, Mr Smith. I would rather think it is an instruction from the Minister for Transport, Mr Hunt, at the behest of the present Government which seems to be obsessed with giving over every enterprise in this country to private enterprise and doing away with government-run enterprises. Before the suspension of the sitting for lunch I spoke about the success of some government and semi-government enterprises. I am told that an announcement will be made in South Australia shortly - it is in the offing today - that cartage rates for bulk grain by ANR will rise by 17 per cent from 1 December. This will place an incredible burden not only upon farmers but also upon consumers. We know that because of the increased price of wheat announced recently the price of bread will rise by about 3c a loaf. The housewife can look forward possibly to paying another 3c to 5c for a loaf early in the new year because of increased rail freights.
The local dry cleaning proprietor in Murray Bridge came to me some weeks ago and complained that because of the exorbitant charges by ANR on small parcels it was practically impossible for him to receive parcels of dry cleaning from some country areas by rail. It is cheaper to send a parcel nowadays by post. At one time rail freight was looked upon as being the most economical and in some cases the quickest mode of transport for small parcels in country areas. The decision of this Government will price these small people out of business. Charges for freight are exorbitant. Bulk materials can be freighted at a much cheaper rate. In some cases one could probably freight a great big packing case much cheaper than one could a suit of clothes to the local dry cleaner. The small business people are up in arms - I do not blame them - at the result of the policies of this Government. What I have said is borne out by the first financial report that we have seen since the Government adopted a change of tactics. The position will be even worse next year.
Revenue for goods has increased by about $23m this financial year over last financial year, and that is again because of the increased freight charges. Only one category of people has to bear these charges - that is, the end user of any product, the small consumer, the housewife. The people who have to pay the piper are those who are on the lowest rung of the wage structure. We find there is not a great difference in the revenue from livestock. No doubt that will be much less next year because of the drought conditions being experienced in Australia. Passenger revenue has not gone up very much at all despite the increase in passenger charges. As a matter of fact, in real money terms the report does not contain figures for the number of passengers carried; no doubt I will have to go back to the other report which was tabled earlier this year - the net revenue from passenger services has increased from $12,038,000 to $ 1 2,748,000. So, we find an increase of about $700,000 in revenue from carrying passengers. With the rate of the increase in inflation and the increased fares the railways certainly must be carrying less passengers. lt appears from the financial statement put down today by ANR that at the behest of the Government the Commissioner is chasing passengers and small business from the railways. I recall Senator Messner continually claiming during the last session of the Parliament that he was a member of a government that had the interests of small business at heart. Only one report on this matter has been tabled today. Many more will be tabled which will show that small business is definitely suffering under the policies of this Government. The blame cannot be laid on anybody else; this is a government instrumentality.
For the year 1978-79 under the heading ‘Net Loss’ we note a Commonwealth subsidy for interest owing of $7,667,000 in the last financial year. The Government did not decide to give any subsidy for interest. That puts an added burden not only on the railways profit and loss account but also on the users of rail services. I have said many times in this Parliament that we ought to be upgrading our rail services and building new lines instead of closing them down. Why are we handing over the business that can be carried by rail to private enterprise? I repeat: This Government will rue the day when it adopted these policies towards the ANR. The result of the Government’s policy of closing country railway services, increasing charges and forcing people to use private road transport will be local government bodies coming to the Federal Government seeking more revenue to construct and maintain country roads. Therefore, the taxpayer will have to foot the bill again. We are handing over the railway services to private enterprise road transport. Eventually the taxpayers will suffer. It is a crying shame that we have a government that is prepared to do this, a government that we know is obsessed with handing over every enterprise in Australia to be run by private enterprise, whose only interest is in making a profit instead of giving a service to the people of the country. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Mr President, earlier the Willowra Aboriginal Land claim report was tabled. I now seek leave to make a statement.
– On 20 November 1978 the Central Land Council lodged an application under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 on behalf of Aboriginals claiming to have a traditional attachment to Willowra Station, a pastoral lease of 4,885 square kilometres. This was the seventh claim to be completed by the Aboriginal Land Commissioner and the second where Aboriginals have claimed traditional ownership of alienated Crown land which is held by or on behalf of Aboriginals. Willowra Station was purchased by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in April 1973. The Commissioner has found that all of the land claimed, except for a 0.834 hectare - 2 acre - portion of land known as Northern Territory Portion 1 1 53, is alienated Crown land in which all estates and interests not held by the Crown are held on behalf of Aboriginals, in this case by Willowra Community Incorporated. Northern Territory Portion 1 1 53 was used about three years ago by the Commonwealth to site an air radio navigation beacon. The beacon has since been removed and the Commissioner ruled this portion to be unalienated Crown land.
He also found that there are Aboriginals who together are the traditional owners of the whole of the land claimed and that these traditional owners are entitled to use or occupy the whole of the land claimed. The Commissioner has recommended that the land claimed be granted to a Land Trust, having found that there is a strong attachment by the claimants to the land claimed. In his report the Commissioner refers to ‘the rather special features possessed by the community at Willowra, a strong flame of traditional life kept burning by the relative isolation of the land and the detachment of the community. It was portrayed dramatically in the gestures of women speaking of their responsibility to hold up the country’. The strength of traditional life was also evidenced by the very considerable store of sacred objects held at Willowra. The Commissioner noted that the importance of the objects to the people and their significance for the country around were obvious.
In making his recommendation, the Commissioner is required by the Act to comment upon the number of Aboriginals who would be advantaged by the land grant, the nature and extent of that advantage, whether detriment might result to any person or community as a result of the grant, and the effect which the grant would have on existing or proposed patterns of land use. The Commissioner found that about 760 Aboriginals would be advantaged by the granting of this claim. Among the traditional owners he found a real desire to have the form of freehold which the Land Rights Act confers. He noted that the land is seen not just as a cattle operation but as the home of nearly 300 people and that the granting of this land ‘will accord more truly with the situation at Willowra than the pastoral lease presently existing’. He also found that no detriment to persons or communities, including other Aboriginal groups, is likely to result if this claim is acceded to. There was no evidence presented to the Commissioner to indicate that adjoining lessees would suffer any detriment from the granting of this land. I understand, however, that the Northern Territory Government is continuing to examine the legal rights of neighbouring pastoralists who may require entry into Aboriginal land for fencing purposes or the recovery of straying cattle.
Willowra Station presently runs a herd of some 6,000 cattle. Testing for tuberculosis is carried out continuously in conjunction with the Northern Teritory Department of Primary Production. The herd is clear of brucellosis. There was no evidence to suggest that management of the cattle operations will decline should the lease be converted to freehold. There are no stock routes across this property and no road over which the public has a right of way.
The Northern Territory Government has considered the report of the Land Commissioner and has raised no objection to the granting of this land. I have decided that the whole of the land claimed be granted to an Aboriginal Land Trust. I shall establish a Trust and will recommend to the Governor-General that a grant of an estate in fee simple in the land be made to the Trust.
– by leave - The Australian Labor Party welcomes the report by the Aboriginal
Land Commissioner to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Peter Baume) concerning the Willowra Aboriginal land claim. The Opposition welcomes the decision of the Government and of the Minister to accept that report. The report is based on principles that the Labor Party has supported in respect of the determination of land claims by Aboriginals, and we are very happy and satisfied to see that these principles have been applied effectively in this case. In particular, I would like to comment on the recognition in the report of the traditional claim of the Aboriginals in the Willowra area. This is an important recognition of an historical position and one which we believe ought to be the basis of future land claims.
We are also pleased to note that the Willowra cattle station is being managed effectively, contrary to some suggestions which I think were made earlier that the handing over of the station as a freehold property to the Aboriginal community would lead to a decline in management. This has not happened, as the Minister has acknowledged in his statement. For example, he has pointed out that there is no brucellosis on the station. The Labor Party is pleased to observe a recognition that the members of the community which has acquired this land are certainly competent to manage the land as a pastoral property. I should add that it will probably be the case that the Willowra community, like other communities which succeed in their land claims, will need some continuing assistance in the early stages of managing their properties. We certainly hope that that assistance will be forthcoming from the Federal Government. We hope and expect that the Willowra Station will be a viable operation. We particularly welcome the fact that it will provide employment for the people who live in that community. All in all, we have no criticism at all to make of the Minister’s statement. We welcome it and we express the hope that many more successful land claims may be settled in such an orderly and fair manner.
– by leave - I welcome the report that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Peter Baume) has put down on the granting of land rights to the people of Willowra. I think it is important to note that once again the Federal Government through its initiative has acceded to claims by Aboriginal people for their traditional land. I only hope and pray that all States will support what the Federal Government is doing in relation to claims by Aboriginal people for their traditional land. It is important to point out that the Aboriginal Land Commissioner noted that the land is seen not just as a cattle operation but as the home of nearly 300 people and that the granting of this land ‘will accord more truly with the situation at Willowra than the pastoral lease presently existing’. He also found that no detriment to persons or communities, including other Aboriginal groups, is likely to result if this claim is acceded to. He further said that no evidence was presented to the Aboriginal Land Commission to indicate that adjoining lessees would suffer any detriment from the granting of this land. I think those words are well worthy of note by those people who consistently object to all things related to Aboriginal people. I speak more particularly of traditional owners of land who say that Aborigines are trying to set up ghettos that will have some detrimental influence on the surrounding communities. The Land Commissioner has looked at the whole situation. He has talked to and negotiated with the people and his finding is now before us.
Another part of the report is also terribly important. The Northern Territory Government, a fledgling government as it were, has considered the report of the Land Commissioner and has raised no objection to the granting of this land. I can only hope that, if and when further claims of this nature are made, the Northern Territory Government will be as sympathetic and understanding to them as it has been to this claim. I cannot help saying again that 1 hope that the other Slates, particularly the States of Western Australia and Queensland, will be guided by and take note of what the Commonwealth Government is doing in relation to these claims by Aboriginal people for their land. What is before us today goes to show that when something is done correctly, where there is proper negotiation, where people are prepared to sit down, talk and thrash out the total implications of the granting of land rights to Aboriginal people, people and particularly governments, I believe, co-operate in a much better way than has been the case in the past. I welcome this report and I congratulate the Minister and the Land Commissioner who handled the situation for his examination and final determination of this issue.
– by leave- I wish to take up two or three matters that have not been touched upon by previous speakers, including the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Peter Baume). Willowra, of course, was a base for a fairly large group of Walpiri people. Its history in the days when it was owned by white people was very murky. Not all that many years ago murders were committed there by white owners; but I exclude from those comments the last owner from whom the Department of Aboriginal Affairs bought the property. In those days the police moved very slowly. Indeed in years gone by, at least two bodies were burned and disposed of in the pastures. That history still lives with those people. They have memories of what went on then. My only criticism is that it has taken so long to grant land rights for this property to the local Walpiri people. Stumpy Martin, who is the ongoing manager of the place - he has held that position for some time - is a highly qualified person. In May last year, that property sold 300 head of cattle. It is not only a viable proposition but is paying off its loans and making a profit. It has continued to be well run by the Walpiri people. I see no reason why this situation should not continue.
I am not happy about the last paragraph on page 2 of the circulated statement of the Minister in which he says: . . . The Northern Territory Government is continuing to examine the legal rights of neighbouring pastoralists who may require entry onto Aboriginal land for fencing purposes or the recovery of straying cattle.
That is a very oblique sort of statement. I hope that there is no significance in it. The property is in an isolated area and there ought not be a need for other wandering pastoralists to go onto Willowra Station at all. There are other avenues to the main road, which is the Stuart Highway. If neighbouring pastoralists want access to that area to get timber for fencing there is plenty of timber around without the need to enter Willowra. Honourable senators might recall that about 18 months to two years ago there was an attempt by the Northern Territory Government to hold up the granting of land rights in respect of this Station. There was also an attempt to take it away from the people who run it. I hope that all those activities have ceased. I join with other honourable senators who have spoken briefly to this report in saying that I am pleased to see that the land rights have been granted in the terms in which we hope they will be continued. We hope that principle will be extended to many other properties throughout the Northern Territory. I hope also that there is no significance in the last paragraph on page 2 of the circulated statement of the Minister, to which I have already referred.
– I have received a message from the House of Representatives acquainting the Senate that, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946, in addition to Mr Speaker the following members of the House of Representatives have been appointed members of the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings, namely, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Fisher, Mr Jull, Mr Kent and Mr Scholes.
– I have received a message from the House of Representatives acquainting the Senate that, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951, the following members of the House of Representatives have been appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, namely, Mr Beazley, Mr Bradfield, Mr Cadman, Mr Connolly, Mr Duffy, Mr Tambling and Dr Theophanous.
– I have received a message from the House of Representatives acquainting the Senate that, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969 the following members of the House of Representatives have been appointed members of the Joint Committee on Public Works, namely, Mr Bungey, Mr Cowan, Mr Humphreys, Mr Innes, Mr Les McMahon and Mr Sainsbury.
– On behalf of Senator Carrick, I move:
This is an unusual week in the life of this Parliament. It is the week of the opening of Parliament when we are debating the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I draw to the attention of honourable senators the fact that we have already gone to some lengths to try to protect the rights of the Parliament in terms of meeting our obligations. (Quorum formed). We are considering the motion to have Government Business take precedence of General Business tonight. I was pointing out to the Senate that this week we are debating the Address-in-Reply. Under normal circumstances no other business should be undertaken before that debate is completed. The variation that has been made to that procedure this week has allowed the Opposition to move a motion of urgency. We thought it proper to suspend Standing Order 1 4 for that purpose to try to–
– It wasn’t for that purpose only.
– Had there been no motion of urgency we would have gone on immediately to consider the Address-in-Reply. It is our desire to give honourable senators an adequate opportunity to complete the AddressinReply debate with reasonable expedition and to try to make sure that the rights of honourable senators in this debate are adequately protected. We have tried to give extra opportunities in two ways. The first was the suspension of Standing Order 14 for the purposes of the urgency motion yesterday. Secondly, this morning we went to some lengths to make sure that the rights of private senators were not abridged in any way upon the presentation of a large number of papers. It seems to us that it is probably in the best interests of the Senate to allow the Address-in-Reply debate to proceed to completion as early as we reasonably can. The motion that has been moved relates only to this evening- Thursday, 27 November. It is not a blanket motion in relation to precedence of Government Business. For those reasons, and without taking up further time of the Senate, I urge honourable senators to support the motion.
– Originally, I did not intend to speak to this motion. I realise that the realities of this chamber and the numbers are such that this motion will go through. We on this side of the chamber have always objected to Government Business taking precedence of General Business on a Thursday night and we will continue to do so. 1 must say, though, that I have been forced to my feet by the extraordinary reasons given by Senator Baume, firstly, for the suspension of Standing Order 14 yesterday and, secondly, for moving this motion at this moment. I find it very surprising that even a new Minister in this place would seriously ask us to believe that the Government has become so benevolent that it is suspending the Standing Order which prevents other matters being debated while the Address-in-Reply is being debated merely because it wants the Opposition to have the opportunity to raise matters of public importance and to move urgency motions.
I think it must be put on record that Standing Order 14 has been suspended to allow the Government to bring forward its own business during the next fortnight and get this sitting of the Parliament over as soon as possible. We are quite happy to stay here and debate the AddressinReply, as it has been debated in the past, before other business is called on, because it is an important debate. It gives us an opportunity to put our philosophical position against the Government and to compare the Government’s record with what it says is its record. We are equally aware that the Government urgently desires to cut down this sitting as much as possible and to get out of this place and therefore out of the public scrutiny which results from the Parliament’s sitting.
We will continue to oppose efforts such as this by the Government to take away the rights of senators on a Thursday night. We will certainly oppose it in light of the specious reasons which have been given by the Government through Senator Baume today. Therefore, I am doing as Opposition members have always done in this place when this form of motion is brought up; I am protesting, futile as this protest may be, at the Government’s attitude of taking away the rights of senators to consider General Business on a Thursday night.
– 1 rise also to oppose this motion, lt is regular practice for me to oppose such motions. I usually get those opportunities towards the end of each session. This is the first time I have had the opportunity of doing so during the first week of a new parliament. This is an indication of the sort of thing that will be happening before the new Senate sits in July. We have so much business to get through before then that we have to start that now. Of course we will get the GovernorGeneral’s Speech out of the way. We will get it out of the way so that we can debate the legislation which will be introduced in this House next week, and which has already been introduced in the other House, so that it can be put straight onto the statute book. It will be rushed through before the first session of the next Parliament can express the people’s will of how the Senate should behave. This is a denial of democracy. The people expressed an opinion on 1 8 October. Before their expression of opinion is put into operation, the Government wants to command the position and deny democracy in Australia.
– You usually speak more sense than that.
– I thought the honourable senator would lean more towards democracy than she has indicated by her interjections today. There have been many charges of her being a vicious conservative. I have been her defender but I am losing patience.
– You usually speak more sense than you are today.
– I could reciprocate, Senator Walters. Very few opportunities present themselves for Opposition back benchers to raise complaints and grievances. One day a week is reserved to us for that. Whilst, under protest, we give it away in the final weeks of the program of a session surely we do not need to start that practice in the first week of a sitting. During the few days that we have been sitting, I have seen more notices of motion given to the Senate than I think I have seen at any time in my history over the same period. I take it that honourable senators have been sincere in giving the notices of motion and that they want them to be discussed. The first opportunity for one or two of them to be discussed is being denied by the Government. Today we had honourable senators moving that the Senate take note of certain reports and then seeking leave to continue their remarks at a later stage. Obviously, they have done that so that they will have an opportunity to read and study the report and then make a constructive contribution to the debate on the report. These items of consideration usually go to the end of the list and are never considered. The opportunities that we have to consider notices of motion will be clear from tomorrow’s Notice Paper, which will contain such a list of private member’s business - business which the private member in all sincerity thinks he is justified in putting forward - that we will have no opportunity to debate all of it.
The private member has one night in a week’s session to raise grievances and complaints, and now that is being taken away from him. This is not fair. The debate on the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech, unless it is gagged, will not terminate this fortnight, according to the list of speakers. It will go into next year. There will be a desire to get it through, to push it through, so that we can go on with other business. If the Government were sincere in this proposition, if there were an arrangement about it, I could understand. But yesterday I was told that the arrangement between the Whips was to allow the Opposition to present some criticism of the Government. That was gagged after only two speakers had spoken. It was not given the full time for discussion as laid down in the Standing Orders. This is a procedure which I feel we should all oppose and oppose vigorously. It is too early in the session for the Government to start taking away rights from individual members.
– The two speeches we have heard from the Opposition have been interesting. I used to make the same sorts of speeches when I was Leader of the Opposition, except that I made them a hell of a lot better. I am surprised that, having sat in Opposition for five years, Opposition senators have not learned anything at all. The Opposition’s protest is really a piece of humbug. Since I have been a member of this place it has not been normal for us upon our return, whether it be for the opening of a new parliament or for the opening of a period of sittings, to sit on the first Thursday night. 1 think Senator Georges would agree with that. Normally in the first week back we would not sit on the Thursday night. As I recall, on most of the occasions when we came back to a new parliament we did not sit on the first night. Once upon a time we did not sit for the first two weeks. That was a more leisurely age and perhaps a more sensible one.
Something has been said about Standing Order 14. Once upon a time it was the view in this place that as long as the Address-in-Reply was open for debate, Opposition senators did not get into moving motions of urgency, because they had plenty of opportunities during the Address-in-Reply debate to raise matters of interest. For some reason best known to itself, the Opposition sought to use a different system yesterday. As to the argument of Senator Grimes about bringing in legislation during an Address-in-Reply debate, legislation has been brought in during every AddressinReply debate since I have been a member of this place. As honourable senators will know, when a message concerning the introduction of a Bill is reported, one of the first things the Minister responsible does is to suspend so much of the Standing Orders as would prevent the Bill’s passing through all its stages without delay. If 1 recall correctly the practice of the Senate, that procedure suspends Standing Order 14 relating to the Address-in-Reply. That is the method by which the Government gets around that problem. All I wish to say is that the so-called protest is really a piece of humbug. I just would have hoped the Opposition would have done it an awful lot better. Perhaps after another three years’ practice it might learn to do somewhat better. But I doubt very much whether the Opposition will ever learn to do anything terribly well. That is why it will stay in Opposition for an awfully long time.
– I do not want to go into Never Never Land as the previous speaker did by saying once upon a time this and once upon a time that. We are in the here and now and are interested in what is to happen tonight. If ever I have heard a piece of humbug about what the Opposition is doing I have heard it just now; every second word was ‘humbug’ and humbug it was. I point out that on the Notice Paper under the heading ‘General Business’, 39 notices of motion are listed. They include the notices of motion listed on today’s order of business. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Peter Baume) said a little while ago that he did not want to take away the rights of private members. The rights of private members will be taken away if honourable senators are not permitted to begin to discuss tonight the 39 notices of motion listed.
I think the Minister at least should have the decency to listen to the arguments advanced against his motion. Among those 39 notices of motion are three notices of motion indicating that private members - two from this side of the House and one from the other side of the House - want to bring in private members’ Bills. While those private members Bills remain on the Notice Paper the private members who want to introduce Bills which they think are important cannot at least take them to the First Reading stage, when the Bills can be printed. Now, that is the sort of thing that will be delayed by the tactics used today. I do not know whether the Minister will respond to these arguments. If he does respond I would like him to indicate also whether his Government intends to facilitate at least the First Reading of the private members Bills that are now foreshadowed on the Notice Paper. From memory, one notice of intention to introduce a private members Bill is from Senator Bonner, one is from Senator Walsh and I am the third senator.
If we are to delay these private members’ Bills, as is sought at the moment, the notices of motion will still be on the Notice Paper on 1 July next year. On 1 July next year it will be a different ball game and perhaps we will be able to move on this side of the House that the Bills be brought on for debate. But one hopes that that will not have to be done and that the Government at least will see the Bills as important to the honourable senators concerned and will facilitate their introduction. I ask the Minister, if he intends to respond to the arguments of this afternoon, to give some indication of the Government’s intention, especially in regard to these three notices of motion, when he discusses the other 36 motions that are listed under General Business’ on the Notice Paper already.
– In speaking against the motion moved by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Peter Baume) I say first how refreshing it is to see Senator Withers’ recovery from the longest bout of laryngitis that I think any honourable senator has ever had. He has made his first speech since he was demoted from the leadership of the Government in the Senate. We welcome Senator Withers back on his feet. Perhaps now we will hear him speak against some of the actions which are taken by some people on his side of the chamber, and with which we are told the honourable senator does not agree. I welcome the honourable senator.
Returning to the remarks made by Senator Peter Baume I ask: ‘What is the hurry?’ Why the indecent haste in finishing the Address-in-Reply debate? I did not see anything in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, which was concocted by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and so ably delivered by the Governor-General here on Tuesday, that requires undue haste in getting the Address-in-Reply across to Yarralumla. Also, there is nothing in the Speech that requires the Governor-General to take any action; it does not matter if the Address-in-Reply never goes to him. We have not yet finished debating the 1978 and 1 979 Budgets; they were still on the Notice Paper when the Parliament rose for the election. I often watch Professor Sumner Miller on television. I have always understood him to say that there is nothing new under the sun. Well, something new under the sun happened here this afternoon when Senator Baume said he wanted to accommodate members of the Opposition to allow them to exercise their rights in this chamber. I am very pleased that Senator Baume has had a change of heart because all the time that I have been here Senator Baume has done his best to prevent members of the Opposition from having their say.
I well recall that earlier this year the Opposition was not even allowed to debate the Appropriation Bill. When Opposition members raised matters which were of embarrassment to the Government Senator Baume closed the Senate up; he gagged debate and would not allow members on this side to probe the Government on the Appropriation Bills. Yet now, after the election, Senator Baume says that he wants to accommodate us. The only people Senator Baume wants to accommodate are the honourable senators who sit behind him and members of the Cabinet. He has a good reason for wanting to get away from here early. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Grimes, said, we are quite prepared to sit here and debate the Government’s legislation and to debate the Address-in-Reply.
Last night Senator Baume had a speaker’s list. What happened towards the end of the evening? The Government pulled its speakers’ names off the list; they disappeared. Chaos then reigned, of course. Our Whip had hurriedly to chase up Opposition senators listed to speak because Government senators’ names had been taken off the list, for some reason or another. I am sure there is an ulterior motive behind the proposition to get the Address-in-Reply over to Yarralumla as quickly as the Government can. There does not seem to be any haste in the other place to finish the debate either this week or even by next Tuesday; I understand the debate will go on all week.
I join with Senator Cavanagh in again voicing my strongest opposition to the Government’s trying to take away the rights of any honourable senator. As Senator Colston said many matters of importance are listed under the heading ‘General Business’, such as notices of motion placed by honourable senators on this side, which we want to see brought forward and debated. I have an interest in a particular notice of motion which I gave yesterday on the dishonouring of many election promises by the Tonkin Liberal Government. I want to have this motion debated to hear what the Liberal members from South Australia have to say about Mr Tonkin’s Government being elected under false election promises. No sooner was Mr Tonkin elected than he dishonoured the promises and the people of South Australia are suffering through their pockets because of it. That is why I want to see General Business brought on at its due time on Thursday nights and not to see honourable senators on this side of the House deprived of their rights because they have to acquiesce to a whim of the Government to get the Address-in-Reply debate over by stifling debate on it. I strongly oppose the motion moved by Senator Baume.
– My remarks on this matter will be short. I am rather concerned to see that this Government is so benevolent that it has moved this motion in order to allow honourable senators to speak on the Address-in-Reply and to allow the Opposition to move motions of public importance and motions of urgency. One would think from hearing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Peter Baume), who is at the table, this afternoon that he was doing so in order to satisfy the wishes of the Opposition. Yet, every member of the Opposition who has spoken to the motion has complained that the Government is taking away from ordinary honourable senators the right to raise matters of General Business. Therefore, if the Government were concerned to satisfy the wishes of the Opposition I suggest that the Minister at the table should now consider withdrawing the motion that he moved. At the same time, we must be suspicious of the Government in the light of its previous record. The Government has gagged debate after debate after Estimates committee reports when thousands of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ funds are involved and under consideration. As my colleague Senator Cavanagh said, this morning 30 or 40 annual reports were presented to the Parliament. They were reports which in normal circumstances would go on to the General Business Notice Paper for debate at a later stage, but because the
Government is now moving to preclude Opposition senators from debating General Business we have had to make cursory statements on those annual reports.
I was drawn into this debate because of the first speech in this chamber for some time by Senator Withers. He said that Opposition senators, having been in Opposition for five years, have learnt nothing at all. I would have hoped that his speech would have better shown his memory. Senator Withers suggested that our opposition to the Government’s motion to preclude us from debating General Business was a piece of humbug because when we were in government the Senate did not sit on Thursday nights. In that respect Senator Withers was right, but we gave the then Opposition the opportunity to debate General Business on Thursdays from 2.15 p.m. until 5.20 p.m. Senator Withers used to take advantage of that opportunity so that members of the then Opposition could speak. We gave members of the then Opposition that opportunity at their request so that they could debate General Business and so that they could catch their aircraft on a Thursday night back to Perth, to north Queensland or wherever. If the Government wishes to close down on Thursday nights, we have no objection provided it does what we did when we were in government and gives the Opposition the opportunity to debate General Business at 2. 1 5 p.m. on Thursday afternoons.
I am rather suspicious of the attitude of the Minister, of the Government and of Senator Withers when I recall that from 1972 to 1975 when the Labor Government moved motions of this nature towards the closing stages of a session Senator Withers would get to his feet and say that the grievance debate was a privilege enjoyed by members of the House of Representatives and that it was essential for honourable senators to have General Business time to provide some competition in that respect with members of the House of Representatives. When Senator Withers was Leader of the Government in the Senate he used the gag more often than any Minister that I have known. In these early days of the life of the new Parliament I am suspicious of the Government’s being so benevolent and charitable to the Opposition. If it is to take away the opportunity to debate General Business in the first week of the first session, God only knows what will happen between now and 30 June in the next, session. I oppose the Government’s motion.
– This debate has been precipitated by the quite unnecessary remarks made by Senator Withers, who is more affectionately known amongst his colleagues as the toecutter
– Watch out, Jim.
– You have had your turn. If you interject, you will get something in return. Standing Order 14 states quite clearly and unequivocally:
No business beyond what is of a formal character shall be entered upon before the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Opening Speech has been adopted. Formal Business which may be entered upon includes the fixing of the days and hours of meeting, the appointment of Standing Committees, and any motion under Standing Order 365.
Standing Order 365 states:
On any Paper being laid before the Senate, it shall be in order to move - (1) That it be read, and, if necessary, a day appointed for its consideration: (2) That it be printed.
Standing Order 365A, which is also relevant, states:
Amendments of a verbal or formal nature may be made, and clerical or typographical errors may be corrected, by authority of the President, in a Paper that has been ordered to be printed. No other Amendments may be made except by authority of the Senate.
The rather shallow statement made by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Peter Baume) who is at present in charge of the Senate - I will not go through the details of it because it has been ably covered by three of my colleagues who spoke previously - does not stand up to any sort of scrutiny. This is a denial of democracy. There was an attempt to do this between 13 December 1975 and the election held in 1977. Between 1977 and 1980 there was a continual erosion of the rights of not only Opposition back benchers but also Government back benchers. It is early days yet. We have not fiinshed our third day of sitting in this Parliament and one of the newest Ministers is doing a fascist-like job for the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). I think that is a shocking state of affairs for somebody who was supposed to have become a member of this place as a small T Liberal and has turned out to be a capital ‘C twice conservative.
Obviously the ghost of John Kerr is wandering around this chamber this afternoon. We saw that great champion of democracy from Western Australia wander around the chamber. First of all, he made a very rude speech directed at members of the Opposition and then went round to see whether he had support amongst his colleagues on the other side of the chamber. He did not miss out the Clerks at the table to see whether he was getting the right advice. He has maintained a long and stony silence in this chamber since a fateful day associated with the name of a Federal division in Queensland and the names of two Federal members, Cameron and Robinson, who are also Queenslanders. After two and a half years and a very severe attack of laryngitis he suddenly found his voice again. For him to make a sort of maiden speech in this chamber which was devoted to the breaking down of democratic practices in the Senate, I think, was reprehensible in the extreme. That is a word which his mentors are fond of using, and obviously it applies to him equally.
We must remember that the honourable senator, who is more popularly known in his own party as the toecutter, on three occasions during the life of the last Parliament kicked his Prime Minister to death by sabotaging him in this chamber. Where do we go from here? He has suddenly found that he has a conscience again and he wants to have a go at the Opposition. I suspect that he has reached a reconciliation with the Prime Minister who has bought him out. Undoubtedly we will see him appointed as Deputy Whip on that side of the chamber on his long climb back to the Ministry or to some sort of minor position when honourable senators opposite become the Opposition in about 1 8 month’s time. What my colleague Senator Cavanagh said was true; this is part of the bulldozing process.
The Prime Minister is known at the moment as the pardalote and the call of the pardalote is chipp, chipp’. He is wandering around like that because he fears what will happen from the first day of the Budget sitting in 1981 when the majority which has been able to support him so ably in this chamber for five years will suddenly disappear. If any facist-like legislation is to be put through this Parliament it has to be put through before the end of the autumn session, otherwise it will be goodnight. I suspect that as part of that recovery deal the honourable senator from Western Australia is back polishing the boots of the Prime Minister who has patted him on the head and said: Stand aside, Reg. Shortly you will be given another mantle and we will make you one of our junior Ministers’. It is not good enough. 1 hope that those honourable senators opposite who have nol been prepared to speak in this debate will at least have nightmares tonight because they have pushed a bit more of democracy down the drain.
– in reply - We have had an interesting if brisk debate over about 20 minutes. The Government does not move from its position and urges support of this motion. But in closing the debate I think a couple of points need to be made. Senator Colston made some quite reasonable points about private members Bills generally. I think I should suggest to the honourable senator that they are a matter for negotiation and that there is an established precedent and practice to which he can turn. I think he will discover that the established practice has been that most private members Bills have been accommodated by negotiation between the two sides. I suggest that he look to the established procedures to work once again. I hope that will be possible. Senator Keeffe read Standing Order 14. What may not have been clear was that had Standing Order 14 not been suspended yesterday at our suggestion so that notice of motion could be given, it would not have been competent for the Senate to have considered any movement to debate Government Business tonight. It is only because we moved to suspend Standing Order 14 that the possibility of debating Government Business tonight has come up. In all the circumstances I do not think the Government’s proposal is at all unreasonable and I ask honourable senators to support it.
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland)- by leave -Mr President, I wish to make a correction. I gave a wrong date. I said that Senator Withers had laryngitis for two and one half years. Actually, his laryngitis commenced on 7 August 1978.
That the motion (Senator Peter Baume’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 26 November, on motion by Senator Davidson:
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to:
To His Excellency the Governor-General
May it please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– When the Address-in-Reply debate was adjourned last night prior to the adjournment debate 1 was referring to certain aspects of the Speech presented by the Governor-General on behalf of Mr Malcolm Fraser. Again I refer to the words of Mr Fraser. He 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, lt is not 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.
That is typical of the attitude of the Government to the problems of the young. Government members have been mouthing all sorts of cliches for the last five years. I am reminded of that famous statement in November 1975 when the then caretaker Prime Minister said: ‘There will be jobs for all who want to work. In particular, we will look after our young.’. I will not quote large slices of the Governor-General’s Speech but I will refer to a few paragraphs. The Speech stated:
My Government has a clear and firm commitment to youth, exemplified by its announcement of new initiatives . . .
New initiatives do not fill the tummies of young people, nor do they provide them with the type of work they need. Where cash is involved in many of the new initiatives it goes into the pockets of people out to exploit the young, and I speak in particular of subsidised employment. The Speech continued:
All of these initiatives will be in place by February next year.
During 1981 my Government will take action to place increased emphasis on employment and training schemes.
The emphasis ought to be on employment. Because of its attitude, the Government is pursuing all the wrong guidelines, while it looks after the wealthy people who provided most of its campaign funds for the 1980 election. Those people now need their slice of cake in return. That comes through assistance with tax dodging or tax avoiding schemes. In spite of the mealy-mouthed words uttered from time to time by Mr Howard, claiming that this Government has set out to crack down on tax avoidance schemes, in fact, it has created many other avenues whereby its wealthy friends may be able to get away with a little bit more of the money that rightly should be going to solve the unemployment problems in this country. The Governor-General in his speech as reported at page 3 of Hansard of 25 November said under the heading ‘Caring for People’:
In what I have said about unemployment, youth and the economy, I have stressed my Governments concern with the human dimensions of the issues involved.
Further on, he said: lt is evident in programs to subsidise accommodation for aged persons, to assist homeless persons, to assist low or moderate income earners in house purchasing, and in the strong commitment made by my Government to welfare housing.
What has not been said is that in respect of all of these areas there has been a cutback in finance, a discounting of initiative and a loss of political honesty. Only yesterday a report was presented which shows that right here in the bush capital of Australia there are four times as many persons waiting for government housing as there was a year ago. The waiting time for a government house has increased from five months to one year. Yet this Government has the effrontery to say that it is catching up on the backlag. It is not catching up on the backlag. Because of its inability to provide government funds for welfare and similar housing or even to enable young couples to buy their first home, the Government is helping the entrepreneurs who are operating in the typically free enterprise way in the housing market. In other words, those entrepreneurs are building enough to be able to charge very high rentals so that in some instances group housing is probably the only way that many young people can find some sort of shelter at all.
I visited, in the course of the election campaign, a committee working in the Beenleigh area, just north of the Gold Coast in Queensland. It has been trying for several years merely to establish a centre for elderly people in the area. Last year there were approximately 20 on the list waiting for a subsidy which, incidentally, is laundered through State governments. In the current year there are at least 10. 1 have made representations, of course, to the responsible Minister in this Government in an endeavour to have that project brought forward. The funding of housing for pensioners is still on a piecemeal basis. Every so often money is again laundered through the State governments so that pensioners allegedly can get so called cheaper welfare housing which is neither a reality nor a fact of life . The only housing commission flats built in my city of Townsville, were constructed by a Labor government more than 20 years ago, and they are continually full. They have virtually become emergency housing units. All that has been built since is a couple of masonettes a few houses and a few flats for the pensioners. The disadvantaged people in this community have suffered twice as badly under two Fraser regimes and will suffer three times as badly as a result of the current one as they allegedly did during the Labor Government years.
The number of homeless people has increased. Homeless people ought to be classified. In some cases, two or three families have to move into one unit of accommodation. Conditions are very crowded. But the classification which would more starkly emphasise the problem would be that applied to those people who are forced to live under railway bridges, road bridges, along creek banks and in rough bush shelters in this country which has assets and financial backing enough to ensure that everybody who needs a home may have a home. Again referring to my own city, 200 to 300 people camp out every night in Townsville and many of them - a high proportion of them - are under the age of 20 years. They are kids on the wander - kids who probably have an unemployed parent in the family, feel that they are a burden and move away from home, often not even telling their parents where they are going. They are unable to find employment and frequently are unable to get any sort of social welfare benefits, let alone obtain any type of housing.
If one extends that example throughout the country, Mr Deputy President, one realises that there are many thousands who are sleeping out every night without shelter. These problems are being aggravated by the actions of the Government. I am not sure whether Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle would have taken the course were she still the Minister for Social Security, but a significant clamp has been imposed on the so-called Public Service ceilings. I think it was the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who made the announcement within about 48 hours of the holding of the election, after he had counted up his majority five times to make sure that he had one, that there would be a clamp down on the Public Service and that staff ceilings were to apply. We had that ridiculous Bill introduced last night in the other place which seeks to restrict people from making virtually any sort of complaint at all. On 19 November, I sent the following telegram to Senator Chaney:
Are you aware that seasonal work in north Queensland, including meat exports and sugar industries, has virtually closed down or is about to close down. Understand your department is under-staffed to the extent of about 200. Urge you to ensure that all social security offices in north Queensland are fully staffed. Position would be aggravated by those leaving high school or university. Letter following . . .
I issued a short Press statement at about the same time, and I wish to quote a few paragraphs from that because I think it is quite descriptive. I remind the Senate that that telegram was sent on 1 9 November. I have had an acknowledgment from the Minister for Social Security (Senator Chaney) stating that he would look into the matter. I hope that in this matter he will not join the great gang of mirror Ministers in the last Government. Those Ministers would always be looking into a matter at a later date. I read the following paragraphs from a short Press release which states:
The meat season was one of the shortest on record and the sugar industry has now almost wound up. In addition, many hundreds of young people will have completed courses at various tertiary institutions and high schools and may have to wait many months before they find employment in a region where there are few opportunities for young people . . .
As a matter of fact, in that region there may be as many as 50 or 60 young people competing for the one job. The Press statement continues:
As recently as last August the Government approved of staff levels for the Department of Social Security, but by political interference and poor planning at top levels the Department is now 200 below the approved level of 1 1 ,680.
The reason for complaining in the northern region is that this sudden seasonal influx of unemployed persons - I can recall two or three years ago when my office had queues of as many as 20 or 30 people at a time just trying to get enough money to buy the next meal- combined with the understaffing of the Social Security offices means that those offices are unable to cope with the demand.
The Press release continues:
The situation will be further aggravated as students, completing their courses, will automatically be cut off from all tertiary allowances in December.
That is thanks to the very highly developed computer system. The Press release further stated:
It is a pity that the Prime Minister, already deep in political trouble, did not attend to those matters which directly affected his own sphere of responsibility. His decision to interfere, once again, in starting of Government departments is idiotic in the extreme . . . Neither he nor his Minister for Social Security will be short of food or shelter as a result of being unemployed but if the interference with staff ceilings continues, hundreds, and possibly thousands, of unemployed persons will be seriously disadvantaged over the DecemberJanuary period . . .
In particular, this applies to north Queensland. lt appears that at least some members of the clergy, who are not quite as sensitive as one would think that Christians would be, look at these matters in a way no different from that of the Government. I quote the Catholic Bishop of Gippsland, Victoria, who has urged that the words of the Bible be applied to applicants for the dole. As stated in a newspaper article, Bishop Arthur Fox said in a pastoral message that the passage he had in mind was a letter from St Paul to the Thessalonians. lt states:
We gave you a rule when we were with you not to let anyone have any food if he refused to do any work.
He said that these words applied to the contemporary scene. The article further states: lt is true that there are many people out of work through no fault of their own’. Bishop Fox said. But there are others who do not want to work and refuse to do so, preferring to live on the dole.
A very small minority of people does not want to work. There are politicians in this chamber, particularly on the Government side, who do not want to work either, and that shows up in their application to their political life in respect of the community at large.
– You can see them in the Senate now.
– Come to think of it, yes. There is one man waiting to make a speech and one Minister who is here because she has been told to be here. It is her turn on the roster. The article continues:
These are the ones to whom the words of St Paul seem to apply.
In his day there was no messing about in this regard.
Today governments give them social benefits, actually paying them for doing nothing. ls this progress or enlightenment? - I doubt it.’
Bishop Fox said the Bible showed that from the dawn of creation “God ordained man should work’.
He said God’s injunction to toil had been given to Adam after he and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit.
Quoting the Bible, the Bishop said: ‘In the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, God told Adam, till you return to the ground, since out of it you were taken, for dust you are and unto dust you shall return’.
Bishop Fox said the same government paying out the dole was failing to confront the saboteurs of the nation.
That is an amazing statement from a Christian bishop, but it is the sort of syndrome with which Ministers of this Government are living. They too coined the phrase ‘dole bludger’. They are still using the phrase ‘dole bludger’ when in fact the real bludgers - I withdraw that word, Mr Acting Deputy President; you are new to the position and I know you might take offence at it - or the real people loafing on this community are sitting on the other side of the House, propped up by their inept back bench colleagues who would not be game to shout in the party room or to contradict one of the Ministers because they know that in the Heinz concept of 57 different varieties there are 57 back benchers who would not get a ministry. Cheating is done not only by the Government but also by big business. I quote from a letter which was written to me a little while ago by the State Secretary and Federal President of the Storemen and Packers Union of Australia. He said:
Please find enclosed herein photocopy of an item which has appeared in the Northern Star–
That is a New South Wales newspaper - . . the contents so set out are informative when one takes into account the role that has been played by Henry Jones IXL in its operation over the last 5 to 6 years. They have indiscriminately sacked Storemen and Packers by virtue of their closing down of their factories here in Brisbane and elsewhere and quite frankly are still producing Slate Marmalade Jam branded Queensland, and if you read the label which I am enclosing you will see that it just says Henry Jones, Brisbane.
This is an old company. This is false advertising. I understand that it has been reported to government sources and the Government has failed to do anything about it. It must protect its friend, a company that wants to import from South Africa pineapples and other types of fruits produced by slave labour at one quarter of the wages that would be paid in Australia so that it can undercut the Australian production system. An interesting comment was made by a well-known pineapple grower who, incidentally, will be a candidate for the Labor Party in the Queensland election on Saturday, 29 November. The Northern Star article reads:
Queensland pineapple growers were sceptical of the denial by Henry Jones Limited that it had made no decision to build a cannery in northern New South Wales, a leading grower, Mr Reg Lawler, said from Gympie yesterday.
This article was written several months ago. It continues:
Mr Lawler said that although the Queensland producers were not too concerned about competition from New South Wales growers, they were totally opposed to the establishment of a cannery.
One of the reasons why this company decided a year or so ago to set itself up in another State by buying up properties for the purpose of producing pineapples was to undercut the Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing cannery at Brisbane in Queensland which provides employment for thousands of people year in and year out, but for particularly large numbers in the fruit harvesting season. The article continued:
There is absolutely no doubt that Henry Jones is buying specialised machinery and young pineapple plants for plantations somewhere on the Far North Coast of New South Wales,’ he said.
They have even approached many Queensland growers to obtain young plants but most growers are refusing to supply them.’
We are adopting this attitude not because we are afraid of competition from New South Wales, but because we are afraid that Henry Jones might build a cannery.’
The Queensland growers argue that there is no justification for the establishment of a cannery in northern New South Wales.
They say that Queensland growers produced about 20,000 tonnes in excess of the total Australian market for pineapples last year.
I assume that that refers to the fresh fruit market as well as to the canning market in the export area. The article continues:
The Golden Circle cannery in Brisbane - the only pineapple processing facility in Australia - also was capable of processing more fruit than could be supplied by Australian growers, Mr Lawler said.
There is a reference to cheap labour. I do not want to read the full story but I must quote the following:
Queensland growers state that pineapples from South Africa can be landed in Australia at $55 a tonne, while local pineapples are sold at $ 1 55 a tonne, fruit value.
They say that Henry Jones is able to produce cheap pineapples in South Africa by using cheap black labour.
So the story goes on. That shows the sort of duplicity, cheating and what have you that goes on with the full sanction of the Liberal Party and what is left of the National Party in this Parliament.
The Government is also prepared to cheat. I refer particularly to the campaign in relation to agent orange. I do not know whether the former Minister for Veterans’ Affairs was removed because of his handling of the whole situation but if he was I am not sorry for him. I shall quote from a restricted document which came to me quite legitimately. To show that the top brass were involved I mention that it states that a brigadier, six full colonels, 10 lieutenant colonels, 13 majors, one captain, one lieutanant and one civilian were present. Not only that, but also 30 of those Army brass were of field rank. There are other things which I will not quote for security reasons, but I wish to make reference to what was known, apparently, by some sections of the Army when people in high authority, obviously advising the Minister, were saying: ‘It doesn’t matter about agent orange. There is no proof that it is doing any damage. We haven’t looked at it yet’. We now have this never-never inquiry, set up to cover a period of a few years. It was not started until six months after it was approved. In the meantime people were suffering from some type of disease which the circumstantial evidence would indicate in fact was caused by herbicides in areas where soldiers and other Service people were exposed to it. Paragraph 24 of the DMS section of this restricted document states:
Exposure to agent orange. The DMS stated that, as a result of concern being expressed by personnel on the possible adverse effects resulting from exposure to the defoliant ‘Agent Orange’, he felt it may alleviate anxiety if he made a statement on the matter, based on information contained in a report by the Surgeon-General of the United States Army.
Paragraph 25 of the document states:
Agent Orange consisted of equal mixture of the commercially available herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. This mixture was contaminated–
It emphasised the word ‘contaminated’ - with varying amounts of TCDD or Dioxin as were the commercially used mixtures during the period. Military stocks were destroyed in 1 977.
Of course, early in the piece the Australian military services denied that they had been using this defoliant at all. Now they have destroyed their stocks. Now they admit that they used it and that they destroyed their stocks in 1977. The document continues:
In most cases military personnel had minimal or no exposure as they entered areas treated 4-6 weeks before.
Even that is not true. This is again a typical case of high brass brain washing. I have been told by, people who returned from Vietnam that in fact they were sprayed with defoliants at their positions in the field. The paragraph continues:
Those most likely to have been exposed were those involved in dedrumming and spraying operations. . . 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T have been used world-wide since 1947 and with proper techniques health hazards are minimal. Massive oral dose or skin contact causes various clinical disorders but no cumulative toxicity has been demonstrated and there is no convincing evidence of cancer production or foetal abnormality.
. Many clinical conditions have been described with gross over-exposure or in industrial accidents involving TCDD–
That is the dioxin - but not with routine working with Agent Orange. Mostly the effects have resolved and there is no evidence of low level intoxication or the development of later adverse effects. Again there is no substantive evidence of cancer development or foetal abnormality in men associated with the SVN exposure.
That allegedly was stated in the National Academy of Science Report 1974. The document continues:
A telegram is attached to the document which apparently was sent out to the Vietnam Veterans’ Action Association. I did mention that there were 30 officers of field rank at the quarterly general meeting of this organisation. The telegram stated:
Reference B advised military districts that policy on sponsorship of the Vietnam Veterans’ Association cannot be formulated until further details of the aims and charter of the organisation have been received and studied. AMR 2I0A imposes constraints regarding political organisations . . .
This is an association of ex-servicemen which is fighting for its rights in the same way as the Legion of Ex-Servicemen and Women, the Returned Services League and various other exservice organisations. It is obvious that because they dared to complain of the dangers which are associated with agent orange the finger was put on them and no doubt AMR 21 OA imposes constraints regarding political organisations. There was an attempt by Army brass, undoubtedly with the connivance and co-operation of the Minister and possibly of the Prime Minister to put these people down. The telegram goes on to state: but there is no–
The photostat copy of the telegram is not terribly clear. It is a bit like the rest of the Army equipment. It continues:
Objection to soldiers joining other organisations or associations.
Meanwhile members of the Regular Army who have claims regarding agent orange should be advised to direct their claims through normal service channels in accordance with MPA Vol 4 Chapter 8. Ex members of the Regular Army should be advised to direct their claims to the Dept of Veterans’ Affairs.
In view of the speculation surrounding the issue of agent orange and the need for investigation resolution of any claims for compensation is likely to be a slow process.
How right they are. There is a tendency, I suppose, to forget a lot of the factors associated with those people who live in remote parts of Australia. For years we were hoping that the Department of the Treasury would be able to find a half qualified accountant or economist who could help people living in remote areas and who have to pay sales tax on freight. If one buys a vehicle and the freight on it is, say, $300, attached to that $300 is three times 27* per cent, or 27* per cent of the total. That is the additional penalty of sales tax that one has to pay. That situation applies also if one needs a part urgently for a motor vehicle or for some other type of machine. It is subject to that rate of sales tax. The part would need to be delivered by air mail at probably four times the cost of the original component and one would pay sales tax on that too. According to stories which have come out of Treasury during the last 1 5 or 20 years, the Department has not yet been able to find anybody who is qualified to do the job.
The Australian Labor Party in its policy speech did say that had we been elected on 1 8 October we proposed to abolish the savage penalty which is applied to people living in remote areas. Earlier this year I received a letter from Mr Coffison, the Shire Clerk of the Bowen Shire Council, in North Queensland. Attached to the letter was a petition. I was not able to present the petition in the Parliament because of the hectoring attitudes adopted by the Government in the run-up to the Federal election campaign. The letter stated:
I attach a petition from residents of this district who are concerned about the level of Federal expenditure on roads. Concern is also being felt at the suggestion that the Government may be considering a proposal to withdraw from the field of specific road funding arrangements.
As you are aware, the roads in our district are sub-standard due to the climatic conditions and the increase in traffic due to the rapid growth of our Shire.
I respectfully ask you to present this petition to the President and Senators of the Senate as soon as possible.
The petition is now four or five months old. As 1 said, it was not presented because I received it during the parliamentary recess and then we had a mad few weeks before an election was held. The petition was signed by 63 residents, most of whom are prominent citizens of the Bowen area. The petition stated:
That local authorities throughout Australia are appalled at the recently announced Commonwealth Government allocation of a mere $628m for roads in 1 980-8 1 .
There has been no alteration to that figure. The petition continues:
There is extreme disappointment at both the level of total Commonwealth funding for all road categories and at the specific allocation for the local roads category. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:
. That road funding arrangements for 1 980-8 1 to 1 982-83 reach at least a total of S2,200m over the triennium.
That the Commonwealth maintain an active financial interest in the funding of all categories of roads.
That the Commonwealth ensure that a proportion of the funds flows through the States earmarked for Local Government purposes.
A Minister who lives in Cairns once stated at a local government conference which was held in Croydon that from a military point of view - the Federal Minister for Transport was present at the meeting - we do not need roads for defence purposes. Obviously the Government has taken his advice at some other level because nothing has been done on those roads in the last fifteen years apart from the laying of a little bit of extra bitumen here and there. The Bruce Highway is one of the most disgraceful highways in Australia. There have been death-causing accidents on the narrow bridges. There are some 40-odd narrow bridges between Rockhampton and Cairns. There is a tendency for southern tourists in particular, who are not sufficiently aware of the dangerous nature of Queensland’s roads, to have collisions and other types of accidents on those bridges. I refer to these matters because it is perfectly obvious that the hypocrisy outlined in the Speech which was given to the Governor-General to read this week is merely a continuation of the hypocrisy and deceitful statements that have been made by this Government from 1 3 December 1 975 until today. We see no relief from it. The Australian people also see no relief from it.
Aborigines are the people who have suffered most. They have probably suffered more because for a period of two or three years when the Labor Government was in office suddenly they started to see a little bit of justice. There was a tremendous amount of preliminary work for the Government to do because all previous governments had refused to do anything about alleviating the social, employment and other conditions under which these people were required to live, and are still required to live. There is a reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to Mr Fraser’s philosophy.
– They have not got much in there.
– Yes. There is only one two-lined paragraph which states: lt Ls evident in the commitment to improve Aboriginal health standards.
This Government has spent months in knocking back a scheme for the improvement, provision and delivery of our health packages. There have been heated exchanges between the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Chaney, and senior representatives of the Aboriginal community because the Minister would not even make available a few dollars to enable them to hold a proper conference. There has been Government manipulation of the Aboriginal people. The Government says on the one hand: We will give you land rights’, and on the other hand, before the documents are delivered, the Government tears them up and burns them. Yarrabah is an outstanding example. The former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs went there on two or three occasions and finally knuckled under to what the Queensland Premier said that he would have to do through his mouthpiece, the Queensland Minister for Aboriginal and Island Affairs, Mr Porter.
Racial discrimination is acknowledged and accepted by this Government. The only time that racial discrimination is highlighted - where the Government makes some protest - is when the Prime Minister is 5,000 or 10,000 miles away from here. It is not done in Australia. The Prime Minister expended large sums of taxpayers’ money for the purpose of collecting a reward in America. A lot of people who were associated with the giving of that award are very ashamed that it was ever presented to him.
I conclude by saying that there has been no change in the philosophy of the Government. It is still a government of big business. It does not care what happens to the kids of this country. It does not care what happens to minority groups. Perhaps Mr Row, who is the National Party candidate for the seat of Hinchinbrook in the election to be held on Saturday, summed up the philosophy of this Government when he said to a friend of mine, who is a trained social worker: ‘The Aborigines were a big problem. What this country really needs is a huge earthquake that will create a great chasm in the ground and all the blacks will fall into it and then it will close up again. That is the only way we will get rid of the Aboriginal problem’. I have that lady’s permission to use that statement publicly because that is the philosophy of the National Party and of most members of the Liberal Party in this Parliament. I hope that in the next 18 months there will be that double dissolution. When that comes the number of representatives on the other side of this chamber will be considerably thinned and then democracy undoubtedly will return to this country.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, firstly may I say that it gives me much pleasure to speak on the first time that you are in the chair. I look forward to receiving your benign guidance from time to time when it becomes necessary. I must say that having watched your alert attention to the proceedings during Senator Keeffe’s speech and having noted your smile as you peered over the top of your glasses I am instantly reminded of why the collective noun for a gathering of owls is in fact a parliament.
The Address-in-Reply debate gives honourable senators an opportunity to speak on a range of matters relating to Government policy generally and to specific announcements or commitments made either in the speech delivered from the Throne by His Excellency, the GovernorGeneral, or in the policy speech which the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) brought down prior to the successful return of the Government at the election on 1 8 October.
I wish to deal with three issues that arise, two of which arise directly from the policy speech. Firstly, I will refer to the establishment of centres of excellence and the funding of them in areas of
Australian higher education; secondly, to some matters relating to encouragement to the film industry in Australia; and, thirdly, to an issue which is of peculiar interest to people in New South Wales at the moment regarding the development of the aluminium industry and in particular the threat which the proposed aluminium smelters of the Hunter Valley will provide for the wine growers in that area.
I turn firstly to the question of research and centres of excellence. The Australian Universities Commission first raised the issue in its fifth report which was presented to this Parliament in 1972. In that report the Commission evaluated some of the suggestions made to it by the University of Adelaide and the James Cook University of North Queensland that their activities in agricultural research and tropical veterinary research respectively should be considered as meeting national needs and therefore be considered appropriate to be given special financial assistance by the Commonwealth Government as national research schools. The AUC went on to say:
Although it believes that there is merit in arguments of the type set out by the University of Adelaide, the Commission sees practical difficulties in determining whether a research operation in a particular university should qualify for special financial treatment.
In the period between 1972 when the fifth report was issued and 1975 when the sixth report was issued, the Universities Commission appears to have overcome some of the difficulties which it faced. In its sixth report of May 1975 the Commission said:
In paragraph 8.55 of the Fifth Report the Commission expressed the view that there would be advantages in establishing national research schools, similar to those of the Australian National University, in other universities.
It went on to say in its sixth report:
While some proposals submitted by universities were related to the concept of national research schools, other proposals were relatively modest in scale. The Commission does not wish at this stage to express positive support for any specific proposal. Its new policy for the development of special post-graduate centres should, however, enable some of them to be implemented.
Very regrettably the Government did not see its way clear to doing anything about the suggestions raised in the sixth report or indeed the hints that had previously been raised in the fifth report and it fell to the lot of the Tertiary Education Commission which by this time had succeeded the Universities Commission again to return to the subject. In volume 1 of the TEC report for the 1979-81 triennium the Commission itself came back to this question when it said: 4.59 Further, the Council has proposed that for 1981, the special research grants should be divided into two categories: Category A, which would be a continuation of the existing special research grants and Category B, designed to develop concentrations of postgraduate training and research. The Council has suggested that additional funds should be made available in 1981 for the introduction of Category B type grants. The development of special postgraduate centres was suggested by the Universities Commission in its Sixth Report. In its Report for the 1977-79 Triennium the former Commission again commented on the importance it attached to this proposal but indicated that it could not give priority to this development in the context or the 1977-79 triennium.
Again the Government did not feel itself to be in a position to take up that specific recommendation of the TEC and it promulgated its guidelines after it had received and studied the TEC report. As honourable senators know, the TEC is required to make comments and recommendations once the guidelines are known to it. So in Volume 4 of the report for 1979-81 the Commission was somewhat critical when it said:
The Commission is concerned that no reference was made in the guidelines to the establishment of special research centres in universities. The Commission will raise this matter again in Volume 1 of its Report for 1982-84 triennium.
In the interim a greater degree of support and enthusiasm proceeded to develop throughout the Government and this was added to by a number of reports that came forward from the Australian Science and Technology Council. In Volume 1 B of the ASTEC report on science and technology in Australia the question was raised again and in the special report to the Prime Minister by ASTEC entitled ‘The Direct Funding of Basic Research’ a number of recommendations was made. For instance, ASTEC recommended:
That the present practice whereby research in universities is supported by funds through the Tertiary Education Commission and selected projects of excellence are directly funded by ARGC, the NH&MRC and through other advisory and funding bodies be continued.
It went on to discuss the way in which the funds should be distributed and it recommended:
That ARGC be continued as a funding body for the support of the most outstanding research projects and promising research workers in universities and in other non-government laboratories and institutions.
One would have thought that the decision to fund those centres of excellence had just popped up in the Prime Minister’s policy speech as if it were something that had not been in the stage of development for some while. One of the regrettable things that happened on 1 8 September- the last sitting day of the previous Parliament- was that in the House of Representatives the Minister for Science and the Environment, Mr Thomson, produced a report. It was the Government’s formal response to the recommendations in both Volume IB of ASTEC’s report on research and the comments in the ASTEC paper entitled ‘The Direct Funding of Basic Research’. The Hansard for the House of Representatives for that date will show that the text of this ministerial statement was laid on the table. It was not laid on the table, I understand, of the Senate. Although it was laid on the table in the House of Representatives it was in fact not incorporated in the Hansard, and that is a great pity because the statement, which is some 1 6 pages in length, is the Government’s formal response to two of the most significant reports that it received on research funding from ASTEC in the course of the previous year and a half. One of the announcements that in fact went unnoticed because of the confusion in the last couple of hours in the sitting of 1 8 September was that part of Mr Thomson’s statement which read:
The Government has also accepted the ASTEC recommendation that research grants be allocated so that universities will be encouraged to develop centres of specialisation, thereby avoiding excessive fragmentation of research effort - in terms of funds, facilities and staffing. ASTEC will, of course, be consulted on the determination of these centres.
Then in the Prime Minister’s policy speech this matter was referred to. In a brief summary of the policy speech the Prime Minister said: ‘We will make funds available for the support of research centres of excellence in Australia’s universities’. In the supplementary statement which was attached to the Prime Minister’s policy speech this was spelt out in a little more detail in this way: Funds for the establishment of research centres of excellence in a number of universities at a cost of $lm in 1981 and a further $15m during the 1982-84 triennium’. Those of us who have a particular interest in education are therefore faced with a number of practical difficulties about the way in which this program for the support of centres of excellence is to be implemented and the fact that it has not yet been spelt out in the detail that one would like to have seen forthcoming from the Government. What I must say, I fear, is that once again we will see the universities themselves indulge in their favourite pastime, that is to say making critical comments about other Australian universities or attempting to cut the throats of people in their own universities who happen to be involved in a different discipline or in a different field of research.
The indecent scrambling to climb over the bodies to get their hands on the money, which has become so much a feature of university and academic life in Australia in recent years, is likely to persist as far as the grants of $ 15m for research centres of excellence are concerned. In a survey by John Bremer, printed in the higher education supplement of the Australian on 5 November, a list was included, and it is interesting to look at that list. Bremer’s article states:
The funding for the special centres comes live years after the TEC first proposed grants to enable special research concentrations.
Research fields with claims already staked are: aboriginal studies (Northern Territory); ancient history (Macquarie): antarctic research (Tasmania): Australian- Asian relations (Griffith); cellular biology (Griffith): cognitive psychology (Deakin): education administration (New England); energy (Wollongong and Newcastle): engineering (Newcastle); environmental studies (Griffith): genetics (New England); geophysics (Macquarie): marine science (Tasmania and James Cook); marsupial biology (Macquarie); medical (Queensland): minerals (Queensland); multicultural (Wollongong): nutrition- human (Deakin): nutrition ruminant (New England): regional (New England): tropical agriculture (Queensland): tropical veterinary science (James Cook).
For those honourable senators who are familiar with a large number of Australian universities one could go on and add, for instance, veterinary science at an establishment such as Murdoch. One could mention the work being done in the nuclear isotope research field at places such as Monash. One could look at the graduate school of management at the University of New South Wales. One could go through all those institutions and designate not just one but several research centres of excellence which might be funded. I fear that that $15m will not go very far. I am concerned, therefore, that the method of allocation of this money should now be put on a quite different basis from that which has occurred in the past. In the past the allocation has tended to be done by a bureaucracy within the Tertiary Education Commission or within the Department of Education. I suggest that the time has clearly come to move away from those established bureaucracies.
The sort of idea that I have in mind would be a small committee, which would be assisted by the TEC in terms of the provision of expert advice, to look at the bids from the different universities. I think the panel should comprise a very limited number of people - from the TEC or somebody with an overall perspective of the Australian university situation; somebody who has a respected position in the community in terms of his knowledge of tertiary education, of national development, of social and economic requirements. Perhaps one of the people who have served so ably on one of the Henderson inquiries would be the sort of person that I have in mind. I would be inclined to bring in from overseas somebody from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation or from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to act as chairman of the panel. I would expect the panel to do its job and then to disappear into the myths and history of education in Australia.
I fear that a proportion of the money allocated for research centres of excellence will go into building up departmental bureaucracies designed to determine what are research centres of excellence. Those bureacracies will then become subject to the operations of the old-boy network, the duchessing, the seduction which Australian vicechancellors appear to practise with considerable skill on those who have their hands on the purse strings in the field of education in Australia. It is time for the Government to look at something quite different from the way in which it has allocated research and education funds in the past. This most important program, which will make an enormous contribution to research and development in Australia, needs to be put on a different footing as far as its administrative structures are concerned. I will be following with the greatest of interest, as 1 am sure other honourable senators on both sides of the chamber will, the way in which this program is implemented.
As I said earlier, the second thing to which I wish to refer is the announcement in the policy speech of support for the Australian film industry. Australia has been remarkably well served by its film industry - an industry that goes back prior to the turn of the century. On the last occasion on which 1 spoke about the film industry in Australia 1 probably mentioned that it was almost part of the national psychology that the first film made in Australia for public distribution was a film of the 1896 Melbourne Cup. I was therefore quite surprised when I looked up the first film shown commercially in the United Kingdom - it was made by Birt Acres and shown in January 1896 - and found that it was a film of the 1 895 Derby. So perhaps the criticism that Australia is unique in terms of its first film being of a horse race ought not to be made in isolation. As honourable senators will know, a number of incentives have been available to the film industry for a number of years. In fact, these go back to the days of Prime Minister Gorton and were supported equally by members of the Australian Labor Party. One thinks of the role of people such as the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) and encouragement of and active involvement in the film industry.
The incentives certainly were supported by the previous Government. They are supported by the present Government and will be expanded by the present Government. Section 124 of the Income Tax Assessment Act was amended in 1978 to encourage investment in the Australian film industry. The encouragement was given by allowing capital expenditure incurred in acquiring rights in or under a copyright relating to an Australian film to be deducted over a basic two-year write-off period, provided that the rights or the film to which they related were first used for producing income on or after 22 November 1977. I do not want to go on in detail about those provisions because an opportunity will be presented for a quite lengthy debate about income tax deductions for the film industry when we come to that specific piece of legislation early in the next session. However, it is encouraging to know that the number of films certified by the Minister, as they must be, as being Australian films has been increasing steadily. According to the annual report of the Department of Home Affairs, which was tabled today, in the period to 30 June 1979 the Minister certified 45 films as being Australian films, and a further 215 certificates were granted in 1979-80. One can look back through reports of the Department of Home Affairs and see the increasing number of films so certified as being Australian films and, therefore, acquiring some support from the Government through its taxation measures.
Unfortunately, as with all taxation measures, attempts were made by people whose interests were not so much in the film industry as in tax avoidance or tax minimisation to use those areas of deductibility for the film industry to their own advantage. A particular problem arose where, through the use of tax leveraging, accentuated by the use of non-recourse loans, a large number of people were using investment in the film industry as a means of defrauding the revenue. I have no doubt that that was practised widely. It led to a situation where, as a result on 25 September 1978 the Treasurer (Mr Howard) announced that legislation would be introduced to deny deductions for certain specified items of expenditure incurred as part of tax avoidance schemes or arrangements that involve the effective recoupment of the expenditure so that no real deductible loss or outgoing is suffered by the taxpayer. Again, on 4 August 1980 Mr Howard announced action by the Government to counter further tax avoidance schemes, including a number of schemes associated with the film industry; that is, schemes which incorporated expenditure that was claimed as a deduction which in one way or another was later recouped to a person so that no real outlay was involved. Of course, the industry went through a mild panic at that stage. It thought that it would lose all of its deductibility and that suddenly it would be denied the benefit of something that had substantially encouraged the growth of the industry. However, on 15 October 1980 the Treasurer and the Minister for Home Affairs jointly announced details of a new series of concessions for the film industry which, whenever they are introduced, are to be made retrospective to 1 October 1980. Those are: The write off in the first year of expenditure of 1 50 per cent of capital expenditure in the acquisition in the initial copyright in new Australian films and an exemption of an amount received by an investor in such a film representing a recoupment of up to 50 per cent on his or her investment.
As I said, this is not the best opportunity to go into lengthy discussion about the financial position of the film industry or comparison of the incentives for all the film industry, say, with the exemptions for mining companies or the forestry industry or the gold mining industry, or deductions for minors or deductions by way of averaging of income of primary producers or their use of the investment allowance. We will have an opportunity when the legislation is presented to go into that in some detail.
The point 1 make is that the film industry is more than simply the production of films and features. There is a number of other matters associated with the film industry which 1 wish to touch on briefly and again to draw to the attention of the Government. The first of these is that there is a continuing problem in Australia relating to the importation of film prints, and in particular relating to the importation of a number of prints of a film. In the days of black and white film, most foreign distributors brought into Australia one or two prints of their film. They then contracted out to the local processing laboratories the task of making prints of those films - several dozen or perhaps a larger number of prints of those films - for distribution to their cinema network throughout Australia. The local industry grew and thrived on that basis. The laboratories prospered. The technicians received training and assistance. The whole standard of the Australian processing side of the film industry was substantially increased.
Now that the majority of films imported are in colour, the foreign distributors have decided that it is in their better interests to import large numbers of films, thereby ensuring that no contracting out work or very little contracting out work goes to the processing laboratories in Australia. Those laboratories are perfectly capable of producing those additional prints in an economic sense and a technical sense. I believe that the Government must look very seriously now, because of the marked lack of co-operation by the film importers, at imposing limitations on the number of films that a foreign distributor can import into Australia, and requiring that a certain percentage of the work be contracted out to local Australian industry.
This problem is made more acute by the fact that in many ways we do not know exactly the extent to which the films are imported in terms of the number of films as distinct simply from the length of films. The Treasurer wrote in response to a letter of mine dated 30 November last, which I wrote to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Garland) asking what information was held by him and by the Bureau of Statistics about the number of films imported. Films and videotapes fall into two different categories. We have details from the Bureau of Customs of the length and width of the amount of cinematographic film imported into Australia, but certainly no details about how many films that comprises. The Treasurer wrote:
Reliable statistics relating to imports of videotapes are not available.
This complicates the position further quite simply because one cannot find out the true nature of this problem. This was one of the matters that Mr Ray Beattie, the Chief Executive of Atlab Australia, one of the major processing laboratories in Australia, pointed out in a letter that he wrote to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs at the time. He indicated in his letter that the annual local output of processed film is of the order of 90-110 million feet’, which is considerably less than the industry’s apparent capacity in Australia.
This matter was recently taken up by one of the journals of the film industry, Film News, which, in March 1980, produced a front page article under the heading ‘Labs Want Majors’ Work’. That relates to the United States major film companies - Fox, United Artists, Columbia and the like. The journal put a very persuasive case that these should in fact be required to be presented for copying in Australia. Rather than take the time of the Senate to go through that in detail, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the article to which I have referred, the letter of the Treasurer to which I have referred, and the letter of Mr Beattie, to which I have referred.
The documents read as follows -
LABS WANT MAJORS’ WORK
The national bourgeois-bureaucratic gang, which has cornered film production in Australia, continues to court the US majors (Fox, United Artists, Columbia, etc.) for a warmer place in the sun.
Since the advent of colour in movies, the local processing labs have been frozen out of producing the release prints of US features screened in Australia.
The majors import all the release prints they need for distribution in Australia.
The local industry now wants some of these release prints produced in local labs.
Six months ago the Australian Film Commission hosted a dinner for the local representatives of the US majors - the Motion Picture Distributors Association. Also present were the bosses of local labs and the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Ellicott.
At that dinner the local labs renewed their offer to produce the release prints at 7.5 cents a foot. That was the price they offered in 1 977 at a similar dinner.
The answer from the MPDA was the same as in 1 977: sorry, it’s not economic.
Says Ray Beattie, chief executive of Atlab: ‘Their stated reasons for not using us are concern over quality and cost. Neither of these points have validity’.
The suspicion current in the local industry is that majors charge inflated prices to exhibitors for imported prints and thereby camouflage the size of their profits.
When Filmnews approached the chairman of the MPDA in Sydney seeking information - via questions vouched in the circumspect and technical language of accountancy - which might help to establish whether they were making this profit dodge, he replied: ‘after polling our members we’ve decided we can make no comment at this stage’.
Although the MPDA rejected the local labs’ offer in mid- 1 979 they agreed to continue discussions with the Minister. As far as Filmnews can gather those discussions continue.
Ray Beattie started sweeping the cutting room floor at Colorfilm fifteen years ago, he’s now the boss at Colorfilm’s main rival Atlab and only too willing to talk about the jam the local industry is in.
In tandem with the rest of the industry, the labs made a comeback in the ’70s and invested heavily in equipment.
This investment, and the 400 workers in labs around the country, could handle more work. And that would benefit everybody.
With more work, according to Ray Beattie, the labs would become ‘more than marginally profitable’, and costs to local producers ‘kept down’.
While it’s difficult to get a straight answer from him on jobs, he does say more work would ‘stabilise’ employment. And he’s enlisted the industry union in support of his campaign.
The only place Beattie can see more work coming from is the majors. If Atlab was to do the Australian release prints for three major US features, that would equal their total 35 mm output for a year.
In this pitch for some of the majors’ business, Ray Beattie claims he’s got justice on his side too.
Australian films distributed in the US have to be printed in US labs. There’s no such arrangement for US films distributed here.
It’s a one way street’ is how he sees it.
When Ellicott spoke to the Cinematographers Society last year, he threw this bone:
I would myself like to encourage those who exhibit their films here to use Australian processing laboratories.
And if there is any way in which the Minister can do that without bringing down a law - well let me know, and I’ll try’.
Later that year when the Minister flew to London for the Mountbatten funeral, Ray Beattie had a colleague on the same flight briefed to convince the Minister of the urgency of trying.
How hard he’s trying, or what stage discussions have reached, is difficult to gauge. Neither the majors nor the Minister’s office were willing to comment last week when approached by Filmnews.
Canberra 2600 30 November 1979
Senator C. J. Puplick
Commonwealth Parliament Offices
Commonwealth Government Centre
Dear Senator Puplick
You wrote to my colleague, the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, on 2 July 1979 requesting information on the number of films imported into Australia in each of the last 5 years by country of origin. As the Minister has advised you, your letter was referred to me as Minister responsible for the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
As you may be aware from discussions between a member of your staff and an officer of the ABS, a considerable number of problems, some of which it would be impossible to overcome without the expenditure of inordinate resources, have been encountered in endeavouring to provide the information you requested. However, the Statistician has supplied the accompanying tables which show the quantity of imported cinematographic film, by width, for the years 1974-75 to 1978-79. Reliable statistics relating to imports of video tape are not available.
It should be noted that statistics of imports of cinematographic films are recorded on the basis of the number of metres of film not the number of films imported.
I understand that the Film Censorship Board may be able to provide some details of commercially imported feature length 16 mm and 35 mm films, examined by the Board. You may wish to seek further information on this matter from our colleague, the Attorney-General.
April11 th, 1980
The Honourable R. V. Garland, M.P.,
Minister Tor Business and Consumer Affairs,
House of Representatives,
Canberra, ACT 2600
We wish to inform you of a situation which is presently affecting the long term survival of the Australian motion picture industry.
The following information will outline the existing problem and we respectfully request your assistance in encouraging distributors to manufacture color release prints for theatrical release within Australia.
To understand some of the facets of our industry, I will start with a brief history:
There are, in the industry, three firms of significance in Sydney, Colorfilm Pty Ltd, Atlab Australia and Cine Film Laboratory Pty Ltd, and two in Melbourne - Victorian Film Laboratories Pty Ltd and Cinevex Film Laboratories Pty Ltd. The principal role of these companies in recent times has been the provision of processing services for local cinema and television film producers (principally television).
The Industry developed around the 1930s with the opportunity to process theatrical exhibition prints (which were then in monochrome). By the end of that decade practically all prints released in Australia were being processed locally.
During the early post-war period local laboratories were entirely dependent on the processing for the Australian market of release copies of overseas films. This work disappeared progressively as overseas producers switched to making films in color. The viability of the local industry was restored, however, and has since been assured by the establishment and continued growth of the Television Industry in Australia, and more recently by the Australian Film Commission in their encouragement in the development of a Feature Film Industry for world cinema.
The industry is capital intensive and technological changes continually demand new and expensive equipment. Aggregate employment is of the order of 400 to 500 persons, many of whom are skilled laboratory technicians, but unless throughput is held or increased, there must be a decline in job opportunities.
Local laboratories are capable of performing all processes required for film production and the quality of local processing equals world standards- the film laboratories are efficient, well equipped and well staffed. This has been evidenced by the success achieved with export processing and of Australian productions at Cannes Film Festival and the Asian Film Festival, etc.
Annual local output of processed fim is of the order of 90 to 1 10 million feet - considerably less than the Industry’s apparent capacity.
Atlab made, during 1978-79, significant investment in equipment specifically for 35 mm color Release Printing- a sound judgement made on a historical basis but the demand for this work has not arisen because of the anomaly that exists where the overseas manufactured Release Prints are imported into Australia without restriction depriving the Australian Film Laboratories the increase in footage they need. Atlab invested in equipment to improve specialized services through the early 70s and now is contemplating reducing its capacity to hold costs.
Other laboratories planned investment designed to increase their capacityto meet the growing demands of color television, to cater for increased markets, and to provide for the eventuality of theatrical release printing.
The degree to which the local laboratories have participated in the printing of copies for local exhibition of films produced overseas has been NIL for the past five years.
It should also be noted that Australian Release Prints of Australian productions are a restricted entry in some countries where the Australian product is sold for overseas exhibition. Australian laboratories are requested to manufacture a duplicating facility (Color Reversal Intermediate) to be shipped to the overseas area where laboratories make the Release Prints. A situation that works to the detriment of the Australian Film Laboratories in that NO reciprocal arrangement applies.
In 1972 the laboratories appealed to the Tariff Board asking:
Unfortunately, the Government, on conclusion, eliminated all duties.
The film laboratories sought the assistance of the Australian Film Commission in 1977 who understood our needs and supported our efforts. Unfortunately, after many meetings with the major distributors, nothing came to fruition.
The Unions, during 1978 and 1979, expressed strong concern about the lack of willingness of the Majors to do the work locally and have offered full support to the industry to ensure this ludicrous situation is rectified.
The Australian film laboratories, now at best only marginally profitable, are in need of increased throughput to remain viable and it is with this object in mind we make this application. The local industry, whilst experiencing a slow but steady growth, can provide insufficient capacity for the laboratories, the production or films being influenced not only be the local economic climate but by the availability of scripts, talent and other elements beyond the industry’s control. The whole is then influenced by the rapidity of changes in technology which can call for large capital investment and possible losses in trading. It is on this basis we make our application for your assistance.
Film laboratories have experienced an almost complete phasing out of black and white. The only remaining work in this area is archival printing, i.e. transferring the old black and white onto acetate base (non flammable) raw stock; sound tracks and high contrast prints for optical effects. This has caused a great redundancy in equipment and loss of revenue.
Film laboratories have invested heavily in color equipment with the expectation of making Color Release Prints from overseas originals and duplicate negatives, as they did with black and white. This designed capacity has never been used, the laboratories relying heavily upon locally produced material.
Australian film laboratories experience a further penalty in respect of Australian feature productions sold for overseas exhibition. Some countries, including the United States of America, restrict the entry of foreign Release Prints, i.e. Release Prints of Australian productions made by Australian laboratories. This restriction is imposed to support the local industry in that country, whilst there is absolutely no restriction to overseas manufactured Release Prints entering Australia. This injustice is very detrimental to the Australian industry.
In the Television Area, the end product requires to go onto Videotape, thus reducing the film requirement, and has caused some laboratories to invest heavily in Videotape/Film Interface equipment to continue to give a service to the Film Industry.
The industry greatly depends upon Government work, eg. Film Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Commission, both of which are greatly influenced by the availability of Government funds and the economy.
The Australian laboratories have essentially sought work from South East Asia: this market is competitive with Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Any drastic downturn in the three foregoing areas (Australian Broadcasting Commission, Film Australia and Export) would have a serious effect upon the laboratories and consequently endanger the future of our Film Industry.
On this basis, we ask that consideration be given to:
We would further emphasise that we are not making this Application purely on a basis of current unprofitability, but on the grounds that our considerable investment, in plant and research into modern methods, our provision of job opportunity and our responsibilibity to the local industry and the Australian film laboratories export market are being jeopardised by the unjust situation that allows entry of foreign Release Prints into Australia, whilst Australian laboratories are precluded from supplying on similar terms the market in the United States and European markets for Australian productions.
These are the cold hard facts:
We respectfully ask your assistance in respect of encouraging the manufacture of Color Release Prints for theatre and television distribution from overseas original negatives or duplicate negative of any type, including Color Reversal Intermediate (C.R.I.). Also in respect of this request for assistance:
To encourage the photographic development and post production of films produced by local and/or overseas producers within Australia and subsequent Release Prints therefrom for the Australian distribution, and
To deter the producers of such films at the outset from being sent overseas Tor laboratory work to the detriment of the local film industry.
RAYMOND D. BEATTIE
– Are you suggesting that there are reasons other than economic ones for Australia not getting more of the share of duplicating films?
– Yes. I think it would be quite right to say that, if one looks at the behaviour of the United States majors and all the distributors in Australia, there has been a quite determined attempt by the major United States and United Kingdom film companies to squeeze out the Australian operators in film distribution as much as they can.
One of the reasons why Australian short films rarely are shown in commercial cinemas is that the majors, who have imported the main feature which is being shown, sell it to the cinema chains as a package together with some rubbishy film board commercial which they have produced, or some United States or Canadian of South African or Norwegian travelogue which occupies the first half of the program, when in fact the first half of that program would be better served as a vehicle for showing Australian short features and Australian feature films in general. We will have an opportunity to look at the behaviour of the majors when the legislation on the film industry comes before us.
There are two other matters I should like to mention very quickly as far as the film industry is concerned. One is thatI think honourable senators interested in the film industry should look very closely at the annual report of the Australian Film Commission, which was tabled today, and at the extraordinary cri de coeur which is apparent in Mr Watt’s letter to the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) in which he transmits the report. Among other things, Mr Watts says this:
At this stage of its development, it seems a pity that some sections of the industry are talking in terms of placing the production side of the industry in a ghetto type environment, removed from other influences . . .
At the present stage of the Australian industry, where the films are achieving a universal appeal, the Commission considers that it would be an act of vandalism to force a large section of the industry into a government-supported cultural ghetto.
The problems to which he is alluding include some of the financial problems to which I have made reference, and also some of the attempts of Actor’s Equity and others to impose restrictions, for instance, on the working of foreign film actors in Australia. As a result the film industry now is at a critical situation.
The Government has agreed in its policy speech to relocate bodies such as the Film and Television School. It has agreed in the policy speech to provide major financial advantages for the film industry and at precisely this point of some vulnerability we are facing a financial problem and an industrial problem. Indeed the industrial problem threatens to spill over into a major confrontation over interpretations of things like the Trade Practices Act. It would be an enormous shame to see the growth and development of the Australian film industry in any way jeopardised by these problems that are besetting it. Therefore I think the comments made in the Chairman’s introductory letter to the Film Commission’s report ought to be looked at with some seriousness.
Finally, the other matter to which I refer about the film industry concerns another piece of legislation to be forthcoming in the next parliamentary session. I am pleased that Senator Davidson is in the chamber this afternoon, because this goes back to a complaint I have made on a number of occasions about the proposed Archives Bill. I want to mention a little bit by way of background of the development of Australia’s film archives which themselves are a very precious heritage currently housed in the National Library of Australia, well looked after by Mr Ray Edmondson and his staff, and a great credit not only to him, to the Library and to the people responsible for the Library, but also to the film industry manufacturers. There was a report by the Commonwealth Archives Committee on the future control of the Commonwealth Archives system prepared for submission to the Prime Minister’s Committee on the Future Control of the Functions of the National Library. This was prepared in December 1975. At page 46 of that report reference is made to the film industry and to films in general. The relevant paragraph states:
Films. &c. - Between the material for Archives and Libraries proper there lies a variety of material (such as films, sound recordings, “publications”, and some kinds of reports) which does not automatically belong to either. Like archives it arises from transactions, but its value does not lie in its being evidence of those transactions, but in its content as an endproduct.Its treatment varies from the normal treatment of both archives and libraries.It is contended that the question whether this material should be controlled by Library or Archives is a matter of convenience only. It seems obvious that, in the interest of economy, efficiency, and convenience, the whole of any such subdivision (e.g. all films, whether Government or non-Government) should be kept together.
It was inherent in the recommendations made by the Commonwealth archivist, andI think by and large it was accepted by the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts, that in fact there is a possibility of fragmentation of Australia’s film records between those that are currently stored in the National Library of Australia and those which in the future might be stored in the Australian Archives, particularly those films produced by organisations such as Film Australia or produced with government money and over which there is some degree of government control or authority. That matter was referred to also in the report of the National Library Inquiry Committee of 1 956-57. At page 1 1 of the report the Committee stated:
We think it desirable to discuss at some length the Library’s nlm activities as film collection and distribution, for obvious reasons, have nol been a traditional library function. For a long time, film was rather disregarded by libraries, and still is by many of them. For example, in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, the main national film libraries are quite separate from the traditional libraries.
Of course, that is not now the case in Australia. The report went on to state:
The National Library has taken the view that film collection and distribution is a proper activity for it to undertake. Its first activity in this field, we were told, was to collect and preserve Australian films as part of the total record of Australian life and development. From this beginning as a repository of historic Australian films, it has come to have the largest library in Australia of documentary and educational films and to be very active in the business of fulfilling orders (at cost) for prints made from negatives held either by itself (usually of films produced overseas) or by the Film Division of the News and Information Bureau of the Department of the Interior (Australian National Film Board films). The actual making of the prints is not done by the Library but by commercial firms and the Film Division of the News and Information Bureau.
There again, attention was drawn to the seminal work of the National Library in terms of protecting Australia’s film heritage. Finally, it was drawn attention to again in a draft report of an interdepartmental committee on Commonwealth archives, for referral to the Librarian of the National Library in 1963. At page 3 this was stated:
This statement of functions of the Archives Office raises the question of the status, in future, of records which are marginal to the work of the Archives Office and of the two institutions which have been provisional Archival Authorities viz. the National Library of Australia and the Australian War Memorial.
The article states at the bottom of page 4:
Films and Sound Recordings. We have already recommended that, for technical reasons, sound recordings made for broadcasting purposes (and, we would add, in the course of special projects for recording voices and reminiscences of well-known public figures) and all cinematograph films should be deposited with the National Library (or the Australian War Memorial in appropriate cases).
The point that is made, and made consistently, by people in the film industry and by people who have been associated in that respect with the National Library is that nothing should be done to fragment or to prejudice the collection of one national film archive and that that archive should be maintained by the National Library of Australia. The Senate Committee, when faced with the proposition of whether it should exclude film from the definition of ‘record’, in the archives legislation, did not really come to grips with the problem. My belief is that film should be excluded specifically from the definition of ‘record’ in archives legislation so that film - especially films produced by or on behalf of or with the support of the Commonwealth Government - should be stored, collected, preserved, catalogued and looked after primarily by the archives section of the National Library and should not now find its way into the Australian Archives so that people seeking to research over an historical spectrum will be required to use the National Library until a certain date and the records of the Australian Archives from that date and thenceforth. That is a matter which will come before the Senate for debate in due course. I urge honourable senators to realise that this matter should not be taken as a matter that does not require their very serious attention.
I turn now to the final point I wish to raise, and on which I wish to spend some time this afternoon. It involves a series of issues concerning development in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. I am glad to see Senator Davidson here; I know he has a great deal of interest in the area both as a connoisseur and as an expert in other regards. I refer to the potential destruction of the vineyards of the Hunter Valley if the proposals advanced by the New South Wales Government for the development of aluminium smelters in the Hunter Valley go ahead. The long term plans of the New South Wales Government are not really known, but the Government appears to be making a deliberate attempt to turn the Hunter Valley from one of the most beautiful rural areas in New South Wales into another Ruhr valley. For instance, what is proposed for this beautiful valley is to have two more enormous aluminium smelters and to have massive coal-fired stations at Eraring and Bayswater. There will be something like a doubling of the road traffic sent through the Hunter with something like an extra two thousand truck movements a week when all of this development has finally got off the ground.
Of course, the scandalous thing is that there has been no real consultation with the people directly and immediately involved. This was pointed out very clearly in an article by Ross Gittins, who in the course of the Federal election campaign established for himself a reputation for some evenhandedness in these matters, when he wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald of 20 November:
To someone living in Sydney this is great stuff
This refers to the development plans for the Hunter. The article continues:
But Mr Wran has discovered to his chagrin that the natives of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, the people intended to benefit most from this massive development, are somewhat less than enthusiastic.
The wine growers are angry about the possible effects of pollution on their grapes. More surprisingly, the local trades hall is also worried about pollution and is sceptical about the extent of the employment benefits to the region.
Now, the objections have swung lo a different tack with a local economist criticising the economics of the proposed development.
Indeed, as Ross Gittins said, the local Trades Hall is not terribly impressed with all of this. Mr Barron, the Newcastle Labour Council secretary, is reported in the Australian Financial Review of 1 9 November as having said:
Nevertheless, Mr Barron said the general feeling of the Labour Council was that the Government should delay its rush towards the Hunter development until the necessary studies were carried out on environmental and community impact.
I will come back to those comments in a few moments. It is not just that this development is being imposed upon people without their consent; it is in fact that the development is taking place in an underhand fashion and in a fashion which causes a large number of people concern about the way in which the Government is proceeding. For instance, as I remarked at some stage earlier in the Senate, the New South Wales Government prides itself on having introduced environment protection legislation of a fairly tough nature; it introduced it in May of last year. The Government then specifically held up its proclamation until 1 September. That legislation gives third parties the right to intervene in the environmental impact processes. It gives third parties the right to appeal to a court against final decisions made. But proclamation of that legislation was held up until 1 September. When one seeks to find out why the answer is that the Government allowed the aluminium smelting companies to lodge their development applications with the locally controlled labour councils in the area on 26 August under the old Local Government Act of New South Wales. The Local Government Act provides for no right of public involvement and no right of public appeal against a decision on a development application once it is made. From May until September that legislation was specifically held up so that the smelters could get their applications in under legislation giving the public no right to intervene in the matter. The Bank of New South Wales, in its July 1980 review, produced an article about the necessity for the development of aluminium in
New South Wales and in Australia. In its review it stated:
In the Hunter Valley of NSW, new smelters at Tomago and Farley and the expansion to the Kurri Kurri plant will expand annual smelting capacity in the State nearly nine-fold to 591,000 tonnes by 1985, requiring an extra 875MW of electricity. A proposal to establish a third new aluminium smeller in that period was not accepted by the N.S.W. Government on the grounds thai electricity supplies were insufficient.
It goes on to talk about what it calls the aluminium stampede. To a large extent that has been based on the projected demand for aluminium in the motor car industry. The Government, I am afraid, is in for a bit of a shock as far as that is concerned because, as a report of 21 November in the Australian Financial Review points out:
The turn to smaller motor vehicles means that the aluminium content per US-made car - about 125 lbs for 1981 models - will not increase by anywhere near the amount aluminium makers had expected.
Aluminium producers now estimate the amount of aluminium in an average car will rise to between 160 pounds and 1 75 pounds by the 1 985 model year.
That is far below the 300-pound level the Detroit companies were projecting for that model year only 18 months ago.
The other scandal that is going on as far as this development is concerned is this question: How much are the aluminium companies being asked to pay for their electricity and who is subsidising it? An article in the Australian Financial Review of 1 2 November reported a study by Dr Howard Dick, a senior lecturer in economics at the University of Newcastle. It stated:
The three aluminium smelters in the Hunter Valley will not only pollute the environment but will also, according to Dr Howard Dick, cost us more than $100 million a year in subsidies for the next 25 years.
This amounts, says Dr Dick, to an annual subsidy of more than $50,000 for each of the 2,500 employees - or more than double the average wages to be paid.
Dr Dick went on to estimate that each job in an aluminium smelter in the Hunter Valley would require an outlay of $750,000. Needless to say, the Premier of New South Wales responded to this on 13 November. Mr Wran said that the industry would create at least 1 0,000 jobs, and perhaps several more, a figure taken issue with not only by Dr Dick and the people who are actually to build the aluminium smelters but also by the local Newcastle trades hall. If I can borrow Senator Bonner’s phrase, the real nigger in the wood pile has been the proposal for the development by Alumax of its smelter at Lochinvar. So people asked Alumax: ‘How much are you going to be required to pay for your electricity by the New South Wales State Government?’ A report by Graham Williams in the Sydney Morning Herald on 14 November read as follows:
A secrecy clause in a NSW Electricity Commission contract with the giant Alumax Corporation prevents the company from disclosing the price it will pay for electricity for its planned aluminium smelter in the Hunter Valley.
– That is fairly normal.
– We will see whether the honourable senator thinks it is fairly normal when he sees how that is to be financed. There is a difference between normal business contracts and a fraud being perpetrated by making the people of New South Wales pay for the electricity. The result of all this was that we were told on 15 November that New South Wales electricity consumers will face steep increases next year in the price that they will pay for power. In some areas it is to go up by at least 20 per cent. The distributing authorities have been told by the Electricity Commission that the base energy rate will rise by 8.4 per cent on 1 January and that the new rate will be 1.617c per kilowatt hour. Once again when pressed Mr Hills, the New South Wales Minister, said that he had no intention of telling the people of New South Wales or the Parliament of New South Wales how much the aluminium smelters were to be charged for their purchase of electricity. This has not in any way detracted from the claim made by Dr Dick that at least SI 00m and perhaps as much as SI 50m a year will be required from the taxpayers of New South Wales to subsidise the Alumax aluminium operation at Lochinvar. Therefore, it is important to know precisely what is involved in this deal. As the old phrase has it, Ir… bono?’ I hope that Senator Thomas, when his committee has a chance to investigate the aluminium industry, will be looking at that sort of infrastructure cost of the aluminium industry. Perhaps the Senate once again will provide us with the sort of information which the New South Wales Government is not prepared to provide us with, although the latest report indicates that electricity rates charged to the three aluminium smelters proposed for New South Wales are likely to be about 70 per cent cheaper than the lowest rate at which county councils buy power wholesale. That was contained in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 22nd of this month. Regardless of the problem with regard to electricity, what we are facing in the Hunter Valley is nothing less than a major threat to the grape growing industry. The facts of this threat are set out in detail in a statement prepared on 14 November 1980 by the Hunter Valley Vineyard Association. 1 seek leave to incorporate in Hansard that statement by Mr Barnes, President of the Hunter Valley Vineyard Association. I have shown it to Senator Ryan.
The document read as follows -
HUNTER VALLEY VINEYARD ASSOCIATION
For Press: 14 November, 1980
The working party of the Hunter Development Board has now reported on its recent investigation of aluminium smelters in the USA.
Contrary to the comforting headlines published by some newspapers, the working party was unable to find any evidence that grapevines in the Hunter Valley will be safe from fluoride emissions from the three proposed smelters in the Hunter Valley. They unanimously reported that ‘there can be no doubt from what we have seen that fluoride, if present in significant quantities in vine leaves, can have a harmful effect, despite all efforts to obtain the best information, not enough scientific data is available for categorical assurances to be given to vignerons that no damage could take place in the Hunter vines’.
The facts are:
The wine industry in the Hunter Valley has been established for over ISO years and has an international reputation for premium quality wine. Although the industry in the Hunter Valley is not large in terms of total production of all wine, its percentage share of the premium quality wine market is much greater. Its reputation in wine shows, both in Australia and abroad, is very high.
Over half of the total NSW production of the important premium grape varieties is grown in the Hunter. However, yields in the Hunter are low, and the industry would not be able to withstand financially, any lowering of average yields through pollution.
There is considerable evidence that damage to grapevines will occur if the three proposed smelters are allowed to go ahead, in close proximity to the vineyard area.
There is no example in the USA of vineyards growing successfully near smelters. Vines growing near other industrial sources of fluoride have been damaged.
Grapevines are one of the most sensitive of all plants to fluoride. Although the working party reported that cattle can be grazed near a smelter for a time without damage, grape vine leaves can be visibly damaged at concentrations of only 21-25 parts per million of fluoride in vine leaf dry matter.
At even lower levels of pollution, it is now clear that nonvisible damage to the leaves can damage the yield of grapes and wine. However, fluoride damages the leaves, and does not appear in the grapes themselves, nor consequently the wine. The sugar/acid balance of grapes can however, be affected.
In spite of the fact that Alcan have greatly reduced fluoride pollution from their existing smelter at Kurri Kurri, independent research just now to hand from the University of Newcastle shows that in October, 1 980, (only one month after budburst) unacceptably high levels of fluoride were found in grape vine leaves taken from vineyards in the Pokolbin area, with levels up to 33.8 parts fluoride per million parts dry matter being demonstrated. These levels are already higher than the level which has been shown to cause damage to some varieties of grapes.
Alcan claims that emissions from their Kurri smelter are currently less than 100 tonnes per year. The Stale Pollution Control Commission estimates that total fluoride emissions from the three smellers to be operational by 1985 will be 650 tonnes per year, over six times higher than the current level. Alcan proposes to double ils output of aluminium, and the two proposed smelters at Lochinvar and Tomago will be even larger. Furthermore, the Lochinvar smelter is to be sited 7 kilometres closer to some of the vineyards than Alcan.
The estimate of 650 tonnes of fluoride emitted per year by all three smelters is approximately equivalent to an average emission rate of 1 kg of fluoride per tonne of aluminium produced.
The Slate of Oregon USA (a Slate where there is a concentration of smelters), has adopted a standard of 0.5 kg of fluoride per tonne of aluminium produced from new smelters expressed as an annual average. Amax Inc., the parent company of Alumax, has notified the Slate of Oregon that it is able and willing to meet that standard in an application for a new smelter. The General Manager of Alumax in Australia, Mr J. M. Miller, has stated publicly that Alumax can meet the most restrictive emission standards in the world.
There is no standard in New South Wales for the amount of fluoride emitted per tonne of aluminium produced, as currently exists in Oregon and elsewhere. The only standard set by the Clean Air Act specifies . 02 grams of fluoride per cubic metre of emissions from the stack, which does not set an effective limit on the amount of fluoride produced, most of which emanates from the roof vents of the pot room.
In view of this, we believe that the standard in Oregon of 0. 5 kg fluoride per tonne ofaluminium should be adopted in New South Wales.
The high fluoride readings taken in October 1980, mentioned above, were taken from two vineyards located 1 1 . 6 km and 1 3.8 km respectively from Alcan. The smelter at Lochinvar will be even closer to the main vineyard area than the Alcan smelter, and will be only 5.9 km from the nearest vineyard.
The Hunter Valley is approximately ten thousand square kilometres in area. Most of this area is devoted to cattle grazing, while the vineyards are located in a very small part of the Valley spread out in only one hundred square kilometres, one per cent of the area. In spite of the fact that grapevines are extremely sensitive to fluoride, whereas cattle can reportedly be grazed near smelters without risk, two of the three proposed smelters are only 1 3 kilometres approximately from the main vineyard area at Pokolbin.
The State Pollution Control Commission and Tomago Aluminium Co. Pty Ltd have published maps which show the predicted annual average concentrations of fluoride. However, annual averages are not relevant - it is the direction of prevailing winds during the grape growing season which is important. These are from the East and Northeast, so that fluorides from the smelters will be carried directly over the vineyard area during the months when vines are most vulnerable to pollution by fluorides - the growing and fruiting season from October to February. The basic meteorological information necessary for the compilation of accurate wind dispersion models is not available in respect of the area west of Maitland.
These facts are irrefutable, and the Hunter Valley Vineyard Association is unable to accept assurances given by the State Pollution Control Commission and the smelter companies that there will be no damage to the wine industry from the smelters. We believe that there would be an unacceptable risk to the Hunter Valley Wine Industry if the smelters were to go ahead in the locations planned for them, and therefore demand:
. That the NSW Government immediately gazette regulations to set a standard for total fluoride emissions from aluminium smelters of 0.5 kg per tonne of aluminium produced, and that this emission level be enforced for all smelters operating in NSW (including Alcan).
That the Development Application submitted by Hunter Valley Aluminium Company Pty Ltd (owned by Alumax and BHP Co. Ltd) for a smelter at Lochinvar be refused.
That the NSW Government immediately investigate alternative sites for relocation of the Alumax Smelter in locations where the fluoride effluents will not endanger the vineyards.
C.J. P. BARNES
– I thank the Senate. It will be seen from the statement that once again there are a number of questions to be answered. For instance, why has the State Pollution Control Commission now put out three separate reports, each of which gives different figures about levels of fluoride emission in the Hunter Valley? Why has the Department of Agriculture in New South Wales specifically been excluded from having any input into the SPCC reports or from being allowed to undertake any monitoring work in the Hunter Valley to establish the extent to which there are in fact dangers to the vignerons and to the wine industry? The vignerons have made the point that wrong advice has been given consistently to the Premier. For instance, the State Pollution Control Commission report is so shoddy and in some areas its data is so wrong that is shows the prevailing winds in the Hunter Valley as coming from the reverse direction. In other words, it indicates that the winds will take away the emissions when in fact they will blow the emissions over the vines. As I have said, three separate reports have been issued in the course of the last year or so by the State Pollution Control Commission and in each report a different set of figures has been given about the emission levels and about the effect of those emission levels.
The problem is not a simple one of what each individual smelter will produce. It is: What will be the cumulative effect of three smelters over a period? For instance, the State Pollution Control Commission has been bogus enough to put into some of its arguments the fact that annual averages are below the danger level. But as everybody who is interested in the growing of grapes will know, it does not matter what the annual averages are if on one or two days the level is way above the danger level and the fluoride settles on the vine leaves and causes necrosis of the vine leaves. That occurred in 1975, which is why somebody like Murray Tyrrell will quite clearly admit that his wines of that period are not really worth buying and storing because the sugar levels were all wrong and the quality of the wine was all wrong because there were one or two days on which the emission from the smelters was excessive. To hide behind this, the State Pollution Control Commission talks about annual averages instead of about what the problem might be at peak times or seasons. We know that grape leaves are damaged at a concentration of only 21 to 25 parts per million of fluoride. Measurements taken in October of this year demonstrated that, for instance, at the George Hunter Estate and the Lake’s Folly Estate levels of up to 33.8 parts per million of fluoride were already apparent and affecting the development of the grapes which at that stage were very close to the budding process.
The point that the vignerons continue to make is that the cumulative effect of the smelters on their industry will be enormous. At the moment, the capacity of the Kurri Kurri smelter is 1 35,000 tonnes per annum. Its fluorine emission is about 1 94 tonnes a year. By the time all the projects are in operation the capacity of the area will rise from 135,000 tonnes per annum to 591,000 tonnes per annum. The amount of fluorine emission over the grapes of the Hunter Valley will rise from 194 tonnes a year to 650 tonnes a year. The grape growers are not the only people who will be affected. Others affected will be the people who breed the stud horses who graze in the area, the people who run the very extensive poultry interests in the area and the people who run the flower growing operations in the area.
I mentioned the figure of 33.8 parts per million which has been measured. The first of the three volumes of the environmental impact statement prepared by the Tomago aluminium smelter indicates that concentrations of fluoride causing visible injury in grape leaves have been found to range from 20 parts per million upwards with seasonal variations. In fact, it is not the Tomago that is, in any way the villain of the piece. The vignerons themselves have clearly admitted that the proposal at Tomago which is some distance removed from the principal areas of grape growing will not cause them any great problem. The proposal of Alumax to build a smelter at Lochinvar, six or seven kilometres from the principal vineyards of the Hunter Valley, is the cause of concern. It is regrettable that this company has taken the stance that it has. Its General Manager, Mr Miller, wrote a letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald which appeared in yesterday’s edition. He accused the vignerons of what he called hysterical opinion not supported by technical data. Yet all the technical data is on the public record. The vignerons are rightly concerned about the extent to which they will become victims of the development-at-any-price attitude of the New South Wales Government.I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard an extract from a statement of the summary of environmental concerns made by the Society of Friends of the Lower Hunter Valley in which the technical details which Mr Miller said do not exist are sourced and provided in considerable detail. Again, I have had the opportunity to show the document to Senator Ryan.
The document read as follows:
Projected pollutant emissions - at BEST anticipated rate of control of 1 kg per tonne ofaluminium = 620 tonnes fluoride p.a.
Emissions from roof-top, waste and wash-up water would substantially increase this staggering minimum figure.
The Wran Government proposes to issue, officially, generous LICENSES TO POLLUTE in respect of these developments - at the expense of all present residents, landowners and producers in the Valley. It appears that the Licensing authority. State Pollution Control Commission, has the power to adjust the total mass pollutant emission so licensed and it follows that it could, in a given case, adjust the license to allow greater volumes of emission - without reference to the people affected thereby.
The Newcastle/Lower Hunter region suffers at present from a HIGH fluoride level in air and in vegetation as a result of ALCAN’S activities at Kurri and of many otherfluorideemitting industries. We therefore believe that any Smelter in the region, including ALCAN, should be required to adhere to an emission limit of 0.4 kg/tonne as stipulated by the US State of Oregon.
Before ALCAN established its small smelter at Kurri Kurri fluoride readings were generally below 10 parts per million in eucalypts, but after establishment of the smelter readings reached levels at Kurri of up to 553 parts per million! Average fluoride concentrations on grape leaves at Pokolbin (vineyards) was 10 parts per million (p.p.m.) in 1969 (i.e. pre-ALCAN) and in 1975-76 concentrations in individual samples ranged between 18 and 33 p.p.m. (annual average)
A Survey in Southern California of foliar fluoride build-up in wine grapes in the vicinity of a steel mill demonstrated:
A recent SPCC report (4.) advises: ‘Injury to leaves would result in a lowering in yield of grapes. In addition it has been postulated that, even without apparent injury to the leaves of the vine, the leaf metabolism is disturbed and yield is reduced. In addition it has been found that fluoride is translocated to the vine during the growing season and stored there during the winter. The following season the fluoride is re-translocated to the leaves thereby inducing the new injury’.
In February 1975 a reading of 48 p.p.m. was officially recorded by SPCC on grape leaves in a Pokolbin vineyard. The 1 976 SPCC Annual Report confirms this alarming signal: signs of damage to grape leaves are being carefully watched’ and ‘slight leaf injury attributed to fluoride was noted at a number of sites in 1973, 1974and 1975’.
Clearly, reductions in grape yield may have been occuring without the accompaniment of visible injury. Dr Greenhalgh of Sydney University is currently conducting detailed research into the impact of fluoride emissions on grape vines. This will probably be the most comprehensive study done in Australia on this subject and it is imperative that the results of this study are carefully considered before any capital works are approved or undertaken.
The US Environmental Agency has slated officially that ‘at fluoride levels only 2 or .3 times higher than normal flouride background, in healthy trees, tissue necrosis (i.e. death) does occur’. (5.) Damage to vegetation occurs on a cumulative basis i.e. the level of actual damage may be maintained despite reduced emissions. Studies in Montana have shown that damage to vegetation occurred at fluoride concentrations in ambient air of up to I /40th of the State standard.
Partial damage by fallout to agricultural production will in many cases inexorably reduce yield to the point of unprofitability. 1976 Annual Report of Slate Pollution Control Commission staled . that 2 year old cattle bom and bred near ALCAN’S smelter at Kurri could be regarded as bordering on a state of chronic fluorosis.
SPCC’S 1 979 Annual Report makes alarming reading: ‘Ambient Fluorides - Ambient fluorides sampling at 2 sites in the Newcastle area has shown an increase from the previous year. This increase underlines the fact that Newcastle in general and the Stockton-Kooragang Island area in particular, have high fluoride levels for which there has been no sign of improvement over the last few years, and the advent of new fluoride-emitting industries will worsen the situation: At Kurri Kurri, the annual average ambient concentration of total fluoride as shown in figure 6-9 is the highest since sampling began. The increase in fluoride levels causes concern, as is reflected in the levels of fluoride in vegetation. However, new control measures are being installed at the smelter and it is probable that the situation will improve. Fluorides in vegetation - measurements of foliar fluoride concentrations in vegetation in the Newcastle area have shown the levels to be still high (figure 6-10). New fluoride-emitting industry is planned for this region, and the commission is concerned with the possible effects that additional emissions will have especially on the important mangrove stands. The Commission is funding research into the effect or fluoride on the mangrove ecosystem, and established companies are being encouraged to begin or extend monitoring programmes. At Kurri Kurri regular twice-yearly monitoring of vegetation has shown a worsening of the situation, in line with increased ambient concentrations. The average foliar-fluoride concentrations are shown in figure 6-11. Fluoride levels at 1 -6 kilometres from the source and beyond should be reduced when the new controls come on line’ (6).
This official exposure of the facts about local fluoride levels is indeed alarming and represents in a nutshell the perfect confirmation of our gravest doubts as to the SPCC’S capacity (we don’t question their technical competence) to effectively regulate and ‘control’ emissions - from one small smelter! Yet 2 much larger smelters are planned for the region, one of them in unprecedentedly close proximity to an existing smelter (ALCAN). Also, of course, at least 2 large coal-fired power stations will fall under the SPCC’S supervision and ‘control’.
Note that despite the alleged installation of new emission control measures at Kurri the SPCC merely expresses the probability that the present situation (the worst every recorded at Kurri) will improve.
We believe that the SPCC is concerned at the proximity of the proposed ALUMAX smelter at Farley near Maitland to the ALCAN smelter at Kurri - only 7 kilometres (approx.) away. Clearly the SPCC is officially ‘concerned’ at the prospect of the present fluoride problem being aggravated by the planned advent of the proposed smelters.
If the planned smelters do proceed it goes without saying that we will all have to place absolute reliance upon the vigilance, competence and capacity of the State Pollution Control Commission to monitor and effectively control the fallout of these industrial giants lured here by the Wran Government.
But does the SPCC really manage to enforce the pollution laws? - it took 6 years to prosecute the OAK Dairy Company for discharge of effluent into the Hunter River! . . . and to date has failed to ‘control’ the STEGGLES/Beresfield odour problem. The Commissions representative at the recent University seminar, Mr G. Taylor, is reported to have made the amazing comment:
A chimney is considered to be an extremely inexpensive form of pollution control. (7.)
The SPCC recently acknowledged:
– Thank you, Mr President. It is simply not good enough to say that the provisions for emission control proposed at the moment are totally satisfactory. The State Pollution Control Commission is talking of an emission of about one kilogram per tonne of aluminium. Yet the aluminium smelters in operation and planned in the State of Oregon are required to have an emission level of only half of that amount, that is, 0.5 of a kilogram per tonne. Both the report of the Environmental Protection Agency entitled ‘Performance Standards for new Stationary
Sources - Primary Aluminium Industry’ and the United States Environment Protection Agency Office of Air and Waste Management publication entitled ‘Background Information for Standards of Performance: Primary Aluminium Industry - Volume 1: Proposed Standards’ indicate quite clearly that smelters can operate at an average of 1 lb, that is 0.5 kilogram of total fluoride per tonne of aluminium produced. That is the sort of standard that ought to be applicable in New South Wales. It ought to be insisted upon by the New South Wales Government. However, I am glad to say that the Commonwealth does not propose to allow the New South Wales Government to get away with this rape of the Hunter Valley. The Minister for Science and Technology, Mr Thomson, on 8 September 1980 wrote a letter to me, which I had incorporated in Hansard on 15 September 1980, in which he said:
Following consultations with the Treasurer, I have directed the preparation and submission of environmental impact statements (EIS) on each of the two smelter proposals in accordance with the Administrative Procedures of the Impact of Proposals Act. The assessment of these EIS’s will be undertaken in conjuction with the New South Wales environmental authorities so that a single EIS in each case will be prepared to satisfy the requirements of the Commonwealth and State Governments.
We know that the requirements of the State Government are not worth the paper they are written on. They were torn up by the SPCC and written again. They were torn up a second time by the SPCC. They were written a third time and, undoubtedly, they are now about to be torn up a third time by the SPCC. The Prime Minister, answering a question yesterday from Mr Charles Jones in the House of Representatives again expressed his concern, as has Mr Jones, about what is being planned for the Hunter Valley. Mr Jones asked: ls the Government satisfied that these irreplaceable resources are being used in the best possible way and that Australia is getting value and a fair and just economic return? Finally, before the point of no return is reached will the Government set up a House of Representatives select committee to investigate, report and recommend to the Parliament on these projects?
Mr Charles Jones, a former Minister in the Labor Government, certainly is not sufficiently impressed by what the New South Wales Government is doing. He is prepared to ask a Liberal Prime Minister in the House of Representatives to establish a House of Representatives committee with a majority of non-Labor members to report to the Parliament about what is going on in New South Wales. He knows just how bodgy are the plans that the Premier of New South Wales has been trying to push down everybody’s neck. The Prime Minister in his reply said:
As a result of the honourable gentleman’s question I will consider whether an approach should be made to the Premier of New South Wales expressing the honourable gentleman’s view.
He indicated that he was also very concerned about the threat to the vignerons of the Hunter Valley. Clearly, the protection of the vignerons of the Hunter Valley will occur. It will occur because a Federal Liberal Prime Minister, a Federal coalition government, a Liberal Federal Minister for Science and Technology and Mr Ellicott, the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment - will ensure that proper standards are met, that proper investigations are undertaken and that the vignerons of the Hunter Valley are properly protected. Even a senior Labor member of parliament, such as Mr Charles Jones, knows that he will get protection for the people and vignerons in the Hunter Valley only by going to Malcolm Fraser and his Government to seek that protection and not by going to Neville Wran and his Government who clearly are not in the slightest bit interested in the protection of the legitimate rights of the people in the Hunter Valley and the wine industry of the Hunter Valley. A great deal more will be heard on this subject over the next couple of years. 1 have no doubt that despite the attempts of the Labor Party to ruin the Hunter Valley of New South Wales a Federal Liberal government will not permit it to do so.
– by leave - I wish to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented by an inadequate and inaccurate report in today’s Brisbane CourierMail. I have been grossly misrepresented by the headline which states: ‘Labor calls for increase in interest rates’ attached presumably by some illiterate or malevolent sub-editor. It was the only newspaper in Australia to report my speech in that way. The report claims that 1 said: . . failure to increase interest rates was a repudiation of the monetarist theory which had underpinned Fraser Government economic policy for the last five years.
What I said was that Mr Sinclair’s statement last Friday urging that the huge inflow of foreign funds should be used to expand bank credit and to keep down interest rates was a repudiation of monetarism. The action proposed by Mr Sinclair would include runaway growth of the money supply.
In my speech yesterday, and in Question Time yesterday and again today, I attempted without success to force the Minister for Finance (Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle) to state whether Mr Sinclair was presenting Government policy. If the Courier-Mail has an interest in informing the public on financial matters, I suggest that it try to force answers to that vital question from Messrs Fraser, Howard and Sinclair, and/or from Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle. I did not call for an increase in interest rates. 1 explicitly stated that the Australian Labor Party did not want interest rates to go up. I stated the simple fact that if the Government persisted in arbitrarily holding overdraft rates at 2 per cent below the market rate for Government paper, the supply of overdraft funds would dry up. Even the Courier-Mail got that bit right. 1 also stated that interest rates on Government paper are higher than they have ever been, largely due to the Government’s inflationary oil pricing policy, and that the Government had established the conditions under which either an increase in overdraft rates, a reduction in overdraft funds, or an abandonment of restraint on money supply growth was inevitable. Bill Hayden made similar observations during the Federal election campaign. The Courier-Mail also reported:
Senator Rae . . . accused the Opposition of putting forward an alternative policy on interest rates.
That, too, was quite wrong. He accused the Opposition of not putting forward an alternative policy on interest rates. We were under no obligation to do so in yesterday’s debate.
– I take the opportunity presented by the Address-in-Reply debate to comment on the Governor-General’s Speech. Before I do so, I cannot allow to pass without any comment at all some of the remarks made by the senator who preceded me in this debate, Senator Puplick from New South Wales. Whilst I acknowledge that some of the concern he expressed about the environmental impact of certain industrial developments in the Hunter Valley region was not without basis, and he was quite right to bring these matters before the attention of Parliament, I find it rather unconvincing to hear this senator complain so bitterly about a job creation project in the Hunter River region, which has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the country. Indeed, I think that from time to time it has had the highest rate of youth unemployment in the country, directly as a result of the economic policies of the Federal Government of which Senator Puplick is a supporter.
– He doesn’t worry about them because they vote Labor.
– It is all very well for Senator Puplick to make such high flown and moralistic comments about the disadvantages of the particular project in the Hunter River region. However, I think we would be more convinced of his concern for his constituents in the State of New South Wales if, as my colleague Senator Sibraa has pointed out by way of interjection, he actually tried to persuade the Federal Government to do something about the economic policies which are causing such dreadful unemployment in that region, to which unemployment this project is a sincere response by the New South Wales Government. However, I will not dwell on that matter at this stage. Senator Puplick has warned us that we will hear more on this matter from him, and I am sure that we will have the opportunity to reply.
To return to the Governor-General’s Speech, which opened this session of the Parliament, it was described as containing the key elements of the Fraser Government’s program for this Parliament. Unfortunately for Australia and Australians, it amounted to nothing more than a string of the cliches of capitalism. It was bland in expression and totally misleading in content. The Parliament deserves better. Australia deserves better. Why should we accept claims of a society which, in the words the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) put into the GovernorGeneral’s mouth, maximises the rewards of individual effort and initiative and respects the right of individuals to shape their own lives? Just how has the Fraser Government rewarded the individual efforts of our 500,000 unemployed? The majority of them go out seeking a job day after day, week after week, month after month and, in many cases now, year after year, only to have their individual efforts rejected, their hopes of economic independence repeatedly destroyed. Where is this much vaunted respect for the rights of individuals? The Fraser Government, demonstrating gross irresponsibility and moral cowardice, stood back and allowed the Court Government and the Amax Corporation to trample on the individual and, indeed, the constitutional rights of the Noonkanbah Aborigines to determine the use of their own land.
The Government has the further hypocrisy to claim that a framework is being established within which its training programs will provide a wide range of incentives and allowances to increase the supply of skills required for economic development. What a claim, Mr Deputy President! I point out that this claim, totally unconvincing, is made in the face of the reality that the Government is scouring the world to find skilled labour to import rather than addressing itself seriously to the task of training our own unemployed. Perhaps the most implausible aspect of the speech was the affected change of heart regarding economic policy. It seems that some of the lessons of the election campaign have been learnt and that now we are to have monetarism with a human face. Apparently, the poor and the unemployed are to be comforted in their condition by a different explanation of their circumstances. Their poverty will not be relieved, jobs will not be created, but they will be treated to fine words instead of statistics. The words are not even that fine; they are banal, empty, and quite remote from the facts.
A suitable demonstration of what Fraser’s policies really mean is to be seen here in the Australian Capital Territory. For five years Canberra citizens have borne the brunt of Fraser’s economic mismanagement and hatred of the public sector. Rigid staff ceilings have denied job opportunities to thousands of school leavers and college graduates and to women seeking to re-enter the work force. As a consequence, hundreds of small businesses have collapsed, middle sized businesses have lost profitability and staff, and some big businesses have pulled out of the Australian Capital Territory altogether. Apprenticeships in the public and the private sectors have declined drastically. Education, health and welfare services, services for the very young, the aged, and migrants have deteriorated. If we look at the current unemployment statistics we find an unemployment level- I might say that it is the lowest it has been for some time because of the pre-Christmas dip - of 4.7 per cent. But when we look at job vacancies we find that the number of unemployed for each job vacancy in the Australian Capital Territory is 40.3 compared with the figure for New South Wales, of whose State Government Senator Puplick was so critical, of only 14.9. Looking at the crucial question of apprenticeships in the Australian Capital Territory we find that whereas in 1974-75 some 725 apprentices were taken on, in this last financial year only 473 apprentices were taken on. There are at this stage only 1,428 apprentices in training for all the trades, industries and tertiary sectors of the Australian Capital Territory. It is a totally inadequate situation and absolutely no basis for any economic recovery here in the national capital. Similarly, the building program shows a very gloomy picture. New dwellings commenced in 1974-75 numbered 3,430, but in the last financial year the number was much less than half that - only 1,280 new buildings were commenced. These signs of economic recession are directly the result of Government policy.
I refer to my own electorate, the Australian Capital Territory, because it is a very clear example of what Fraser policies mean in action. We have no State government here to blame or to be blamed for the economic recession. We do not even have any local councils to accept some blame for mismanagement. We are governed solely and totally by the Fraser Government. Here in the Australian Capital Territory, what we see in the local economy is solely the result of the Fraser Government policies, and what we see is an economic recession of vast proportions. Perhaps senators from other States may not be sympathetic to this situation. They may see only the affluent and prosperous side of Canberra within the Parliamentary Triangle. They do not see the very high levels of unemployment, the homelessness, the evictions, the bankruptcies, the continued decline of the local economy, and of course the decline of the community as a result.
Having spent five years pursuing a vendetta against the public sector and the public servants, particularly those in Canberra, the Liberal Government lost the seat of Canberra. Now both Australian Capital Territory seats are held by the Australian Labor Party. This was only to be expected, given that the Labor Party has repeatedly demonstrated, in and out of office, that it recognises the essential work carried out by the public sector. We value the competence and professionalism of Commonwealth public servants. Further, we acknowledge the interdependence of the public and private sectors in Australia and the need not to favour one at the expense of the other in the Fraserian style, but to maintain the health of each. Demonstrably, in the Australian Capital Territory at least, the claim in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that the expansion of private enterprise is the best means of achieving the wellbeing and health of a society is quite false. The best way to achieve those objectives is by the balanced expansion of the public and private sectors together.
The Fraser Government, in keeping with its new contrivance of a human face, claims a change of heart toward public servants. It does not, it claims, subscribe to the crude and usually uninformed hostility towards that Service. Indeed, I am sure that honourable senators will agree with me that any objective observer of the behaviour of the coalition parties over the last decade would conclude that the coalition parties had in fact created that very hostility against public servants as part of their political stock in trade, easily exploited by grandstanding conservatives in such States as Queensland. Although the GovernorGeneral assures us that the Government now recognises and appreciates the contribution of the Public Service, there is no mention in his Speech of the notorious Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) and Commonwealth Employees (Redeployment and Retirement)
Acts, which together drastically erode the industrial rights of public servants, and there was no hint of the further legislative attacks on those eroded rights embodied in the Public Service legislation currently being debated in the other place.
Even so, the Government’s express desire to reduce the complexity and the size of our Federal bureaucracy is an objective that in other circumstances the Labor Party could share. Unfortunately, when the opportunity presents itself to the Fraser Government to move away from bureaucracies and into community based services the Government does not take the opportunity. An example of this is the women’s refuge program which operates throughout Australia. Honourable senators will be aware that under the previous Whitlam Government assistance was first given to community groups, co-operatives of women, to set up resources, houses and some services to assist women and to provide housing for desperate women and children who were the victims of domestic violence. I think this initiative was widely applauded throughout the community. The need for these services, tragically, is very evident, and known to be so, throughout all sectors of society.
The whole principle of the women’s refuge program is one of self help, lt was not a case of the community coming to the Government and saying: ‘Set up a whole new bureaucracy to run services for women and children who are the victims of domestic violence’. The women said: ‘We will be prepared to to do the work. We will be prepared to help women and children in these circumstances but we will need some funding to pay for rent and some child care services and so on. Fundamentally we will be operating with a lot of volunteer workers and workers who are prepared to work for tiny salaries and give many hours of their time unpaid, lt will be a self-help program for which we need some Federal funds’. One would have thought that when the Fraser Government came to power, given its views on bureaucracies and big governments, self-help and all the rest of it, this would be exactly the sort of program that it would go out of its way to assist. Unfortunately that has not been the case. Year after year since the Fraser Government came to power, the collectives running women’s refuges have had to traipse to Canberra at great expense to themselves to argue the case for the very minimal amount of assistance they get. Year after year they have been unable to plan their services, and to offer secure employment to people who work for them often long after Budget night because the program now operates through the community health program and has to go through State governments in order to get top up assistance. They have to wait an undue length of time to know how much money they will have, what services they can offer and whom they can employ. Of course, during this whole waiting period - day after day, night after night - desperate women and children are knocking at their doors seeking refuge. This is a totally unacceptable state of affairs. I remind honourable senators that the last Federal Budget which we passed through this place shortly before the last Parliament concluded provided for an expenditure of something like $30 billion and that only $3. 8m was allocated for the 96 Commonwealth funded refuges. What a pathetic effort.
– Would you mind repeating that for the Senate, please, Senator?
– Only $3. 8m out of a total Budget of something like $30 billion was allocated to this vital and very necessary task of running women’s refuges. How can the Fraser Government on the one hand impose a speech on the Governor-General full of cliches about self-help, individual effort, de-bureaucratising society and moving away from big Government and at the same time make such a pathetic response to the very genuine activities of the women’s refuge program?
I was also rather surprised to find that the Governor-General spoke of the Government’s objective of enhancing the position of Australian families. Again it seems that the rhetoric indicates one thing and the facts another, lt would be very fresh in the minds of honourable senators that the whole campaign of the Federal Labor Party during the last election was based on the need to provide better support for families in our community. Let us remind ourselves again of what the last Budget contained for families and for women. Women are, as I think our conservative opponents agree, the essential basis in a family. In a Budget that provided an increase of $530m or 1 7 per cent for defence, an increase of $88m or 27 per cent for direct assistance to manufacturing and an increase of 1 9 per cent for police security and detention, there was not a one cent increase for child care, for which only $36m was provided, and not one extra cent for family allowances, for which only $960m was provided for all of the families in Australia. As I have already pointed out, there was a reduction in real terms for women’s refuges which gained only $3. 8m for the 96 Commonwealth funded refuges and a reduction in real terms for family planning services to only $ 1 .3m.
As well as these reductions in essential services for women and children, the plight of unemployed women and girls has not only been ignored but also been made worse. Women in every age group have a much higher unemployment rate than men. Migrant women have the highest rate of all. Teenage girls throughout Australia are now suffering over 20 per cent unemployment, with migrant and Aboriginal girls doubly disadvantaged. The cut in the Fraser Budget in allocations for job training is particularly serious for women and girls. The shift away from general training schemes to the apprenticeship subsidy scheme means that more girls will be excluded from training since girls and women find it almost impossible to get traditional apprenticeships. For the full time housewife there was no relief from inflation but the promise of further hikes in petrol prices to further erode the family budget. Health insurance’ continues to be an unaffordable luxury or, alternatively, an unjustified drain on the family purse. Adequate housing remains beyond the reach of most young couples, single women and single parent families. Taxes take a higher proportion of low incomes than high incomes and, of course, most women are on low incomes. So if we look at that aspect of the Federal Government’s program, which of course was not covered in the Governor-General’s Speech, we can see that families and women are getting a very raw deal indeed.
I wish to comment on what I saw as the major omission from what was purported ‘ to be the Fraser Government’s program for the next three years. That was the omission of any sort of commitment to Australian involvement in the development of our resources. The resources debate has been raging for a quite long time. It has been in the interests of the coalition parties to try to characterise the Australian Labor Party as antidevelopment. This is quite “wrong. The ALP is very anxious to see the development of our resources so that we will have a wealth base for the various social and educational programs that we are committed to implementing when we are in government. What we do oppose is the current method of allowing Australian resources to be developed by foreign investment with very little return going into the Australian community. As there is a very poor distribution of wealth within the Australian community, so there is a very poor distribution of access to the benefits of resource development. The access by Australian investors, let alone ordinary Australian families, to the benefits of the development of resources is declining drastically.
Let me remind the Senate of some of the facts concerning foreign investment and the role played by foreign investment in the development of Australian resources. Foreign control of the Australian mineral industry has increased from 37 per cent in 1963 to 59 per cent in 1976-77. In metallic minerals it has increased very little - from 54 per cent in 1963 to 57 per cent in 1976-77. In the all important fuel minerals it has increased from 1 5.5 per cent in 1963 to 67.4 per cent in 1976-77. The most recent figures for individual commodities show that the level of foreign ownership in bauxite is 66 per cent; in coal 60 per cent; and in petroleum and natural gas 60 per cent. The higher the level of foreign investment the lower the level of benefit to Australia as profits generated are not generally retained in Australia but repatriated overseas.
Foreign investment also results in the alienation of national control within industries and diminishes national control of economic policies’. It is also addictive in that additional capital inflow is necessary to offset increased repatriation of profits. Foreign companies, if vertically integrated, can also engage in transfer pricing which decreases the amount of tax payable in Australia. This of course decreases the revenue available to governments to do the things which the Australian people wish to be done. Foreign companies are often prepared to accept a lower price for their product in order to increase output. This can be detrimental to smaller Australian producers, which then have difficulty in selling their output. This has been common in the coal and iron ore industries. It is quite clear that the Fraser Government is acquiescing in the selling off of our resources at a rapid rate. It is making no genuine attempt to ensure majority Australian equity in these resources. It is being totally negligent in passing by the opportunity to secure for itself proper revenues from these activities so that some attempt can be made effectively to come to grips with the dreadful problem of unemployment and the structural problems of our economy.
As I have said, the omission of any commitment to Australian involvement and Australian equity in resource development is perhaps the major omission of the Governor-General’s Speech. I have also pointed out that there is absolutely no hope and no comfort for the unemployed, the poor and the disadvantaged. All we have had is a string of cliches about individual rights and liberties and the importance of private enterprise without a manpower policy or training policy being spelled out. We have received no indication of how the Government intends to deal with the economy in the decade ahead. It is a very serious state of affairs. It is a state of affairs about which the Opposition will continue to express its concern throughout the term of this Parliament. I conclude by saying that it is a very bad omen or a very bad indication of what is to come from this new Government in this new Parliament that we have had such a superficial, dishonest and totally irresponsible statement at the opening of our Parliament.
– I have much pleasure in speaking to the motion which is before the Chair. 1 will take up a red herring and deal with the last point that Senator Ryan raised before I move on to what I wish to talk about. I would have thought that a good answer to her point about the Government not outlining its investment policies for the development of Australia would be the record it has established since it has been in government. It has laid out very clearly what percentage of foreign ownership can be tolerated and what cannot. It has enforced those rules. I compliment Senator Ryan for her crystal clear explanation of the Australian Labor Party’s economic policies. They were so simplistic and so black and white that I am sure they were written by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Hayden. The critical thing in the development in this country is control. I happen to have a preference for the majority of the shareholdings of companies to be held in Australia. As I have said in this chamber before, until we reform the income tax legislation so that people who have the courage to invest in developments within Australia receive some profit from them and are not taxed twice, we will not do very well in getting people in Australia to put money into companies rather than on the backs of race horses.
– Particularly the small investor.
– Yes, particularly the small investor. As Liberals, we believe in the small investor getting into development.
– What about ERA?
– A small investor can buy the stock of Energy Resources of Australia if he wishes to do so. Is the honourable senator in the same category as Mr Hayden? Does he admit that he cannot read a balance sheet and is unable to do all the other things that Mr Hayden cannot do? I return to the point that control of this development is the essential point for Australia. Quite clearly, that control is vested in the Parliament. Any criticism of the way in which foreign companies operate is criticism of the way in which this Parliament operates their controls.
I would like to move on to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. I would like to speak briefly on three points that were raised in the Speech - youth employment, the economy and the Public Service. Youth employment is a very serious matter. The causes of youth unemployment are multifactorial. They cannot be reduced to a simple equation and attributed to two or three causes. There is one point which I would like to talk about for a moment or two - that is, the role that education plays in some youth unemployment. Somehow or other along the way we seem to have lost direction as to were we are going in our education programs.
It is not because we have not spent money. We are spending a great deal of money on education. In the last Federal Budget we spent $2,570m on education alone. I think those of us who look at it objectively are entitled to query the direction that some of that education funding takes and the efficiency or value that we are getting for the expenditure of the taxpayers’ dollar. Efficiency is important. It is not a matter of just looking at statistics. It is probably fair to say that people who are trained as- teachers are not necessarily good administrators or good managers. That might not matter very much when we are talking about primary schools but it does matter quite a bit when we are talking about universities. In the larger universities the budgets are running probably well in excess of $20 billion annually. One has to realise that efficiency does then become important in the discharge of those funds. Universities have an influence not only on their teaching programs and the type of graduates which they produce within their walls but also downwards into the secondary education level insofar as they set standards for entry and the prestige, or the competition, which exists in the way the faculties are ranked in the minds of the students coming up very much determines what comes out on the other side when people graduate.
The place of science and technology has been undervalued by the Australian community for the last 20 years. That is very important because the application of science and technology is the only way in which we can maintain, let alone develop, our standard of living throughout the decades ahead. Many arguments have been put over the last 20 years on the quality of life. The assumption has been made and repeated that somehow or other quality of life is incompatible with scientific education. That argument has been supported in this Parliament and it is not surprising because there is a lack of trained scientists among members on both sides of the Houses. There is not the proportion of scientists, for example, that there is of lawyers. I believe that Australia and the Parliament has suffered accordingly. I would like briefly to quote from an interview by Robin Williams of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s program The Science Show with the late C. P. Snow, a very well-known author. It is not also widely known that C. P. Snow was a very good professional physicist in his own right. In an interview with C. P. Snow just before he died Robin Williams put this to him:
Since about the 1960s, there has been something of a disenchantment with science and technology. There was a period when students going into science and technological areas dropped dramatically. Do you see this disenchantment continuing? Do you see, that this having a danger in itself, that people by turning away from science will be ill-informed about it and therefore not able to participate properly in the debates which need to occur over the role of science in a democratic society.
One of the consequences of this discounting of science and technology within Australia has been a discounting of the skill of management. Management is related to unemployment because if management is poor then business activity within the community is depressed and so there are fewer jobs. One of the other factors more relevant to youth unemployment has been, of course, the problems of trade training within this country. Apprenticeship training is now receiving some attention from this Government and I would hope that the efficiency with which we are dealing with this matter improves remarkably. I cannot see why someone leaving school at the age of 1 4 or 15 to become an apprentice has to make a decision at that stage which commits him for the whole of his life. In an age of technological change when people will change jobs two, three or four times in their life we must provide the capacity to train people in technical subjects at whatever age they wish to make the change, the only condition being that they have the ability to acquire the skills that they need to follow the trade training.
One of the stumbling blocks to change in this respect has been the trade unions. I have discussed this matter informally with some of the senior union officials in my State. They are prepared to concede that the youth age is too low and that there should be some flexibility on it. But when one starts talking to them about it, when they get up to the age of about 28 they maintain that 28 is the very last point at which one can train an electrician, a carpenter or what have you. I cannot accept that point of view at all. I go back to the point that if someone has the ability to learn and develop those skills then age is quite irrelevant. At 45 or 55 a person should be eligible provided he is prepared to go through the discipline and hard work to learn the skills which are necessary to become a member of a trade.
– I would be interested to know why you said that the trade unions have been responsible for not enough apprenticeships in the trades.
– That is not what I said at all. The point I made was that they seem to place a barrier against people coming in in middle age for trade training. The second point I would like to speak about in the Governor-General’s Speech is the economy. The fight against inflation is mentioned as the prime determinant for policy in the coming three years. I support that completely. President-elect Reagan said that inflation and unemployment do not arise when people live too well, but when governments live too well. I think governments in all the Western countries have been living very well for about the last 10 years. That has come about partly because there has been a belief right throughout Western democracies - it certainly exists in this Parliament - that money will solve all the world’s ills. It certainly has a place in solving some of them but I do not believe that man can live by bread alone. I think there are ways of inspiring, leading and developing people other than by giving them unlimited amounts of money.
– Like taking tax off shareholders’ profits.
– I think mankind is essentially creative. I do not despair of mankind in the way Senator Grimes does. I would like to see this Parliament create a situation in which members of the community would feel that they could fulfil themselves in any way possible. I do not believe I have the authority or the ability to guide everyone’s life in the minutest detail. If Senator Grimes moves around the community, he will see that the great majority of Australians do not want to be guided; they do not want to be cosseted, held by the hand and all the rest of it. The feeling I get as I go around my own State is that they would like to see the Government get off their backs; they would like to have less government interference in their lives; they would like to have lower taxation and less interference. They want to decide how and when they will do things in their own way. I would like to see the Government make life easier for people instead of making it more difficult.
A consequence of that statement is that we will have to cut some of the expenditure that governments get involved in. I do not resile from that statement because if we do not cut expenditure we cannot cut taxes and we cannot make life easier for people. Senator Lewis went through this situation in some detail last night. 1 do not wish to repeat what he said. Essentially what we have to do is to avoid duplicating State efforts. We have to establish priorities on how we are to spend what funds we have. We have to establish efficient systems that avoid waste. I utterly reject the proposition that if you are efficient you are inhuman. It does not follow at all. If one looks around the world at community attitudes that prevail at present one sees widespread support for this proposition.
Honourable senators will be aware of what happened in the United States in 1978 with proposition 1 3 in California where property taxes went down 57 per cent. In the recent presidential election held in the United States there were ballots in 10 States for tax cutting. In Massachusetts property taxes were 70 per cent higher than the national average. Property taxes, state motor vehicle excise and state income tax were slashed there in the last election. In Michigan, where I lived for a while, there was a referendum proposal to reduce very heavily the State Budget but it was defeated only when the State legislature agreed to cut $100m off its Budget. In Illinois, one of the most populous states in the country, the people voted to reduce the number of representatives in the State Parliament by one-third. There are numerous examples around the world of the way in which average citizens are trying to cut back the expenditure of big government. It is very much incumbent on us in this Parliament to take cognisance of these attitudes in the community. The final point I would like to deal with relates to the Public Service. I read from the GovernorGeneral’s Speech which he states:
Its concern to maintain strict control over that growth is not based on any animus against the Public Service. It does not subscribe to the crude and usually uninformed hostility towards that Service which sometimes receives popular expression.
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 Stale is likely to be in many ways an inefficient and wasteful provider and that many services can be better supplied in other ways.
That is perfectly true. Australia is a very much governed country. By my last count this country had around 9,361 legislators. Some 25 per cent of the Australian work force is employed by the Government - 1 5.3 per cent by the States, 7.6 per cent by the Commonwealth and 1.7 per cent by local government. In other words, for every person employed by the Government there are three in the rest of the community supporting him. That is a very heavy load to bear. Compared with other countries with a similar stage of development it is a very heavy load. One of the things that this Government has done as an interim measure is to bring in staff ceilings. That was a very necessary move. But one can see that only as a holding operation until more detailed plans are made. That staff ceiling was interpreted intelligently. Whilst the number of public servants in the Commonwealth Public Service is down by nearly 10,000 people, it is up by 3,000 in the Department of Social Security, up by 1 ,000 in the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs and up by 800 in the defence production facilities - areas where there is a demonstrable need.
I do not wish to speak much longer about the need to reduce the Public Service. I would like to say that the Act needs to be rewritten. We need to have the facility to introduce some degree of flexibility in the employment of public servants and, above all, we have to provide incentives for creative thought and work within the Public Service. We have to be able to reward people for what they do in a way that we cannot do at present. I implicitly believe that the responsibility for the Public Service resides within the Parliament. The Ministers in charge of the departments are accountable for it. I would like to see the practicality of removing permanent Public Service heads of departments seriously discussed and explored.
I have not been a member of this Parliament very long. All the senior public servants i have met are intelligent people. They certainly are knowledgeable of their departments, and they unfailingly are very conscientious. But I wonder about the process by which they arrive at those jobs. They spend a lifetime in a system which places no reward on originality or entrepreneurial skills and which never develops any leadership qualities or any commercial acumen. The spend a lifetime spending money and never earning it in the market place. That is a very important point. The largest department we have spends about $8,925m according to last year’s Budget Estimates. Several departments run in the $2,500m bracket. In aggregate the Federal Budget spent $3 1 .6 billion last year. I would like to see explored the proposition of appointing managers from industry, people with a proven commercial background. We should put them on contract, give them directions as to how the department will operate and make them run to a budget.
– Like you did with Menadue.
– I wonder whether Senator Robertson would like to consider what would have happened if Sir Lenox Hewitt had been on a contract so that 25 per cent of the profit of Qantas Airways Ltd accrued to his salary and he underwrote 25 per cent of the losses. Does the honourable senator really think Qantas would have suffered a loss of $20m in one year?
– I think that is an insult to him.
– We have a responsibility to explore whether the idea is feasible, rather than just reject it categorically out of hand because no one has proposed it before. If one considers running with systems and programs that were developed at times quite different from now one can only wonder why they do not succeed.
The control of the Public Service is only one facet in reducing our expenditure. We need to review ruthlessly the functions of government and be prepared to act. We cannot develop this country under the excessive tax load and the legislative over-regulations under which we are labouring at present. Let me go back to what Senator Ryan was talking about. Under this system we cannot develop States like Queensland and Western Australia and, to a lesser extent, New South Wales - the States that will earn the money from overseas trade, the States that will give us the standard of living that we need for our people in the future. That is an absolutely crucial point. To that we have to add the point made last night by Senator Missen about breaking up the excessive levels of protection for inefficient industry. We must recognise the opportunities and responsibilities that are before us. Time does not wait. We have a duty to develop this country for the benefit of all Australians, not to develop a gargantuan, impersonal government with an insatiable appetite.
– I join in this debate on the motion concerning the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Speech. In doing so I wish to comment only briefly on one of the latter remarks made by the Governor-General where, speaking for the Government, he said that his Government wished to adopt and to put forward to the Australian people a philosophy which it sees as liberal in its principles. I raise a matter which is of concern to me where I believe there is a possibility that the Australian Government has departed very markedly - it is a matter which should cause grave concern - from those liberal principles.
To establish liberal principles one need go no further, of course, than John Stuart Mill’s famous essay ‘On Liberty’ where, amongst other things, he talked about the transition of English society from a situation where religious intolerance expressed itself by legal punitive measures. He said that society had moved to what he called a socially intolerant situation where, for example, a man’s employment might be taken away from him rather than his being imprisoned. He remarks, of course, that that is as effective an expression of intolerant attitudes as the old legal codes. Speaking in this context at page 1 59 of the Fontana Library edition of his work he said:
Our merely social intolerance kills no one, roots out no opinions, but induces men to disguise them, or to abstain from any active effort for their diffusion.
He goes on to say:
And thus is kept up a state of things very satisfactory to some minds, because, without the unpleasant process of fining or imprisoning anybody, it maintains all prevailing opinions outwardly undisturbed, while it does not absolutely interdict the exercise of reason by dissentients afflicted with the malady of thought.
Only in the last few weeks a situation has come to light where a part of the armed forces of this country - one is dependent on reports in the media - apparently has acted in a way which has severely curtailed the right to the free exercise of religion and the expression of conscientiously held beliefs in a social way and not a merely private and pious way by two Uniting Church chaplains. I am referring to the case where it is reported that two Royal Australian Navy chaplains were disciplined and relieved of some naval duties for their part in an ecumenical prayer meeting on the Noonkanbah Aboriginal dispute. This occurred in Perth, Western Australia. The Uniting Church has said of these chaplains that, having taken part in that service - a prayer service which they attended in civilian dress - they were summoned by the commanding officer of HMAS Leeuwin in Perth and reprimanded. They were offered no right of reply to the commanding officer’s dressing down. These two men had given many years of service within the chaplaincy of the Royal Australian Navy.
– And relieved of their duties.
– One of them felt that he was put in such a position that he resigned from that chaplaincy. As Senator Robertson has remarked, the chaplains were relieved of their normal duties in a character training course which was about to be undertaken. The point that I wish to make is that not only in that short statement of facts as reported has there clearly been a denial of natural justice in that the two chaplains concerned had no right of reply - they could neither deny nor clarify the facts as perceived by the commanding officer - nor were they given an opportunity to offer some explanation. The explanation that would have been offered by them is fairly apparent. There has been denial of natural justice in that they have had no right of reply and, further, in that the commanding officer clearly acted both as prosecutor and as judge. One can see in the situation in which that dressing down took place that one has a clear denial of basic principles of fairness. The ideals of natural justice which permeate the common law, which permeate our community as formed by the true liberal principles of English society, here have apparently been ignored to the detriment of the two men concerned - two good, no doubt loyal, and conscientious Australians. These are principles and ideals which it is not sufficient to talk about in a Governor-General’s Speech. To be meaningful they have to have practical, concrete application in the everyday lives of Australians.
My point is that in that very narrow sense of a denial of natural justice one has some infringement of the liberal traditions which we should be fostering in this country. Not only is there a breach of that tradition in that sense, there is also a breach of the wider one to which I alluded, and I now come to that. I am sure that if the chaplains had been given an opportunity to reply to the reprimand by the commanding officer, they would simply have pointed out that in civilian clothes, while attending a religious ecumenical prayer meeting, they were giving public expression to a conviction, a conscientiously held view on a social issue which had been formed by their reflections on life and society as governed by the criteria of the insights of Christ, in their case, but of course my remarks would apply to the formation of conscience by any religious system or leader and to any conscientiously held view.
If ministers of religion and persons holding religious views within Australian society are to be permitted to take only an individualistic, private, pietistic view of salvation so that they never express their beliefs in a public way, then we are moving to a situation reminiscent of the days preceding and involved in the rise of nazism in Germany, where the churches were quite frankly conned into taking this pietistic, individualistic, private approach to the expression of their religious beliefs. The church in Germany prayed in private and allowed the rise of totalitarianism to go ahead unabated. As Mill says, dissent must be allowed to find expression within a free society. These men have been reprimanded and disciplined in the sense of being removed from certain projects or duties. I do not know whether that involves some loss of pay which may have been due to them had they taken part in the moral or character formation course. The point that Mill made was that to affect a man in his employment is as much a deterrent to his feeling able freely to express a view dissenting from that of the government as would be the threat of fine or imprisonment.
If this Government is to adhere to and foster within the Australian community these truly liberal principles, in the sense of the English liberal, I believe that it must explicity and clearly repudiate the action of this commanding officer in disciplining these members of the chaplaincy of the Naval Reserve. I believe that section 1 16 of the Constitution guarantees to Australians the right to this free expression in action of their religious beliefs.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, I said that if the Government were to pursue its aim of fostering within the Austalian democratic society principles of English liberalism to which it adheres, and indeed to which most honourable senators would adhere, it could do no better than to remind itself of the roots of that tradition, such as were enunciated by John Stuart Mill. He pointed out that in order to have a vigorous free society one had to have a system of tolerance which allowed the integrity of the human spirit to express itself, not merely in private conversation but in the public manifestation of a belief held in common with others.
I pointed out that there appeared to be some threat to that principle in the instance which Senator Chipp and I brought to the attention of the chamber at Question Time, namely, the disciplining of two naval chaplains within the Royal Australian Naval Reserve by the commanding officer of HMAS Leeuwin. I pointed out that not only within the affair as reported in the media had there apparently been a denial of natural justice in that neither man had had an opportunity to reply to his commanding officer, but also a greater principle was at stake. The two men concerned had attempted within the context of a religious observance - namely an ecumenical prayer meeting - to express their insight into a social problem as governed by the criteria which they derived from the teaching, insights and life of their religious inspiration, Jesus Christ.
I do not want to confine my remarks to the conscientious viewpoint which emerges from a formation by a religious tradition. My remarks are pertinent also to somebody who comes to a conscientiously held position by whatever means; the agnostic humanist position is one well known within our society. I was about to make the matter even a little more particular by saying that I believed that it was possible that those men had been denied constitutional rights within the Australian democratic system. I was about to mention section 116 of the Constitution under which the Commonwealth is forbidden not only to make a law concerning a religion but also to apply a religious test to holding a public office. Given the fact that one of the chaplains concerned felt constrained to resign and that in any case, as I understand it, one or both of them had been removed from certain spheres of duty which they commonly performed, namely, participation in character formation classes, one has what I believe to be the possibility of the Commonwealth Government denying an aspect of employment to its employees because of their participation in a religious observance, or at least in a public expression of a concern formed by their reflection on their religious tradition. As I said, in that denial I believe one could have the possibility of a breach of their constitutional rights. Let us not forget that at the time of their participation in this ceremony they were dressed in civilian clothes and fulfilling, as I said, that aspect of their life as Australian citizens concerned with their religious formation.
– They had also gone out of their way to make sure that they were not representing the Navy. They dissociated themselves from the Navy.
– That is right. As I said, in no way did the chaplains take part in the ceremony as representatives of the Navy or in a way which might embarrass the Navy. The question whether they did so is a wider question. The whole issue of the service of chaplains within the armed services is one which I may briefly touch on later. My really fundamental point is outlined in one of my past speeches which I was driven to look at - something 1 rarely do. In my maiden speech I remarked that:
Conscientious dissent from the program of one’s government is described as ‘sluggish schizophrenia’ by the Institute of
Psychiatry of the Soviet Academy of Medical Sciences, one of the symptoms being a paranoid delusion about reforming society. Conscience, I hope, will never be regarded as a disease in Australia. Rather we as legislators ought to be reinforcing the individual conscience as that which culturally makes us what we are - a society where the common good cannot be secured by means which destroy the individual personality.
Of course, Mill’s point is rather more positive, namely, that it is by creating an environment in which the individual personality can flourish and the integrity of his conscience be guaranteed that it is likely that the society as a whole will burst forth in one of those periods of liberating activity, such as he says characterised the Reformation period in European history. As I said, it is very important that we as legislators, and we as senators, take a stand on that matter. It is important because we, in the last Parliament, denied the Government passage of its Human Rights Commission Bill. Therefore, I think it is doubly encumbent upon us to make our responsibility the protection of those constitutional rights which apparently are violated by the Government.
The case I mention is a peculiar instance of that. As one contemplates the matter it adds to one’s astonishment to realise that what has happened really is that two chaplains were disciplined by a commanding officer of the armed forces of the Australian Government for expressing, within a religious service, a viewpoint dissenting from that of a State government in relation to its policy towards the Noonkanbah Aboriginal people. I think that compounds the astonishment one feels when contemplating this situation. I mention Chief Justice Latham and the Jehovah’s Witnesses case held during the Second World War - a very famous case. Chief Justice Latham was one of the finest minds to grace the bench of the High Court. I have not been able to check this but, as I recall, he was President of the rationalists society of Victoria. He was one of those agnostic humanists to which I referred earlier. But, in speaking of the need to secure freedom of religious belief under section 1 16 of the Constitution, he said:
It is sometimes suggested in discussions on the subject of freedom of religion that, though the civil government should not interfere with religious opinions, it nevertheless may deal as it pleases with any acts which are done in pursuance of religious belief without infringing the principle of freedom of religion. It appears to me to be difficult to maintain this distinction as relevant to the interpretation of s. 116. The section refers in express terms to the exercise of religion, and therefore it is intended to protect from the operation of any Commonwealth laws acts which are done in the exercise of religion. Thus the section goes far beyond protecting liberty of opinion. It protects also acts done in pursuance of religious belief as part of religion.
I believe that in the case of the two chaplains we have the working out of a religious belief in concrete activity, in public gaze. Before the suspension of the sitting, I remarked how important 1 considered that religious belief, conscientiously held belief, must not be kept private for fear of public scorn, ridicule or loss of employment opportunities particularly employment opportunities in the hand of the government. Religious and conscientiously held beliefs must not merely be held within a private circle. They must be for the good of the whole society. Indeed, in order to express fully the impact of that religious insight in social terms they must be able to be expressed in public forums and in large gatherings of those who hold the belief in common with any person who, as I said, might otherwise be dissuaded or deterred from expressing in action in public his religious belief or the consequences of it. My plea to the Government is that in carrying into effect the fostering of liberal principles within our society, as Sir Zelman Cowen said was an aim of the Government - perhaps the principal aim of the Government - it review this particular affair in the light of section 1 1 6 of the Constitution.
Further, as a senator and bearing some collective responsibility for the fact that we have not a Human Rights Commission, I particularly ask that the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) consider making this matter a reference to the Human Rights Bureau which he set up, I think, on 5 August 1980 in lieu of the Senate’s not agreeing to the setting up of a Human Rights Commission. The task of that Bureau, honourable senators will recall, is to judge or to ascertain whether laws or activities of the Commonwealth are in conformity with our international obligations in the field of human rights. The expression of a viewpoint by a member of the armed forces, in this case chaplains of the armed forces, the duty of a member of the armed forces to the force to which he belongs and his right as an Australian citizen to express freely his conscientiously held point of view are the sorts of things which I believe could properly be made a reference to the Bureau. I hope that before we rise next Thursday we will have such an undertaking from the Attorney-General.
Insofar as the Speech claimed that the Government wished to foster within our society the liberal traditions derived from the English common law and governmental system, I applaud it. I hope that in this specific instance those principles may be applied in a concrete manner.
– It gives me pleasure to be able to take part in the Address-in-Reply debate of this Thirty-second Parliament. Firstly, I believe that
Sir Zelman Cowen, when he delivered his Speech two days ago, displayed a dignity and a feeling of humanity which perhaps we have not experienced previously in the Senate. Some have criticised his Speech. Some have said that there is very little in the Speech - that there was no legislation, that there was not this and there was not that and that it had nothing to offer the nation. I believe that is entirely wrong. Is it necessary, every time we open our mouths, to indicate that a particular line of legislation will be introduced? Is it wrong for the Governor-General, in this case, not to say in the Senate that a particular line of legislation will be introduced? Mr President, I know full well that you and many other experienced senators believe that we can over-legislate. Perhaps over the last decade we have seen too much legislation and too much regulation. If we follow the precepts which the Governor-General set out at the opening of this Thirty-second Parliament we could well be much better off.
– Are you suggesting a period of digestion?
– Very many things can be done, and perhaps digestion is one way of overcoming some of the problems - a little more thought and less rush. At the same time we have heard Senator Davidson make his last speech in an Address-in-Reply debate. Senator Davidson has been a member of this place for many years and is one of its most senior members. I listened with considerable interest to his speech and I believe that we will miss him and that he will be a loss to the Senate. I think every honourable senator would agree that over the last two days we have heard some fine young speakers - I refer particularly to Senator Neal and Senator Puplick, who at the end of this financial year will not resume their places in the Senate as they lost their seats at the last election. They surely will be a loss and I hope that at some time in the future they will be able to return.
I return to the Governor-General’s Speech. As I have said, I believe it was a most humane one. The points that he made are surely the guiding precepts for this Government in the next few years. He talked of unemployment, of the economy, of caring for people and of foreign affairs and defence. ‘Unemployment’ is a word which is bandied around much now. It is perhaps becoming too political. We hear many reasons for unemployment. If we had a different approach to the situation and if the Parliament as a whole and the community as a whole worked to overcome the problems of unemployment, perhaps we would make greater inroads. There is an attempt to measure the level of unemployment against the level of unemployment a decade ago, but that is an impossible comparison because the situation a few years ago was so different. In the last few years we have seen rapid changes in technology and in automation and a large number of women have come into the work force. I suggest that all that automation and technology and the fact that more women are in the work force have had a very adverse effect on the young people leaving school.
Then we have the question of strikes. When I look at the chaos within Australia now, the continuing industrial strife, I wonder just how many of the unionists who go out on strike or who are forced to go out on strike have their hearts in the matter. I would say that there would be very few and that it is the leaders of the unions who bring their members out on strike at the drop of a hat who are responsible. I wonder why there are not more secret ballots. I wonder why we do not consider the concept of a certain number of unionists having to vote in a secret ballot before the union can go out on strike. I believe the chaos that is developing now in Australia does not help anyone in Australia. Certainly it does not help employment. 1 would say that the union leaders who continue to take their unions out on wildcat strikes are very much responsible for the unemployment that we see today.
On aspect of unemployment concerns me. Mr President, I draw your attention to the mining industry and the development of uranium, particularly in the Northern Territory, the uranium province. Vast development is taking place in the Jabiru area by Pancontinental Mining Ltd and in other areas. This development is costing tens of millions of dollars. Workers from around Australia who know that work is available in those areas are picking up very good jobs. It is interesting that whilst these people wish to work the Australian Council of Trade Unions, on the other hand, wishes them to stop. Recently, I read the following report:
The ACTU Executive, meeting for the first time under its new President, Cliff Dolan, is expected to announce new proposals aimed at disrupting uranium mining in the Northern Territory.
The ACTU Congress last year voted to ban the mining, processing and export of uranium; but that policy has never been carried into effect, because the ACTU has been unable to make its anti-uranium policy ‘stick’ within the union movement.
The key factor has been the determined stance of antiCommunist unions, including the Australian Workers Union and the Ironworkers.
Once the moderate Australian Workers Union, led by National President, Edgar Williams and National Secretary, Frank Mitchell, and the anti-communist Federated Ironworkers Association, let by Laurie Short, declared that they would mine and export uranium regardless of the ACTU, their decision forced left-wing unions such as the Miscellaneous Workers Union, which had prior right to enlist uranium workers in the Territory, to support the continuation of uranium mining.
The Miscellaneous Workers Union’s General Secretary, and ACTU Executive member, Ray Gietzelt, has declared that while he is personally opposed to uranium mining, his union will remain in the field while other unions are willing to mine and process uranium ore.
In spite of the ACTU’s policy, mining operations in the uranium province of the Northern Territory have gone ahead without disruption.
A few months ago Cliff Dolan visited the Ranger uranium mine site with two other ACTU officials, Jim Roulston, Senior Vice-President and Assistant Secretary Bill Kelty. They held a public meeting. Despite the plea of the ACTU Executive, the people working in the uranium province in the Northern Territory refused the ACTU’s request. I find it most unusual for the Executive of the ACTU to attempt to bring about a strike in an industry that is providing so much work. Another matter of concern relates to the lack of interest and support by the ACTU in developing industries that can give thousands of people work. I think it is a pity that the ACTU has withdrawn the union representation on the Uranium Advisory Council. I hope it will eventually reconsider the matter. The Uranium Advisory Council has many representatives. It covers governments, industry, unions and the various bodies which are associated with uranium mining. The Uranium Advisory Council represents all the people employed in the industry but the ACTU has seen fit to take away its representative. I hope it reconsiders. Union representation on the Council is in the interests of the unions and the workers who are employed in the industry. I now refer to the Governor-General’s Speech. In relation to unemployment and youth the Governor-General said:
The first element of that program to which I wish to draw particular attention is the provision it contains for overcoming unemployment in general and particularly for stimulating the employment of youth. This is placed first because of the great importance my Government attaches to it.
We realise that unemployment is at unacceptable levels and that youth requires extra assistance. As I have said before, no one is prepared to accept any responsibility other than to blame someone else. The other day I attended a very interesting transition education conference. One of the speakers caught my attention. He talked about the blame syndrome; that is about those who think they are always right but that everyone else is wrong. They kick wherever they can. The speaker indicated that such people think the problem of unemployed youth is a matter for the schools, the parents, the employers, the Government and the kids. As long as this situation remains, the youngsters we are all concerned about will be the sufferers.
I do not believe it is necessary to outline all the various actions of the Government to help youth unemployment. Much has been done over the last five years in that particular field. Children leaving school these days have vast problems ahead of them. I think it is true to say that the faults do not lie in one place. They do not lie solely with the schools, the parents or the employers. The faults lie in many places and everyone has some degree of fault. These days children leave school quite unprepared to face up to the rigours of the working life ahead of them. They are failures in literacy and numeracy. 1 suppose they are failures because very little has been done within the schools to assist them. A child is only one of a group. Most of us are parents. We realise that parents of today are particularly to blame. Many of them neglect their young children. They neglect their discipline and schooling. They are not prepared to take responsibility for their children.
– You have got the blame syndrome.
– I am talking about the blame syndrome. There is no point in saying that the Government can take every measure that is required to overcome the problem. The problem exists in many areas. It is up to everybody as a team to continue to try to overcome it.
– Why import workers when you can train your own?
– The honourable senator makes a point. With the development that is taking place in Australia now, it is necessary to bring people in. Many jobs in the Northern Territory and other parts of Australia cannot be filled.
– Yes, but if you had trained people years ago you would have filled them.
– The honourable senator suffers from the blame syndrome. The fact is that the number of apprentices trained over the last few years is insufficient to meet the demand. The future of Australia depends on an increase in its population.
I now wish to touch briefly on defence. Once again I read part of the Governor-General’s Speech. He said:
In the present state of international tension, my Government is mindful that its first responsibility is the nation’s security and it has taken appropriate steps to enhance Australia’s defence preparedness. The 1980-81 Budget provides for a real increase in defence spending of about 7 per cent. Further substantial real increases in resources are planned in the years 1984-85 by which time defence expenditure is expected to have risen to about 3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.
My Government believes that it is imperative that Australia should move to improve its defence self-reliance and should play its part in strengthening the international forces working for stability at the global and regional levels.
In that regard Australian defence continues to be one of the primary concerns of the Government. This must be obvious to all these days with the development that has taken place and the amount of money that has been expended on the buying of new equipment and the upgrading of bases. The alliance between Australia and the United States of America has developed. It has given substantial grounds for confidence in the defence system. The Government’s aim, as a partner in the defence of the region, is to ensure that Australia’s security is not at risk and to foster self-reliance against the possibility of future aggression. The development of liaison between the United States and Australia - I refer to the defence bases, the joint defence manoeuvres and joint defence planning - means that under the ANZUS treaty there will be considerable security for Australia in its association with the United States. Yet it is very surprising that when one sees the strength of the partnership that has developed between Australia and America - after all, we are the same type of people; we come from similar backgroundsthere are criticisms regarding the liaison and the treaties made between Australia and the United States in a joint effort to bring security to this part of the globe. I wonder why.
It seems incredible that people in this country endeavour to erode the arrangements in Australia’s defence treaty with the people of the United States. There is only one future. If we wish to see confidence and strength in our defence system we should join with them, assist them and work as one people. That is our only future. But at the same time it is quite obivous that we must become more self-reliant.
– You can’t have it both ways.
– You can have it both ways, Senator. Australia can have a partner and can grow in stength and become self-reliant in its defence. The aim of this Government is to bring confidence and self-reliance to the Australian defence system. In the north, defence of Australia is building up by quite a remarkable degree. In the north the Air Force is becoming more prominent.
– Those big American bombers.
– The American bombers, senator, are an essential part of the free world defence system. I wonder why it is that aircraft and warships that are part of the defence system are criticised by people when they are used as part of the northern defence and northern surveillance. I question their attitude and their reason.
As I was saying in regard to the defence of Australia, the people of the north have learnt already. They have more experience and more knowledge, perhaps than some of the critics. I refer to the Second World War when many hundreds of Australians were killed in bombing. The people of the north realise that if they do not wish to go through a similar experience then there has to be strength in defence. The strength in defence is being brought about now by the Federal Government led by Malcolm Fraser. It is quite true. Australia must be prepared. The preparedness that we see taking place now will surely be of tremendous advantage as the years go by. The development of defence brings about more industries within Australia.
– War industries.
– They are not war industries, Senator; they are industries that are created and developed to assist our security. They bring about more opportunities for employment and so on. I shall speak briefly about the Northern Territory. In the last three years responsible selfgovernment has brought about tremendous development in the Northern Territory, which is to the advantage of Australia. The growth rate of that area is 300 per cent more rapid than that of the rest of Australia. The area will absorb many people. We will see in the decade of the 1980s incredible development. At present it is estimated that some $3m to $4m worth of projects will be seen not as a dream but as a reality in the coming few years. So, there is a demand for people.
That brings me to the next point on which I support the Government - its immigration policy. With Australia’s immigration policy almost static, there can be no future for Australia unless its population is increased. I look forward to seeing more and more migrants and refugees brought to Australia. There is a life for them here. There are also jobs. Their presence will bring new energies and a new look to Australia. We will gain much richness from their assistance in developing Australia.
– How many would you import? How many would you allow to come in?
– Thousands. It keeps you under control.
– It is obvious that honourable senators opposite do not wish Australia to have any immigration. The Labor Party of the 1940s was a very different party from the present one. It is true that it encouraged immigration to Australia. It did a tremendous job, but along the way it has lost its desire to bring migrants to Australia. There is room for the immigrants. There are jobs for them now. I do not know of one immigrant or one refugee who upon arriving in Australia has not found a job - that is, if he has been out looking for a job from a hostel or a home - within two, three, four or five days. The opportunities are there for them throughout the States. As I have said before, Australia’s future lies in increasing immigration. Naturally, it has to be a balanced immigration. I am not suggesting that Australia can absorb, say, 200,000 a year; I am suggesting that there can be an increasing immigration plan for Australia. Where we are bringing in about 80,000 to 100,000 people this year, I suggest that over the ensuing years this total should be increased each year.
It gives me pleasure to support the Government in the Address-in-Reply debate in the Thirtysecond Parliament. I believe that in the ensuing years, with the stability of the economic situation in Australia now, with inflation at some 10.2 per cent, compared with that in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, where it is running at from 1 2 per cent to 30 per cent, we will see continuing development. There will be more and more opportunities for the people of Australia.
– For overseas investors, not for Australians.
– As the honourable senator has said, overseas investors bring development, and the taxes that they pay bring further development for Australia. I am sorry to find that the role of those on the opposite side of the chamber appears to be that of the knockers. It would be a pity if their role were not that of the doers. Rather than criticising, rather than being the load that they now appear to be, they should come forward with concrete plans for development and so assist Australia.
– To allow the Senate to absorb that wisdom and the Government to introduce its legislation, I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debated adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Carrick) read a first time.
– 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The speech read as follows -
The purpose of the Bill is to give speedy effect to the undertaking given by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in his policy speech that the Government would increase the rate of personal care subsidy provided to organisations operating hostels through the Aged or Disabled Persons Accommodation Program. The subsidy is an important part of that Program, which assists organisations providing accommodation and related facilities for aged or disabled persons. Under the Aged or . Disabled Persons Accommodation Program. The Commonwealth Government also makes grants available to non-profit religious and charitable organisations and to local governing bodies towards the capital cost of establishing suitable homes for aged or disabled persons. Honourable senators will be aware that in December 1979 the then Minister for Social Security, Senator The Hon. Dame Margaret Guilfoyle, D.B.E., announced a new three-year $225m funding program for aged or disabled persons accommodation. This new program commenced on 1 July 1980 and over 650 projects have now been approved for funding during the 1980 to 1983 financial years.
Turning to the specific subject of the Bill, honourable senators will know that the Aged or Disabled Persons Homes Act was amended in 1 969 to permit the payment of personal care subsidy to organisations operating hostels to assist them to employ staff who would provide additional services for frail aged residents. These services are intended to encourage the residents to live as independently as is possible for them and include the serving of meals in their own rooms as required, assistance with cleaning, bathing, dressing, laundry and medication. The subsidy is paid in respect of all those residents in approved hostels providing approved personal care services who have reached the age of 80 years, as well as for those residents less than 80 who receive such services.
It is evident that this speedy implementation of the increase in the rate of personal care subsidy promised by the Prime Minister will materially assist organisations in their task of caring for aged or disabled people. In the terms of the Bill now before the Senate, it means increasing the subsidy, which is payable in respect of prescribed periods of 28 days, from $60 to $80. The increase is to apply to payments which were due on 28 October 1980 - the first prescribed date after the Prime Minister’s announcement - and to subsequent payments. The estimated cost of this increase will be $3.5m in 1980-81 and $5.9m in a full financial year. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Grimes) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Carrick) read a first time.
– 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The speech read as follows -
This Bill honours the commitment in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) of 30 September 1980 to introduce important changes to the Home Savings Grant Scheme. As I will outline to honourable senators, the Government has acted swiftly to meet the election undertaking in full - in fact in the most generous way possible. So that there can be no doubt, let me remind honourable senators of the policy pledge. The supplementary statement to the Prime Minister’s speech said that the Home Savings Grant Scheme would be extended to provide from 1 October 1980 a new Home Savings Grant family bonus of $500 for families with one dependent child and $1,000 for families with two or more dependent children. The respective maximum grants, therefore, will increase to $2,500 and $3,000; increase the value limit for which a maximum grant is payable to $60,000, reducing to nil at $70,000; and widen the form of acceptable savings.
This Bill will widen the forms of savings acceptable and, most importantly, will introduce payment of a family bonus in addition to the grant. The promised increase in the value of homes for which the maximum grant is payable is being done through amendments to the homes savings grant regulations. The Governor-General has approved the making of regulations under the Homes Savings Grant Act 1976 to increase the value limit from 1 October 1980. One of the Government’s major housing goals is to encourage home ownership. The most recent official figures show that more than 70 per cent of Australians have achieved this goal. By world standards that is a very high figure indeed.
The Home Savings Grant Scheme is a key part of the Government’s package of policies and programs to help home seekers. Each year thousands of young Australians enter into home ownership and it is of vital concern to the Government that these people be given the encouragement to save. The Home Savings Grant Scheme has provided this. The success of the Scheme can be seen from the fact that over half a million families have been helped with a grant since 1964. The Government is proud of this achievement. The former Labor Government thought so little of this encouragement that they legislated to abolish the Scheme.
The changes introduced by this Bill not only further improve the Scheme for all first home buyers but will provide particular help to families who commonly face greater problems when saving for a home. Most families being helped by the Scheme are young married couples, on modest incomes, who have been saving steadily. Typically they purchase a modest house or unit as their first step into home ownership, and then set about doing up the garden and making other improvements. These are the people the Scheme has always been intended to help.
The importance we place on honouring our election commitment and giving support to Australia’s young families is shown by the fact that we have introduced this Bill in the first days of the new Parliament. The Government makes no apology for this positive support for Australian families. At present, acceptable savings under the Scheme include moneys held on deposit with a savings bank, building society or credit union, on fixed deposit with a trading bank or paid towards the purchase of land or the purchase or construction of the home. Honourable senators will be aware that the Government introduced the Australian savings bond in 1976 with a view to attracting subscriptions to government securities from the small investor, especially from the household sector. It has been somewhat anomalous that these bonds have not been a form of acceptable savings under the Homes Savings Grant Act. Accordingly, we propose in the Bill to remove this anomaly and to honour our election commitment.
The main forms of acceptable savings are those held with the savings institutions which provide the bulk of private housing finance. Most first home buyers are expected to continue to accumulate their savings with these institutions in order to qualify for a home loan. However, some people may wish to hold part of their savings in the form of Australian savings bonds. Acceptance of these savings will remove the discrimination against these people who are, after all, contributing to the good of Australia.
The Bill will include in acceptable savings Australian savings bonds purchased as inscribed stock or purchased for safe custody with a bank. People contracting to buy or build their first home from 1 October 1980 will be able to include, as acceptable savings, their holdings of Australian savings bonds at the date of the contract for their home and at their earlier savings dates. Australian savings bonds purchased or held as bearer securities will not be acceptable savings as their ownership at savings dates cannot be independently verified.
The Bill will also widen acceptable savings to include one-half of those held jointly with a former fiance. As the Act now stands, an applicant can include as acceptable savings one-half of moneys held jointly with a spouse or former spouse, including a de facto spouse. However, an applicant who has saved for a home jointly with a fiance finds, where the engagement has been broken, that neither the applicant nor the former fiance can include any of those savings when applying for a grant. The Bill will remove this anomaly. Its removal will be at minimal cost to the Government and will remove an injustice to these people.
The major proposal in this Bill is for payment of a family bonus for people who have one or more dependent children. We propose that the scheme will now provide a family bonus of $500 for families with one dependent child and $1,000 for families with two or more dependent children. Most importantly the family bonus will not vary with the level of savings. This will make it easier for families with children to get additional assistance. They will be able to get the full family bonus even if they have only relatively small savings to qualify for a grant.
In proposing to introduce the family bonus as an addition to the home savings grant, the Government is giving further recognition to its belief that the family forms the basis of our society. The family bonus proposal recognises the fact that saving the deposit for a home is so much more difficult for a family with dependent children, particularly a single income family. Many young married couples have two incomes and can save quite quickly for their home. But there are other people who do not find it so easy. These are families with children. Often, because of the responsibilities of raising their children, the family has only one income. This obviously restricts the family’s ability to save for a home.
Our information is that about one in three first home buyers have children at the time they purchase their homes. Of these, nearly three in every four are single income families where the mother stays at home to look after the children. These are the ones who will receive particular assistance from the bonus. This Bill acknowledges their special difficulties and offers real assistance. Eligibility for the bonus will depend upon an applicant being eligible for a grant. The amount of the bonus will not be related to the amount saved or the value of the home provided the home value does not exceed $70,000. If applicants are eligible for a grant, whatever its amount, they will receive the f ull bonus of $500 for one dependent child and $ 1 ,000 for two or more dependent children. This generous approach will ensure that the scheme will be of particular benefit to families who find it difficult to save enough to qualify for the maximum grant. For families with two or more dependent children, the maximum combined basic grant and family bonus payable will be $3,000. Even the most vocal critic must admit that this will be a great help to families aiming to buy their first home.
Honourable senators will note that the Secretary of the Department will be required to satisfy himself that a home savings grant is payable, and that the applicant has a dependent child, for the bonus to be payable. In most cases the applicant will receive child endowment. This will be sufficient to satisfy the Secretary and avoid any duplicated effort to check eligibility for the bonus. This approach will avoid double checking for parallel Commonwealth benefits. It will make it easier for applicants, and will avoid excessive
Government intrusion into their lives. Administrative costs associated with the new benefit will also be kept to a minimum. There will, nevertheless, be a number of applicants with a dependent child at their contract date who were not in receipt of a child endowment. The discretion in the Bill will enable the bonus to be payable in those cases. In exercising the discretion my Department will, of course, act in close consultation with the Department of Social Security having regard to the qualifications for receipt of child endowment. The definitions of a dependent child or student in the Bill reflect these qualifications.
In some cases applicants for the bonus may not yet have claimed or may not wish to claim child endowment. In these cases the definitions in the Bill for a dependent child or student, in conjunction with the other conditions for payment of the bonus, will provide the criteria for the Secretary to be satisfied that the child or student is a dependent for whom a bonus is payable. In other instances an applicant for the bonus may be the parent of a student child who is receiving payment under a prescribed educational scheme including the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme. Child endowment is not payable in these cases. However, the discretion in the Bill will enable the student child to be regarded as a dependant for whom the family bonus will be payable. A discretion is also provided to enable the bonus to be paid when a child is in a mental hospital or other institution, but the applicant is contributing to the child’s maintenance. An application for the family bonus payment will be made in the same way as for the grant. Payment of the bonus, and reviews of and appeals against decisions, may also be made in the same way. The Homes Savings Grant Act now provides for decisions to be reviewed on request and, if an applicant is still dissatisfied, to be reconsidered by the Secretary. Appeals may then be made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
I have mentioned the changes to the value limit to be introduced through regulations tabled this week. The major increase in the limit for qualifying homes from $55,000 to $70,000 will ensure that many more home seekers are eligible for a grant. No assistance is available for people choosing to buy houses costing more than $70,000. The new home value limits will particularly help first home buyers in higher cost areas such as Sydney and some of the more remote areas of Australia where building costs are significantly higher. Darwin, Port Hedland, Kalgoorlie, Gladstone and Mt Isa are towns which come to mind in this context. More first home seekers in these areas will now be eligible for a grant and, of course, they will also then qualify for the family bonus if they have dependent children. In total, some 20,000 home seekers a year are expected to receive assistance, or increased assistance, because of these improvements to the Home Savings Grant Scheme.
There are other important ways in which the Government is giving help to home seekers. One of the most important ways any government can help people to become home owners is to ensure that housing finance institutions are able to sustain a high level of lending for housing. In the 1980-81 Budget the Government has led the way by getting its own house in order. The Government’s determination to have a domestic surplus in this year’s Budget will reduce demands on the private sector to finance Government expenditures. This means that private housing finance institutions will have more money to lend to home seekers. In addition, the last four Budgets have all highlighted housing finance as a high priority in overall economic policies. Most home seekers are able to raise a housing loan in the private market. But the Government appreciates that there are some families who need help with their housing finance. That is why the Government gives help through the home purchase assistance program, as part of the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. The program allocates funds to the States to provide low interest loans to families on low to moderate incomes. Since its inception in 1956 the program has helped more than 170,000 families to become home owners. Families are, of course, eligible for a home savings grant whether they get housing finance through a private lender or through a government-assisted loan.
Governments must also act to contain housing costs. There is no doubt that young couples saving for a home get hurt by inflation. It is most disheartening for conscientious savers to see their nestegg eaten away by inflation. The re-emergence of cost pressures on the home building sector reemphasises the importance of sustaining our antiinflationary policies. To relax our policies at this stage would so easily wipe out the hard fought gains of recent years. The worst thing that could possibly happen to the housing industry and home seekers would be the introduction of the 35-hour week. Such an irresponsible move would place intolerable burdens on the housing industry and on the costs faced by home seekers.
Since the Home Savings Grant Scheme started in 1964 some 540,000 grants, totalling nearly $352m, have been made to help people buy or build their first home. Details of the operation of the Scheme in 1979-80 are available for the information of honourable senators in the Homes Savings Grant Act annual report presented to the
Parliament earlier. The Scheme is a good one, and it has stood the test of time very well. It recognises that people who wish to become home owners need to accumulate savings of their own. What the Scheme sets out to do, and has done very successfully over the years, is to encourage this saving and thus assist people to obtain homes of their own. This package of improvements to the Home Savings Grant Scheme will give more help to home seekers and particularly to families who have the added responsibility of caring for children. These changes - together with our continued encouragement of high levels of lending for housing - will further encourage and assist the Australian community to achieve home ownership. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Grimes) adjourned.
– In following Senator Kilgariff in this debate, I believe that I am bound to make a few remarks about the content of his speech, although I do not wish to delay the Senate for very long on that matter. I wish first of all to point out that I do not intend to go through the farce that Senator Kilgariff went through in referring to the Speech as a speech coming from Sir Zelman Cowen, the GovernorGeneral. The Speech, as the honourable senator and every other honourable senator in this place knows, is the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), Senator Kilgariff ‘s leader. It has his stamp all over it. I suggest that the speech could not have been written by anyone else inside or outside this Parliament.
Senator Kilgariff said that the Speech gives us the guiding precepts of his Government and his Prime Minister for the next three years. If that is so, this very thin and meagre document does not hold out much for the people of this community in the next three years, particularly those who are suffering under the economic difficulties we have. In any case, why should we on the Opposition side or anyone else in this country accept that document as the guiding precept for the next three years when the two previous documents produced in the same way bore no resemblance to the Government’s future policy or future concerns? All the words in the document about concern for the unemployed, for the poor and disadvantaged in this country, mean nothing, as they meant nothing in the two preceding speeches.
Senator Kilgariff spent considerable time in his speech on unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, and he made some interesting observations on which I think 1 should comment. First of all, he gave us the causes, in his view, of youth unemployment in this country. Before doing so, however, he deprecated what he called the blame syndrome. According to Senator Kilgariff, the first cause of unemployment and the first people to blame for that unemployment - one could expect that the order in which he gave them indicates the degree of blame he issues to these people - were those in the trade union movement. He suggested that they were responsible in two ways for unemployment in this country. Firstly, the Australian Council of Trade Unions has a policy on uranium mining which he does not like. Secondly, the trade union movement, exercising the right it has in this country and in every other free country in the world, sometimes strikes to defend the conditions and the rights of the workers who belong to it.
The second group of people which he blamed was the teachers in our schools in the community. Of course that has been done around the world since the time of Socrates and probably long before that. People of Senator KilgarifFs and my generation always blame the teachers and the young people for their own attitudes to work and life. I think that someone like Senator Kilgariff should have more sense than to do that. He then blamed the parents - he is one - and said that if they went home and disciplined their kids a bit better their kids would go out and find nonexistent jobs in the community and develop these jobs because of their greater sense of discipline. He then said that we should breed more. He said we should have bigger families and more children. He seems to think that that would somehow improve the unemployment situation in the country. To top it all off, he said that we should bring more migrants into the community.
– The article came from the Teachers Federation.
– The honourable senator did not quote from an article. I think he ought to check Hansard tomorrow. Senator Kilgariff then advised us all that in his own area, the Northern Territory, there are plenty of jobs and that everyone should flock up there and find them. He said the same type of thing that his philosophical compatriot, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, says about Queensland. It is that sort of nonsense and talk which sends people to the Northern Territory and north Queensland looking for jobs. In both of those areas the unemployment rate is above the national average. In both of those areas the youth unemployment rate is in excess of 20 per cent. People go there believing the nonsense which we have heard from Senator Kilgariff and Mr BjelkePetersen in Queensland and find themselves in difficulties. Anyone who goes to Queensland and the Northern Territory realises the number of people who have been misled by the sort of bombast that we hear from Senator Kilgariff and others in this place about what is happening and developing in the Northern Territory. I suppose that, if we were heartless enough, we should send the unemployed school kids of the western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne up to Senator Kilgariff’s electorate office, let them sit outside his office, let them wait there and let him feed them until they can find jobs.
– They would starve.
– As Senator Melzer says, his lack of compassion would mean that they would not get any food. In fact, they would starve.
The Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General is typical of its author. Its author of course is the Prime Minister of this country. It presents little in the way of hope for those Australians who are struggling under very difficult economic circumstances in this country at the moment. Upon reading the Speech, it is quite clear that we will continue the process of upwards redistribution of wealth in this country. We will continue with the confrontation and with the divisiveness which has been a feature in recent years under this Government’s rule.
The Government in the Speech parades an alleged sustained commitment to the family and through it the basic social fabric of this country. In fact, this Government has been responsible directly and indirectly for the greatest family breakdown seen in this country in recent years, just as it has been responsible for the greatest level of divisiveness in this country which is rapidly becoming similar to the divided society which we had in the days of the Vietnam War. From his remarks, I understand that Senator Kilgariff would like to see the return of those days. The Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, had a close association with them. He was the Minister for the Army and vigorously supported our efforts in Veitnam because, in the words of his leader at the time and his own words at the time, we were defending ourselves against the menace which was then coming from China - now his new found friend.
After five years we have a token recognition in the Speech - one can say that it is no more than a token recognition - that youth unemployment exists in this country. The Speech states:
It is not only an economic problem but a social one.
That sentiment is the very opposite of the attitude and the actions that the Government has taken in the last five years in relation to this problem. These words come from a Prime Minister, who has denied, and whose Ministers have denied repeatedly in the past the existence of the problem. They have talked of bludgers and of a myth.To hear these words from such a person leads us to believe that we will need performance far more than we need words.
– All you need to do is get up and go, apparently.
- Senator MacGibbon commented earlier this evening that men cannot live by bread alone. I am sure the people of this country will soon realise that men and women cannot live by words alone. The commitment to the wealthy by this Government is assured not only in the Speech but also on the Government’s past record. There have been beneficiaries of great tax changes - Government approved tax changes - such as the investment allowance. The benefits have been given to these people. I suspect they will continue to be given to these people at the expense of the families and others in the community about whom I wish to talk. Alleged tax cuts in the past have been directed to high income earners. The relative position of the low income earners have worsened and has been made even more difficult by the introduction of indirect taxes, such as the oil levy, which in fact has badly set back the position of low income earners.
My concern is that the policies of the Fraser Government have produced social breakdown at an unparalleled rate in our history. We have produced amongst our youth a nation of runaways as the pressures on them and their families become unbearable. There has been an explosion of demand facing the voluntary agencies in the various States. Those agencies try to save families from disintegration and try to help them with their indebedness and seek solutions to the selfdestructive processes that occur. It is a demand that they simply cannot meet. Homelessness at all ages in the community is an increasingly urgent problem. Homelessness amongst teenagers is a very urgent problem, particularly in Victoria, where levels of something like 30,000 homeless teenagers have been reached.
How has this sort of thing happened? How is it that in the past six years the number of people in poverty in this community, on most estimates, has almost doubled? Even this Government is thinking in terms of establishing youth refuges and refuges for homeless people rather than encouraging stability in the community. Surely the causes are fundamentally economic causes. Surely the solutions will ultimately be economic solutions. In the meantime, do we leave these people who are suffering difficulties to the mercies of the sort of market force philosophy that this Government holds? We know that in all areas unemployment has produced family division. Unemployment in poorer areas, particularly in the western suburbs of our two bigger cities, has produced families with generations which are unemployed. Families with fathers, mothers, uncles and children are unable to find work. They have less and less hope of finding work. We do not know exactly how many families are in that situation because the Government does not know and will not institute an inquiry to find out. The people dealing with the problem know that it is increasing.
The Government has a Department of Employment and Youth Affairs which does not work at all in regard to the consequences of unemployment in our community. Workers from social agencies, academic sociologists, medical teams and State welfare departments seek and find links between youth unemployment, increasing rates of suicide, crime, homelessness and drugs. This Government, which has applied an increasingly punitive attitude to the young unemployed, does not wish to embarrass itself by finding out that there is such a connection. It does nothing to find out. It has set up a task force to inquire into the accommodation needs of young people. This is one of the few things the Government has done. It will not release any of the information or any of the reports that this task force gathers. It does not want to know and it does not want the community to know the social consequences of its policies. It wants to keep the whole subject under wraps while the Prime Minister has delivered for himself fundamental misleading platitudes, such as ‘we believe that the disadvantaged and the weak should not be the ones to bear the brunt of economic adjustment’. The weak and the disadvantaged in the community are well and truly bearing the brunt of economic adjustment, which is the term used by the Prime Minister for what he pretends is an economic policy. They are bearing the brunt of it by having their real incomes decreased. They are bearing the brunt of it because the benefits paid to them, particularly those with children, are increasing at a much slower rate than the inflation rate and at a much less frequent rate than it should be in times of such high inflation.
We know that in areas of metropolitan Melbourne suicides amongst young men have increased 50 per cent in the last two years. We know that 60,000 young people have left home at various times because they are not wanted or because of pressures caused by their predicament or that of their families. Every study shows unemployment to be the root cause of these problems. Most studies show that the young unemployed person living on his or her own lives on charity and in debt as he or she cannot get unemployment benefit because of the strict guidelines. If they pool their resources in communal living, they are criticised for being hippies.
I will give some examples of how people have been hit by unemployment in the five years since this Government took power. Since December 1975 unemployment has risen 50 per cent. The unemployed far outnumber the job vacancies. The average duration of unemployment has been trebled. Of the registered unemployed people, 67,800 are over 52 years of age. The unemployed are not all young people. At this are most of them are unlikely to find a new job. A survey done in May this year revealed that 96 per cent of the people on unemployment benefit had no regular income apart from their social security payments. We have a cycle repeating itself in that children leave home at an early age because the family needs money and they are the ones who find it hardest to get jobs. Almost 80 per cent of the unemployed are without any post-school qualifications. A recent Australian Bureau of Statistics survey showed that over 40,000 young people under the age of 19 had been out of work for more than six months. We know from other studies that these people are vulnerable. Some of them even go to gaol because their unemployment benefit does not leave them enough to pay fines for what are sometimes trifling offences. I suppose I am not the only person in this place who has faced that problem in the electoral office.
My concern, and I believe everyone’s concern, is that these people are being alienated from the mainstream of our society by their predicament and they are being alienated further by the statements and actions of authorities in government and the bureaucracy. It will take more than the fine words and the fine sentiments of the Governor-General’s address- the Prime Minister’s address - to overcome their feeling of rejection in the near future. We have set up a token youth accommodation program. The simple point is that it would not be needed if the unemployment benefit were paid at a fair and less discriminatory rate. It would not be needed if the Government could help them to find regular accommodation- not crisis accommodation - and put them in a situation in which they do not live hand to mouth. They want to live in some security like any other member of our society. They want a regular income and they want regular shelter.
Even the election promises of the Government, which were referred to by Senator Kilgariff but not given in any detail, to pay unemployment benefit to young people to keep up skills or master new ones while they are unemployed, will be of little benefit unless there are jobs at the end of that assistance. They will still be penalised by having to wait eight months in unemployment before qualifying. At a time of high unemployment and at a time of catastrophically high youth unemployment there should be no waiting period. A young person who is studying or training for a short time during the week and who is prepared to drop that study to take a job is, in the words of the Social Services Act, willing to undertake work. That is what should be the major criterion in the payment of unemployment benefit. The attitude of the present Director-General of Social Security and others is that those who try to improve their chances with more than eight hours study a week are to be rejected for unemployment benefit. This concept of self-help that we hear so much about from people opposite appears to be ignored in respect of the unemployed and the poor in this community.
The Government which claims to be guaranteeing freedom of choice to taxpayers is in fact giving little choice, if any freedom of choice, to the unemployed or any other recipient of benefits in the community. The young unemployed are expected to find money out of their $36 a weeksometimes $53.45 a week - to look at their own expense for up to seven new jobs every week before they can qualify. They are expected to be well dressed; they are expected to produce copies of applications or photocopies of acknowledgments of applications for employment; they are expected to find doctors who will not charge them if they fall ill and they are expected to pay chemist bills if they are in need of prescriptions. This is the only large group of people in the community not covered by a comprehensive medical or pharmaceutical benefits scheme.
The Prime Minister repeats in this speech, as he has repeated many times before, that one of his most important concerns is that taxpayers have freedom of choice in spending their own incomes and that this is an important principle for the Government. Those who are in difficulty through no fault of their own in fact have no choice. Our tax system may allow those in positions of influence or in positions of high income to have a choice as to how much tax they will pay or, as Professor Mathews said recently, whether they will pay tax at all. The others, the low income groups have no choice. They need all their meagre incomes to buy the essentials. They need all their meagre incomes to buy food and to pay for services. Because of the punitive income test that is applied to these benefits, they in fact have a marginal tax rate higher than the rate that is applied to most wealthy people in this community. If the Department of Social Security makes a mistake or if they make a mistake in their application for a benefit they must find their way through an administrative jungle without the benefit of a skilled or expensive counsel to set the matter right. If they are found to be infringing the work test they are fined the equivalent of between $350 and $700 by the arbitrary withdrawal of their benefits for six to 12 weeks. If they believe they have been misjudged, they will find that the appeals system is one of delay and difficulty.
The Speech by the Governor-General says that the Government has a concern for the human dimensions involved in unemployment, youth and the economy. If so, it will be for the first time since this Government was elected, but I do not think we will hear great cheers from the unemployed and the disadvantaged in this community when they read those words in the newspapers or hear those words on television in view of the fact that the Government has demonstrated in the past that it has no intention of adhering to the sentiments that it expresses in speeches like this one.
We have a serious problem. We have difficulties with youth unemployment. We have difficulties with unemployment at all levels. We know that there is a high association with homelessness, with crime, with suicide and with drug taking. We know that the benefits that are paid to our young unemployed, if they are on their own and are seeking to support themselves from their own resources, are inadequate for them to seek accommodation. We know, for instance, from the results of a survey in Melbourne recently that 81 per cent admitted to having committed at least one offence and that 53 per cent had been charge with an offence. When we have this situation after five years of office of this Government, where is the sustained commitment to youth that we have been told about in this Speech and other speeches?
We have a Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) who said only a few weeks ago that young people could find jobs if they really wanted to. We have a Prime Minister who says that families should be taking care of and have a responsibility for those who are unemployed. We know that there are insufficient jobs. We have all seen in every State the response to job advertisements for juniors and for young people. We know the figures from the Commonwealth Employment Service and from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. We know how unrealistic the Deputy Prime Minister is. But the Prime Minister is also being unrealistic about the family and about how many of the families can help persons in unemployed situations. Families in the income brackets of Mr Fraser and Mr Anthony may be able to give their children sufficient money to make the $36 a week unemployment benefit irrelevant. They may be able to send them overseas for further study and they may be able to cushion all the serious effects of unemployment. But poor families in this community simply cannot. Some 20 per cent of our teenagers who seek work cannot find it. In the western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, where all levels of unemployment are highest, 40 per cent of our teenagers seek work and cannot find it.
– I would have expected that sort of interjection from that sort of senator. I suggest that the Government should look at its priorities again.
– You come with me to the western suburbs and I will tell you and show you.
– I suggest that Senator Lajovic come up with the jobs.
– Devastating repartee.
– As Senator Evans says, that is devastating repartee from a gentleman whose record in demonstrating his concern for his fellow migrants in the social security case which occurred recently in Sydney is known far and wide throughout the capital in which he lives.
– Why don’t you go through the western suburbs with him?
– I would be quite happy to go through the western suburbs with Senator Lajovic, but I may not be sane. The simple fact is that in the past five years -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Georges) - Order! The House will come to order and will hear Senator Grimes in silence.
– Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. This is the first time that I have spoken in this place with you in the chair. I realise that proprieties must be kept with a man of your record. In the past five years the average taxpayer’s income in this community is down some $16 a week. Welfare agencies report that they are receiving more calls for help than ever before from low income families in debt. These families are paying off those debts and are seeking food vouchers. I suggest to Senator Lajovic that he should go and talk to the Smith Family in his own capital city where he will get some advice on just what is happening in those western suburbs of Sydney that he seems to think are so prosperous. Some concern has been expressed that the Government may restructure the health scheme. I f it makes hospital beds means tested and health insurance more costly, as it has done in the past, then we will again have similar sorts of difficulties facing these families.
We have a very real difficulty in our community with the problem of unemployed youth. We have a very real problem in the community because the number of disadvantaged for all sorts of reasons has increased and, in the view of many people, has almost doubled. Emergency aid agencies are reporting that the demand for other forms of assistance is increasing every year. We know that some or the oldest, the best and the most experienced aid agencies are going out of business because they are helping people who, primarily, are a government responsibility; single parents, and the unemployed who are waiting for benefits and cannot get them. We know that local government agencies in Melbourne - agencies run by local councils - are refusing to take this responsibility off the Federal Government and are referring people in this situation back to the Department of Social Security where they belong. This may not be very pleasant for those people involved but it puts the responsibility back where it lies.
To add to all these problems the Government, after receiving a report from the Department of Social Security - a report drawn up with the assistance of these agencies - added insult to injury by refusing to give these agencies sufficient emergency relief allocation to continue their work but it still asks its own Department of Social Security to refer patients to these agencies when they are destitute. The Government has caused some of these troubles. It is not entirely responsible for all these troubles but it has caused and aggravated many of them by failing to increase the allowances for families with children, by failing to increase the family allowance, and by failing to take into account the fact that there has been a 50 per cent inflation rate since 1976, thereby leaving these people in great difficulty. If this is what the Government calls enhancing the position of Australian families then we are very surprised and so are those families. If the Government has changed its mind and suddenly discovered that those Australian families need assistance it can only be because of the shock it got at the last election; it can only be because of the problems which will empty out of this place Senator Neal and Senator Puplick, and which will bring others into this place and leave the Government without a majority in this chamber.
Apart from a few words in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech there is nothing to make us believe that there have been sufficient changes. We know what the record of the Government has been. We know that over the years it promised to increase the assistance to homeless persons. In fact, the Government cut the allocation in half and then spent only a third of that allocation. We know that it has halved, in real terms, the assistance for aged persons’ accommodation in the community in the last five years, despite the fact that by a careful use of English - a misleading use of English in this Speech - it has claimed that it has increased the assistance. We know that the invalid pensioners in this community have experienced difficulties and have had pensions cancelled after review because of the new rules applied by a government which was determined to cut expenditure in this sort of area no matter what the social costs. We had an artificial system and still have an artificial system of disability assessment which worked tolerably well in the past because those who were doing the assessing could work with tolerance and with humanity. We then found that the legalistic obsessions of lawyers in the top echelons of the Department, with some outside help of course, turned that determination into a rigid, legalistic and inhumane assessment which caused the controversy which we have had in this community in the last year.
We know that the migrant community, so much the alleged concern of Senator Lajovic, also will look sceptically at the commitment to provide services to help migrants adjust to life in Australia. The most recent government report on the information needs of migrants in Australia castigated the Department of Social Security and the Government for not providing enough television and radio information about social services because the Department still did not understand that a large number of those migrants could not comprehend the official leaflets. The so-called social security conspiracy case showed how little assistance migrant families with injuries or severe mental stress were given in obtaining their proper rights. One of the problems with this case was that they sought agents to take them to lawyers and doctors in the social security system as they did not have access to them.
An Australian Bureau of Statistics survey on non-English speaking migrants who left work in 1979 found that in the main they did so because they were laid off or had health problems. They had come to this country for security but in many cases found only insecurity. They badly need assistance. One migrant social worker to whom I have spoken works in Senator Lajovic ‘s home city and arrives at work every morning to be greeted by a queue of people who ask her to complete their social security application forms but mainly their unemployment benefit forms. These people are in a strange country and under a system that they do not understand. They do not go to government departments for their assistance; the Government does not help those agencies which do assist them.
The worst thing is that despite all this neglect and all this difficulty the conservatives in this country, like their ilk elsewhere, too often incorporate those in need of welfare in their list of scapegoats for our economic problems. Consistently in this country the causes of our problems are as listed by Senator Kilgariff - the trade unions, the education system, the size of the welfare budget and the red menace, which Senator Kilgariff mentioned later in his speech and which comes from whichever is the most convenient country at the time. The Government usually resorts to some cry for national pride. I suggest that welfare expenditure is soon translated into an attack on the recipients of this welfare, and the whole system is then rendered more complex and more difficult by changing guidelines and regulations, by making application forms more complex and by indulging in the sort of crackdowns that we have had in this country over the last five years.
I would make a plea to the new Minister for Social Security (Senator Chaney) that he be not blinded by the obsessions that are apparent in some of his colleagues. He should look at simplifying the system, at removing its complexities and at reducing the discriminatory powers which exist for various people and which hinder the distressed and hinder the ill-educated. In fact, the increasing complexity of the system helps those few in the community who cheat; but they are very few. Perhaps the Minister could become almost radical and suggest to his officers that the system might operate more efficiently and create more satisfaction if some of the decision making on the priorities, on the planning and the administration of his area of concern was taken from the central offices in Canberra and actually given to local groups and to self-help and self-interest groups whose knowledge of community needs and the solutions to community problems may often be greater and usually is greater than those of the present central bureaucratic process. This, of course, involves extending democracy itself, and it involves extending power out to the periphery, out to the people in the community. I know that there are those who will be close to him in his office who will heap scorn on such proposals; but those who do make such criticisms have had their chance for years and should look to the fruits of their labours over the years to see just what there is to be proud of in the existing system.
We do not necessarily need to spend a much higher proportion of our gross domestic product on welfare to improve the quality of life of a large proportion of our population, especially if we develop our economy for the benefit of our own citizens and not for the benefit of others. However, we should not continue to delude ourselves, as we see done so often by the media and by people opposite, that our welfare bill is excessively high and that it is the cause of our economic problems. International comparisons demonstrate the nonsense of this assertion, and I do not have to list them now. They have been gone through plenty of times in this place.
We are an asset rich country. We can develop a more humane society by harnessing the skills and goodwill and the altruistic feelings of our citizens. We can develop a sense of community so that we will all work together. This cannot be done by ignoring problems such as unemployment or poverty, or telling those in such situations that they must be patient and carry their burden while something called market forces sorts things out. This pie-in-the-sky attitude will only continue the resentment and the social divisions which we are hearing more and more about from concerned people in the community. Nor can we solve the problems by pushing the responsibility for these people onto welfare agencies or self-help groups in the community without giving them assistance. We cannot push the responsibility onto State governments or anybody else.
The organisations which traditionally carry the burden in this area are in difficulties. Some of them have in fact become insolvent. The answer lies surely in improving our economic system and ensuring a basic minimum standard of income as was proposed by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Poverty. Let me quote from the booklet Beyond Unemployment prepared by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace for the Catholic bishops in Australia. It reads:
The burden of the changes we advocate falls on the Government. It is our belief that only firm economic direction by the Government and firm leadership in legislation can support the victims of the unemployment crisis. Only a willingness on the part of the Government to take positive action, to marshal resources - the wealth and abilities of everyone - for the construction of a just and equitable society can rectify the misery which unemployment causes.
This is a very different approach from the approach of the present Government which believes that a wholesale retreat from leadership and direction in the economic field, plus an abrogation of our responsibilities for our less fortunate citizens, is the answer to all our problems. It means, of course, developing a more efficient system of distribution of our resources and our wealth. It means an identification of the problems, their causes and possible solutions, and, as I suggested earlier, it means giving people a say in the future of their country. It cannot be done if we sell off our resources. It cannot be done if we hand our resources, as was demonstrated by Senator Ryan in an earlier speech, to people who have no concern for our social or our economic development. The Prime Minister had the Governor-General say, in the address from the Throne:
The power and functions of the State should be limited and contained.
It seems that he means that those powers should be handed over to those with no interest in the welfare of our country. But the reality is that this Government does not take kindly to its powers and functions being questioned, let alone being handed over. Those who have an interest and a knowledge of the undesirable effects of unemployment, the undesirable effects of our economic situation, are soon attacked by the present Government if they dare question what is happening.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, which I have just mentioned, has been condemned as being Marxist for expressing the views that it expresses. The Australian Council of Social Service is taken to task both privately and publicly for critical comment about government programs. The trade unions are subject not only to criticism but also to legislative action, not only through industrial legislation but also through amendments to the Social Services Act, for daring to defend the rights and conditions of their workers.
I might add that at the same time as praising the vigorous efforts of the Polish trade unionists to develop independent trade unions in their country, our present Government is trying to shackle our own trade unions with legislation to prevent them carrying out their legitimate functions. Finally, if one can remember, our young athletes were condemned, publicly bullied and then offered bribes when they did not agree with government policy. As Senator Tate described earlier tonight, ministers of religion are reprimanded and removed from their position, at least indirectly, for expressing their views.
The Prime Minister, in the Speech that he gave to the Governor-General, talked about the importance of our becoming more independent and free. But people will become more independent and free only when they have work, and adequate income and shelter. They will become independent and free when they are given the access to develop their skills and abilities in a way that the unemployed and the disadvantaged in this country, and particularly the children of those people, do not have at the moment. They will feel more independent and free when they feel they have more influence over their affairs and the future directions of this country; when they feel that they are able to influence the direction of this country. They cannot do this when the system aimed at helping them becomes progressively more complex and restrictive. They cannot feel this way when they see our resources being handed over to others. They cannot feel this way when they see an electoral system such as ours at the moment.
I believe that our economic system and our electoral system must be changed in the ways illustrated by many spokesmen from this side of the House. In the meantime, we must remove the complexities, the difficulties, and the unfairness which are obvious not only to the Opposition but also to all those who comment on the social security system in this country. When an attempt is made to do that perhaps we will be able to believe the words mouthed in the Speech produced by the Prime Minister.
– Before addressing myself to the matter before the Chair, I congratulate you, Mr Acting Deputy President, on your elevation to the position of Temporary Chairman of Committees. I am sure you will bring decorum to this place. I have known you for a long time and know your attitude towards the Standing Orders. As Opposition Whip you always were a stickler for observing the Standing Orders. You instructed the senators you served as Whip to obey the Standing Orders to the letter. We endeavoured to do that. As I have said, I am sure that you will bring great decorum to this place. I hope you will never find yourself in a position in which you have to adopt remedial measures. I would hate to see myself in a position in which you may have to order the use of the sword that we have in this place. As I have often said, I would not like to have to go out of this place on the end of that sword, although I have always looked forward to the Australian Labor Party getting a majority in this place so that we can dispose of that weapon of war. I told that to the President who brought in in here. I am afraid, because of the turn of events, that is one desire I will never see fulfilled. I congratulate you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I am sure you will do a good job in the position you hold.
Once again, we are debating a speech delivered by the Governor-General on behalf of the Liberal-National Country Party Government. We have had to listen to Government senators, one after the other, claim that the Speech was of the Governor-General’s desire and making. Of course, we on this side of the chamber know differently. All that the Governor-General had to do in this place on Tuesday was to deliver a speech which was concocted by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). I must say that the Governor-General delivered it with great deliberation, calmness and ability - a much better delivery than that of one other Governor-General. On that occasion I was not in the chamber to hear the Governor-General’s Speech. I think it was in 1976 that I did not deign to come into this place when the Speech was delivered because of the way in which the then Government took office. I stayed outside. However, I was in the chamber this time to hear the Speech and I was very impressed with the way in which the Governor-General delivered it, although I was not very impressed with its contents.
In view of what has occurred since the Government parties made their policy speeches in 1975, 1977 and 1980, I am of the firm opinion that the time has now arrived when Governors-General should be given the freedom to comment on the previous Speeches they have been called upon to deliver on behalf of a government that has been returned to office, as this one has, with a trail of broken promises behind it. I will refer to some of the things the Governor-General had to say early in 1978 when he delivered his Speech after the 1977 election. Whilst the Speech delivered on Tuesday is two pages shorter than the Speech delivered in 1978, in many instances it is a repetition of what the Governor-General had to say on behalf of the Government in 1978. Many of the things he said then he has had to repeat because they have not been carried out.
Before I deal with that, I shall make some brief comments about the remarks made tonight by Senator Kilgariff. He said that the Senate should be less rushed and ought to give a little more thought to the matters before it. That is what the Opposition has advocated since it has been sitting on this side of the chamber - since the election of 1975. We find that the Government is always in a mad rush to get its legislation through and does not leave sufficient time for proper deliberation of its legislation. On many occasions I have said that when the Liberal Party is in government is uses this House as a rubber stamp and that when the Labor Party is in government the Liberal Party uses this place as a House of frustration for the Labor Government. Perusal of the record will bear that out. Senator Kilgariff also said, repeating what most of his colleagues on the Government side said, that the GovernorGeneral’s Speech was a most humane one. What the honourable senator should have said was that the Speech was delivered by a humane man. I will not agree with Senator Kilgariff that the Speech was humane, and I shall refer to some of the matters which cause me great concern.
Senator Kilgariff went on to slate the unions, as is the want of many honourable senators who sit on that side of the chamber. He accused the unions of being the cause of the high level of unemployment that has been created in this country since the present Government was elected to office. Year by year we have seen a gradual increase in the number of people who cannot find jobs. He went on to say that some unions go out on strike at the drop of a hat, and he suggested that secret ballots ought to be held before a strike is held. He did not go on to say that a secret ballot ought to be held before people decide to go back to work after a strike because he knows what chaos that would create. For example, if a nationwide strike were held by a Federal union and it was necessary to hold a secret ballot because the members had decided that the reason for their strike had been resolved to their satisfaction and they wanted to go back to work, it could take two or three weeks to hold the ballot. All that time would be wasted and the country would drag to a standstill. Whilst senators opposite are prepared to criticise the unions if they go out on strike without holding a secret ballot, they make no mention of holding a secret ballot to get the men back to work. We all know that would not work. My experience as a trade unionist over many years is that most workers do not go on strike at the drop of a hat; they are provoked into it over a long period. They resort to strike action only after negotiations with their employers have broken down. The sooner that honourable senators who sit opposite get that into their heads the better.
One other matter concerns me, in view of the remarks made by honourable senators opposite about the Speech of the Governor-General, who is the representative of the Crown in Australia. Some years ago Mr Sinclair talked about ‘the Pommie disease’ when slating the trade union movement. We know that his criticism was levelled at people from Great Britain who came to this country and who, because of their great trade union background and the apathy of some Australian trade union members, took on the jobs of secretaries to trade unions. As people who had been through the mill in Great Britain over the years they knew what it was like to suffer at the hand of the Tories and the capitalistic class. They came out here and were prepared and had the courage to take on the jobs as union secretaries or shop stewards. Yet people like Mr Sinclair, who I guess has never done a day’s work in his life and who has never had a blister or callous on his hands, talks about the ‘Pommie disease’. Did we hear any honourable senators support him when the Governor-General delivered a speech on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, who I suppose could be referred to by most people in endearing terms as a Pommie? Of course they did not. They use the term ‘Pommie’ only to denigrate and slander good trade union members in this country, lt is time they gave up using the trade union movement as a whipping boy in trying to bolster up their own weaknesses; it is time they tried to govern this country for the benefit of all.
One of the things said by the Governor-General in his Speech on Tuesday - of course, they are not his words but those of the Prime Minister - was this:
It is evident in the commitment of my Government to a range of social security and welfare measures which will strengthen the family and through it the basic social fabric of this country.
Let us examine what has happened. I made a very grave error during the Budget debate when I congratulated the then Minister for Social Security, Senator Guilfoyle, for having taken heed of my pleas made over a great number of years to raise the income limit of pensioners before they lost their concession entitlements. Much to my dismay, I found that the Minister had not raised the income level where it was most needed; that is, on age pensions. She had raised the level for people in receipt of the unemployment benefit and for those people in receipt of sickness benefits. They can now earn a little more before their unemployment or sickness benefits are reduced. But she did not raise the ceiling for incomes for old age pensioners. I regret that I now have to retract the congratulations I gave to the Minister on that occasion because I now find, as I do in October and November of every year, that many people who have lost their concession cards are coming to my office in South Australia.
In South Australia every October retired people who worked for a State government instrumentality receive increases in their superannuation payments - some of them much smaller than others - because of the rise in the cost of living. Because they have received an increase of possibly $1 or $1.50 a week in their superannuation payments as a result of a rise in the cost of living, which under this Government is continually going up, they find that they lose their concession cards. People who receive an increase of $1.50 a week, which is $75 a year, find that they lose their telephone rental concession, their free travel concession, their motor registration concession- which was given by a State Labor government in South Australia - and, most important of all, their 60 per cent concession on council rates on sewerage rates and on water rates which was introduced by the Dunstan Labor Government. Instead of benefiting from an increase in their State superannuation payments to endeavour to cope with the cost of living, they are hundreds and hundreds of dollars down the drain.
I would have thought that this Government, having used those words in the last two Speeches which the Governor-General delivered on its behalf, would have had some interest in the welfare of the underprivileged people of this country and would have done something about it. I regret that I have to retract tonight the congratulations that I offered to Senator Guilfoyle when I falsely believed that she had lifted the income ceiling and that old age pensioners were going to benefit. The only people who will benefit are those on unemployment benefit and those on sickness benefit. That is a tragedy. Unfortunately we will have to wait another three years before that situation is rectified because we have a government which is heartless with regard to people on pensions. I see Senator Chaney shaking his head. We might have somebody in that position who is not as heartless as the previous occupants of the office. I hope that Senator Chaney will take some heed of my pleas. When the next Appropriation Bills come down after Christmas, he might be able to see his way clear to lifting the income ceiling for old age pensioners so that they can enjoy some of the last years of their lives without losing the concessions which they paid for over the years through income taxes.
The Governor-General, when talking in his Speech of almost three years ago upon the Government’s priorities, said:
My Government’s priorities are clear. They are:
To build on the progress we have made in the last two years, defeat inflation and unemployment, and restore full economic health to our country.
That was not in this year’s Governor-General’s Speech. That was in the Speech of some three years ago. What has happened in the meantime? The economy of the country has got much worse; inflation is on the increase; and unemployment is increasing rapidly. Yet the Governor-General’s Speech of last Tuesday repeated those pious words. On behalf of the Government, the Governor-General, when talking about the economic strategy, said:
This strategy has already resulted in an encouraging pick-up in activity and employment and a marked strengthening in business investment.
Fancy asking the Governor-General of this country to mouth those words here when Mr Fraser knew full well that they were untrue! To support that claim, one need look only at the latest Bureau of Statistics figures which were issued on 6 September, less than three weeks before the Governor-General uttered those words on behalf of the Government; and the Government ought to be ashamed of itself for asking him to mislead this chamber. The latest figures in the Bureau’s bulletin are the September figures because the October figures cited are only provisional and can vary by anything up to 6 per cent. So I will cite the September figures.
In September 1979, 21,200 males between 15 and 19 years of age were looking for work. What do we find in September of this year when this Government asked the Governor-General to say that employment is on the pick-up? We find that there is an increase of 3,700 - that is, the figures have gone from 21,200 to 24,900 in just 12 months. Yet the very words that the GovernorGeneral had to use on behalf of this Government to mislead the people again when the proceedings were being broadcast were that employment was picking up. In September 1979, a total of 52,700 males aged 1 5 to 1 9 years were out of work, and in September this year the figure was 58,000 - another great increase. In September 1979, 1 32,000 males aged 20 years and over were out of work and in September of this year 1 39,900 males in that age group did not have a job. If we look at the grand total, we find that, in September 1979, 201,600 males were looking for a job and that in September of this year the figure was 2 1 1 , 1 00.
There we have a complete denial of the words which the Governor-General was forced to use by a government which is not backward in using and manipulating Governors-General to bring about its desires. We saw it happen in 1975. I thought then that we would never see it happen again. But the Government does it in a very subtle way now. lt could not use this Governor-General as it used the previous one because he is a man of higher principle. In September 1979, there were 396,500 people of all ages and both sexes out of work. In September 1980, 405,500 people were looking for work - a rapid increase. Here is a GovernorGeneral who has again been manipulated in a subtle way by Mr Fraser who is on record as not being backward in using Governors-General to suit his own ends. I only hope that the people of Australia will some day wake up to him. On 18 October they went part-way. I am quite confident that, at the next opportunity given to the electors at the ballot box, they will go all the way and that a Labor government will be back in office.
One of the main parts of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech three years ago concerned the Government’s priorities, one of which was to ‘protect and enhance the rights and civil liberties of every Australian’. What a joke that was. Even my illustrious colleague Senator Georges, who is at present occupying the chair, knows that there are no civil rights for people who want to protest in that banana republic of Queensland because he has suffered under it. The people of Noonkanbah know that there are no civil rights and liberties for them when they want to put a case. Those things were said in the Governor-General’s Speech almost three years ago on behalf of the Government which has made no move at all to rectify the situation.
– Lies, lies, lies.
– I cannot use those words, as Senator Primmer knows. I cannot even quote them from a newspaper. I got into serious trouble for quoting from the Illawarra Mercury in this place. That happened so long ago now that I do not know whether it was earlier this year or last year. But I will not fall into the trap now and put my colleague in the position of having to take remedial action because I want to get some things on the record tonight. Although I agree with Senator Primmer, I will not utter those words. I could go through the Governor-General’s Speech of some three years ago paragraph by paragraph and pick out many things which have not been put into effect by this Government, and I am sure that the Government will not even put into effect the things said in the Speech delivered here on its behalf on Tuesday last. I wish to make another point on that before I come to some of the main things I want to talk about. The Governor-General, in his Speech of three years ago on behalf of the Government, said:
The States will be substantially assisted in upgrading essential public services.
I have seen no illustration of public services being updated. They have been curtailed wherever we look. A razor gang has now been set up to curtail the public servants themselves. 1 hate to think what will be the outcome of that review. On behalf of the Government, the Governor-General said:
Legislation will be introduced to provide further annual grants for the improvement of State railways, urban transport, roads and water resources.
One has only to go to my State of South Australia to see how much money has been provided to upgrade railway services. They are being closed down. As I said in this chamber when speaking on the financial report of the Australian National Railways Commission, the small man is being turned away from the railways and he has to use private transport. The Government is turning people away from the railways by its policy that the user must pay. It does not matter about its being a service to the community. So long as an organisation shows a profit it does not matter whether it gives service to the people or whether 25 or 30 per cent of the employees are retrenched, which is making some of the country towns in South Australia ghost towns. That is the policy of the Government, despite the Governor-General’s Speech of three years ago. The Government talks about urban transport, roads and water resources. One has only to attend some of the local government meetings in my State and talk to people engaged in local government to see what they think about the money that this Government has allocated for urban roads. They will tell a different story.
We have become used to Government members. I think that they have caught a disease. I will not use the same words as Mr Sinclair used. They have caught the Fraser disease of misleading people. I was astounded last night to hear an honourable senator who has only a short time left to serve in this place make false claims, particularly with regard to water resources. I refer to Senator Neal. I hoped that he would be in the chamber tonight to hear what I have to say to prove to him that the words he uttered last night were false. Unfortunately, the proceedings of the Senate were being broadcast. Probably many people heard what he said. They may not read what I am saying in rebuttal. Senator Neal talked about the River Murray and the problems being experienced with the quality and quantity of the water. He referred to the River Murray Waters Agreement, a new agreement about to be signed by the Commonwealth, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, and said:
I am proud to say that this revised agreement is largely the initiative of John Sullivan -
I guess that is the John Sullivan who was the honourable member for Riverina for a short while. I understand that the new member for
Riverina (Mr Hicks) uttered practically the same words in the other place today in his maiden speech. I was told that. I have not read the speech. I will do so tomorrow. Senator Neal said:
He is no longer a senator; he too lost his seat -
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 1 976. 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.
Let us look at the truth. If we look at the interim report of the River Murray Working Party of September 1973 as tabled in the Parliament we will see who set it up to look at the problems of the River Murray. I refer to page 6 of that report. Under the heading ‘Terms of Reference and Membership of the Working Party’ it states:
That was the Labor Premier, Don Dunstan - a meeting was held between the Prime Minister-
That was Prime Minister Whitlam in a Labor Government - and the Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia on the River Murray, the powers of the River Murray Commission and problems of water quality in the River Murray. The meeting agreed to establish a working party of senior officials of the Australian and State governments concerned with the following Terms of Reference:
In 1973 the Premier of South Australia, a Labor Premier, in co-operation with a Labor Prime Minister and the Premiers of two other States, set up the River Murray Working Party, giving it terms of reference to inquire into problems of the River Murray.
– That was three years before the era that Senator Neal talked about.
– That is right. For 23 years before that we had a Liberal-Country Party government. What did it do about controlling the salinity and quality of the River Murray? It did absolutely nothing. It took a State Labor Premier and a Labor Prime Minister to do something. Yet, when the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, Government senators turn out untruths and try to hoodwink the people in the Murray Valley. I am sure that many people in that area are well aware of the facts. Senator Neal continued:
There are some very pressing problems to which the River Murray Commission will have to attend. Previously the river was a no-man’s land to all interests, lt was operated only by a piecemeal appraoch
He told the truth then. It was a no-man’s land prior to the election of the Whitlam Government and before Don Dunstan got people from the various States to come forward with some solutions to the problem. I now refer to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources entitled ‘Australia’s Water Resources - The Commonwealth’s Role’. In relation to the terms of reference of the Committee the report states:
On 8 December 1 976 the Senate referred to the Committee the following matter for investigation and report:
The Commonwealth’s role in the assessment, planning, development and management of Australia’s water resources, having particular regard to:
the diverse responsibility of the Commonwealth and the States, and
the National Water Policy Statement recently endorsed by the Australian Water Resources Council.
Those terms of reference were given to the Committee at about the same time as Senator Neal claims that Mr Anthony got off his backside and went along the River Murray to talk to people. He did so only after the terms of reference had been given to the Senate Standing Committee of which I happen to be a member and of which my colleague Senator Robertson, who is in the chamber, was also a member. The Committee travelled far and wide throughout Australia. Some of our most important visits were to the Wakool area and the Sunraysia district to look at the devastation in those areas because of salinity problems. Senator Neal referred to ex-Senator Tehan, Bruce Lloyd and Peter Fisher. To refresh my memory, I looked at the report of the Committee to find out which individuals and organisations made written submissions to the Committee. None of the people to whom Senator Neal referred made a submission. I think Peter Fisher may have attended a public hearing that we held in Mildura. The Goulburn Waranga Irrigators League of Echuca, Victoria made a submission. I do not know whether any members of that organisation were mentioned by Senator Neal. The Watershed Association of Victoria and the Kerang Irrigation Region Salinity Action Committee made submissions. Then there were submissions from other organisations. But nowhere can I find the names of any of those people closely associated with or identified as having made a submission to our Committee when it looked at the problems of Australian water resources.
As I said, one has to be very careful when one starts to make claims in this chamber about having done things to assist people when somebody who has a long memory is listening and knows the facts. I go back again to October 1973 after that working party set up that committee of Ministers from the various States to have a look at our problems. I refer to a document entitled ‘A National Approach to Water Resources Management, a Statement of Australian Government Policy by the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, the Hon. Moss Cass, M.P.’, dated 10 October 1973. So it is no good people getting up in this place and claiming that they initiated these inquiries and that they were the first to show any concern about the quality of the River Murray. The facts are there in that document if anyone would like to go down to the Journals, Records and Bills Office to get it. Then, of course, there is also the report of the Steering Committee of the River Murray Working Party, the committee of Ministers which reported in October 1975 and which tabled the report in the Parliament the next year. Honourable senators will recall my repeated question to the then Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Withers, to try to get a copy of that report. We could not get it. There are many recommendations in that report. That is the final report of the Committee which was set up at the behest of Don Dunstan and Gough Whitlam. I recommend to anybody who may read the Hansard to have a look at page 91 3 of the recommendations made by an organisation which was instigated by a Labor Premier and a Labor Prime Minister. But we go further than that and look to the State of South Australia. I shall refer to a Press release put out by the then Minister of Public Works and Deputy Premier of South Australia, Des Corcoran, on 1 5 June 1 977. In that five page document is set out the whole history of when the South Australian Labor Government started to do something about getting better water quality in the River Murray. Yet one now reads daily of the outbursts of Mr Arnold, who is the Liberal Minister of Water Resources in South Australia, claiming that nothing was done in South Australia under the previous Administration to give South Australia a better water quality. Either he has a short memory or the advisers from his Department are not giving him the right information. This document of Mr Corcoran ‘s goes right back to 1970 - that is 10 years ago- when the then Labor Government, after the defeat of the Hall Government, set about doing something in order to get a better quality of water in the River Murray. All honourable senators are conversant, I think, with the Dartmouth Dam agreement when South Australia was sold out in regard to the quality of water. Great play was made about the extra quantity of water that Steele Hall, the then Premier, got. But there was nothing at all in the agreement about the quality of water for South Australia. They are having great difficulty even in getting the quota of water out of the dam at Dartmouth because of the bottleneck which is created in the Mitta Mitta and then trying to get it down into the Hume Reservoir and further down into South Australia. 1 think the record of both the State Labor Government in South Australia and of the Whitlam Labor Government here in Canberra is unsurpassed in trying to do something about water quality. I hope that we do not hear any more false claims, made by people who sit opposite, that it was people of their political persuasion who endeavoured to do something about water quality. Even the Murray Valley League, in a publication called Riverlander, in 1979, published details of a $23m plan to reduce the River Murray’s salinity. The publication refers to that very thing that I have just mentioned, namely, a Press statement made by Des Corcoran, (t referred to it again in this month’s issue, October 1980. The article is headed ‘S.A.’s Attack on Salinity’ and it discusses the statement made by Des Corcoran in 1979 and what the South Australian Government was endeavouring to do about water quality.
I refer further back in time to the Dartmouth Dam. I think I have stated in the Parliament before that one of the things that astounded me when I attended the laying of the foundation stone by Governor-General Hasluck on 15 February 1973 was that Mr Freudenstein, who was the then Minister for Water Resources in the New South Wales Liberal Government, said that one of the good features of Dartmouth was that it would wash all the salt down into South Australia. He is on record as saying that. Of course, that is what the Liberal Government wanted to do at that time. I am afraid that if some curbs are not put on the now Labor Government in New South Wales that might still go on because there is a dispute now about the massive increase in the rate of issue of irrigation licences in New South Wales. I hope that common sense will prevail and that, in the interests of every person who depends on the River Murray, we will not see the river polluted any more because one only has to look at the Wakool area to see the devastation that has been created there.
I have always claimed that we were sold out by Steele Hall when he sacrificed Chowilla and it is something which we might have to look at one of these days, despite all the criticisms of it now. But what was not said at the time he signed that agreement was that negotiations were underway to construct a hydro-electric scheme at Dartmouth. Nobody in South Australia was told about that or they would not have been hailing Steele Hall as a hero. I went to no end of trouble to get a copy of that feasibility study when I first became a member of Parliament. My ex-colleague, in the Senate, Senator Drury, was unable to obtain it, despite many questions, but through perserverance - through questions in the Senate and at Estimates commitees - I finally got a report of it, and I have it here. It is a report on the feasibility study for a hydro-electric scheme at Dartmouth. So that wily old bird, Henry Bolte, pulled the wool over the eyes of Steele Hall. He got an electricity scheme to supplement his Kiewa Valley scheme so that there would be cheaper electricity in Victoria. Once again, as with the hydro-electric scheme on the Snowy River, South Australia gets no benefit in relation to power from either of those schemes. New South Wales and Victoria benefit from the Snowy, and Victoria alone benefits from the scheme that is built into the Dartmouth Dam.
I get back to politics in the main. In the last election false advertising was engaged in by the Liberal Government. It seems that the Liberal Party never ceases to stop using false advertising. In South Australia, as we found in the last State election in 1979, it could not get any well-known identities in the State to authorise it’s misleading advertising. We found that during the last State election the Liberal Party had to go to Kangaroo Island to get a chap by the name of Buick to authorise full page advertisements which cost a mint of money. He authorised some of them again this year during the Federal election. I have shown honourable senators a full page advertisement from the Adelaide Advertiser of Monday 13 October, frightening the daylights out of women. It frightens the daylights out of them when it states’:
The real crunch of this election is whether your family will still have their jobs next week!
We know that many of them have lost their jobs year in and year out since 1975 under this Government. The article further states:
In the 5 years under Liberal . . . Over 200,000 genuine jobs have developed over the last year.
Either the Liberal Party is wrong in that advertisement or the Australian Bureau of Statistics is wrong in the figures I have just quoted. This advertisement was authorised by a Mrs Gae Sorensen of Tobruk Avenue, Cremorne, New South Wales. Probably, some of the advertisements that appeared in the New South Wales papers were authorised by somebody on Flinders Island, or Kangaroo Island, or in South Australia so that they could not be identified readily by the local people. There is another advertisement, the independent election advertisement. The same symbols are on the bottom of the page. This was in the Adelaide News of Friday, 1 7 October, the day before the election. It states:
Your job depends on your employer’s survival. Will Labor’s policies put him out of business? Don’t take the risk. Vote Liberal.
This is inserted by a large group of businessmen vitally concerned with keeping a responsible Liberal Government in Canberra, lt is Authorised by D. Hill of 39 The Esplanade, South Perth.
The Liberals are not prepared to authorise and put their names to that type of filthy advertising. They get some stooge to do so. They do it repeatedly. If members of the Labor Party were to do that they would be vilified from one end of the country to the other. That is not the end of it. They even resorted to some false advertising in the local Press. I refer to two advertisements which appeared in the last week of the election in the Riverland papers in South Australia. They caused me great concern because neither I nor my colleagues in the Senate or in the South Australian Legislative Council had any opportunity to reply. One of these identical advertisements appeared in the Murray Pioneer, which was printed at Renmark on 16 October, and the other in the Loxton News which was printed the day before. They both urged a vote for Geoff Giles, in the seat of Wakefield, Senator Don Jessop and the Liberal team. They were authorised by the Campaign Director, Don Willett.
A photograph of Geoff Giles also appeared. What did the Liberals say in the advertisement? They completely mishandled the truth. They stated:
Where was the Labor Party? Two important public meetings were held in Riverland recently:
. The Loxton rail terminal meeting in Berry.
The Riverland cannery meeting at Renmark.
Wouldn’t you think that just one Australian Labor Party senator or Member of the Legislative Council could have attended - or perhaps their candidate for Wakefield! This lack of attention by elected representatives has made the name of Labor a bad joke in rural areas. The Fraser Government has: citrus protection -
Of course, citrus protection comes under State legislation. The only protection that this Government could give, if it were prepared to do so, to the citrus industry would be to put some high tariff on the import of citrus juices. We are importing more citrus juices into this country now than we have ever done in our history. This has a marked effect on the marketing ability of people who grow fresh citrus in the Riverland.
The next claim is a real joke. The Liberals claim that they lowered the brandy excise. I suppose that if we want to be technical about it they have done so. But they did not say that they increased the brandy excise by 83 per cent, as you are well aware, Mr President, in the 1978 Budget and then reduced it by about eight per cent afterwards. I suppose in one way we cannot really blame them for telling a real untruth, but they did not say that they increased the excise by 83 per cent before they decreased it by a miserably small percentage. I well recall one of our South Australian senators saying in this place that he would not be a credible Liberal if he stood by and saw that excise imposed on the brandy grape growers in South Australia. He was given headlines in the Riverland papers. I have quoted the remarks about this brave Liberal senator from South Australia in the Senate previously.
But what happened when the relevant Excise Bill was introduced into this chamber and when I was charged with moving an amendment to it to leave the excise at the status quo.’ What did Senator Teague and his South Australian colleagues do then? They voted for the increase. After misleading the people in the Riverland and saying that he would not be a credible Liberal if he stood for the imposition of that excise, Senator Teague voted for the increase. That is on the record; but the Liberals say in this advertisement that they have lowered the brandy excise. They talk about the tax rebate on water research and reticulation.
– What about putting an excise on wine, Senator?
– Senator MacGibbon has raised a very interesting matter. The only Government which put an excise on wine was the Gorton Liberal Government. It was only through the continued agitation of such people as Al Grassby, Dr Patterson, Normie Foster and others of us who repeatedly attended meetings in the Riverland that forced the Gorton Government to reduce the excise by half.
What was the first action of Gough Whitlam when we came to power in December 1972? He removed the excise. It was Senator MacGibbon’s Government which imposed the excise. He was not in this Senate then. I have no doubt that he would have supported that excise when it was imposed, lt was a Liberal Country Party government which imposed the excise. I must quote what Mr Giles said about this because it is a gem. When talking about the provisions for the Riverland in the last Budget he said:
One of the great things about the Budget was that it did not contain a mini-measure to put an excise on wine.
It contained nothing for the people; all it did was not impose an excise. How did that help the people when they had a surplus of grapes in the Riverland? Senator MacGibbon ought to deal with something about which he has some knowledge. He should not talk to me about fruit, grapes or anything of that kind in the Riverland. I think I know a little more about it than he does. I return to this misleading advertisement. It asked where the Labor senators were. What did they do? It stated that they were a bad joke in country areas. It was only on 9 September, a month before this advertisement was published, that I asked the following question in the Senate about the problems of the fruit growers in the Riverland:
I address my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Did the South Australian Premier, Mr Tonkin, have the approval of the Treasurer before announcing recently that all unsecured trade creditors of the Riverland Fruit Products Cannery at Berri in South Australia prior to 25 June of this year would be requested to accept an arrangement whereby they would receive an amount of 50c in the dollar as immediate payment? Further, in view of the desperate financial situation of many fruit growers and the uncertainty of employment for cannery employees in the Riverland, has the Government yet made any decision on my requests of 3 November 1976, 22 February 1977 and 29 March 1977 to introduce amending legislation to convert its half share of the $540,000 loan to the cannery to a grant as did the Dunstan Labor Government in 1976?
Senator Carrick, in reply, said:
I will bring that question to the attention of the Treasurer.
I received a couple of letters after we rose for the recess. One of them, which was from the Treasurer and dated 7 October, was very interesting. It was addressed to me in my office at 6 Third Street, Murray Bridge, lt stated:
Dear Senator McLaren, 1 refer to your question without notice of 9 September 1980 to Senator Carrick as Minister representing me in the Senate concerning the financial administration of the Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd at Berri. As you know, the Senator indicated that he would bring your question to my attention.
The Commonw.Hh loan to which you refer in your question was made under the States Grants (Fruit Canneries) Act 1 976, the administration of which is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Primary Industry. If consideration were to be given to any amendment of the existing terms and conditions of the loan assistance it would be given in the first instance by the Minister for Primary Industry, in consultation as necessary with the Minister for Finance. Accordingly. I am forwarding a copy of this letter to Mr Nixon with a request that he provides you direct with any information he might have on the matters raised in your question.
As to the part of the question specifically addressed to me, I have had no contact with the South Australian Premier about payments to unsecured trade creditors of the Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd. 1 am also sending a copy of this reply to Senator Carrick and to the Minister for Finance for their information.
Yours sincerely, JOHN HOWARD
So we see that whilst Mr Tonkin was obliged under the Act to have consultations with the Treasurer before he took that action, Mr Howard in his letter to me stated that no consultation whatever took place. I also received a letter from Mr Nixon, the Minister for Primary Industry, written in Canberra and dated 30 October. It stated:
Dear Senator McLaren,
I refer to your question without notice of 9 September 1 980 directed to my colleague in the Senate, Senator Carrick, concerning the current financial situation of the Riverland cannery in South Australia.
The Treasurer, to whom your question was originally referred, has asked me to reply to the part of your question concerning the Commonwealth loan advanced to the Riverland cannery under the States Grants (Fruit Canneries) Act 1976 and matched by the State Government. In respect of the 1 976 Commonwealth loan you asked whether the Government had made any decision on converting the loan to a grant, as was done in October 1976 by the South Australian Government in respect of its share of the loan.
As you were advised by the former Minister for Primary Industry in November 1976, there is no discretion under the legislation for the Commonwealth to convert the loan to the Riverland cannery to a grant. However, the Commonwealth is fully aware of the financial difficulties which have been experienced by the cannery in recent years and, in particular, the financial hardship faced by growers. In view of this situation, the Commonwealth has on three occasions granted deferments in relation to the Riverland cannery’s repayment obligations under the 1976 loan to enable it to make payments to growers for fruit.
The Riverland cannery is now the only cannery which received loan monies from the Commonwealth in 1976 and has still to complete repayments on the loan. The next repayment instalment (the third) is due by 31 December this year. All other canneries have repaid their loans in full.
The letter was signed by P. J. Nixon, Minister for Primary Industry. There is conclusive proof that over the years I have continually made representations on behalf of the people in the Riverland of South Australia. Yet we find this misleading advertisement appearing in the newspaper, authorised by the Liberal Party and bearing a photograph of Mr Giles. Of course, Mr Giles criticised members of the Australian Labor Party for not attending a meeting which was held to discuss the problems. As a result of my inquiries, Mr Deakin, who is the secretary of the Canning Fruit Growers Association in South Australia, informed me that no invitations were issued other than to the local members. The local members were designated to be Mr Giles and Mr Arnold, who is turn invited some of their colleagues. We did not even know that the meeting was on. We were not told about it. Yet an authorised advertisement of the Liberal Party accuses us of not being prepared to attend the meeting and face these people.
What sort of a party are we dealing with when it stoops to tactics such as that? Not only did the Liberal Party accuse me as a senator, it also accused Mr Brian Chatterton, the former Minister of Agriculture in South Australia, who did everything possible in his capacity as Minister to assist the people in the Riverland. He got word of this meeting from a fruit grower some time late in the afternoon. It was too late for him to get there, and if, by some miracle, he could have got there he had another commitment which he could not cancel. He sent a telegram explaining his inability to attend the meeting and setting out the Labor Opposition’s policy and what we would do to help the Riverland. However, the people did not deem to read it out. They did not read the full text of the telegram at that meeting. All they said was that they had received a telegram from Mr Brian Chatterton, MLC, advising that he could not be present at the meeting.
– Who was chairing the meeting?
– I would have to look at the record to establish who was chairing the meeting. The local people would know because we publicised this far and wide. They know about it.
– It was a set-up.
– Of course it was a set-up. Then, of course, there was the railway meeting which was referred to by Mr Giles. A meeting was held at Berri regarding the Loxton rail terminal, and it was stated that we did not deign to attend that meeting. In my wisdom I rang the Australian National Railways Commission and spoke to the publicity officer. I wanted to find out who were the people invited to that meeting. I was informed by a high authority in the ANR that Mr Jim Porter, the Liberal member for Barker, Mr Geoff Giles, the Liberal member for Wakefield; Mr Arnold, the State member for Chaffey, and the Minister of Water Resources in that State; Mr Lewis, the member for Mallee, and Mr Wilson, the State Minister of Transport had been invited. They were the only members of parliament who received an official invitation to attend that meeting at Berri dealing with the setting up of the Loxton rail terminal. No Labor member was ever advised that the meeting was on. Yet we have this blasted advertisement appearing in the newspaper. As I say, it is untruthful.
I took the opportunity to go to Kadina at the declaration of the poll and confronted Geoff Giles in person to make him aware of my feelings and my party’s feelings, and of how the people were misinformed about our intentions. I went to him. I did not go behind his back; I told him there. After the declaration of the poll he said to me: ‘You took an unfair advantage of me, Geoff. I did not have the right of reply.’ He had the first option by his misleading advertising, and then he wanted to come back for another chop. I do not go behind Geoff Giles’s back to tell him what I think about some of the things he has done, and I did not do so then. The upshot of it was that after the election I had to write to the two local newspapers. I do not get the Loxton News, but my letter did not appear in the Murray Pioneer, which I saw. I wrote to both editors, and I will read the letter on to the record. The letter, which is dated 24 October 1980, states:
I refer to the Liberal Party Election Advertisement in your paper of 1 6 October 1 980–
Of course, the Loxton News was dated 1 5 October 1980- which was in keeping with the majority of misleading advertising by this Party during the Election Campaign.
Labor members of Parliament at both the Federal and State level at all times give full attention and service to people who live in rural areas. Unlike the Member for Wakefield Mr Giles and the Member for Barker Mr Porter who neither live or have an office in their electorates. Mr Wallis, the Labor Member for Grey and myself both live in the country and have our Electorate Offices there to give a full time service to country residents.
Unlike Liberal members I did not receive an invitation from either A.N.R. or the S.A. Canning Fruit Growers Association to attend the meetings referred to in the Advertisement.
However a perusal of the Senate Hansard will reveal that over the past years I have repeatedly sought assistance from the Federal Government of which Mr Giles is a member for the Riverland Cannery but a deaf ear has been turned to my pleas on every occasion.
In respect to Country Railway services there are many residents in the Murray Mallee and the Riverland who will testify to my efforts on their behalf.
The ball is well and truly in the court of Mr Giles, Liberal Party Senators and Members of the State Government to take the necessary action to assist the people whose votes they woo’ed by using untruths and inuendo in the Election Advertisement I have referred to.
I and my Parliamentary Party Colleagues have a clear conscience as well as an integrity that is untarnished and we are proud of that fact.
A.L.P. Senator for South Australia
That is not the end of the story. When the Labor Government came to office in 1972 the Riverland Cannery in South Australia was in desperate straits because of the revaluation of the South African rand. Senator Arnold Drury, Senator Cameron, Mr Chris Hurford - I think there was someone else - and myself met a deputation of canned fruit growers in Adelaide. We heard about their problems, and it was left to Senator Cameron and I to make representations to the then Minister for Primary Industry, Senator Wriedt. We put a case to him, and because of our representations on behalf of the canned fruit growers in the Riverland we were able to eliminate that loan which had been made to the Riverland Cannery and to John Products. Quite a large amount of money was wiped off by the Labor Government to assist those people.
In this Parliament I continually request the Government to convert that portion of the Commonwealth loan to a direct grant to the Riverland Cannery to help it out of its problems, as did Don Dunstan. The State Labor Government was able to carry the burden to help those people, but this Government will not do it. We saw fit to do it when we were in office. This penny pinching Government is prepared to go out and mislead the people into believing that whilst it has the interests of primary producers, fruit growers, country dwellers, and so on at heart, the Labor Party members could not care less about them. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. On every occasion on which we have been approached to make representations on behalf of country people, whether they be primary producers or just country workers, we put the case for them and we do not give up. As I have said, my pleas have fallen on deaf ears, as have the pleas of my colleagues Senator Cavanagh and Senator Bishop. Senator Bishop has spoken on behalf of the railway workers. Only the other day Senator Bishop and I were at a gathering of people in a very sad circumstance and we were talking about the possible demise of the country town of Peterborough because of the actions of this Government in running down the country rail services.
These are the matters that we are prepared to put forward. When we are in government we are prepared to put our money where our mouth is.
We do something to help the people. We do not go around mouthing platitudes to win votes and then do nothing about it when we get into government. We do not wait until the next election comes along and then use false advertising to hoodwink unthinking people. We do not say: ‘We of the Liberal Party are the people the electors should vote for. We will look after your interests. The Labor Party could not care less’. Let us look at what Mr Giles said in his advertisement. He said:
The lack of attention by elected representatives has made the name of Labor a bad joke in rural areas.
How sick can a person get when he has to stoop to that? He has one of the biggest majorities of any member in the Federal Parliament, and yet he stoops to those dirty rotten tactics. Why did he do it? He did it because the Government wanted to try to win the third Liberal seat. It did not win the seat, but it kept it away from the Labor Party. Many of the votes that would have gone to the Labor Party in the rural areas because of what it has done for the people, particularly under the State Labor Government, probably went to the Australian Democrats. Now those people who have read the newspapers in recent days are probably having some misgivings. They can see that the Liberal Party is still using devious tactics and is making approaches to the person who won the fifth seat in South Australia, trying to woo her into rejoining the Liberal Party, of which she was a member many years ago. It is unfortunate that my time is almost up because I have a lot more criticisms to make of this Government. As I said when I began, I am very disappointed that this Government used the Governor-General to put down a speech in this Parliament which contains so many untruths.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise to highlight the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government in relation to industrial safety particularly in respect of the operation of cranes. I say at the outset that most members of the Opposition were very perturbed about a recent Cabinet change because industrial safety can be a source of industrial confrontation. We of the Opposition regret the restructuring of the Industrial Relations portfolio which has had removed from its ambit industrial safety. Previously it was the responsibility of the Minister for Productivity, Mr Newman, who had some affinity with his former portfolio. The responsibility has now been given to the Minister for Science and Technology, the Honourable David Thomson. I have no quarrel with that Minister. My relations with him have been very good in relation to the whaling legislation and matters of that nature. But I know that the trade union movement feels that industrial safety is wrapped up in the broad area of the portfolio now held by the Honourable Andrew Peacock. I do not say this in any casual fashion. When one talks about industrial safety, one only has to recall the tragic Appin coal mine disaster which occurred not so long ago. It is a fact that the number of industrial disputes there had been minimal and, if anything, it might be said that the trade unions were probably so engrossed with the question of production that everybody must share in some of the odium attached to not being sufficiently vigilant on industrial safety.
I have a number of documents which I have already shown to the Attorney-General (Senator Durack). I will seek to incorporate them in Hansard because I believe that, in doing so, the events will be put in sequence. The first is a letter from me to the former Minister for Productivity, the honourable Kevin Newman. I was prompted to write the letter as a result of a contribution by a rank and file member of the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemens’ Association of Australia to the Association’s journal, Engine Driver. Because of technological advances and the heavier tonnages which have to be lifted by various types of cranes, the rank and file member did not believe that the safety regulations had kept pace. That is the basis on which I wrote the letter to the Honourable Kevin Newman. I ask leave for that document to be incorporated in Hansard.
The letter read as follows - 4 July 1980
The Hon. K. E. Newman, M.P.,
Minister for Productivity,
House of Representatives,
Canberra, ACT 2600
My dear Minister,
Since your Ministry plays a role in industrial safety I draw your attentionto a letter in the current issue of Engine Driver, the FEDFA Journal in regard to the safe operations of cranes.
You would well know that particularly with the advent of containerisation much heavier loads have demanded modern cranes and the implication of this Crane Operator is that safety regulations have not kept pace with modern industrial trends.
Perhaps you can supply a response on behalf of your Department and effected co-ministeries.
Yours in anticipation,
JAMES ANTHONY MULVIHILL
Senator for New South Wales
– I now refer to a letter from the Minister dated 1 August 1 980. In my initial letter there was reference to an outline based on the contribution of the rank and file member of the FEDFA of the comprehensive United Kingdom safety legislation in relation to crane operations. Suffice it to say, the letter from the Minister discounted the need for such legislation. I therefore ask that that letter from the honourable Kevin Newman in response to my first letter, be incorporated in Hansard.
The letter read as follows -
Minister for Productivity
Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 1 August 1980
Dear Senator Mulvihill,
I refer again to your letter of 4 July 1980 in which you drew my attention to a letter in the May-June 1 980 issues of Engine Driver, concerning the safe operation of cranes.
From your well known interest in occupational safety and health issues I know I do not need to go into the problems of Commonwealth/State jurisdiction and that you appreciate the matter in question comes under State legislation/regulations.
I am advised the author of the letter may be misinformed concerning his understanding of current practice in Australia on crane safety load indicator devices. Information from State Departments of Labour and Industry has confirmed there is no statutory requirement to fit these devices. However they are fitted to all heavier type cranes, e.g. container, Goliaths and even some mobiles down to 30 tonne capacity.
The United Kingdom is the only country to require mandatory fitting of safety load devices on cranes but from previous enquiries there has been no research to determine:
the reliability of the devices or:
whether their installation has improved the safety performance statistics. In fact, the UK legislative requirement goes only to approval of the design of the safely device and that it has been fitted.
In passing, I should also like to draw your attention to the Standards Association of Australia’s Crane Code of Practice AS 1418. The SAA draws up its codes with the help of expert contributions from representatives of Commonwealth and Stale Governments, industry and trade unions. The above standard, which was agreed by all parties, has an option Tor devices to be fitted but there is no proposal in the current review of the code to vary that arrangement.
Summarising, in Australia there is no legislative requirements for cranes to be fitted with safety loud indicators, the reliability of the devices is doubtful and their installation is no guarantee of absolute safety. Rather, the preferred approach is to place more emphasis on the design of cranes, the selection and training of crane operators together with certificates of competence and the encouragement of safe working practices by employers and employees.
Senator J. A. Mulvihill
Senator for N.S.W.
Australian Parliament Offices
Australian Government Centre
Sydney N.S.W. 2000
– I now come to the essence of this issue. I received a communication from an extremely competent official in the person of brother Fitzgerald, the Assistant General Secretary of the FEDFA. Among other things, he said:
As to the attitude of the Minister for Productivity to educate crane drivers and to encourage safe working practices by employers and employees alike, of course that would be of assistance in maintaining the best possible safety operations of cranes, but surely legislation to have safety load indicators fitted to all cranes in Australia would, together, with an education program only bring about a better industrial safety record.
In effect, he was pointing out that such legislation had to be all-embracing. This is a very comprehensive document and I ask that it be incorporated in Hansard.
The letter read as follows -
FEDERATED ENGINE DRIVERS & FIREMEN’S ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALASIA
Postal Address:5th Floor, Chalmers House, 136 Chalmers
Street, Surry Hills, N.S.W. 2010
Phones: 698-8302, 698-8238
Branch Offices: Adelaide, Brisbane, Broken Hill, Launceston,
Melbourne, Perth, Sydney
Assistant General Secretary 26 September 1980
Mr A. Mulvihill,
Senator for N.S.W.,
Australian Parliament Offices,
Australian Government Centre,
SYDNEY, N.S.W. 200
Dear Senator Mulvihill,
The May /June, 1 980 edition of the Union’s federal journal The Engine Driver’ contained a letter to the editor from a crane driver member in which the member expressed a very firm opinion on safety and in the main the lack of any regulation relating to safe load indicators.
I have received from Mr Len Schurr, Industrial Office of the Australian Council of Trade Unions copies of the correspondence which has passed between yourself, the Minister for Productivity Mr Kevin Newman, the A.C.T.U. and the Secretary of the N.S.W. Branch of the Union, Jack Cambourn.
The letter printed in the Union’s journal in fact came from the Victorian Branch, however the opinion expressed certainly relates to views of crane drivers generally.
Incidentally I was a mobile crane driver for Brambles Industrial Services here in Sydney for some 13 years prior to being elected as an official of the Union so I can speak on the subject with substantial background knowledge.
Turning to Minister Newman’s letter to you dated 1 August 1980, in the third paragraph the Minister is critical of our members understanding of safety load indicator devices and suggests he may be misinformed.
The intent put on the third paragraph by the Minister is that the member believes that it is a statutory requirement in Australia to fit safety load indicator devices. On the contrary the member is concerned that there is no such statutory requirements and cites the British safety code.
The statement in the last sentence of the paragraph that all heavier type cranes are fitted with these devices is just not correct. I wish it were.
The Minister further on in his letter comments that the United Kingdom is the only country to require mandatory fitting of safety load devices on cranes and implies that the devices are not necessarily reliable and that no research has been undertaken to determine their reliability and performance statistics.
As to the attitude of the Minister for Productivity to educate crane drivers and to encourage safe working practices by employers and employees alike, of course that would be of assistance in maintaining the best possible safety operations of cranes, but surely legislation to have safety load indicators fitted to all cranes in Australia would, together with an education programme only bring about a better industrial safety record.
I do not have a copy of the legislation applying to the United Kingdom but I do have a copy of a publication printed in the U.K. by the Contractors Plant Association together with the Construction Industry Training Board. I enclose a photostat copy of the cover of the booklet together with a copy of page 1 6 which outlines the regulations regarding automatic safe load indicators.
The Federal Council of the F.E.D. & F.A. held in Sydney on 22 and 23 September discussed the issue of safe working practices for cranes and resolved to press for more stringent legislation.
We would be happy to have the F.P.L.P. Manpower Committee spearhead such a demand as you have offered and would give any assistance you may require.
Assistant General Secretary
– To indicate the mounting momentum of this campaign I produce an article which was published in the October/November issue of Engine Driver. An article therein further amplifies my case. The article covers not only the letter conveying the attitude of the Federal Council of the union but also - and this is equally important - it has a compressed version of the United Kingdom regulations under the heading ‘Automatic Safe Load Indicators, Radius/Load Indicators and Motion Limit Switches’. I ask that that document also be incorporated in Hansard.
The article read as follows -
The May /June 1980 edition of ‘The Engine Driver’ contained a Letter to the Editor from a crane driver in which the member expressed a very firm opinion on safety and in particular the lack of any regulation relating to safe load indicators.
Mr Tony Mulvihill, Senator for NSW, himself an ex crane driver took the issue up with the Federal Minister for Productivity who has an association with industrial safety.
Hereunder is the reply from the Minister.
Minister for Productivity
Canberra, ACT 2600 1 August 1980
Dear Senator Mulvihill,
I refer again to your letter of 4 July 1 980, in which you drew my attention to a letter in the May-June 1 980 issue of Engine Driver, concerning the safe operation of cranes.
From your well known interest in occupational safety and health issues I know I do not need to go into the problems of Commonwealth/State jurisdiction and that you appreciate the matter in question comes under State legislation/-regulations.
I am advised the author of the letter may be misinformed concerning his understanding of current practice in Australia on crane safety load indicator devices.
Information from State departments of Labour and Industry has confirmed there is no Statutory requirement to fit these devices. However, they are fitted to all heavier type cranes, e.g. container, Goliaths and even some mobiles down to 30 tonne capacity.
The United Kingdom is the only country to require mandatory fitting of safety load devices on cranes but from previous enquiries there has been no research to determine:
the reliability of the devices or;
whether their installation has improved the safety performance statistics. In fact, the UK legislative requirement goes only to approval of the design of the safety device and that it has been fitted.
In passing, I should also like to draw your attention to the Standards Association of Australia’s Crane Code of Practice AS 141 8. The SAA draws up its codes with the help of expert contributions from representatives of Commonwealth and State Governments, industry and trade unions. The above standard, which was agreed by all parties, has an option for devices to be fitted but there is no proposal in the current review of the code to vary that arrangement.
Summarising, in Australia there is no legislative requirement for cranes to be fitted with safety load indicators, the reliability of the devices is doubtful and their installation is no guarantee of absolute safety. Rather, the preferred approach is to place more emphasis on the design of cranes, the selection and training of crane operators together with certificates of competence and the encouragement of safe working practices by employers and employees.
The Federal Council of the union held in Sydney on 22 and 23 September discussed the issue of safe working practices for cranes and resolved to press for more stringent legislation.
The union has written to the Senator offering him assistance to spearhead a demand in the National Parliament to emulate the United Kingdom legislation.
We would be happy to receive views from members on this issue and safe working practices generally.
Automatic Safe Load Indicators, Radius/Load Indicators and Motion Limit Switches
Construction (Lifting Operations) Regulations 1961, Regulation 30 (2) a & b & (3)
‘No mobile crane having either a fixed or derricking jib shall be used unless it is fitted with an approved type of automatic safe load indicator which shall be properly maintained. Every such indicator shall be tested by a competent person before the crane is taken into use:
on each occasion after it has been wholly or partially dismantled; and
after each erection, alteration or removal of the crane for the purpose of any operations or works to which these Regulations apply being an erection, alteration, or removal likely to have affected the proper operation of the indicator.
The indicator shall be inspected in any case at intervals not exceeding one week, when the crane is in use, by the person carrying out the inspection required under sub-paragraph (c) of paragraph (1) of Regulation 10 and the results of every such inspection shall be reported in the manner specified in that sub-paragraph.
A report of the results of every test required by this Regulation, signed by the person carrying out the test, shall be made forthwith in the prescribed form and containing the prescribed particulars.’
– It was obvious that any outcome from this campaign would have farreaching effects. I then spoke to the Hon. P. D. Hills, the New South Wales Industrial Relations Minister. Because of my earlier experience in this field, I am able to pay tribute within certain ambits in respect of some State safety regulations. But the point is that there is a good deal of fragmentation within the industry at the moment such as in the containerisation industry with much heavier loads in the form of containers being lifted by cranes. Obviously that is an area in which there could be industrial mishaps. I also seek to have incorporated in Hansard an article published in the Daily Mirror of 18 November. The article was written by a leading Sydney industrial journalist in the person of Ray Turner.
The article read as follows -
CRANE DRIVERS ‘NEED NEW DEAL’
By Ray Turner
Senator Mulvihill is fighting for a better safety deal for crane drivers.
Senator Mulvihill was a former crane driver before entering politics as an A.L.P. senator.
He is supporting a move by the Federated Engine Drivers and Fireman’s Association which wants legislation to make safety devices compulsory.
Because of my job as a crane driver at the Chullora workshops, I have a personal dedication to see this union’s goal achieved,’ he said today.
Containerisation had large cranes with increased lifting capacities and therefore a greater rate of industrial accidents, he said.
Senator Mulvihill did not agree with the Federal Productivity Minister, Mr Newman, who claimed that the safety devices were not necessarily reliable.
Mr Newman also said the UK was the only country to require mandatory fitting of safety loading devices on cranes.
No research had been undertaken to determine their reliability and performance statistics.
But the assistant secretary of the FEDFA, Mr Vic Fitzgerald, said the union believed safety devices were essential.
Many union members had been injured in accidents involving cranes handling large loads, he said.
The union believed that some of these could have been avoided if safety devices had been fitted.
Senator Mulvihill said he had not given up the fight on the safety issue.
He would press again in the next Parliament for legislation making the safety devices compulsory, he said.
– The events referred to in the documents which have been incorporated occurred before the Federal election. As a further strengthening of the case for adequate legislation for the safe operation of cranes, I wish to have incorporated in Hansard a document entitled ‘Mobile Crane Operators’ Safety Guide’ which amplifies my case.
The document read as follows-
MOBILE CRANE OPERATORS’ SAFETY GUIDE
Automatic Safe Load Indicators, Radius/Load Indicators and Motion Limit Switches
Construction (Lifting Operations) Regulations 1961, Regulation 30 (2) a & b & (3)
‘No mobile crane having either a fixed or derricking jib shall be used unless it is fitted with an approved type of automatic safe load indicator which shall be properly maintained. Every such indicator shall be tested by a competent person before the crane is taken into use:
on each occasion after it has been wholly or partially dismantled; and
after each erection, alteration or removal of the crane for the purpose of any operations or works to which these Regulations apply being an erection, alteration, or removal likely to have affected the proper operation of the indicator.
The indicator shall be inspected in any case at intervals not exceeding one week, when the crane is in use, by the person carrying out the inspection required under sub-paragraph (c) or paragraph (1) of Regulation 10 and the results of every such inspection shall be reported in the manner specified in that sub-paragraph.
A report of the results of every test required by this Regulation, signed by the person carrying out the test, shall be made forthwith in the prescribed form and containing the prescribed particulars’.
Automatic Safe Load Indicators, Radius/Load Indicators and Motion Limit Switches together with their light and/or sound warning systems are fitted to your crane as essential safety precautions. Observe them carefully, be alert for their warnings, understand them and react promptly and correctly lo them; but remember that they are only provided to assist your judgement, not to replace it. During rigging (including the fitting of extension, fly jibs, changes to rope reeving, etc.) it will be necessary to alter them to take account of load conditions, operating radius, et cetera. You must know the correct settings for all operating conditions, and check that the Automatic Safe Load Indicator and Radius/Load indicator are correctly set and tested for those conditions.
Do not ASSUME that all is correct- CONFIRM IT
After rigging and before commencing lifting duties, test the crane controls for correct operation and confirm that warning devices are working properly - take nothing for granted.
The de-regging of a crane must only be carried out under the supervision of a competent person, normally the crane operator and as recommended in the maker’s handbook.
Do not stand under any jib section while connecting pins are being removed or inserted.
Compounds (including ropes) should be cleaned and checked for completeness and serviceability when re-digging is completed.
A new range of mobile cranes with lift capacities of up lo 350 tonnes is being offered in Australia.
Made by Liebherr Werk Ehingen GmbH of West Germany, the cranes are being distributed in Australia by norwood Bagshaw Ltd.
Leibherr is one of West Germany’s success stories. Established in 1949 to manufacture tower cranes, it now has 26 companies in 10 countries employing 10,000 people, with a gross annual sales volume in the region of $ 1 000m.
The specifications of the model LG 1350, which is the largest in the truck-mounted range, gives some idea of the size and capacity available.
Carried on an eight-axle chassis, the crane has a maximum lift of 350 tonnes.
The chassis is powered by a GM 12-cylinder 399 kW (535 bhp) water-cooled diesel engine with a six forward speed Allison automatic transmission giving a top speed of 68 km/h.
Six of the axles are equipped with steering, and drive is transmitted through five axles.
The steering system makes it highly manoeuvrable despite its over 1 7 m length, lt will turn in a 1 5.7 m radius.
The crane section is driven by a 10-cylinder Daimler Benz water-cooled diesel engine which produces 228 kW (305 bhp).
– I speak with the authority of the Opposition’s shadow Minister for industrial relations, the new member for Wills and the former Australian Council of Trade Unions generalissimo, Mr Robert Hawke. In the light of the documentation which I have had incorporated, I make an appeal on behalf of the FEDFA and with the tacit support of the Waterside Worker’s Federation of Australia, the Transport Workers Union, the Federated Ironworker’s Association of Australia, the Australian Workers’ Union and the Australian Railways Union. All those unions have within their memberships crane operators under various classifications. I believe that the time is opportune for a broad conference to examine the whole ambit of the legislation. 1 admit that there may be some areas in which there is reasonable vigilance. Senator Elstob would be aware of the position in the Waterside Workers Federation because according to the Maritime Worker this union had conferences with some of the overseas shipping lines relating to certain appliances on some West German and other European freighters.
The plea 1 make to the Government is this. I do not have a lot of confidence in my plea on this issue being successful because industrial safety under the label of ‘Science’ has been shunted from the main thrust of the responsibilities of the Minister for Industrial Relations in the person of the Honourable Andrew Peacock. At the behest of the Federal Council of the FEDFA and other kindred unions, I would like to see a very early response - and I accept the fact that the honourable David Thompson has some responsibility in this area - to the suggestion that a national conference be held with the two Ministers present and an invitation be given to all the State ministers for labour and industry whose inspectors are responsible for safety laws. I want the major unions that 1 have referred to invited together with Peter Nolan of the ACTU to whom I have already given copies of the corredpondence that I have had incorporated in Hansard tonight.
In fairness I should say that I have had several telegrams and other forms of communication from a number of manufacturers who purport to produce safety devices indicating the safe loading capabilities of the various types of cranes. I appreciate the interest of those people, but ‘I can do no more than go back to the submission by brother Fitzgerald, the Assistant National Secretary of the FEDFA, who said: ‘We do not want a spotty coverage. We want a universal safety code with no gaps in it’. I know that the Honourable Andrew Peacock and other Ministers have been talking about industrial conflict. There have been many occasions in the past, and there will be others in the future, when trade unionists have felt that a certain technique can unwittingly cause some accident or be a hazard. I hope that the submissions ( have made tonight will be taken on board by Senator Durack and we will get early action. Anybody who goes onto the waterfront, into foundries and into large engineering establishments, such as shipyards and railway workshops, will appreciate my point. The modern tendency is for crane operators to handle much bigger tonnages. In the light of the joint submissions of the FEDFA and kindred unions and of the New South Wales Minister for Industrial Relations, the Honourable P. D. Hills, I hope to get the parties present at the necessary summit talks as soon as possible.
– I have spoken in this chamber on numerous occasions on the subject of tax avoidance in this country. It is a matter which I want to raise again tonight. I have spoken, in common with many other members of the Opposition, of the huge scale of tax avoidance in this country, of the nauseous character of particular schemes of avoidance and evasion which emerge from time to time, and of the inequity of a tax system which operates in a way that enables many professional and business men to pay no tax at all on their incomes while the proportional burden on wage and salary earners continues to grow apace as a result. In common with many other honourable senators, at least on this side of the chamber, I have also been very critical of the much vaunted attempts of the Treasurer (Mr Howard) to crack down on tax avoidance. 1 have been critical of those attempts as amounting, by and large, to too little too late.
The particular matter of tax avoidance that I want to draw to the Parliament’s attention tonight is a matter in respect of which it cannot be said that the Treasurer has done too little too late. All the evidence is that the Treasurer has done absolutely nothing, despite the blatant and conspicuous way in which the scheme to which I will refer has been advertised and promoted throughout the length and breadth of the land by full-page advertisements in the major newspapers of the kind that I have in my hands. I am referring to the Eaglebond scheme being very actively and aggressively promoted by the Australian Eagle Insurance Co. Ltd. What is being advertised here is a one-year Eaglebond, so described, which involves a disguised straightforward fixed interest investment being dressed up as a one-year life insurance policy. It is dressed up as a little insurance policy in order to attract the special tax concessions which are available under our tax law only for insurance policies, and not for other forms of fixed interest investment producing a similar return.
Investors in the second series of Eaglebonds, which is the particular series which is being so assiduously promoted at the moment, are being invited to invest between $2,500 as a floor level and up to $ 100,000 as a ceiling in 1 2-month life insurance policies at a tax free return which is described as ‘a capital growth’ of 8 per cent. Thus, for example, an investor paying $10,000 into this scheme would receive, at the end of the 1 2-month period, a sum of $ 1 0,700, representing a growth of $700 or 8 per cent on his original investment. The magic about this investment which distinguishes it from any other form available in the market is that the return so derived is tax free. Moreover, it is a tax free return which is equivalent, because of its tax free character, to a return of 1 1 .7 per cent for someone paying tax at the base rate of 32c in the dollar; 14.8 per cent for someone paying at the middle rate of 46c in the dollar and, as the company advertises, fully 20 per cent for someone paying at the top rate of 60c in the dollar.
I will quote the language of the company’s advertisements, which, as I have said, have been widely printed in the nation’s news media over the last few weeks. The story is told as follows:
If you pay a high rate of tax and invest in a one-year Eaglebond you can take advantage of the special taxation situation applying to life insurance policies. This principle is not new.
The simple difference is that Australian Eagle is the first insurance company to use it to give tax-free capital growth on a one-year life policy.
When the one-year Eaglebond policy matures you receive your original sum plus a tax-free payment which is the equivalent of up to 20 per cent on a taxable investment.
That states the story in a thoroughly unashamed way. lt is not something which I believe this Parliament or this Government should allow to go unnoticed. In fact it is a quite blatant form of tax avoidance which it is my request tonight that the Government moves immediately to counter. I might add that the tax concession or the tax free status of the return under these Eaglebond arrangements apparently has been directly approved by the Commissioner of Taxation and this follows from the application by him - he does not have a great deal of choice as the law now stands - of section 26 (i) of the Income Tax Assessment Act, which prescribes as assessable income ‘any amount received as or by way of bonus other than a reversionary bonus on a policy of life insurance’.
What is happening here is that these returns are being dressed up as reversionary bonuses on policies of life insurance, although in practice they are nothing of the kind. I might add, for the sake of clarity, that it is acknowledged by the company and certainly by me that the Eaglebond ‘premiums’, if I might so describe them, are not themselves eligible for the concessional tax rebate which is available for orthodox life insurance premiums, since section 1 S9R of the Act excludes this kind of benefit for policies like these which mature within 10 years of their commencement.
The claim by the Eaglebond promoters that the scheme provides, as they say in their prospectus, a measure of life cover’, is simply laughable. Whilst, as I have said, someone investing $10,000 in an Eaglebond would, as the company claims, receive a payout of $10,700 not only at the end of the 12-month period but also if he died within the 12-month term of that bond, I suggest that it is absurd for the company to claim or to suggest that this could amount to any kind of incentive for someone seeking a genuine life cover. What is involved here is not the seeking of a genuine life cover, not genuine life insurance premiums in any ordinary language understanding of that term, but a straightforward fixed interest investment which has the peculiar advantage of being tax free.
I make the further point that the Eaglebond principle, as the company says in its advertisements, is not wholly new and there are to my knowledge, at least two other insurance companies, namely, the New Zealand Life and Mercantile Mutual companies, which have recently promoted similar schemes. But the scale of operation of the present Eaglebond scheme is bigger and more blatant than any previous misuse of the insurance policy provisions under the Income Tax Assessment Act. I suggest that the Eaglebond scheme is symptomatic of the rapid and growing decline in tax morality in this country which, despite all the Government’s protestations to the contrary, is being aided and abetted by the Government’s unwillingness to move quickly, swiftly and effectively to counter tax avoidance schemes of all kinds. If the Treasurer wants to retain any skerrick of credibility for his claim that he is actively cracking down on schemes of tax avoidance as he becomes aware of them, then he must move quickly on this particular scheme. I look forward to the response of the Treasurer, or of the Minister for Finance (Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle) who represents the Treasurer in this place, or, in the absence of both of those, at least of the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) who is sitting in the chamber tonight in relation to the Government’s likely attitude to this really quite disgusting, as I would put it, manipulation of a system which is being engaged in by a hitherto reputable life insurance company.
– I was interested in the remarks of Senator Mulvihill in the earlier part of the debate this evening. He referred the documents to me which he incorporated in Hansard but I have not had the opportunity of reading them as a result of that. I will refer the remarks that he has made tonight on the subject to the Minister for Science and Technology (Mr Thomson) whom I am representing here. The question of the Commonwealth power and responsibility in the area is a very difficult one and no doubt the Minister will have to take that into account as well as the plea that Senator Mulvihill makes for legislation in this area.
As to the point raised by Senator Evans, I understand that the attention of the Treasurer has been drawn already to the scheme that Senator Evans refers to and that the matter has been under some consideration. At this stage I am not able to indicate how far that matter has gone or what decision the Treasurer may make in relation to it. However, I would like to emphasise the fact that despite the criticisms that Senator Evans has made, the Treasurer has been particularly active in the identification of these schemes of an artificial character which are designed to avoid taxation. He has in fact acted on a number of them, I think probably more so than any other Treasurer including Treasurers of the party to which Senator Evans belongs.
Although he may not move with the speed at which we know Senator Evans believes Ministers should move, nevertheless he has in fact moved in this very technically difficult area with a great deal of vigor and reponsibility in order to tackle the problems that Senator Evans so rightly brings to our attention. I will of course refer the remarks of Senator Evans to the Treasurer. (Quorum formed).
– Mr President, I raise a point of order. I wonder whether you noted whether Senator Harradine was present. I noted that a number of Liberal members answered the quorum bells but I have the impression that Senator Harradine is not here.
– There is no point of order. A quorum is present.
Question resolved in the affirmative
Senate adjourned at 10.S5 p.m.
The following answer to a question was circulated:
Have any developments been made regarding the establishment of a non-official trade support facility in the province of Taiwan, since 21 April 1980. (See Senate Hansard, pages 158 1-2, dated 21 April 1980).
The arrangements establishing diplomatic relations between Australia and China in December 1972 preclude any possibility of the Australian Government establishing a trade office or any official presence in the province of Taiwan. We recognise the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal
Government of China, and acknowledge the position of the Chinese Government that Taiwan is a part of China.
However this does not preclude private organisations from doing business with the province of Taiwan or establishing offices to assist such activities. The Government has indicated on a number of occasions that it would be prepared to provide appropriate guidance to a private sector body wishing to establish a non-official office in the province of Taiwan to support and facilitate trade.
In this regard the Government has received advice recently from the Australian Chamber of Commerce of its intention to explore the feasibility of establishing such a non-official trade support facility in Taipei.
The Government welcomes this initiative by the Chamber. Officers of the Department of Trade and Resources have entered into discussions with the Chamber to assist it in identifying practical aspects of establishing an office in Taipei and the type of commercial services that it might set out to provide.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 November 1980, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1980/19801127_senate_32_s87/>.