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Wednesday, 11 December 1974
Page: 3461


Senator Carrick asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(   1) In view of the public statement of the Prime Minister that sections of the trade union movement are conspiring with employers to force higher prices, what specific evidence can the Government produce to support the charge, which is a serious accusation against the trade unions.

(2)   Will the Prime Minister provide the Senate with this evidence.

(3)   If the Prime Minister cannot provide such evidence will he, on behalf of the Government, withdraw the accusation.


Senator Murphy - The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question: ( 1), (2) and (3) My comments at the Brisbane Press Club on 29 November 1974, to which the question refers, did not use the wordsconspiring with employers'. I did, however, refer to instances of firms taking up identical positions with individual trade unions or sections of the trade union movement in some industries. This has occurred, for example, in the matter of consent wage agreements which, in most cases, are taken along to arbitral authorities for endorsement, and also in the area of tariff protection. I believe both these factors are currently causing prices to be higher than they otherwise would be.

In the case of the Prices Justification Tribunal's inquiry and report on proposed increases in interstate freight rates by Mayne Nickless Limited, I drew attention to the disallowance by the Tribunal of certain wage increases in the Mayne Nickless submission. Commenting on the Tribunal's report, I stated that the Government was pleased the Tribunal had acted in accord with the spirit of the Government's invitation to the Tribunal to scrutinise with care price claims that are based on wage costs in excess of awards.

As the Tribunal pointed out in that report in respect of the over-award consent agreement involved: 'This is a burden which should properly be borne by those who agreed to the increases in wages, rather than by requiring the community at large to carry the entire amount'.

In my statement on the economy on 12 November last, I pointed out that the problems of the rapid rise in unemployment and continuing steep rise in prices and costs are interlocked. I also made the point that employees can price themselves out of the market as effectively as business can. and there are signs that this is happening.

On the matter of tariff protection, I was referring to cases where trade unions, in those industries competing with imports, had tended to put jobs before price considerations. I cited the Leyland situation as an example. However, neither displaced workers nor the Government could view with equanimity the rapid surge of imports experienced in the past year or so.

On 9 December I announced the Government's program of action for 1975 aimed at reducing current pressures from import competition on employment in certain industries. The programwill be based on selective reviews of those industries with demonstrable import problems.

Cost of Cars used by Mr A. J. Grassby 1973-74 (Question No. 391)


Senator Baume asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(   1 ) With regard to the answer to House of Representatives Question No. 1343 (vide Hansard, 19 November 1974, page 3733), how was the cost of $51,000 estimated in respect of the use of Government cars during 1973-74 by Mr A. J. Grassby.

(2)   On a mileage cost, what was the cost per mile, and how many miles were driven to incur this cost. .

(3)   On a time cost, what was the cost per hour and how many hours were driven to incur this cost.


Senator Murphy - The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(   1 ) The cost of approximately $5 1 , 000 for cars used by Mr A. J. Grassby during 1973-74 was not estimated. It was calculated from transport documents held in the Departments of Manufacturing Industry and Services and Property. The exact cost was $51,131.80 and this figure was rounded for convenience in my answer on 19 November 1974 (House of Representatives Hansard, page 3733).

(2)   and (3) Details of miles driven and drivers' hours can only be obtained by a costly search of the records of the abovenamed departments. Such expenditure of time and effort is considered unwarranted. The rates for mileage and drivers' time which applied during 1973-74 are set out below:

 

(a)   until 2 April 1974.

(b)   from 3 April 1974.

Cambridge Credit Corporation Ltd


Senator Murphy - On 16 October 1974, Senator Milliner asked me the following question, without notice:

Can the Attorney-General indicate whether Cambridge Credit Corporation Ltd accepted financial investments almost up to the day on which it was announced that the company was in the hands of a receiver? Will the Minister ascertain whether the aforementioned circumstance is substantially correct? If so, is the acceptance of financial investments in such a circumstance legal?

In reply I said that I would have inquiries made about the company's operations and would inform the Senate as much as it could properly be informed about the matter.

I should recall, for the benefit of Senators, that a Receiver was appointed in Sydney in respect of the company's property on Monday, 30 September 1974. I understand that a prospectus dated 6 May 1974 had been issued by the company seeking investment by the public in the company's securities, and this was withdrawn only on Friday, 27 September 1974 by notice given by the company to the New South Wales Corporate Affairs Commission. The company's Receiver has advised that investments were being received in the company's branch offices from the public up until Wednesday, 25 September 1974, on the afternoon of which day an instruction was issued by the secretary of the company that no further investments were to be accepted. I understand that all investments received up until 25 September 1974 were retained by the company.

The question whether the acceptance by the company of investments in these circumstances was legal is one upon which I should not express any opinion to the Senate. That question can only be determined by a Court in the light of the applicable law and all the relevant circumstances.

I understand that the affairs of the company, which is incorporated in New South Wales, are under investigation by the Corporate Affairs Commission of that State.

Third World


Senator Willesee - On 13 November 1974, Senator Sim asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs the following question, without notice:

Is he aware that the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Cairns, has again been reported to have stated that he regarded Australia as a honorary member of the Third World and that it is up to the Third World whether Australia is accepted as a member? Is this Government policy? If so, why has the Parliament not been advised by the Minister for Foreign Affairs?

The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

The Deputy Prime Minister made the comments referred to while he was at the Ministerial meeting of the International Bauxite Association held recently in Georgetown, Guyana. As the honourable senator is aware Australia was a founding member of the IBA. Almost all other members of the Association are regarded as part of what is commonly termed the Third World, and it is in this context that the Deputy Prime Minister made his comments.

Australia cannot in any formal sense become a member of the Third World, because it is a generic term used to describe the developing nations of the world that are neither major powers nor industrialised countries. In describing Australia as an honorary member of the Third World the Deputy Prime Minister intended to underline the fact that since coming to power in 1972 the Government has shown a much greater awareness of and involvement with many issues of concern to countries of the Third World.

Specifically the Australian Government's policies on a number of issues such as colonialism, racism, development questions and peace zone proposals are in essential agreement with those adopted by the countries of the Third World. On many of these issues Australia has acted in concert with or sought the close support of members of the Third World.

Industries Assistance Commission


Senator Murphy - On 28 November 1974 Senator Drake-Brockman asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question without notice concerning the Industries Assistance Commission. The Prime Minister has now supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator's question:

I refer the honourable senator to the exchange of letters between Mr Rattigan and myself incorporated in my answer to a question without notice on this subject on 27 November 1 974 (House of Representatives Hansard, pp. 4132-35).

Economic Advice and Information


Senator Murphy - On 26 November 1974 Senator Cotton asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question without notice which referred to a number of matters including whether it was the Prime Minister's intention to hold monthly talks with the Reserve Bank and the Treasury and the position regarding publication of Treasury papers. The Prime Minister has now supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator's question:

I already receive advice on the economic situation from a number of sources including the Reserve Bank and the Treasury and I propose to continue to receive that advice on a regular basis.

Insofar as making advice from the Reserve Bank and Treasury available to Parliament is concerned, the established practice- which I do not intend to depart from- has been for the conclusions that the Government comes to on the basis of the advice provided to it to be conveyed to the Parliament from time to time in the form of economic policy statements.

In relation to your question on Treasury publications, it is not true that the present Government has not permitted the Treasury to continue the publication of information booklets containing reviews of various aspects of economic and monetary policy. In fact, the opposite is the case, although one particular issue of one publication- the annual economic survey for 1 974- was not proceeded with due to timetable problems associated with the May election and the September Budget. The amount of regular commentary and information booklets has been greatly expanded since 1972. In particular, the Treasury has published, on a monthly basis since February 1973, the 'Round-up of Economic Statistics' which contains a summary of the major economic statistics released each month. This publication supplements the quarterly

Treasury Information Bulletin, which has been expanded to include, from time to time, special articles on topical issues, the first of which appeared in January 1973. Statements attached to the Budget Speech have also been expanded to provide additional information to Members of Parliament and the public generally in those Budgets presented by this Government. Furthermore, at weekly intervals during the past three months, the Treasury has been publishing a series of Taxation Papers based upon its submissions to the Taxation Review Committee.

Questionnaire Circulated to Teachers


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) -On 5 December 1974, Senator Rae asked me a question without notice about a questionnaire circulated to school teachers.

I have now been informed by my colleague the Minister for Education that the questions raised by Senator Rae refer to a survey of further needs in education and attitudes to current Australian Government programs conducted on behalf of the Schools Commission by a firm of research consultants as a minor part of the Commission's many faceted information gathering process. The survey involved the administration of an interview questionnaire by the research firm ANOP (Australian National Opinion Polls) and a mail questionnaire by researchers of Arthur Meadows and Co.

The mail questionnaire was administered to a representative sample of teachers in Australia. Teachers were asked by means of an introductory letter if they wished to take part in the survey; questionnaires were only sent to those teachers (to the home address) who volunteered to participate. No identification of individual teachers is possible within the procedures used.

In respect to questions 40 and 41, such questions are part of the standard demographic information collected in opinion sampling by all survey firms. As no individuals can be identified even by the survey firm, I understand that the Minister is satisfied that the information will not be used in an improper manner. However, he has informed me he regards questions 40 and 41 as indefensible. Questions asked in this educational context should never have followed Arthur Meadows and Co's usual procedures. A questionnaire designed in relation to any Government Commission must not only be politically neutral, but must appear to be. The Schools Commission did not include these questions in the subject matter. It asked the Company to survey. They appear to have been inserted by the Company in accordance with its normal procedures in its demographic surveys.

Immigration


Senator WILLESEE -On 20 November 1974, Senator Mulvihill asked me the following question, without notice:

Can the Minister obtain an up to date assessment of the number of Australians who sought mediation by Australia House when the manpower authorities in the United Kingdom declined to extend their stay in Britain in view of Britain's Common Market obligations and the changed status of Australians in comparison with Common Market nationals?

The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

The Australian High Commission in London has no record of any approaches for mediation in circumstances described in the Question under notice. Up to the end of October the High Commission had received 56 written applications and 60 telephone enquiries regarding extensions of stay for visiting Australians. Most of the enquirers sought only information on procedures, but 7 cases were taken up with the Home Office. The United Kingdom authorities do not keep figures of unsuccussful applications for extension of stay, but state that there are no indications of any increase in numbers of European Economic Community nationals entering the United Kingdom for employment since the entry of the United Kingdom to the European Economic Community.

State Grants


Senator Willesee -On 28 November 1974 Senator Milliner asked me the following question, without notice:

Can the Minister representing the Special Minister of State indicate when local authorities throughout Australia will receive the payments of $56,345,000 that were granted as a result of the recommendations of the first Report of the Grants Commission.

Will the Special Minister of State remind the recipients of this substantial allocation of funds that it was as a result of the initiatives taken by the Australian Government that the Grants Commission was requested to recommend the finance that should be allocated.

The Special Minister of State has supplied the following information in answer to Senator Milliner's question regarding grants to local government authorities:

Grants were forwarded to State Treasurers on Wednesday, 27 November 1974.

The Prime Minister has asked the State Treasurers for their co-operation in ensuring that these funds be paid promptly to respective local government authorities.

The Special Minister of State has requested Ministers for Local Government in the States and Regional Secretaries to advise Local Councils and the State and Federal Members of the date on which the grants will actually be paid to the Local Councils. In Queensland, the grants were paid by the State Treasury to the Councils on the afternoon of Wednesday, 27 November, the same day on which the Australian Treasury made funds available to the State Treasuries.

I am sure that all Local Government Councils recognise and appreciate the Australian Government's initiative in the payment of these initial grants as a most significant development for Local Government throughout Australia.







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