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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2391


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Gippsland is seconding the amendment. It is not a matter of one speaker from each side being called. If the honourable member wishes to claim the right he can speak immediately.


Mr NIXON - The first plank in Labor policy is the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange. This Bill is a major act by this Government to reach that goal. It is a blatant effort by the Labor Government to foist on the Australian people socialist domination in civil aviation, road transport, hotel-motel industries and many other ancillary industries. What is more, the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones), who is at the table, is guilty of the same duplicity that he has shown in respect of the shipbuilding industry. In relation to that industry he continually has been making claims that the Australian coastal trade will be reserved for Australian built ships. Yet he has given permits for more imported ships in 4 months than any previous Minister responsible for these matters gave in a year. This Bill is not designed to give legislative expression to matters in which the Government and the Opposition are in agreement. Instead it is (intended to provide the legal basis for a radical restructuring of the Australian land and air transportation industries. It is designed to permit domination by a statutory body over civil aviation, road transport, accommodation and other undefined industries.

This is a disturbing enough matter, but in many respects equally disturbing is the deceitful nature of the second-reading speech relating to this Bill by the Minister for Transport. Second-reading speeches traditionally have been intended to explain and amplify legislation. The Minister's second-reading speech obviously was designed to obscure the full implications of one of the most farreaching pieces of legislation introduced into this House. The speech by the Minister includes a quotation from the Minister for

National Development of the last Government, wherein it was foreshadowed that the Australian National Airlines Act would be amended so that Trans-Australia Airlines could engage in activities closely related - mark those words - to airline operations. It is on the strength of those words that the Minister has introduced a Bill that will in its effective use of the corporation power and paragraph (xx) of section 51 of the Constitution give a Federal government instrumentality unbridled power and unlimited advantages, financial and otherwise in civil aviation, road transport, the hotelmotel industry and many ancillary industries. It is this Bill which so clearly attempts to usurp the sovereign power of the States which the Minister says has the agreement of the Government and the Opposition. That is not true. There can .be no such agreement on this Bill. The excesses of power in all fields proposed for TAA in this Bill are streets ahead of the moderate proposals and incidental powers proposed by the previous Government. What is worse, the Minister made no attempt in his second-reading speech to spell out the full implications of the main clauses of the Bill. It is not from reading the speech that people involved in the industries concerned can understand the Bill; it is only after close study of the separate clauses of the Bill that the true extent of the socialist ambition emerges.

There are many aspects of the Bill that call for comment. In his speech the Minister said:

Clause S sets out the basic functions ... in different language, but adds the power to' transport passengers and goods by land as well as by air, or partly by each means, and to provide for the Commonwealth aviation, land transport and engineering services and other services which are within its resources.

The speech says nothing more, but the Bill speaks volumes. Firstly, there is no suggestion that TAA's power to engage in road transport is in any way related to or limited by its activities in air transport. It is plainly not intended to be just an incidental activity to assist TAA's traditional customers. The potential power in this clause is even more clearly understood when the financial power to be given to this body is known. The body plainly should no longer be called only the Australian National Airlines Commission but should have added to its title 'Land Transport and Hotels Commission*.

As can be seen from clause 13 of the Bill, the Commission's financial capacity comes in 2 ways: From the power to borrow moneys necessary for the exercise of its powers, with the Treasurer's approval, and from money appropriated by the Parliament. The Bill enables the Commission to have access to Commonwealth funds at potentially preferential borrowing terms for the purposes of financing its entire range of expanded activities. There is an obligation on the Treasurer to agree to allow the Commission to borrow money if the Commission determines that the loan is required for the exercise of its power and the performance of its duties or functions.

The significant addition to the principal Act are the words 'the exercise of its powers'. The significance comes from the fact that clause 7 seeks to amend section 19 of the Act to allow the Commission to form or participate in companies and to acquire or dispose of shares. The combination of this power with the financial power means that TAA can take over, buy out or buy part of any transport operation that it likes, and there are no limits at all to the number of operations into which TAA can enter. It can, in the exercise of this power, take over established operators like Thomas Nationwide Transport, Brambles or IPEC. It can, if it wishes, go on to the market and purchase a majority of shares in any public company - even its rival, Ansett Transport Industries Ltd - without further reference to this Parliament. It requires only the approval of the Minister, whose sense of business knowledge and judgment are even less than his love for Ansett Transport Industries.

But the Bill goes further. It allows TAA the right to buy out or set up supporting industries, such as engineering workshops and garages. Having bought out or set up a large road transport organisation, it would be a logical step for the socialist to enter the engineering and garage field not only as an incidental to its main activity, but as a progressive step in the control of the transport industry. Again, under the powers given in this Bill, TAA could decide that it is necessary to commence the manufacture of tyres and spare parts and even to control its own petrol and fuel outlets. There is contained in the Bill a real and direct threat to all road transport operators and ancillary industries. This is clearly stated in clause 5 which refers to new section 19 (1) (c) of the Act, wherein it is stated that TAA may provide to the Commonwealth 'aviation, land transport and engineering services and such other services as can conveniently be provided by the use of the resources of the Commission*. The second reading speech does not even attempt to define the meaning of the words 'and such other services as can conveniently be provided by the use of the resources of the Commission*. But it is quite obvious that the powers now given to the Commission, or to TAA as it is better known, will turn it into a bureaucratic or socialistic monster of a size unequalled in Australia's history. Indeed, this Airlines Bill makes the Banks Nationalisation Bill look a real puny.

As I said earlier, these powers extend to the area of 'hotels or other establishments or enterprises providing accommodation, recreation, entertainment or other services or facilities'. Again, this clause is given further unknown power and unmeasured thrust by calling into use in the Bill the powers conferred by paragraph (xx) of section 51 of the Constitution. It is quite plain that TAA can build or take over hotels and motels in any number, and it can enter into any of the ancillary industries associated with the hotel and motel industry. By the inclusion of that Commonwealth power in this clause, we are left to wonder whether the Labor Government wants to challenge State laws on TAA property. Such a situation could lead to TAA hotels in Victoria having poker machines installed, or attacks on State vice laws in all States. There is every encouragement for TAA to enter the liquor trade, taking over a vineyard or entering, in a large scale way, the food industry. Again, it is a far cry from an incidental activity or power as proposed by the previous Government. Once again, this power is not explained by the Minister in his second reading speech. This Bill carries other extraordinary features. One of these is the clause relating to the liability of the Commission to pay rates and taxes.

Clause 16 - proposed new section 37 - permits TAA to escape the payment of all State charges. So TAA, which will now be an active competitor not only in the airlines field but also in road transport, the hotel and motel industries, engineering industries, garages, holiday resorts and any other supporting industry it chooses to enter, will be exempted from paying local government rates, payroll tax, road tax, liquor licensing fees or any other

State taxes or fees unless specified by regulation. It should be a positive part of this Bill that TAA is required to pay all local fees and charges paid by its competitors. This Bill is not only an unfair and discriminatory blow to local government and State government revenues, but it also puts TAA into an extraordinarily favourable position that will help to crush its competitors. No airline, individual engineering shop, garage, hotel, motel or road transport operator could withstand such unfavourable competition. But the State governments' position is further denigrated by this Bill. Indeed, the cold, clutching hand of centralist control is clearly seen by inclusion in this Act of a new section 19c.

State rights and control of transport had been protected specifically by the previous government. Also where powers had been referred by a State, TAA's rights were clearly understood. The extraordinary thing now is that this Bill deliberately includes a provision, proposed new section 19c, which has the intention of making reference by the States unnecessary and which also makes it unnecessary for the Federal Government to. hold a referendum if it withstands legal challenge. Proposed new section 19c also gives the clear right to TAA to engage in intrastate transport both in air and on land and is an obvious threat to air services still under the control of State governments. Yet once again the Minister's second reading speech made no mention of this provision or this intended challenge to the States to have any rights at all in the transport field. It is quite clear from this provision that the Commonwealth Government is asserting that the concrete pipes case gives it unlimited power in the State. Further legal challenge to such an assertion is imperative. The State governments have no option but to challenge if they are to retain any vestige of integrity let alone sovereignty. The acceptance by the States of this assertion will lead to complete Federal Government dominance in almost every policy field, and matters that the States have seen as their prerogative, which are already being aborted by the Commonwealth through financial blackmail, will become policy fields for the Commonwealth alone.

Over recent weeks everyone in this Parliament has become conscious of the senseless way in which the Minister for Transport handled the problem of a new domestic air ser- vice for Papua New Guinea. We had a fine statement from the Minister for Territories (Mr Morrison) on 30 April, telling the world that to all intents and purposes, Papua New Guinea was in fact virtually self governing, and that Papua New Guinea Ministers were finally responsible in many areas of policy that he listed, and which included transport. Then on 3 May the Minister for Transport decided that he was immune from that statement by his colleague and decided to act like a colonial dictator by telling the Chief Minister that Papua New Guinea would have to go along with his fixed idea on what should constitute the Papua New Guinea airline. Mr Somare rightly replied that the Minister for Transport is both arrogant and intolerant. Clause 7 - proposed new section 19C - of this Bill confirms that. The Minister knows that this Legislation will apply to the Territories because the Acts Interpretation Act provides that 'Territory' includes any territory governed by the Commonwealth under a trusteeship agreement. He has cunningly contrived to combine that fact with inclusion of the word 'transport' so that TAA will get the rights to operate bus services and road transport generally in Papua New Guinea. Indeed the question of consultation with the Papua New Guinea Government does not arise and it is plain that the Minister proposes to continue his vendetta against the Papua New Guinea Government by presenting it with a fait accompli. The simple fact is that this Bill will, if passed by this Parliament, apply now so that when independence in the next few years comes, the Papua New Guinea Government will have to negotiate with established operations in that country served by TAA and started there without consultation with its Government and after the Minister for Territories has said it is in charge of its own transport policy. Trying to deceive the emerging young nation of Papua New Guinea is deceit of the worst kind. The ramifications and powers included in this Bill are much wider than those required to give TAA the right to join in industries closely related to its airline service. The Minister for Transport has been both deceitful and dishonest in his whole approach.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! Those words are not very parliamentary.


Mr NIXON - I will withdraw the words.


Mr SPEAKER - They contain imputations.


Mr NIXON - I will withdraw the sentence rather than be unparliamentary. I will be moving a number of amendments to the Bill to give TAA proper powers to engage in related activities and at the same time to protect Australian industry from a monolithic socialist structure. The amendments will reflect more accurately the attitude taken by the previous Government when it decided to extend TAA's activities into closely related fields. If, as the Minister for Transport says, it is his wish to give expression to the joint view of the Government and the Opposition on this matter, he will not find it difficult to accept the amendments. At the present time the Bill carries powers that are totally unnecessary to give expression to these closely related activities. I have prepared a number of amendments. I do not know whether the time that will be allowed for debate will preclude our giving attention to each of these amendments; so I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a list of the amendments as they are now presented to the House.


Mr SPEAKER - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The amendments read as follows) -

<Paras>

(1) Clause 5, page 2, omit sub-section (1) of proposed section 19, substitute the following sub-section:

(1) The functions of the Commission are -

(a) to transport passengers and goods for reward by air between prescribed places; and

(b) within the limits of its powers under this Act or any relevant State Act, to transport passengers and goods for reward by air or in association with its powers in this section and, within those limits, to provideland transport accommodation, and other services and facilities associated with the exercise of its powers under paragraph (a), and the Commission shall carry on business for the purpose of performing those functions.'.

</Paras>
<Paras>

(2) Clause 6, page 3, line 20, omit the words 'and whether before or after', substitute the words 'and before'.

</Paras>
<Paras>

(3) Clause 7, page 4, lines 6-10, omit proposed section 19b.

</Paras>
<Paras>

(4) Clause 7, page 4, lines 20-23, omit paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) of proposed section 19c.

</Paras>
<Paras>

(5) Clause 7, page 4, lines 32-35, omit paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) of proposed section 19d.

</Paras>
<Paras>

(6) Clause 7, page 5, lines 7-11, omit paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) of proposed section 19b.

</Paras>
<Paras>

(7) Clause 7, page 5, lines 28-36, omit proposed section 19g.

</Paras>
<Paras>

(8) Clause 13, page 7, line 38, omit the words 'at such rate of interest', substitute the words 'at a commercial rate of interest then current'.

(9) After clause 13, page 7, insert the following new clause: 13a. After section 31 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: "31 a. The Commission shall prior to the 30 June 1973 and thereafter from time to time at intervals of not less than one month transfer the monies representing provisions made by the Commission for staff superannuation to the Commonwealth Superannuation Board.".'.

</Paras>
<Paras>

(10) Clause 15, page 8, line 12, omit paragraph (c) of proposed sub-section (2).

</Paras>
<Paras>

(11) Clause 16, page 8, after proposed section 35, insert the following proposed section: 35a (I) The Commission shall comply with the provisions relating to accounts and audit of the Uniform Companies Act of Victoria as amended from time to time.

(2) The Commission shall separate the airline and non-airline operating results in its report to Parliament.'.

</Paras>
<Paras>

(12) Clause 16, page 9, lines 7-17, omit proposed section 37, substitute the following proposed section: 37 (1) The Commission shall pay all rates, taxes and charges under any law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory.

(2) The Commission is not a public authority for the purposes of paragraph (d) of section 23 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1972.

(3) The Commission is not a public transport authority for the purposes of item 77 in the First Schedule to the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1973.'.

</Paras>
<Paras>

(13) Clause 18, page 9, insert the following new paragraph:

(c) By inserting after sub-section (3) the following sub-section: " (4) The report by the Commission to be furnished to the Minister under this Section shall be accompanied by reports by the Commissioners as to the operations of the Commission in the form of the reports required to be made by directors of a company under the provisions of the Act of the State of which the Commission has its principal place of business.".'.

(14) After clause 18, page 9, insert the following new clause: 18a After section 41 of the Principal Act the fol- following sections are inserted: "42 A Minister will not exercise any powers under or by virtue of this or any other Act, or Regulations, so as to discriminate unfairly in favour of the Commission or any other person engaged in the provision of services for the transport of passengers or goods by air or by land or in the establishment, maintenance or operation of hotels or other establishments or enterprises providing accommodation, recreation, entertainment or other services or facilities. "43 The Minister and the Commission in the exercise of functions and powers under this Act will not do anything inconsistent with the obligations of the Commission or the Commonwealth under, or the provisions or purposes of, the agreement referred to in sub-section (3) of Section 3 of the Airlines Agreements Act 1952-1972 and the agreement referred to in sub-section (2) of that Section as affected by the foregoing agreement and the agreement referred to in sub-section (1) of that Section as affected by each of the foregoing agreements.".'.

</Paras>






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