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Tuesday, 23 October 1973

Senator Davidson asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, upon notice:

(   1 ) Is the Minister able to confirm an announcement appearing in the press on 1 1 October 1 973 that the Australian Government has approved a new national water resources policy: if so, were the findings of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution taken into account.

(2)   Is the Minister aware that the references which have been made so far are almost identical with the first five recommendations contained in the Report of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution.

(3)   Will the Government take the opportunity to recognise the Report of the Committee in the same way that the Prime Minister publicly recognised the Second Progress Report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts on all aspects of television and broadcasting, including Australian content of television programmes, which referred, in part, to frequency modulation radio.

Senator Cavanagh - The Minister for the Environment and Conservation has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(   1 ) It is correct that the adoption of a statement on a national water resources policy was announced on 10 October 1 973. The very valuable report of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution in Australia was one of the documents which provided background for the development of the policy statement, and which were taken into account in its preparation.

(2)   The basic philosophy of the policy statement and of the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee are similar in that both are based on the premise that as far as possible there should be a national approach to the management of water in Australia. There are however important differences in the proposed arrangements, in that the policy statement seeks to achieve the objective without the establishment of any major new organisation, and to strengthen the collaborative effort of the appropriate bodies in the Australian and State Governments.

(3)   In as much as the policy statement adopted by the Government departs significantly from the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution, and has regard also to principles and practices which have been developed in other parts of the world, it cannot be said that the policy statement is based primarily on the recommendation of the Senate Select Committee. However I am pleased to recognise the value of the report of the Senate Select Committee in helping to focus attention on this very important matter, and in putting forward specific proposals for the consideration of those responsible for developing and implementing policies in this area.


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - On 23 August 1973, Senator Davidson asked me a question without notice as follows:

I refer to discussions in Adelaide yesterday at the annual conference of the Australian Universities Staff Association. At this conference there was criticism of Australian universities for producing what was called a glut of some specialists and a shortage of others. Can the Minister say whether any consideration has been given to the provision of training in what was described yesterday as community orientation? If not. will the Minister note this point and inquire whether there can be a response to a call for a greater breadth of interpretation in specialist education?

As I stated in my reply at the time, I have not seen the report to which the honourable senator refers, and the Minister for Education has advised me that the Australian Universities Commission has made inquiries and has been unable to obtain any information or statements relating to a glut of some university trained specialists and a shortage of others. If the honourable senator wishes the matter to be investigated further, perhaps he might provide additional details about the statements he has quoted so that further inquiries might be made.

Postal Charges: Effect of Metric Conversion

Senator Murphy - On 18 September 1973, Senator Sim asked the following question without notice:

Is it a fact that the Government has asked industry not to take advantage oif the conversion to the metric system in order to increase charges? As the Government has announced new postal charges with a limit of 20 grams or 0.7 oz on letters that now attract a 7c postage charge instead of 28 grams or I oz as previously, will the Minister refer these increases to the Metric Conversion Board for comment as to whether the Government is taking advantage of conversion to the metric system in order to increase charges?

The Minister for Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

On 12 September my colleague the Postmaster-General introduced three Bills into the Parliament to effect conversion of postal rates to the metric system and to introduce some variations. However, the approval of those proposals is a matter for the Parliament. Accordingly, the honourable senator will have an opportunity to debate the rales when the Bills are presented to the Senate.

Australian Dollar: Exchange Rate

Senator Wriedt - On 27 September 1973. Senator Young asked the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade, the following question without notice:

I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade. Some time ago I asked a question of the Minister with regard to the change in the exchange rate of the

Australian dollar. I repeat my question to the Minister. What is the Government's attitude towards export incentives? Will the present arrangements be updated to assist Australian exporters by ensuring that the changed situations do not place them at too much disadvantage?

The Minister for Overseas Trade has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   The Prime Minister announced on 13 March 1973 that the export incentives, which were due to expire on 30 June 1973, would be extended for a further twelve months to 30 June 1974. The income tax law was amended in the autumn sittings of Parliament to continue the Export Market Development Allowance until 30 June 1974. Legislation to retain the Export Incentive Grants Scheme for another year is currently before the Senate.

(2)   In a press statement issued on 13 March 1973, I stated that during this period a thorough review of the operation of the export incentives would be undertaken and that the outcome of this review would be considered by Cabinet as soon as it is completed. The Department of Overseas Trade is proceeding with this review which will also take into account any changes affecting Australian exporters' ability to compete in overseas markets.

(   3 ) With regard to the recent revaluations of the Australian dollar, the Government has decided to extend assistance to exporters of manufactured goods who have been adversely affected by the December 1972 and September 1973 revaluations. The basic aim is to provide assistance to those smaller and medium sized exporters who have developed overseas markets but have suffered serious hardship as a result of the revaluations and who cannot afford to incur the costs necessary to maintain competitiveness. The amount of assistance is limited Ibr each applicant and certain eligibility criteria and time limits also apply.

Telephone Numbers

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) -On 10 October 1973, Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield asked me the following question:

I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General: ls it a fact that recently new telephone books have been published but that these have not yet been distributed in all States? Is the Minister aware of the extreme frustration imposed upon long suffering subscribers to the telephone service by the constant changes of telephone numbers throughout the year? Will the Minister take up with his colleague the Postmaster-General the possibility of reserving all changes in numbers to once a year when the new telephone books are distributed so that people arc noi constantly ringing up wrong numbers that they find in lbc telephone book?

The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply.

Distribution of the new Adelaide telephone directory was to have begun before the end of August. Because of the unusually extensive telephone number changes and other alterations necessary this year, production of the directories was unavoidably delayed. Deliveries in Adelaide arc well advanced and deliveries to other Stales should bc completed within the next three to four weeks.

I can assure the honourable senator that, as far as practicable, any number changes involving large groups of metropolitan subscribers are made to coincide with the issue of the new telephone directory. This is not always possible, particularly in country areas where new automatic exchanges are progressively replacing manual exchanges but in these cases, a special interim directory usually is issued. Special arrangements are made to assist callers as much as possible during the period between the changeover to the new numbers and the completion of directory distribution.

Taiwanese Fishing Boats

Senator Wriedt -On 10 October 1973, Senator Drake-Brockman asked me the following question without notice: 1 ask the Minister for Primary Industry: When the 2 Taiwanese fishing boats were arrested off the Western Australian coast on 3 May were 2 other boats boarded within the 12-mile limit? If so, where did those boats come from and why were they not arrested and brought to Western Australian pons?

I undertook to obtain the necessary information for the honourable senator. That information is as follows:

Three Taiwanese fishing vessels were boarded by naval personnel and a Fisheries Inspector off the coast of Western Australia, 3 May 1973. Two of these vessels, Chiah Long No. 1 1 and Chiah Long No. 12 were apprehended and escorted to port. Their masters were charged and subsequently convicted in the Perth District Court of fishing within the declared fishing zone. The third vessel, the Yeon Lim No. I was found to be 12.3 miles from the nearest point of land. Visual fixes had indicated that this vessel, and its sister ship Yeon Lim No. 2 were operating within the declared fishing zone when first sighted by 'HMAS Acute'. Subsequently, a radar fix had placed Yeon Lim No. 1 at the above position just beyond the declared fishing zone. The master of that ship was warned not to operate in the declared fishing zone and allowed to continue operations. These vessels were not apprehended because of doubt as to whether they were actually fishing when sighted, whereas there was no such doubt with respect to the first two vessels.

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