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Tuesday, 9 October 1973
Page: 1763

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes (CORIO, VICTORIA) - No. The honourable member would not be in order in doing so in Committee.

Mr HOLTEN - I accept your ruling on that matter. Perhaps I will have the chance to comment later on the contents of the pamphlet which is called the 'The Plain Facts'. Some people call it 'The Half Truths'; I do not know whether that is a correct description but it has been described to me in that fashion. Clause 4 of the Bill reads:

For the purposes of this Act, there is hereby established a Commission by the name of the Social Welfare Commission . . .

I believe that the people of Australia should have been informed that a social welfare commission would be established if the Australian Labor Party was elected, because this would have indicated that another government department would be established entailing the appointment of the head of the department, deputy heads and various other personnel. But the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) made no mention of a social welfare commission in his policy speech. He said that an Australian assistance plan would be introduced but he made no mention at all of the fact that it would be necessary to establish a commission by the name of the Social Welfare Commission. I believe that the people have been misled. I turn now to clause 5 of the Bill. I repeat that such an important position in a new department as Chairman of the Commission should have been advertised. If that is not accepted as precedent I ask the Minister whether the positions of deputy chairman and 9 other commissioners will be advertised.

Mr Lloyd - Including State members of Parliament.

Mr HOLTEN - Yes. Or is it to be taken for granted that the personnel mentioned in the short biographical notes contained in the annual report of the Social Welfare Commission, which has not yet been established officially, will constitute the commissioners and perhaps from them a deputy chairman will be appointed? I express concern that not one member of the Australian Public Service is a member of this Commission. I believe that some people within the Public Service would be suitable. Clause 6 says that the chairman will be appointed for 7 years. This seems to me to be a long period. I think it would be one of the longest periods for which any chairman would be appointed. This Commission has been operating as the Social Welfare Commission for approximately the last 6 months, but the Bill says that the Governor-General shall appoint the chairman and the commissioners. The Governor-General cannot appoint them until this Bill has passed through the Parliament. I repeat that this is just another example of the disrespect and disregard for Parliament that we have come to expect from this Government since it has been in office.

It is said that this is only an interim committee and that other interim committees have operated in the past. I venture to say that there is no comparison between the establishment of the Australian Universities Commission which was appointed to do a specific task and this Commission which, according to appendix B on page IS of the Australian Assistance Plan, has in mind trying to coordinate 17 different major areas with 127 sub-headings. If one looks at this closely one finds that there is no area of our lives or activities not covered by appendix B. It lists the range of community services which can be provided and which are obviously in the mind of the Commission to provide. It covers exservicemen, legal services, services for the aged, incomes security, protective services and domiciliary services. It goes so far as to cover religious and sacred services. The 3 subheadings there are (a) churches, (b) graveyards and (c) crematoriums. This is going to be a function of the Social Welfare Commission. Anyone who thinks that it will not be a huge instrument of government has another think coming.

What I really started to say was that it is said that this is only an interim committee which is putting out reports. It has sent out loose leaf notices telling people to write to the Social Welfare Commission if they want further reports. It is actually asking people to write to the Social Welfare Commission, which has not yet been established. Mr Chairman, I see that my time is running out so I will have to leave unsaid some points I wanted to raise. I think that somewhere in this report-

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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