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Tuesday, 1 October 1974
Page: 1545


Senator STEELE HALL (South AustraliaLeader of the Liberal Movement) - The Budget has raised a great deal of controversy in the community as to whether it will take up the slack of the rapidly growing number of unemployed or whether it will add to the depressing scene in industry and commerce and create further unemployment. In any case, one thing is quite certain and that is that the Australian people do not know what it will do. They do not believe that the Australian Government knows what it will do. Last week 700 South Australians turned up at a meeting at the Unley Town Hall on a very cold night to listen to just this subject dealt with by one of the professors in Adelaide who was a founder of the so-called Adelaide Plan. Certainly, the Australian Labor Party projects to the community a state of great confusion. This was evidenced by further interaction which was caused by the introduction of the Budget. In response the Liberal Party from the opposition side can offer no solution to the economic problems of Australia. However, 2 things are certain in this confused picture. One is that the Government is proceeding idealogically with its Budget and is adding to its general administrative program for the socialisation of Australia so that we will see more unbridled union power exerted on the industrial scene. I refer to the rapid socialisation which is evidenced by the key phrase in the Budget which has been dealt with by most speakers prior to this point.

Obviously the Budget is a document which is seen to transfer economic power from the private sector to the public sector. Since its introduction we have seen very alarming reports, almost day by day, of how the Commonwealth is intruding into State matters. Even this evening on the much publicised controversy of the freeway in Sydney- disregarding the rights or the wrongs of that freeway- on television the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) was threatening the New South Wales Government with a general cancellation of its road funds because he disagreed with the plan for the freeway development which is now the subject of argument in the State. We have seen attempts in this chamber to pass an all-embracing roads Bill- of course, very successful, despite the rather minimal amendments which were effected. In recent times we have seen that the Federal Government wants to get into the railway business in States where it has been absent in the past. In this morning's newspaper we have seen that a hospital project is to be taken over by Canberra. The Federal Government will go it alone at Sunshine in Victoria. The inference we get quite directly from this is that the States are dead as far as hospitals, roads and railways are concerned.


Senator Baume - That is under this Government.


Senator STEELE HALL - Yes, under this Government. Of course it will take a brave government in the future to completely reverse the trends. It is not easy simply to put back or to improve on the present scheme by another ideological move from another government. So in 3 main areas within a few days and weeks this Government has moved to take the State role. I say that it is quite vindictive when its purposes and plans are crossed, as was evidenced by the remarks of the Federal Minister, Mr Uren, tonight. The speed of ideological progress by the Government is rather staggering. Whilst it may be divided upon itself as to a proper plan to lead Australia, it does not seem to be divided upon itself in the application of its principles of socialisation. It is proceeding apace in that way. As I have said, in industry we have seen the tremendous scene of a government going cap in hand to the unions of Australia and ostensibly at least framing a Budget to capture their approval for some social contract or for some other factor in the future. I will be interested in further evidence of what Labor members of Parliament think about these matters. I saw a report in today's Australian' of Senator Button who was speaking in Melbourne. The report stated:

Industrial unrest, power struggles and militancy now being experienced in Australia are healthy signs . . .

The collapse of companies like Mainline and Cambridge Credit were predictable . . .

Senator Button,who was elected in May, said people should not be frightened of the apparent disorder as it was all a pan of society's growth.

I wonder what the unemployed, the rate of which is supposed to be running at 4,000 a week, think of this desirable disruption. The report ends rather interestingly. It states:

Senator Buttoncriticised union participation in management. 'The idea is to put a unionist on the board to make it look good. But nothing ever comes of it, there is no change, ' he said. 'We should work toward the position of Yugoslavia where workers elect the management and run the company. '

At least Senator Button does not hide his ideological course. I suppose he thinks that the takeover of the various State facilities which I have mentioned so far is not going fast enough. I think that certainly would be his view. But all of this has meant that there has been a general feeling of attack upon industry. That feeling is widely held in industry. I have had the chance- as I am sure a lot of Government members have- to talk to commerce and industry which is always willing to talk about its future and its place and plans within the Australian scene. It is one continuous picture of belief that this Government is attacking its very existence and that the very enterprise ethic is under siege and will be destroyed if Mr Hawke and a few other gentlemen can have their way with their plans. This has had a very undesirable effect on the psychology of the Australian industrial community. This rapacious free enterprise which is so often referred to in derogatory terms by some Federal Ministers of course is not always the great capitalist that the Labor Party seems to make it out. It is in fact capitalist without profit in many cases. If honourable senators care to read the report of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd of 1974 I am sure they will find undisputable figures contained in that very reliable report. I suggest that they read under the heading 'Tax Bill' because it states:

We finished up earning after tax only lc for every dollar we have invested in the steel industry ... in downtoearth terms, 'no one ever got a bucket of water from a dry well'. We don't intend that the steel industry in Australia should dry up, but we need the co-operation of all to ensure that it doesn't.

What a margin it has as a steel industry! It has a 1 per cent profit after tax. That is supposed to encourage the rest of Australia to invest in Australia's future. The report continues:

While most of our investment is in steel, for this year most of our profits come from petroleum, mining and from our many manufacturing industries.

As a side issue to this discussion on BHP, it might be a good thing if Mr Connor, the Minister for Minerals and Energy, were to read how much steel is used in various categories of operation of Australian industrial production. He will find that 21.97 per cent of the steel production in Australia was used in the mining industry. This was the largest share of any segment of Australian operators. Certainly, the revitalising of the mining industry will be extremely important to the future of that company. I use that example to illustrate publicly what has been put to me privately many times in the last few weeks. Companies are facing the prospect of earning either completely, minimal profits, which is not the slightest encouragement to them to invest further funds in Australia, or they are making a loss. Let us not be fooled by the number of favourable results which come out from time to time. We ought to be happy and very pleased that there are some successful companies in Australia. If I were working for any company in Australia I certainly would like to be working for one with a high profit margin rather than one with a low profit margin. I am sure that most employees in Australia believe that at the present time. So the scene in Australia is one where the Federal Government is known to be pursuing its ideological cause.

Industry and commerce believe that they are under attack and in many instances they are looking to invest their funds outside Australia. The Government would be aware of that. The relevant Ministers would know from the letters on their desks- and I know those letters are there- that many export industries are ceasing their export programs that they have developed through many years of hard work, encouraged by the incentives offered by previous governments. There is a lack of confidence in the Government due to the contradictory statements of its Ministers such as those concerning the tax on unearned income which was altered even before the Budget has been passed by this Parliament. The spectacle of Caucus divided has emphasised the lack of leadership by the Government. It has highlighted and outlined the basic weakness inherent in the discipline Caucus has over its members of Parliament, a discipline which gives power to every member of its parliamentary team in the consideration of legislation. It is impossible to maintain a proper Cabinet system of government under a Labor Administration. This has been proved from time to time during previous attempts by Labor to govern this country. It is not possible for Cabinet to make a decision, to have that decision placed before

Caucus and torn about, then to accept something less and go to the Australian people and say: 'We are confidently governing you'. The caucusing of Labor binds every Labor member of Parliament to Caucus decisions regardless of what happens in either House of Parliament.


Senator Gietzelt - The Liberals have that system, too.


Senator STEELE HALL - I was greatly distressed when I heard that the Liberals were moving to a harder line in this way, especially in the election of their Cabinet. I have a personal view on this point because of my past experience. I was pleased to read reports that they had moved away from that hard line and disciplinarian attitude in the election of their Cabinet. They are moving back to the system of a more effective Cabinet government which contrasts so strongly with the disciplinary caucusing which is destroying Cabinet government in Australia at present.

I repeat that the Australian people certainly do not know where they are going in this scene. Certainly the Government is not giving them any confidence. Senators who care to read the economic journals in the Parliamentary Library and learn the economic facts stated by many economists in Australia will find that in one fashion or another all economists agree that the union system in Australia, which is the last great power system outside the control of the elector, has to be brought one way or another into the general planning of the economic progress of this country. Whichever way they express it, whichever way some economists like to hide that opinion perhaps because of their own politics or because of fear of offending a great section of the community, that is what they are saying. The relevant journals are easily obtainable from the Parliamentary Library by every senator who cares to read them. Until the union movement is brought under control in the sense that companies and individuals in the community are under control we will not see the period of stability which everyone is looking for.

A number of great inequities has been created by the Budget. Previous speakers in this debate have referred to them. The application of the capital gains tax in the form proposed will create very great inequities. Whilst it is another illustration of the failure of the Government to provide Cabinet leadership, at least the retreat from one aspect of the unearned income tax was some measure of relief from the very severe impact it would have had on numbers of the Australian community.

I was very sorry to learn that the 2 proposals put forward by my Party were not contained in the Budget. I believe that working parents who must pay for child minding services should be able to claim those service charges as an income tax deduction. I also believe that there is absolute merit in the view that individual employees paying transport charges to work should be able to claim those charges as a tax deduction just as a person running a company or a professional business can claim them. Those indisputable claims, in spite of their equity, have not been included in the Budget. The Government could well have considered such a miserly return to the public out of the immense wealth now accruing to it because of the inflationary effects on salaries and wages in the taxation scale.

I wish now to raise some specific matters which concern South Australia. I referred earlier to the defence vote which I believe is being kept down to a deplorable level in view of the inflationary effects and the need even to maintain the payment of salaries to members of the defence forces. It is obvious that some defence cuts will be made. South Australia has within its borders one of the most important defence facilities in this country. I believe that it is under severe threat of being dismantled by this Government because of economies being made in the defence vote. The Government is using the defence vote as one part of its program to take the brunt of economies while it is increasing rapidly its appropriations for other parts of its expenditure program. I refer, for instance, to the vote for research and development which is mainly to be expended in the maintenance and development work of the Weapons Research Establishment based at Salisbury, Woomera and adjacent areas.

It is a most important facility in the sense that it maintains a continuing expertise in all scientific aspects of weapon technology. It is very difficult indeed to assemble rapidly the type of team employed there in the event of an unforeseen emergency, or even at the time of an emergency which can be foreseen only a few years away. This vote has been increased from $59.8m to $67. 5m. By my subtraction that is an increase of $7.7m. I would like to inform the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) who is handling this debate for the Government that the increase is shown as $7.6m. I assume that someone has made a mistake in his calculations. There is an error of $100,000 in the table and I would like the Minister when he speaks in this debate to tell me why in the table the difference between $59.8m and $67. 5m is shown as $7. 6m. I am sure that it is not a deliberate mistake. It is too small to be deliberate but it needs correcting if the table is to be left on the file.

The facts of life are that in 1973-74 the vote for the research and development section of the defence appropriation was $59.8m, which was an increase of $3m or 5.3 per cent. That happened in a year when the inflation rate was running at about 9V4 per cent. This year the vote is increased by $7.7m from $59.8m to $67.5m, an increase of 12.8 per cent in a year in which we can assume that the inflation rate is about 22 per cent. It would appear that there is a very deliberate attempt to run down one of the most important defence technology groupings in the southern hemisphere. I do not know why we are in the business of dismantling such a grand assembly of technologists and scientists. They have to their credit quite a number of important defence mechanisms. One of the offshoots- it is only an offshoot but a very important one which is known all over the world- is the copying machines of which all honourable senators now make much use. The dry copying machines were developed on the processes of 2 major research people at the Weapons Research Establishment in Adelaide. Those patents are well used world wide.

I want to be a little specific about this matter. I can say to the Minister for Agriculture that the members of this valuable assembly of staff at the Weapons Research Establishment are extremely concerned that they are taking the brunt of the economies in the defence vote because they are not front line operators. It is one of the most shortsighted moves in any government's administration that I can think of. I will read for the benefit of the Senate a starting paragraph in a draft submission on this issue. It read:

The Weapons Research Establishment group is very concerned about the viability of Australia's Defence Scientific Service due to it being allowed to run down in an ad hoc manner by wastage. We consider that, from a national point of view, Australia 's defence organisation must remain viable to be ready to meet any likely demands upon it. We believe that there is a great risk of allowing the ADSS to run down in times of little apparent threat which will result in the ADSS not being able to respond when required.

The key point is 'not being able to respond when required'. I read another quote. There is a heading in the Easter Saturday 1974 edition of the Australian':

Five million dollar radio telescope antenna sold as scrap.

The article states:

One of Australia's key radio-telescopes, valued at $Sm, has been sold for scrap and a top astronomy team has been disbanded, in a major scientific scandal.

The bungle has created a big gap in Australia's top-line radio-astronomy research that scientists believe will never be repaired.

The 26-metre (8 fi) diameter radio-telescope 'dish', near Woomera, South Australia, was offered as a gin to the Federal Government.

But the Government last year declined to accept the offerand its owners, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration had to sell it for scrap.

That is a disgraceful state of affairs. One wonders whether there was some political bias on the part of this Government because the telescope was offered by the United States space agency. Did the Government feel that it was ideologically unable to accept the offer? If it had been made by China or the Shah of Iran, the Government might have accepted it, but the Government could not accept it from the States.


Senator Marriott - The Government buys its art from the United States.


Senator STEELE HALL - It is good on the arts but it is not too good on radio telescopes. There is more. I do not want to quote the whole of this letter. I do not want to embroil individuals in this matter. I quote 2 points which I think are sufficient to amplify how serious this matter is. The letter was written to Mr Clyde Cameron, the Minister for Labor and Immigration, by a person deeply involved in the operation of this telescope. I shall read an extract. It is not taken out of sequence. It reads:

Unfortunately the NASA tracking stations are run by the Department of Supply. Our work has been completely unclassified. Since 1967 we have published about 25 papers in scientific journals and some of them have sparked editorial comment in journals like 'Science'. We even got mentioned by Walter Sullivan in the 'New York Times' on one occasion. In Australia, we were virtually unknown because of the repressive policy of the Department in matters of local Press comment. Overseas we were well known because of our scientific publications in American and European journals, and science writers in overseas newspapers are, of course, much more on the ball than their Australian counterparts. So we suffered local anonymity and overseas fame. I have just been accepted as a candidate for D.Sc. degree at an English university and with a little luck I should get the degree soon. If I do, I will be the most highly qualified and least heeded scientist in the Public Service. I do not include CSIRO.

The Minister wrote back to this gentleman. I will not bore the Senate by reading more of that letter. Sufficient has been said to introduce, isolate and completely explain the subject. This is part of the Minister's reply. I will not read all of it. The portion which I will read is indicative of the remainder of the letter. The Minister replied:

You have obviously enjoyed 7 years of near ideal conditions for your radioastronomy research, and I can understand your disappointment at the forthcoming changes.

This letter was written on 30 January 1974. It continues:

However, the facts are that my Department must operate on a smaller budget than formerly, and research in general and the Weapons Research Establishment in particular have to share in the economies.

The economies which are referred to in the Budget and which are so lightly passed over because they are impersonal are revealed in all their detail in that Minister's letter. He is a senior Minister. He must make economies. He does not have the money. He cuts the basis of the future development of Australia's defence. The cuts do not affect men in the field who can be trained in one or two years, depending upon the scientific needs in their training and their capacities. He is cutting major scientific study areas, some of which could not be replaced in 10 years. So this Government will continue to increase by 43 per cent the vote for the arts, and other provisions by even more. The Government will reduce the basis not of next year's defence but of the defence for which it says it is planning- in 1 5 years. If the Government means anything when it talks of its program for 15 years, which, I think, is the lead time which the Government mentions before there is any possible danger of aggression to Australia, it would maintain this vital defence development area for this country.


Senator McAuliffe - We were a good government in war time.


Senator STEELE HALL -A few things have been said about that matter, but without opening up old wounds which could be controversial let me say that the Australian Labor Party did not last long in office in peace because it tried to keep the war going in Australia. You know why the Chifley Government was run out of office. It was because it would not give the Australians the few things for which they fought. It might have done well in the war but it could not manage the peace any more than the present Government can manage the peace at the moment.

This leads to the fuel and energy position in Australia which is deplorable. It is as deplorable as the run down in South Australia of the scientific research section of our defence forces. It is because of the complete inability of this Government and its Minister for Minerals and Energy to produce any cohesive leadership in the Australian mining and minerals scene. What have we got? We now have 15 years supply of oil, at the most. I think it is about 15 years. Is it 10 or 12? We have a limited amount of oil for future supplies in Australia. Even now we are importing some parts of our petroleum needs. We are not encouraging any significant new oil searches in Australia because no one knows whether they will get any benefit from any finds which they make because profit is a dirty word. Even one per cent is not a desirable thing to some Federal Ministers.


Senator McAuliffe - You have not heard of Mount Isa Mines Ltd and its huge profits.


Senator STEELE HALL -Your Government probably spent more on the visit of the Shah of Iran to Australia than it will spend this year on solar energy research in Australia. It should get its priorities right. For the benefit of Senator McAuliffe, South Australia has another valuable research group, based at Flinders University. It is doing some very good and basic research on the development of solar power for lower grade heating of homes which is its only foreseeable benefit.


Senator McAuliffe - You have been out in the sun for too long.


Senator STEELE HALL -Talk to the scientists if you know more about it. All I can say is that they are being starved of funds. They are not getting the money they need. They are being starved of a few tens of thousands of dollars. This Government that can spread millions for its pet programs and antagonise the States in so doing will not disburse funds for the basic future development of this country. At the same time we have seen in the last week or so leaders on the United States scene warning of the very grave dangers facing us in respect of the fuel and energy resources of the world and telling us how they are concentrated in a few hands.


Senator McAuliffe - You criticise the Minister for trying to conserve them.


Senator STEELE HALL - I will come to that point in a moment. The Australian Government should be reacting in an emergency sense to ensure that our fuel needs are secured for the future. One of the things one would do automatically would be to upgrade greatly the search for oil in this vast continent. The Minister for Minerals and Energy has not approached the producers in the latest and most glamorous fuel area, the uranium deposits of Australia, on any reasonable basis of negotiation. He has not told them that they can sell one-third of the deposits overseas and retain two-thirds in Australia; he has not told them that they can sell a quarter overseas and retain three-quarters in Australia. He has made no approach to them on the basis of any minimal development except on a tonnage of 3,000 tons in connection with a governmentpromoted processing plant. If that is to be the attitude of the Federal Minister Australia will go confidently into the next decade or so knowing that it will have no new discoveries of oil. It will have to invite the Shah to come here a few more times because it would appear that the Government is more interested in buying material from him than in discovering what we have at home.


Senator Milliner - Australianism, senator. I object to that. It is racist.


Senator STEELE HALL -This is a tremendous failing. Did I hear the honourable senator say that I am a racist? I would like to know how the Government selects its priorities as to who it deals with around the world. It does not seem to like some dictatorships while it likes others. If honourable senators want me to go into that sphere I can bring out a file I have in my drawer and we can go through the very peculiar attitude of this Government in the way it selects its international friends. It certainly does not recognise the definition of democracy by the Westminster or British standard of government when selecting its friends around the world. I make one plea on this subject of energy. I plead with the Minister to produce policies. They do not have to be favourable but he must have policies of some sort. He has had 2 years in Government and years in Opposition to produce them but he has nothing to show but antagonism towards anyone who looks like making a profit. Unless the Minister can produce policies this country will go into a long term decline.


Senator Milliner - How about our coal?


Senator STEELE HALL -The honourable senator who interrupts should talk to the people in the board rooms of Australia and learn where they are going to put the money they have left. Many of them are looking for overseas investment. They will not put their money in Australia because this country is being run down as a side issue to a deliberate socialisation of every avenue that this Government can get its hands on.


Senator Milliner - Name one company that told you that.


Senator STEELE HALL -No, I will not name the company. I have learned before of victimisation by governments and I do not intend to put these companies in the same position.

I want to say something more about the South Australian scene. I refer to something of very great moment at this time- the subject of Redcliffs and the development of a petrochemical industry there. I will add one or two other points about the South Australian scene. It has taken a long while for South Australians to see through the fabrication which is the South Australian Government and realise that it is nothing less or more than a creation of propaganda and Press relations experts. This is clearly coming through at this stage as we consider a number of failures which are the legacy of the Dunstan Government in our State. Firstly, I want to refer to the situation of Redcliffs. As you would know, Mr Deputy President, there has been a great deal of controversy about this subject. It was introduced a few days before the 1973 State election in South Australia as a very great developmental project put together by the State Labor Government.

At that time the Premier of South Australia said that the environmental studies had been made and Spencer Gulf would be safe from any possible pollution by this proposed plant. In fact he was quoted in the particular when he spoke at Whyalla and said that the Department of Fisheries had been consulted during investigations into the industrial complex and had given the all clear. That was an intriguing statement. Certain information was given to me indicating that in fact the Premier was not telling the truth. When the South Australian House of Assembly met earlier this year I was able to ask the South Australian Premier to produce the report which he said he had before the election and which gave the all clear on the environment in Spencer Gulf. This was his reply:

In fact, as soon as the honourable member raised the question of what had happened to this report, I asked for it.

These are the words of the Hon. D. A. Dunstan. He continued:

I cannot find it. Very strangely, there is a docket, but it is missing. I am just wondering exactly what has happened, and I am a little interested to know. There is a docket listed in the index, but no-one can discover it.


Senator McAuliffe - Someone knocked it off. You did not knock it off, did you?


Senator STEELE HALL -The serial will continue:

What is more, of course, I notice that the honourable member has been getting some information from somewhere.

What is not included in this report is something that everyone in that House of Assembly will remember. The Premier pointed at me and said: Your friends in the Premier's Department stole it.' Honourable senators can reserve their own opinion on that statement. The honourable Premier went on to say:

I got the following minute from the Director of my Department when I said, ' Find me the file ':

I am referring now to the report that the Premier's Department then filed to him. I want honourable senators to remember the immensity of this question of a now $600m plant and the question of pollution which has driven other companies around the world engaged in similar manufacture into court cases involving many multi-million dollar sums. This was the report the Premier received in answer to his statement that he had a report:

I vaguely remember a minute, -

This is what was said by this public servantsome time during 1972, on the proposed petro-chemical industry and possible effects on the marine life in the gulf I think it would have been between April and September, but cannot be sure. I cannot clearly remember whether the communication referred to was a loose minute, notes of a conversation, or part of a docket.

My recollection is that the 'piece of paper' contained a discussion on a petro-chemical complex, whether at Adelaide or Redcliffs, and indicated that such could have an effect on the marine life if pollutants or heated water were allowed to enter the gulf. The premise of the paper appeared to indicate that, were the industry to take water from the gulf (or the Murray), it would be necessary for the industry to cool it (I think by cooling tanks) before returning it or putting it into the gulf. In other words, the paper said that with commonsense in using cooling tanks, etc., and proper controls during construction, there should be no problem.

I have, on several occasions (and so too has Mr Scriven told industry that in any construction they would need to consult at each stage with the Environment and Conservation Department. They have further been told this liaison would be necessary on their projected plans and proposals. In this respect where industry have said that large quantities of water would be used, it has been made clear that before water is returned or placed in the gulf, it would have to be cooled . . .


Senator Cavanagh - That establishes that there was a document or something.


Senator STEELE HALL -For the benefit of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) the statement concludes:

Unfortunately the minute, docket, or note referred to in my first paragraph cannot be located, nor are we certain from whom it came. However, I am quite certain in my own mind that 1 have seen such a piece of paper.


Senator Cavanagh - It establishes that there was -


Senator STEELE HALL -That there was such a piece of paper. So the fate of the great works on Spencer Gulf which caused the Dow Chemical company in Canada to be sued for multi-million dollar sums was to be settled as far as South Australia was concerned by a piece of paper that the Premier had lost and whose nature his chief officers could not remember. What a type of administration! Of course, this was only the beginning of this very sorry tale of Redcliffs. During this period the producers had not really been approached about a final price for the gas. I understand that certainly as of last week- probably as of now- the producers have not agreed to sell their gas. But worse than this, it has developed into an interdepartmental and interministerial discussion. We find that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) entered into this matter because the whole subject of Redcliffs was becoming a serious sort of a fantasy in South Australia. Someone has given to a number of newspaper reporters an extremely detailed report of the whole handling of this matter by the Federal Cabinet. The upshot of it is- one can read it in a journal which I have here and which I will lend to any honourable senator who wants to read it; it is too long to quote- that there is a conflict between the Department led by the Minister for Minerals and Energy and the Prime Minister's department which is operating under advice given by an interdepartmental committee.

The Premier of South Australia, who first started off by saying that the South Australian Government would provide all of the infrastructure for this plant, is now asking the Commonwealth Government to make up a substantial part of $200m for the capital works of the infrastructure. As the 'Australian Financial Review' indicated yesterday, it will cost $90,000 of capital investment by the State Government or by the Commonwealth Government for every job that is created at Redcliffs, and the plant is calculated to last for 10 years. In 10 years it is expected that the plant will have used the gas resources and that it will become derelict. This is the sort of program that the Federal Labor Government has been led into by Mr Dunstan in South Australia in cahoots with Mr Connor. Apparently the Prime Minister has woken up rather late. It would appear that he has woken up rather late to a few plots around him. At last he has woken up and he has asked for an accounting of the finances which the Federal Government is expected to put into this project. It will be a very severe embarrassment to the South Australian Premier if this plant does not proceed.

The latest information in today's South Australian 'Advertiser' indicates that the Federal Government will hold a public inquiry into the environmental implication of the Redcliffs program in South Australia. I remind honourable senators that the South Australian Premier had it all clear before the last State election, but now there is to be a full public inquiry by the Commonwealth Government. But the interesting thing is that the inquiry is to start in the middle of this month and it is to report early next month. As someone in South Australia has said, what is its job? Is it to say yes? You are not kidding anyone to think that that committee will be able to produce the required report on that enormous construction project within a fortnight.


Senator Cavanagh - No, it has only to find the piece of paper that you referred to.


Senator STEELE HALL - I suppose that the Minister agrees with the slipshod ramblings of the South Australian Government. He will remember that during the last election campaign in South Australia the Premier came out with a very enthusiastic plan which had been worked out in co-operation with Mr Hawke of the Australian Council of Trade Unions under which the ACTU was to buy from the South Australian Government a large amount of land south of Adelaide and develop it for homes for the workers. The blocks of land were to sell for as low as $500. The ACTU was to obtain the money from other countries, including Israel. That plan formed pan of a dramatic election platform. After the election Mr Hawke- the Minister must know this- said that he liked Sydney better and that he was not going to do this in Adelaide. It was all right to say this during the election campaign in South Australia, but afterwards Mr Hawke got a bit tired of it and said that he would go to Sydney. I wonder what the people in Sydney are thinking at the present time and where the ACTU has bought a large area of land. Perhaps the Minister might care to refer to the much vaunted and much publicised Libyan contracts which were to bring multi-million dollar orders to the South Australian agricultural manufacturing industry. South Australian Government experts were sent to Libya and the contracts were signed. On 14 September last Horwood Bagshaw Ltd received a letter from the Libyan Government cancelling the contracts and giving no reasons for doing so. Our experts are returning to Australia. People are being sacked at the plant concerned.


Senator Cavanagh - You have sabotaged everything that Dunstan has attempted.


Senator STEELE HALL - Well, perhaps we will come on to something else in the Budget. I note that we are going to have some water filtration in South Australia. Is not that marvellous? We have been going to have water filtration so many times. I remember formulating a policy for water filtration for the 1970 election campaign in South Australia. We had been operating a pilot plant which was filtering water in South Australia. We decided that whilst it would be an expensive program, if we were to develop a desirable quality of domestic water in Adelaide there was no alternative but to go into full scale filtration. Over some weeks and months departmental officers worked out a detailed plan for filtering Adelaide's water, with various estimates as to when certain sections of the city would be fully filtered. From memory the program was to be completed in 1978. By 1972 certain early but significant areas of Adelaide were to receive filtered water. Of course, we were defeated at the election and were unable to put into action the water filtration plan for Adelaide. After a few months the new South Australian Labor Government decided that this would be a desirable thing for our State, and it announced a water filtration program for Adelaide. I guarantee that since then that program has been announced 5 times by the South Australian Government, which keeps on announcing works that it does not proceed with. The program was announced yet again in the Federal Budget in 1974. I do not think we can expect that the Federal Government will go ahead as the Dunstan Government has proceeded and simply keep on announcing the program because this is the Federal scene and it would work very heavily against this Government in South Australia if it continued to play the sort of trickery in this matter that the Dunstan Administration has continued to play in our State. I believe that at last water filtration will be introduced in South Australia, but it took the discipline of the Federal Labor Government to accomplish what has been promised by the State Government as long ago as 1970


Senator McAuliffe - He does not give up easily.


Senator STEELE HALL -Mr Dunstan does not start. This afternoon we heard something about contributions to political Parties. I want to deal with another vital agricultural industry which has an unlikely connection with the subject of contributions to political parties. I join with other speakers in regretting the attack which this Government obviously has made on agricultural industries in Australia. I note that today the Australian Prime Minister is in the United Nations assuming some responsibility for feeding the starving and the hungry in the underdeveloped countries. But at home he is depressing vigorously certain important areas of agriculture. The removal of so many incentives to produce belie the brave words which the Prime Minister has uttered on that grander stage of the United Nations. I will deal with the wine industry in South Australia. Prior to the 1972 Federal election at which Labor came to office Mr Dunstan was the Chairman of the Australian Labor Party Federal Election Finance Committee. As Chairman of that Committee he worked rather assiduously to obtain funds for the election campaign.


Senator Button - Who is this?


Senator STEELE HALL -Mr Dunstan in South Australia. He worked hard to obtain funds for the ' It 's Time ' machine. He wrote a letter to a number of people who it was considered might be able to contribute. He made particular reference to the wine industry. He said:

The future of the wine industry has become an issue at the forthcoming Federal Elections. The Australian Labor Party believes, and its Federal Executive has stated, that the only solution that will guarantee continued prosperity for the wine industry and the many thousands of growers who supply it is complete abolition of the excise and its nonreplacement by a sales tax or any other imposition.


Senator Cavanagh - We did it in the first week.


Senator STEELE HALL -The Minister will be interested to know that the Premier of South Australia said:

I seek your financial support for the ALP campaign for the Federal elections. You have already spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars on the wine tax and on collecting the information required by the Customs and Excise Department. The election of a Federal Labor Government will save you these costs in the future. You may be sceptical about the intentions of an ALP Government regarding the excise. Accordingly, the attached form provides the opportunity for you to:

(a)   forward a donation forthwith or

(b)   pledge a donation to be paid only after the Federal leader of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Gough Whitlam, has given an unequivocal assurance during the campaign that a Government led by him will abolish the excise and not replace it with a sales tax or any other imposition.

Then followed the manner in which people could contribute. Of course, the Labor government has ratted on Mr Dunstan.


Senator Cavanagh - We abolished it in our first week in office.


Senator STEELE HALL - Yes, the Government abolished the excise tax and it applied something far more severe to the vignerons of South Australia. Quite recently- I think it was last week- Mr Dunstan said in replying to my colleague, Mr Robin Millhouse, who leads the Liberal Movement in the House of Assembly:

Previously, 1 had publicly said, and I say it again, that 1 regard the impost of a brandy excise and the elimination of the differential in the excise on brandy as an additional impost, that is a breach of the undertaking I gave.

.   . I bitterly resent having been placed in that position, and I clearly told the Prime Minister that never again will 1 give an undertaking on his behalf in that way.

I said that never again will I be placed in the position where I give an undertaking that someone else is willing and in a position to dishonour ...

So, in the words of the South Australian Labor Premier, Mr Dunstan, he has been dishonoured by Mr Whitlam and the Government that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs represents -


Senator Cavanagh - Only through not knowing the difference between brandy and wine.


Senator STEELE HALL -That is just the point; the Minister does not know the difference between brandy and wine as far as the grape growers are concerned. That is exactly what he does not know. A number of statements have been made in recent times on this issue. On 18 September, only last month, a statement was issued in the name of Mr Ackland, Chairman of the Federal Wine and Brandy Producers Council of Australia Incorporated, and some of the points he made in that statement were these:

The Labor Government whilst in opposition promised the industry every assistance but has in office appeared to go out of its way to try and bring a local industry, offering decentralised employment, to its knees whilst doing nothing to restrict cheap imports.

The Government's action is likely to bring severe hardship and possible ruin to sections of a basic primary industry and I feel the situation I have outlined makes a mockery not only of their earlier promises but shows in their true light the sham and hypocrisy of prominent Ministers who protest loudly about atomic explosions whilst they continue to encourage and assist imports from countries concerned.

Their actions in both directions will be at the cost and peril of the future livelihood of very many grapegrower producers.

There are 2,300 producers in the Riverland region of South Australia alone. What the Minister does not understand, of course, is that there is great area of movement of grapes between the brandy and wine producing areas, and quite important quantities of grapes can be used in either type of production. If the price of brandy is raised by government excise to an impossible figure the grapes will not be used in brandy production; they will go direct to other forms of production, mainly wine production. It will be found that the industry will be completely overtaxed. Only a few years ago the grape vines in South Australia were being pulled up. Then, only a few years beyond that, co-operatives were being formed so that wine in South Australia could be stored and marketed. It would appear that the Minister is doing his best, by his attitude, to bring back those wretched days. It will do the Minister good to listen to these figures because he does not seem to know much about the situation.

The promise of the Labor Party and of the Premier of South Australia prior to the December 1972 election has therefore cost the industry, by the imposition of a Federal excise in their place, an extra $ 1 3,729,000. In other words, the additional imposts represent 3 times the savings resulting from the removal of the excise on wine. No wonder the Premier of South Australia, the federal chairman of the finance behind the It's Time' machine, says publicly to all of

Australia: 'I have been dishonoured by the Prime Minister of Australia and I will never place myself in a position again where he may do that to me in future'. I think that perhaps that demonstrates more clearly the ethics of this Government and how it will proceed on its course regardless of what the public thinks and regardless of what the States think. I deplore the ideological moves which are evident in nearly every administrative decision which is made by this Government.

I return to the point that the Labor Party is quite openly a product of the union movement and it has the enormous responsibility of trying to juggle its disciplinarian type of government which reduces Cabinet to a rather meaningless interior operating organisation within Caucus. It has the job of somehow bringing under control in Australia an inflationary situation which is regarded by the most eminent economists in this country as one of the greatest dangers to our social system as we know it that we have ever faced. In the danger that is presented we have people in the industrial labour front who say that they would not mind if the capitalistic system were destroyed as long as it was replaced by a democratic socialist alternative. I can only say to this Government that it is involving itself by this Budget in one of the greatest conflicts, that it is distributing on a wider front and in greater measure the products which are generated by free enterprise in this country, and that it is using that generation to build its Budget. At the same time it is exhibiting to those who generate that wealth an attitude of disbelief in their general future existence. It is the greatest conflict that can ever confront a country. I can only hope that we will not see the dramatic changes that I fear in this country before the Government reaches its ultimate and inevitable demise.







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