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Tuesday, 3 March 1970

Mr SPEAKER - I have to report that the House this day attended His Excellency the Governor-General in the Senate chamber, when His Excellency was pleased to make a Speech to both Houses of the Parliament. The Speech will be included in Hansard for record purposes. (The Speech read as follows):

Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:

You are assembled at this Second Session of the 27th Parliament to consider and decide on matters affecting the security and growth of the Australian nation, and matters concerning the welfare of the citizens who constitute that nation.

This year we commemorate the discovery of Eastern Australia by Captain Cook, two hundred years in the past.

Now we turn our eyes to a future which, more than ever before, is rich with the promise of achievement if we have the will to achieve.

It is therefore fitting that this year Her Majesty The Queen, and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by their children, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne, will visit us. They will be warmly welcome in this country.

My Government will continue to support the principles of the United Nations and seek in that way the establishment of enduring peace amongst al) nations.

But in a world still torn by tension and by conflict we must also look to our own defences.

A comprehensive statement on Australia's defence policy will be made to the Parliament in the early days of this Session by the Minister for Defence.

This statement will outline the attention being given to the longrange strategic policies which will best serve Australia's security. And it will indicate the priorities to be given to the development of selfsufficient and versatile forces to support those policies.

New proposals will be made for the Defence infrastructure, and for new equipment in the years ahead.

Meanwhile the acquisition of the fighting equipment, which was announced in the last Budget, is proceeding. Investigation into the construction of a causeway to the naval facilities to be built in Western Australia has begun, and construction on the development of Learmonth airfield in Western Australia will shortly start. The strength of the Australian Permanent Forces, which was 83,794 at the end of 1969 is expected to increase to 86,500 by June. Legislation will be introduced to provide a uniform code of discipline for al) three Services.

The strength of our industrial base is of vital importance to our defence. My Government will continue its general policy of encouraging the development of new capacity in industry and has specifically allocated $3. 2m for the design of an Australian light twin engined utility aircraft, including the manufacture of two flying prototypes by the Government Aircraft Factories.

In keeping with our aim to achieve enduring peace my Government believes that aggression must be seen to be unsuccessful.

Australia will therefore continue, in cooperation with the United States of America and other countries, to assist the Republic of Vietnam in its struggle to repel aggression and allow its citizens to live under a Government of their own choice.

My Government will continue io give military and economic assistance to the Republic of Vietnam and will continue its Civic Action Programme.

My Government is glad to note that the increasing capacity of the South Vietnamese to defend themselves has already permitted the withdrawal of some Allied Forces. Should the future situation permit a further substantial withdrawal of troops - beyond those announced by President Nixon on 16 December 1969 - then in consultation with the Government of the Republic of Vietnam and the Government of the United States, some Australian troops will be included, at some stage, in the numbers scheduled for such withdrawal.

My Government deplores the continuing threat posed by North Vietnam and strongly supports the continuing efforts which are being made to achieve a just and lasting peace through negotiation.

Turning to our near North my Government, at the invitation of the Governments of Malaysia and Singapore, will continue to station forces of all three Services in those two countries after 1971. My Government believes that this continuing Australian presence will be seen as a contribution to the security of Malaysia and Singapore and to stability, progress and cooperation in South East Asia.

My Government believes that our defence aid, which includes approved programmes amounting to $4Sm, and the gift of ten Sabre aircraft to Malaysia, is a real contribution to the defence capacity of both countries.

My Government will take steps to advance Papua and New Guinea further along the road to self-government and eventual independence.

My Government does not believe that an arbitrary date for independence of Papua and New Guinea should be set by it, even against the wishes of the people of the Territory and it will not do so.

But my Government does believe in constant advancement towards selfgovernment. Consideration of major changes in constitutional arrangements for self-government should await presentation to the Territory House of Assembly of the Report of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development, which is at present inquiring into this matter.

My Government will, however, take early steps to introduce new arrangements within the scope of the present Papua and New Guinea Act.

This will result in Ministerial Members accepting full day-today responsibility for their Departments instead of sharing that responsibility as at present with a Departmental Head. The Ministerial Member will be responsible to the Administrator's Executive Council.

The scope of the responsibilities of the Administrator's Executive Council will be enlarged and additional powers will be transferred to that Council, and to Ministerial Members who form a majority of that Council.

The procedures by which the Territory Budget is framed will be changed so that elected Members will have a greater voice in the actual drafting of the Budget.

The Territory of Papua and New Guinea is developing economically and will in the future develop faster.

But the level of local savings in Papua and New Guinea is low and finance for major development projects comes predominantly from outside the Territory.

Because of this the Administration has in the past acquired - for future disposal to the people of the Territory - substantial equity holdings in certain enterprises, notably the Bougainville Copper Project and the New Britain Oil Palm Project.

My Government now proposes to ask the Territory House of Assembly for legislation to establish a statutory corporation to acquire equity in major investment projects in the Territory.

This new institution would have a close link with the Papua and New Guinea Development Bank and its principal functions would be to take up shares in appropriate enterprises and hold them for future disposal to the people of the Territory, to underwrite local share issues, and to establish unit trusts or investment companies.

My Government will, this month, introduce a new scheme for practical, down to earth training of Papuans and New Guineans in Australia, in areas of training not available in the Territory.

In doing this my Government will seek the co-operation of private organisations, private enterprise, and State Governments so that the scheme may be a human and economic success and, through the training provided, help Papuans and New Guineans to accept greater responsibilities in both private and government activity in their own country.

Turning now to internal matters my Government believes that economic growth in Australia has continued strongly.

Thus in the year to the September quarter 1969 gross national product increased by 11.7% and the indications are that this strong growth rate is continuing.

Full employment has been maintained and considerable expansion has taken place. Commerce and industry- apart from some rural industries - is prosperous. Pressures on costs and prices, though strong and persistent and requiring close attention, have for the most part been kept reasonably under control.

The Australian economy, moreover, has demonstrated a new resilience which has enabled it to weather problems created by droughts, and by international financial stresses.

My Government will follow policies aimed at broadening the economy and further developing the Australian nation.

These policies will require, among other things, an increase in labour and in skills.

To this end overseas training techniques are being studied and, in co-operation with the organisations of employees and employers my Government will formulate procedures to retrain employees displaced by technological change.

A training scheme for married and single women who, for domestic reasons have not previously been employed, will be set up. Special studies will be made into the problems and the rehabilitation of persons who, for a variety of reasons, have tended to be classed as unemployable.

Discussions are taking place between the National Employers' Organisations and the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Government in an endeavour to develop more effective means of avoiding and settling industrial disputes within the framework of the Conciliation and Arbitration system.

My Government has instituted an enquiry into Australia's future needs in postgraduate education in management and will legislate to provide the funds necessary to ensure that there are adequate facilities in Australia for post-graduate education in business management of the highest quality.

Financially, last year was marked by international financial crises but it was also a year of achievement in international financial co-operation which my Government believes will provide a greatly improved financial foundation for world trade in the period ahead.

In keeping with Australia's contribution in this field my Government will introduce legislation to increase Australia's quota in the International Monetary Fund, and my Government will also proceed with the negotiation of new double taxation agreements and the revision of existing agreements.

Legislation will be introduced to extend the authority of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation to provide export credit insurance facilities for Australian exporters to Australia's external Territories. This will improve the competitive position of Australian exporters.

The Industrial Research and Development Grants Act 1967 will be reviewed during 1970-71 and the scope of complementary measures for a comprehensive and integrated programme to foster Australian industrial creativity and efficiency will be explored. So that manufacturers may plan ahead their activities in this important area, the Government's future programme of assistance will be announced well before the present legislation expires in June 1972.

Many Australian investors need an immediate income from their investments. They therefore provide money for development in Australia at fixed interest. In order to provide an opportunity for such investors to participate at their choice in the equity of Australian development, my Government will introduce early legislation conditionally to restore to companies the income tax deduction for interest paid on notes which carry the option of being converted by the holder into shares. Legislation will also be introduced to provide estate duty relief for estates of deceased primary producers.

My Government will legislate to amend the Bills of Exchange Act 1909-1958 in relation to the requirements for the endorsement of cheques credited to the bank accounts of payees. It will also legislate to amalgamate the Excise Act 1901-1968, the Distillation Act 1901-1968, and the Coal Excise Act 1949-1968 into a single statute and to incorporate certain provisions of the Spirits Act 1906-1969 in that statute or in the Customs legislation.

The progressive income tax scale and other aspects of the taxation system which affect particularly the lower and middle income earners are being closely studied to enable fulfilment of my Government's aim to put before Parliament specific provisions for relief in the next Budget.

To enable Australian trade to fit more conveniently into the international mould, my Government will present legislation to establish a Metric Conversion Board, so that a programme for conversion to a metric system of weights and measures may, in consultation with the States and community groups, be put in hand.

My Government reaffirms its belief that a tariff policy of providing adequate protection to economic and efficient Australian industries has been the basis for the sound and vigorous development of secondary industry in Australia.

However there is a need to re-examine from time to time the administrative machinery under which protection is provided and an investigation will be made to see if there is scope for improving the procedures for the handling of certain types of tariff cases.

After the close of this financial year new financial arrangements will need to be made between the Commonwealth and State Governments.

The bases for such an agreement were put forward at the Premiers* Conference held on 26th February and officers of the various Governments will shortly engage in initial discussions on them.

These bases of discussion will be the proposals of the Commonwealth to assume progressively responsibility for a share of existing State Debt, to reduce the future growth of State Debt by providing each year to the States, as a non-repayable grant, some money which would now be provided as a loan, to review the present base for revenue grants, and to review the present betterment factor by which revenue grants grow annually.

In adopting this course my Government is giving expression to its belief that there is a need for an increase in the financial capacity of the States.

Further, at the unanimous request of the State Governments, my Government will introduce legislation which will have the effect of enabling the States to receive the revenue from receipts duty which they would otherwise lose as a result of the High Court Judgment of 19th February.

As further indirect assistance to State finances, the relevant ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory will be amended to allow the recovery by the States of death duties imposed on assets held in the Australian. Capital Territory by the estates of deceased persons domiciled in a State.

I turn now to Primary Industry -

My Government will continue to work actively with representative organisations to grapple with the problems facing primary producers.

The Drought Bonds Scheme, which became operative last November, has provided a new line of defence against the financial burdens of drought, and financial assistance by my Government to drought affected farmers in Queensland will amount to about $15m in the current financial year.

Under the provisions of the Wheat Industry Stabilisation Act 1968 arrangements were made for the Australian Wheat Board to borrow, on Commonwealth guarantee, up to S624m from the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank of Australia, to enable advance payments to growers delivering wheat to the 1968-69 pool.

Because of lower sales of wheat the Board will be unable fully to repay the borrowing by the due date. My Government will therefore introduce legislation in the immediately following sitting days to enable the Commonwealth to meet its guarantee by making a loan of up to $300m to the Wheat Board.

My Government will also introduce legislation, in support of legislation by State Governments, in order to make fully effective the wheat delivery quota plan of the Australian Wheat Growers' Federation; and to give the Australian Wheat Board discretionary powers to sell wheat in Australia, for other than human consumption, at concessional prices.

In further recognition of the needs of the wheat industry my Government has decided that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation will collaborate with the Australian Wheat Board in establishing, operating and maintaining, a laboratory to conduct research into grain storage problems.

To help the wool industry my Government will introduce legislation to halve the present levy on wool growers for research and promotion and to increase its own contribution to an average of $27m annually. This is approximately double the present contribution.

In addition my Government will make arrangements to assist the marketing proposals of the Australian Wool Industry Conference for the 3 year period to 1972-73. This is estimated to cost over $7m annually.

My Government has striven to obtain the maximum possible share of the United States market for export of meat from Australia. As a result Australia was able, towards the end of 1969, to export an additional 14.8 million lb of meat to the United States of America, over and above the originally agreed level of 505 million lb.

My Government will continue its efforts in this field, and is at present negotiating with the British Authorities to maintain Australian beef exports, and to safeguard Australia's rights and interests, in the United Kingdom market.

My Government is also supporting the State Governments in a national campaign to eradicate brucellosis and tuberculosis from Australia's cattle herds. It is estimated that over the triennium to 1972 $4m will be provided for this purpose. -In October 1969 my Government concluded a new domestic sugar agreement with the Queensland Government. Legislation to ratify this agreement will be introduced at the earliest opportunity.

My Government will introduce legislation to ratify the agreement reached between the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia for the construction of the Dartmouth Dam. Legislation will also be introduced to establish the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation.

My Government will over the next 5 years provide$100m for new proposals under the National Water Resources Development Programme. The new programme will cover proposals for flood prevention and flood mitigation works, and for small dams supplying particular districts and groups of farmers.

My Government has already allocated $ 12.8m of this $100m towards the cost of an irrigation project in the Bundaberg Region of Queensland.

Legislation will also be introduced to provide funds to help finance the construction of a new power house in Central Queensland at Gladstone. My Government believes that this power station will result in the construction of an aluminium smelter - possibly the biggest in the southern hemisphere - and in other industrial development. It will be a concrete example of decentralisation and it will add to the export earnings of the nation.

To assist in reducing our dependence on imports of forest products my Government will continue to give substantial support to the development of Australia's forests and forestry. Long term loans estimated at $4.8m will be provided to the States for this purpose under the Softwood Forestry Agreements Act 1967.

In order to provide amenities to those engaged in work in remote areas my Government will continue its policy to extend television coverage and low powered national relay stations will be established in a further thirty-eight remote areas of the Commonwealth.

During the life of the Parliament the Australian Atomic Energy Commission will begin construction of a nuclear power station in Commonwealth Territory at Jervis Bay.

My Government recognises that much of the Northern Territory is heavily dependent on sea transport and that the establishment of modern port facilities will be vital to the region's further economic growth. My Government therefore proposes to undertake major new works at the Port of Darwin, including the construction of a new container and general cargo berth in the existing port area, a bulk port facility at East Arm and a new small craft facility at Frances Bay.

My Government proposes to set up a Bureau of Transport Economics to analyse the economics of transport in Australia. Further, because it is clear that the costs of sea transport will greatly depend on the ability to use new and larger ships my Government proposes that a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers meet shortly to examine and co-ordinate plans for port development.

My Government will continue with the standardisation of railway lines in Australia. Early legislation will be introduced to enable the construction of a standard gauge railway from Port Augusta to Whyalla and as soon as an agreement is reached between the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments, Parliament will be asked to approve the construction of the line linking Port Pirie to Adelaide.

My Government will continue to provide the climate and conditions which will encourage the maximum development of all sectors of Australian industry by private enterprise.

It believes that the development of industry on the scale and with the efficiency to compete in world markets is the cornerstone of national growth.

For this aim to be achieved a strong and continuing inflow of development capital from overseas is imperative.

My Government has made it clear that it prefers those who supply overseas capital for these purposes to provide the opportunity for partnership to Australian capital. This is now increasingly occurring. Australian partnership in development is growing.

My Government proposes to take a step designed to help that growth.

At present foreign firms are able to raise vast sums overseas at fixed interest for major development and expansion in Australia.

Australian companies, lacking the investment appeal abroad of large international companies, have been, in general, unable to tap those sources of funds for themselves, and often accept a smaller stake in development in Australia than they otherwise would.

My Government will therefore ask the Parliament to legislate during this Session to establish an Industry Development Corporation.

The purpose of this Corporation will be to borrow, predominantly overseas and at fixed interest, from the sources at present tapped by foreign enterprises.

My Government believes that this Corporation will help bring about greater Australian participation in the ownership of our developing nation.

My Government has examined the presently unresolved legal question as to which Government is entitled to exercise sovereign control over the resources of the sea bed off the Australian coast to the outer limits of the continental shelf.

At present, the various State Governments claim sovereign rights in respect of such resources from low water mark to the outer limits of the shelf. The Commonwealth believes that, except for internal waters as they existed at Federation, it has sovereign rights in this area.

It is the view of my Government that it would serve Australia's national and international interests to have the legal position resolved. In order that this may happen, my Government will ask the Parliament to pass legislation to assert and establish what the Commonwealth conceives to be its legal rights.

This legislation will not affect the existing agreements between the Commonwealth and the States concerning off-shore petroleum.

My Government will introduce legislation forthwith to establish an Institute of Marine Science at Townsville, and to establish an Anglo-Australian Telescope Board to erect a 150 inch telescope at Siding Spring.

My Government has agreed to a programme of extended wild life research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Indus trial Research Organisation in Northern Australia and a wild life research laboratory will be established at Darwin.

Legislation will be introduced to finance the Commonwealth's share of establishing a fourth school of Veterinary Science at an Australian University.

A Royal Commission will be established to enquire into the question of damage which might be caused to the Barrier Reef through drilling for oil.

Special grants will be made for educational research and $250,000 will be provided by my Government in 1970-71.

The present programme of unmatched capital grants for construction of Teacher Training Colleges totals $24m and will expire on 30th June this year.

My Government will introduce legislation early in this Session to authorise a further similar three year programme to the value of $30m.

My Government is at present cooperating with the States in a nation-wide survey of educational needs at the primary and secondary levels, and for teacher education including in-service training.

My Government will introduce early legislation to pay pensions at standard rates to married couples who have lost the economies of living together; to authorise subsidies to organisations providing meals on wheels; and to provide capital assistance on a 2 for 1 basis to approved institutions training handicapped children.

Early legislation will be introduced to improve and extend the scheme of compensation under the Commonwealth Employees' Compensation Act 1930-1969.

Legislation will also be brought down this Session to give effect to the scheme for the preservation of superannuation rights - the so-called portability of pensions - which was announced in the Parliament on 25th September last. The arrangements will apply, after the passage of the legislation, on and from 1st January 1970.

During this Session legislation will be introduced to improve the health scheme.

My Government will introduce legislation to provide substantially increased medical benefits, based on the concept that medical benefit payments are to be determined by reference to the fees most commonly charged for medical services. This, and other improvements to the scheme, will require increased insurance premiums from individuals and increased subventions by the Commonwealth.

My Government has also decided that the major recommendations of the Nimmo Report should be accepted and will introduce legislation to this end. Those recommendations dealing with matters for which the Commonwealth and States have joint responsibility remain to be. the subject of negotiation with State governments.

The Minister for Health will make a full and detailed statement to the Parliament on these matters early in the present Session.

My Government has decided that families on low incomes should be helped to meet the cost of health insurance by a graduated subsidy designed to pay the full cost of health insurance for families with incomes not in excess of the average minimum wage, and part of the cost of meeting health insurance for families whose incomes are little in excess of the average minimum wage.

Measures will be introduced directed towards simplification of the procedures of health insurance funds, the more effective employment of their financial reserves, the maintenance of their management expenses at reasonable levels, and the improvement of their operational efficiency and economy generally.

The increases in the traffic in drugs is a matter of concern to my Government. Ministers of my Government have conferred with State Ministers on this problem and steps are being taken to co-ordinate the activities of Commonwealth and State law enforcement agencies.

My Government proposes, after further consultation with the States, to introduce legislation to establish a National Institute of Criminology, financed by the Commonwealth, to carry out research and provide training for officers engaged in the prevention of crime.

My Government also proposes to introduce legislation to reduce delays in the hearing of proceedings for divorce and to reduce the cost to litigants. This will be done by enabling State Courts of intermediate jurisdiction to hear certain undefended divorce cases and to simplify procedures for the enforcement of maintenance orders granted in another State or Territory.

My Government will introduce legislation immediately to amend the Homes Savings Grant Act 1964-1967 to raise the permissible limit on the value of a house from SI 5,000 to $17,500, to liberalise other aspects of the scheme and to provide that, if a credit union meets the conditions which will be required, savings deposited with that credit union will qualify for the purposes of homes savings grants.

My Government will continue its policy of fostering Aboriginal initiative, will use the special capital fund which has been set up to assist in this task, and hopes that during the lifetime of the Parliament any remnants of discriminatory legislation against Aboriginals will be eliminated.

International tourism nowadays is big business. A decade ago it brought Australia approximately SI 6m. In 1969 it brought Australia approximately $120m.

The Australian Tourist Commission, established by the Government in 1967 to encourage the flow of visitors to Australia, believes this can be raised to $300m per annum by 1975, if certain development programmes are adopted.

The Government recognises the vital role of the States and the industry in any programme of tourism development and the Commission works closely in co-operation with them.

My Government has already demonstrated its willingness to foster and develop Australia's performing arts. An Interim Council has been appointed to investigate and report on the establishment of a National Film and Television Training School. My Government will now immediately introduce legislation to establish a statutory corporation to promote the production and distribution of Australian-made films of high quality. An amount of $lm will be provided as initial capital for the corporation.

The policies I have outlined will necessitate a substantial programme of legislation.

For some time my Government has been deeply concerned at the delays in preparing legislation because of the shortage of experienced Parliamentary Draftsmen.

The prompt preparation of legislation is the basis of effective parliamentary Government and so that such preparation may be expedited my Government proposes to establish by statute an Office of Parliamentary Counsel and to take administrative steps which it is hoped will lead to the availability of such experienced draftsmen.

And now, as we enter this new decade of opportunity for Australia, I leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties in the faith that Divine Providence will guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of Australia.

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