The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia on May 26, 1972 · Page 6
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The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia · Page 6

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Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia
Issue Date:
Friday, May 26, 1972
Page:
Page 6
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FRIDAY, MAY 26, 1972 etter, bu o 0 THE CHANGES in the Government's approach to monopolies, mergers and restrictive trade practices foreshadowed by Senator Greenwood represent a substantial improvement over the present inadequate legislation. In each of the areas dealt with the proposed legislation would have more bite and should operate more effectively in the public interest. The proposals follow very closely the comparable United Kingdom legislation, on which they have been modelled. But despite the real advance in the Government's handling of these issues, room for criticism remains. On the monopolies and mergers side, the decision to create a monopolies commission is a sensible one. Such a body is obviously desirable and there are a number of practical reasons for separating it from the Trade Practices Commissioner and Tribunal. But there are potential weaknesses in the proposal. For example, it is up to the Government to refer cases to the commission for investigation; it will have no independent power to initiate inquiries. Presumably the Government will act on the basis of complaints by individuals, groups and firms and also on any evidence that may be turned up by the Commissioner of Trade Practices or such bodies as the Tariff Board. There is a danger of relevant cases being undetected by this method. And there is always the risk that political pressure could be brought to bear, as it has been in the tariff field, conveniently to overlook abuses. In Britain there has recently been considerable criticism of the UK commission's lack of independent investigatory power, and we should take note of that here. The chairman and part-time members of the commission will also need to be chosen impartially and carefully. It would otherwise be possible to stack an inquiry to achieve any result desired by the Government of the day. Moreover, the test of the public interest to be applied by the commission needs to be spelt out. The proposed approach to the majority of restrictive trade practices agreements is much tougher than the existing one. The onus of proof is now on parties to the agreement to demonstrate that it is in the public interest, and all horizontal agreements (those between a group at the same level of production or distribution such as retailers) will come up for examination by the tribunal. The tests of public interest are much more consumer-oriented. Many agreements may now be abandoned, but if they are not it could still be a lengthy process while each individual agreement is brought before the tribunal. The Government could have taken more effective steps if it was anxious to see the speedy abandonment of agreements against the public interest. A more general point of criticism is the Government's decision not to introduce legislation to give effect to its proposals immediately. They are, after all, no more than fairly obvious methods of correcting widely known deficiencies in the present legislation. Ideally they could, and should, have gone further. Certainly there seems no excuse for delaying to give interested lobby groups a chance to try to water them down again, as they did so successfully with the 1965 legislation. Deadlock in Rhodesia THE NEGATIVE report by the Pearce Commission on Rhodesia puts paid to an initiative by the British Conservative Government which was well intentioned as to aims but which became increasingly dubious in practice. There were two main aims. One was to find a way out of the constitutional impasse which left Britain with a responsibility for Rhodesia in international law which it could not discharge. The second was to bring about at least a beginning of the "unimpeded progress towards majority rule" (the first of the "Five Principles") and so give the African population a modicum of hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. In practice the pursuit rf these aims became "curiouser and curlouser." iue agreement between Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Mr Smith did offer (he Africans some ground for hope, as much perhaps as could be expected from negotiation. But the credibility of its tortuous language suffered badly because it was. so evident that "unimpeded progress" would be tortoise-slow. The Pearce Commission found that, in African eyes, "mistrust of the intentions and motives of the (Smith) Government transcended all other considerations." Nobody who has read the text of the agreement will find that surprising. Even more curious was the task of the Commission itself. It had to report on the acceptability to Africans of the agreement (the fifth principle), but it was not allowed to hold a plebiscite. This ensured that its procedures and, therefore, its finding were bound to be challenged by one side or the other. So it has turned out. Mr Smith says that its finding is unconvincing and unrealistic. His vehemence will cut little ice abroad. There was abundant evidence of hostility to the agreement, and very little of support. Good intentions having failed, the road ahead is bleak indeed. Sir Alec Douglas-Home has not ruled out renewed negotiations, but there can be little hope that these can come soon and no certainty i about what their aims could possiblv be. Britain would seem to have done its utmost. Its influence on the future of Rhodesia is near vanishing-point. In Rhodesia, the white extremists will be confirmed in their obduracy and Mr Smith's ability to restrain them will be weakened. As for the Africans, their leaders may well interpret this failure as the end of hope for betterment by constitutional means. From now on force, to many of them, will appear inevitable. WHEN MR McMAHON was elected Prime Minister he was careful to proclaim himself a Cabinet and party man. In other words, he set about identifying himself as leader of a team. He did this to contrast his style with that of Mr Gorton early in his Prime Ministership. In fact, when he was campaigning for the post, Mr Gorton had frankly stated that having discussed issues with Cabinet, he regarded it as his job to overrule it, if that was necessary for him to have his own way. And Mr Gorton pushed rather than led the Liberal Party into the directions he wanted. From the beginning, Mr McMahon signalled a break from the Gorton habits. Under Mr McMahon there was to be a return to the Holt days of the Prime Minister conferring and counselling, occupying his traditional Cabinet place as the first among equals. When he is on the hustings, Mr McMahon still emphasises that he is a party man. He encourages his Liberal audiences to think of themselves as participating in Government and makes exolicit calls upon them to contribute ideas and advice. This serves as a reminder that the Gorton days are no more. The audience usually responds warmly. But Mr McMahon is not pushing the idea that he leads a team nearly as much as he might. In a way, this is understandable. His personal qualities of leadership have been heavily attacked. His low popularity rating in the public opinion polls creates a natural pressure upon him to assert himself. The temptation is for him to take the centre of the stage all the time. This is aggravated by the bias of modern electioneering techniques, which are a continual celebration of the personality cult. The admen demand that the leader be pre-eminent, that other political personalities be obscured. Criticised as he also has been for in-decisiveness, Mr McMahon has been tempted to identify himself as the decision-maker in more Government policies than he should. He is inclined to want to make announcements that could be made by his ministerial colleagues. Mr McMahon would do well to reexamine the personality cult which has so enamoured the admen. As a '49 man himself, he would well remember the force the Liberals brought to their FEDERAL SCENE H m t a A i I i - t in 4 with Brian Johns campaign by projecting themselves as a team of younger men anxious to empty out the tired, complacent men of the Labor Government. Anyway, Mr McMahon is not the kind of leader who should be projected as the strong, dominant figure standing aloof. He can make a virtue out of his need for support by calling on his ministerial colleagues, particularly the more youthful, to share his platforms and to help him electioneer. There is a drive and force in the McMahon ministry that has yet to be projected. The Deputy Leader, Mr Snedden, is able to and does make his own running as Treasurer. Other ministers need the Prime Ministerial prestige to give them added drawing power. I am thinking now of the Minister for Education and Science, Mr Fraser, the Minister for External Territories, Mr Peacock, who has been revolutionising the Government's Papua New Guinea policy, and the Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Lynch, who is a man of growing confidence. Another young minister is Mr Vic Garland, whose portfolio of Supply is not a headline-maker, but who personally projects strongly. The Minister for Customs and Excise, Mr Chipp, has embarrassed the Government with his more adventurous and realistic censorship policies, but who would deny that he is a minister with more appeal among many who are not traditional Liberal supporters? Mr McMahon's political intimates, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Bowen, the Minister for National Development, Mr Swartz. the Postmaster-General, Sir Alan Hulme, and the Minister for Health, Senator Anderson, may or may not be valuable counsellors. Only Mr McMahon himself knows the strength and shrewdness of their backroom advice. But they 'certainly are not front-of-the-house men. The Prime Minister needs to turn to other colleagues for that service. There is the other advantage that a shared limelight would be evidence of party unity. The McMahon Government has suffered from charges of disunity, which are most acute in the relations between the Country Party and the Liberals. Mr Anthony calculates that he strengthens his partnership status by conducting many of his battles in the open. The Country Party wants the wool acquisition scheme, so he says so publiclv, with scant regard for old-fashioned ideas of Cabinet solidarity. The Labor Party, which would need to have lost all its faculties not to see the political advantage in the coalition struggle, embarrasses the Prime Minister with questions and statements. As a result, Mr McMahon as he did on the issue of wool acquisition last week feels obliged to say there are no differences in the coalition, and round one of the struggle goes to the Country Party. For some curious reason, the Country Party is absolved from its unruly behaviour. The divisiveness is seen as a reflection on the Liberals. But the Liberals do have themselves to blame to an extent for the exaggeration of disunity within their own ranks. In capitalising on Labor's unity problems over the years, the Liberals have created an unreal expectation in the Australian electorate of the degree of unity that can be expected from or is possible in a political party. We have the absurd situation that two or three dissident backbenchers amount to a split. Two or three rebels constitute a rebellion. One swallow makes a summer. Of course the Government has a narrow majority. But how many times since 1949 have Government members crossed the floor? And yet when have there not been a few unhappy back benchers, so cherished by political observers? After the turmoil in the Liberal Party of recent years, there have had to be unity problems, but they have been exaggerated and distorted. One of the reasons for the distortion is the pastime of discovering "left-Liberals" in the Government. According to this lore, Mr Chipp, for example, is a leftist. He is given this label principally because of his stand on censorship. On the other hand, the Minister for Housing, Mr Cairns, is a right-winger because he dislikes the "Little Red School Book," communists and the ALP Left. Yet Mr Cairns, who is pushing a number of submissions to Cabinet aimed at providing cheaper housing finance, needs to make no apologies to any member of the Parliamentary Liberal Party, and to few of the Labor Partv, for his social concerns. What the "left-Liberal" label is trying to identify is what a Government backbencher has described as the "mental generation gap" in the Liberal Party. A man like Andrew Peacock is likely to provide a new emphasis in Liberal policies because he is of a new generation. Interestingly, he is also extremely experienced in the Liberal Party organisation. He was president of the Victorian Liberal Party branch in 1965-66, so he can hardly be regarded as an eccentric or someone out of the mainstream of the party. So far, Mr McMahon has made clear his determination to fight the coming election on the traditional Liberal planks of defence, foreign affairs and the dangers of Labor's policies. But he has not attempted to make these all-inclusive. Probably in response to Labor's determined drive on domestic policies, Mr McMahon has foreshadowed that the Liberals will join the running on the issues of the cities, the environment, as well as the more expected issues of social services and health. It is in selling these domestic policies that he could well use the help of his ministerial team. "The leader who capitalises on the team idea will win the next election." a senior Liberal minister said, not self-effacingly, this week. "And the Government team includes the Country Party. The Prime Minister needs to have not only senior Liberal ministers speaking on his platforms, but Doug Anthony and other Country Party Ministers." WITHIN THE UNHAPPY Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Government of Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike there is a continuing, and now sharpening, anxiety. A year after the bloody insurgency in which at least 1,200 were killed, with at least 10,000 alleged rebels still held in prisons uncharged and untried, there is fresh nervousness about law and order. The armed forces and the police have recently been placed on full alert. On May Day, all public meetings were banned. In the jungles in central Ceylon, rebels are operating again. There is a crime wave, with armed robberies and ambushes by bandits sometimes wearing police or army uniform. A cache of homemade bombs has been found in the grounds of a university. An air of tension is reported by visitors and an atmosphere of mystification enveloping the Government and its security forces. What is really happening? And what might What though the spicy breezes From T. S. MONKS in London happen next? The widespread and very seriously regarded cult of astrology only advises that the interplanetary movements are inauspicious, The muzzled press cannot help with any enlightenment. All newspaper leading articles and investigatory reports have to be submitted to what is called the "competent authority" and blank pages often indicate the sensitivity of the Government. This air of mystery has continued now for a year. There are still no rational official explanations of the causes, and the backers, if any, of the widespread rebellion by youthful extremists last April. Initially, North Korean diplomats and propagandists in Ceylon were held to have played a significant part in instigating the revolt. More recently, Mrs Bandaranaike's Finance Minis ter, the Trotskyist Dr Martin Perera, proclaimed that the CIA was the main encouragement and backer of the rebels. But a few days ago Mrs Bandaranaike said the Government did not share the view of Dr Perera but had come to the conclusion that no foreign power was involved in the insurrection. So was it entirely an affair of Ceylon's Janata Vimukthi movement of young left-wing extremists? And are sufficient still at large to make up a formidable clandestine force? After last year's rebellion, about 16,000 were taken into custody after bitter fighting and much cruelty on both sides. Most are still in prison or in detention camps. It is said that there is great difficulty in formulating charges against many of those detained and about 4,000 are reported to be undergoing "rehabilitation," thereafter ,to be specially watched by the security forces. But about 6,000 are to face trial at last, though by a new procedure that is arousing much controversy inside and outside Ceylon. A "Justices Commission Bill" has been passed by the Ceylon Parliament. Under this, special tribunals will be appointed by the Chief Justice. They will try the alleged rebels in secret and will be able to impose sentences ranging up to imprisonment for life. They will accept confessions produced by the police. A civil rights movement in Ceylon has been strongly protesting against the establishment of these tribunals and against what it says are "fundamental changes" in the law. The Ceylon Bar Council, Buddhist leaders and Christian bishops have all expressed their abhorrence. But the Government argues that the ordinary processes of the law cannot deal effectively with the instigators of the rebellion or significantly with the threat of renewed insurgency. The new courts seem intended, therefore, not only to deal with the thousands of young rebels now awaiting trial but also to deter further revolt. But the brutality of the police and Army in dealing with the rebels and the fact that many thousands have been held for a year without trial in prisons and camps has, according to some observers, caused revulsion against the Government. And with food shortages, a soaring cost of living and high unemployment, there is the spectre that another rebellion might have more popular support than the last. TO THE EDITOR US-Soviet heart research SIR, The "Herald" reported (May 24), as did a news broadcast received direct from the United States, that the American and Russian leaders have signed an agreement covering, inter alia, heart research. The significance of this should not be ignored. The world-wide epidemic of cardio-vascular disease was highlighted during April by World Heart Day and World Heart Month. In conjunction with them, the Heart Foundation conducted National Heart Week throughout Australia. In over 150 countries throughout the world attention was focused on the incidence of death and disability caused by heart and blood vessel diseases. It is safe to assume, therefore, that deep concern, not just politics and diplomacy, put heart disease on the summit conference agenda papers. No details of the agreement are available, but some can safely be predicted. It is certain the Russians and Americans will give high priority to research cooperation into the prevention of the disease, prevention of further attacks and the prevention of unnecessary invalidism. It is certain, too, that the Americans and Russians, like the National Heart Foundation of Australia, will also give high priority to public education programs aimed at creating a greater awareness and acceptance of heart disease risk factors which lead to coronary heart disease. The National Heart Foundation ha pointed out that the prime risk factors in coronary heart disease are high blood pressure, high levels of blood cholesterol, cigarette-smoking, lack of exercise and obesity. Although gaps sttfl exist in our knowledge as taiow risk factors lead to coronary heart disease, evidence from major research centres in the world indicates there can no longer be any doubt that they do. Furthermore, the evidence shows that the presence of two or more risk factors tends to multiply rather than simply add to the risk. Each year in Australia some 15,500 men and 5,000 women under the age of seventy will suffer a heart attack. About 4,000 of them will be in their thirties and forties. There is a battle to be won and it is perhaps the greatest in Australia's medical history. It is gratifying therefore to learn of the summit conference agreement. Perhaps we are seeing the beginning of a new impetus in governmental, medical and scientific thinking about the fearsome toll exacted by heart and blood vessel disease. The thousands of volunteers who contributed to the success of the foundation's recent fund-raising program will assuredly feel that their concern has been vindicated by the reported agreement signed by two of the world's greatest nations. R. D. JOHNSON, Executive Director, National Heart Foundation of Australia (NSW Div). Surry Hills. Policemen's civil liberties SIR, As a committee member of the Council for Civil Liberties I can give the lie to Sergeant McCormick's insinuation at the Police Conference ("Herald," May 24) that the council is "red" or of any other "political colour." Fortunately for this community, concern for the civil liberties of citizens is spread over people of most political persuasions and many who, like myself, are not involved with any political party. Sergeant McConnick was also wrong in assuming that legal representation of ?v1tiviM of a deceased person killed in an accident on the South Coast involving a police vehicle was sponsored by the council. To my knowledge no case answering this description has been considered by the council. However, I identify the countfU as the object of Sergeant McCormick's remarks because it has provided or sought to provide legal assistance to relatives in a number of cases of death resulting from police action. . It does this only when an issue of civil liberty may arise, eg the circumstances in which police are justified in using firearms against citizens.' The errors in his reasons should not be allowed to obscure the fact that Sergeant McCormick has a sound point, A policeman who is exposed to a possible finding of criminal conduct should have access to legal representation to defend himself. This is a fundamental civil liberty to which police are just as entitled as other citizens. It is particularly heartening to see this principle recognised by a prosecuting sergeant, because the common example is of the ordinary citizen left without legal aid when prosecuted by an experienced and often legally qualified police prosecutor. The official legal aid schemes in this State "cream the poor" and pro vide no legal aid in the police courts where the really poor, have most of their contact with the law. I invite Sergeant McCormick and other police to join the Council for Civil Liberties and other bodies in pressing for. extension of legal aid schemes to all courts in which a citizen (police or private) is exposed to risk of a criminal finding. Although this is accepted elsewhere (eg in such progressive States as Sir Henry Bolle's Victoria) it may take time to achieve in NSW. In the meantime, it would be a valuable step forward to provide legal aid for both police and relatives in coronial inquiries into deaths caused by police ac-tion. This would ensure full public investigation of such important cases, thereby vindicating police who have acted properly, but at the same time ensuring that we do not slip into the casual attitude to police violence that has produced disastrous results for both police and citizens, and for law and order, in some parts of the United States. Certainly this would be welcomed by those lawyers (conservative, liberal and radical) who now give their services free in these and other matters out of concern for civil liberties. It would also help to alleviate suspicion that the police prosecutor supposedly "assisting the coroner" assumes the role of counsel for the police when they are under criticism. J. H. WOOTTEN, Dean, Faculty of Law, University of NSW. Kensington. SIR, The NSW Police Association demand that police officers should receive legal aid at inquests is one that could well be made by the relatives of persons whose deaths have been a result of police action. The case quoted by Sergeant McCormick at the Police Association's annual conference amply illustrates this fact. It involved the death of a Mrs Margaret West, of Berkeley, who was crossing a road outside her home when she was struck by a police vehicle, which was chasing a speeding car. In State Parliament, I raised the question whether the offence of speeding warranted police officers endangering the lives of others. At the inquest itself the bereaved husband retained the services of a barrister, Mr J. F. Staples, to watch his interests. Mr Staples, quite properly, but unsuccessfully, raised the question that the words "police vehicle" should be included in the coroner's finding. I might mention, incidentally, that Mr West, Mr Staples and I have been personal friends for about 15 years as well as all being Labor Party members. One could as well describe our joint interest in the inquest as a plot by the Labor Party rather than a campaign by the Council for Civil Liberties, who Were never consulted on the matter. Perhaps 4 eUifM'X, turn t. PI "Herald" readers would prefer to believe that our personal concern for the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of a woman whom we all loved was the overriding factor in our respective actions. It can only be described as unfortunate that the bereaved husband was required to make his own arrangements for legal representation. Surely the provision of legal counsel was the least that could have been provided for him? GEORGE PETERSEN, MLA. Sydney. Shadows over the plaza SIR, The shadows have taken over in Martin Plaza. From May to October the plaza will present a dark, dank and ucsoiaie race to tne pedestrian. This error of judgment is now in danger of being further compounded by the proposals for the redevelopment on the northern side. The City Council, the State Planning Authority and the State Government all have a heavy responsibility in this regard, for apart from the cogent arguments presented by the National Trust, the shadow problem, bad enough as it is, will be further compounded by the tower blocks proposed. An expenditure of close on $500,000 will have served no really useful purpose. SAMUEL LIPSON. Sydney. Rent subsidy SIR, The "Herald" (May 15) reports that the Government at present pays pensioners in nursing homes a subsirfv nt n daily towards the cost of hospitalisation, and $6.50 for intensive care patients. Would it not be reasonable therefore for the Government to subsidise the landlord who is still housing an age pensioner on a controlled rent? This is proving difficult for a landlord who has tried to provide for his old age by investing in property and who has now reached retiring age, as I have, and must continue to support a coutioiied tenant. It appears a distinct prejudice against the private individual who houses a pensioner. Is it because their vote is a minority one or because it pleases the State Government to forget them? . (Miss) fc. MAITLAND. Saving the tiger SIR, It is rather heartwarming to read ("Herald," May 22) that the World Wildlife Fund has finally woken up to the fact that the tiger, along with many other smaller and lesi spectacular animals in Asia, ij nearing extinction. However, I don't feel that any amount of money is going to change the situation. Tigers, being roaming predators, require large undisturbed tracts of land for their survival, and this land is just not available any more. The huge population increase this century in central and South-East Asia, in particular on the Indian sub-continent, has destroyed the natural cover and replaced the available prey of the big cats with cattle. Tigers attacking cattle are subsequently shot as pests. . Although tigers are protected in northern India and surrounding countries. I don't know about their status in other regions. Poaching is widespread, and when there is a choice between survival of a farmer's livelihood and a tiger, the wild animal, as always, loses. While 1 commend the action of the World Wildlife Fund, I unfortunately feel that the tiger is a lost cause and that efforts should be channelled into preserving animals which still have some hope of survival in their natural habitat. ERIC CARPENTER. Bronte. VICE-REGAL His Excellency the Governor-General presided at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council at Government House yesterday morning. Later, the Governor-General received His Excellency Alhaji Audi Bako, military Governor of Kano. His Excellency the Governor, attended by Flight-Lieutenant L. D. S. Waddy, Honorary Aide-de-Camp was present at a Dining-in Night at Headquarters Operations! CoTf.mr.d RAAF 't Penrith yesterday evening. Lady Cutler, accompanied by uidy Bates and attended by Miss Dimity Scales, visited the rooms ?L!,e Embroiderers' Guild of NSW, 167 Elizabeth Street, yesterday afternoon, to view Miss Roma RVi's exhibition V tuiuluidcii.

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