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Wednesday, 12 December 1973
Page: 2773

Senator Little asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(   1 ) Is the Minister aware that the National Health and Medical Research Council did not renew a grant of $13,000 to a medical research team for 1974 to enable it to proceed with an investigation into Huntington's Chorea, an hereditary mental disease.

(2)   Did the leader of the medical research team, Dr Colin Brackenridge, announce that it would be impossible for him to continue with the team.

(3)   Will the Minister give consideration to making a direct grant to Dr Brackenridge 's team of $13,000, as such expenditure is more likely to ensure national sanity than the expenditure of $ 1 , 250,000 on the painting' Blue Poles '.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   Yes.

(3)   Government funds for medical research are allocated on the recommendation of the National Health and Medical Research Council as advised by its expert committee, the Medical Research Advisory Committee. Dr Brackenridge has been supported by the Council in his research since 1967 including two years study overseas under the sponsorship of a C. J. Martin Travelling Fellowship awarded by Council.

Australian Government funds for medical research are made through the National Health and Medical Research Council and are allocated to projects on the basis of merit within the financial resources available. Dr Brackenridge was informed in October 1971 that there was support for 1972 and a commitment for 1973 only for his work. This advice was confirmed subsequently in December 1972 and March 1973.

The National Health and Medical Research Council and the Government are aware of the personal problems and the cost to the community arising from mental disabilities. Substantial financial resources were specially allocated to research in this area in 1973 ($75,000) and it can be anticipated that this interest by the Government will continue. More research funds are available to the National Health and Medical Research Council than in former years.

Use of RAAF VIP Aircraft

Senator Bishop -On 8 November 1973, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence a question without notice regarding the tabling of manifests for Royal Australian Air Force VIP aircraft from the day details were last given until the end of October 1973. On 22 November 1973 I tabled details of VIP flights for the period 1 May 1973 to 4 September 1973 and indicated that details for the period 5 September 1973 to the end of October 1973 would be tabled as soon as possible. The documents I now table embrace all details of VIP travel in Royal Australian Air Force VIP aircraft in the period 5 September 1973 to 31 October 1973.

Overseas Investment in the Mining Industry

Senator Murphy - On 14 November 1973, Senator Durack asked a question without notice, concerning statements made by the Prime Minister and other Ministers on the Australian Government's policy in relation to overseas investment in the mining industry. The Prime Minister has provided the following reply to the honourable senator's question:

My statement to the Australia-Japan Ministerial Committee was tabled in both Houses of the Parliament on 7 November. That statement set out the precise nature of the Australian Government's policies on foregin investment and use and control of Australian resources.

Conservation of Kangaroos

Senator Murphy -On 29 November 1973, Senator Durack asked the following question, without notice:

I direct my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise who might also be called the minister for kangaroos. I refer to the report of the ministerial working party on kangaroo conservation which he tabled recently, I think at my request, and to the accompanying statement by the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, Dr Cass, which was also tabled. I refer to the following section of it which stated:

The Department of Fisheries and Fauna of Western Australia has submitted management programs for the species of kangaroos which are commercially harvested in that State. These programs are, in my view, deficient in terms of the requirement set out in the report.

In what respect are the Western Australian management programs deficient, as mentioned in the terms of the report? Has the Western Australian Department of Fisheries and Fauna been advised of the nature of the deficiencies?

The Minister for the Environment and Conservation, Dr Cass, has written to the Western Australian Minister for Fisheries and Fauna, the Honourable A. W. Bickerton, setting out the deficiencies in the Western Australian Kangaroo Management Programs as submitted by his Department. The Secretary of the Department of Environment and Conservation has also provided this information to the Director of the Department of Fisheries and Fauna. There are two major deficiencies in these programs:

There are four species of kangaroos which are declared to be vermin under the Western Australian Vermin Act. This Act imposes a duty on landholders to destroy all kangaroos of these species at all times. This is inconsistent with the report of the Ministerial Working Party on Kangaroo Conservation which recommends that 'all species of kangaroos be protected under State wildlife legislation and in no case be classified as vermin under Vermin Acts (Western Australia abstaining). '

There has been a failure to incorporate most recent population assessments and analyses of past harvest data to determine the numbers of kangaroos which might be permitted to be harvested.

New Australian Citizenship Laws

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - On 4 December 1973, Senator Durack directed a question to me in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Immigration concerning new Australian citizenship laws and the advertisements appearing in newspapers throughout Australia concerning the application of those laws. The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The advertisements to which the honourable senator refers are advertisements designed to attract the enquiries of people who are eligible for Australian citizenship but who have not yet applied. It was suggested by the honourable senator that there should be a special reference to British subjects. It should be made clear that the term 'British subject' is a completely anachronistic one in as much as it does not reflect a single uniform set of laws either operating in this country for the last 25 years or in any other country. The situation is that migrants coming to Australia come from one or other of the 32 Commonwealth of Nations countries or the more than 30 countries which are outside the Commonwealth of Nations. In relation to every single one of these nearly 70 countries, whether they are within the Commonwealth or not, the laws of entry as applied by the previous Government were different In fact the laws for entry between people of different backgrounds within the same country, whether or not within the Commonwealth of Nations were also different. If the honourable senator is suggesting that each advertisement should have contained each and everyone of the racial and ethnic discriminations practised by the previous government touching on the people that he quaintly calls British subjects, then he would have had to take not a small advertisement but a full page advertisement in everyone of the papers concerned. The honourable senator is obviously not aware of the multitude of discriminations that were practised in the past. They were shameful and unacceptable and that is why both Houses of Parliament voted against them, and to replace those discriminations with the present law. As far as voting rights are concerned, this is a matter not for the Minister for Immigrati n but for the Minister for Services and Property and if the Senator is interested in retaining the preference for the 32 countries of the Commonwealth of Nations, then he is free to make his representations known. The Minister for Services and Property has not indicated any attitude on these matters at all but it should be clearly understood that discriminations in the grant of Australian citizenship have been also as obnoxious, unjust and totally unacceptable to our country in 1973. If the honourable senator has any dissenting views in favour of discrimination then it should be recognisefVhe is out of step with our time and that the attitude of the House of Representatives and the Senate as expressed in their vote on these matters.

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