20th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron.) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– On looking at the “flats” of yesterday’s proceedings at question time, I discover that the honorable member for East Sydney is reported to have accused the Prime Minister of telling a deliberate lie. I said at the time that I did not hear that remark. I call the attention of the honorable member for East Sydney to it now, and ask him to withdraw it. It was quite unparliamentary.
– I withdraw the remark and refer you, Mr. Speaker, to what the Prime Minister said prior to my interjection. I ask that he be instructed to withdraw that remark.
– The withdrawal is the important thing.
– What about the remark of the Prime Minister?
– I shall have a look at that.
– I rise to order. A matter of this sort is so important that it should be dealt with immediately. If you have perused the “ flats “ sufficiently closely to see something objectionable that was said by the honorable member for East Sydney, surely you can cast your eyes on the lines preceding and succeeding that remark by the honorable member, where the Prime Minister is reported to have accused him of having theCommunists as his friends and supporters.
– According to the record, that remark was not made. The record is open to perusal.
– I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the record of yesterday’s proceedings at question time, which I have now perused. I refer to the words used by the Prime Minister just before I made the interjection to which you have taken exception. Will you ask the Prime Minister to withdraw the statement that be made then?
– Order ! The statement referred to was a statement made by the Prime Minister, accusing the honorable member for East Sydney of having Communists as his friends and supporters. I consider that that statement is unparliamentary.
– I rise to order. This is surely remarkable. I have not the slightest doubt that Communists are the friends of the honorable member for East Sydney. What is the gravamen of this charge - that I am accusing the honorable member for East Sydney, not of being a Communist, but of having Communists as his friends and supporters?
– It is not true.
– “Whether it is true or not, is purely a matter of opinion. If it is to .be considered offensive, parliamen.tarily speaking, to say that an honorable member is supported by persons of a certain leaning, there will be almost an end to debate; and I shall enjoy the great privilege in the future of not having to listen to the kind of remarks that I have listened to in this House for the last eighteen or nineteen years.
– Order ! In my view it is a statement which should not have been made, and therefore I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw it.
– I rise to speak to the point of order. From time to time it becomes necessary-
– Order ! I have asked the right honorable gentleman to withdraw his statement, and he may do either that or move that the House shall disagree with my ruling.
– Is it your ruling that a statement that an honorable member has Communist friends is unparliamentary? 1 desire to clarify the matter in my own mind, and in the minds of other honorable members. Are we to understand that the effect of your ruling is-
– Order ! I understood that the Minister for Labour and National Service was attempting to raise a point of order, but I am not able to discern what it is.
– My point is-
– I rise to order.
– Order ! There is one point of order before the Chair at present. I shall deal with that first.
– This is my point of order. Are honorable members to take it that you are ruling that it is unparliamentary to make a reference to an honorable member of this Parliament as being a friend or supporter of communism, or to have friends and supporters who are Communists. If that is your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I submit that it will have very serious consequences in this place. It is common knowledge that at one time during the deliberations of this Parliament, honorable members opposite declared in policy and in debate, that they were supporters and friends of the Communist party.
Members of the Opposition interjecting,
– Indeed, it is by virtue of the decision taken by honorable members opposite that the Communist party is a legal organization.
Mr. Pollard having interjected,
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) shall withdraw his remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I rise to order. Apparently honorable members on this side of the House have to withdraw offensive remarks immediately, but honorable members on the Government side do not have to do so.
– The Communist party is to-day a legal organization, and continues to function by virtue of the decision of honorable members opposite.
– Order ! Honorable members will please comply with my direction. The Minister will deal with his point of order, and not debate the matter of communism. He shall either do that or move on behalf of the Government that my ruling be disagreed with.
– I rise to order. I consider at this stage I should be allowed to intervene-
– In order that the House may determine the nature of your ruling, and whether it should support or reject it, will you state whether we are to understand that your ruling is that for one honorable member to refer to another honorable member of this House as being supported by Communists, who are his friends, is an’ unparliamentary reference;’ even if the facts can be clearly established.;?
– The Communist party is notorious as a party of traitors. Therefore, to associate an honorable member of this House with Communists, as his friends and supporters, is unparliamentary.
– I desire to speak to the point of order. I, Mr. Speaker, share your views about the Communist party. I brought down a bill in order to give effect to those views. That bill was passed by this House and it became law, but that legislation was declared by the High Court of Australia to be invalid. The people of Australia were asked to vote on the matter. Honorable members opposite urged them to vote against the giving of power to outlaw the Communist party. The people agreed with honorable members opposite. “With very great respect to you, Mr. Speaker, 1 point out that to-day the Communist party is no longer an outlawed traitorous party, but is a perfectly lawful movement. Under those circumstances, am I to understand that, if I say that the honorable member for East Sydney is supported by Communists, which statement I believe to be completely true, that statement is offensive? In view of his own activities and those of his friends, I am saying that the honorable member for East Sydney is supported by a body which is regarded as lawful under the Constitution and statutes of Australia. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I suggest, and I hope that you will agree with me, that such a statement is completely in order.
– I rise to a point of order. I understand that you, Mr. Speaker, have ruled that the House is not entitled to debate any ruling that has been given by the Chair. The only alternative is to move dissent from your ruling. Your ruling is being debated on the floor of this House. I claim, Mr. Speaker, that, in view of your previous ruling, you should not allow debate on this particular matter.
– I think the honorable member for Darling has raised a good point and I should be pleased if some honorable member would move that my ruling be dissented from.
– Why not insist on a withdrawal by the Prime Minister?
– I have given honorable members an opportunity to dissent from my ruling.
– You did not do that, Mr. Speaker, in relation to honorable members on this side of the House.
.- I move -
That the ruling be dissented from.
I desire to speak to the motion.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is not the only one who wishes to do so.
– I desire to refer to the question of procedure, after which I shall address my remarks to the main question. Time and time again during the course of debate when you, Mr. Speaker, have been in the chair you have heard honorable members opposite refer to honorable members on this side of the House, and to myself in particular, as being friends of fascist organizations, but you have taken no action. You .have heard repeatedly honorable members on this side of the House refer to honorable members opposite as being friends of certain organizations which, if they are to be judged by their statements, have acted in a manner that is traitorous to this country. You, Mr. Speaker, have taken no action in relation to those references. It has been the accepted procedure in this House for honorable members on both sides to accuse other honorable members as being supported by certain outside organizations and of being friends of those organizations. You, Mr. Speaker, have taken no action on those occasions. Such references have been a matter of common parliamentary language, address and debate in this House over the period of more than twenty years during which I have been in this House, but up to the present no action has been taken in relation to that form of address. I have addressed myself to the question of procedure by pointing out the anomaly that has occurred because of your present ruling. I say that that custom and practice has been established in this House, and that the Chair should not now give a ruling that would destroy the custom and practice of this House, of Houses of Parliament in other countries .and particularly in the Mother of Parliaments. 1 now address myself to the second point. Honorable members opposite say that they are not friends of the Communists. May I remind those honorable members of the number of appointments of Communist leaders to certain organizations during the war period? May I remind them of the appointments which they made to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Commission? May I remind them of the famous committee which consisted of a number of Communists and members of the Labour party that was established to fight a certain referendum proposal ? May I remind them that they have been jointly and severally associated with Communists and Communist organizations in the political world for a great many years? May I remind the honorable member for East Sydney that when lie was in office he appointed to an official position the former honorable member for Cook, Mr. Garden, of great fame, who was the founder of the Communist party and a member of the Australian Labour party? When Mr. Garden’s affairs were finally investigated it was found that he was still a member of the Communist party and that he held a current Communist party ticket at the time when he was the friend and confidant of the honorable member for East Sydney. He was given certain privileges by the honorable member. Ho worked cheek by jowl with the honorable member and walked in and out of his office without restraint, used bis correspondence and finally got himself into a position which resulted in the appointment of a royal commission. Although the honorable member for East Sydney came through the proceedings of the royal commission without blame his friend and confidant was finally gaoled. In view of all this, will the honorable member tell me that lie is no friend of the Communist party? His record makes it clear that when he wa.s so labelled by the Prime Minister ke was correctly labelled. The Prime Minister acted quite rightly and properly and in accordance with the forms and procedure of this House when he so described the honorable member.
The honorable member for East Sydney is objecting to something that he has brought upon his own shoulders by his associations. The Labour party objects to being described as the friend of the Communist party but it has been pleased to regard the Communists as friends, supporters and helpers in many political campaigns. Indeed, it was said on a recent occasion that a certain member of the Labour party had bruited abroad the statement that during the last referendum campaign a certain sum . of money changed hands between the Communist party and the Labour party. Unfortunately, the .honorable member who made the statement is not present in the House ; otherwise I might have occasion to use his name. All the evidence shows that the Labour party is irrevocably tied to the Communist party. Even when we inquire into the movements of the Leader of the Opposition we find that Communist controlled trade unions, including the Federated Ironworkers Association, the Waterside Workers Federation and other Communist controlled unions briefed him and paid him to defend their case in the High Court. The association of the Labour party with the Communist party is clearly established by the record.
Are Opposition member-s now disowning the Communists? Do they say, “We have used you, but you are no longer our friends because such an association does not suit us politically “ ? Opposition members are likely to take advantage of any occasion that may present itself to make further appointments of Communists to industrial tribunals, to have further association with the Communists in political campaigns and have further association with Communists individually and collectively both financial and otherwise. Only last evening, the honorable member for Melbourne accused honorable gentlemen on this side of the House of being friends of the Communists. He also said that the Communists, by preferential voting, put us into office. No action was taken against the honorable member for Melbourne when he spoke those words. Now, he rises in his place, with a show of great unctuousness, rubs his hands and says, “ I am not guilty. Honorable members opposite are the guilty people. Far be it from me to use such, expressions. My feelings are outraged. I call upon the Prime Minister to deny the report of his remarks “. The honorable member for Melbourne, if he is true and sincere as a politician, will let his conscience take control of him for once, and act as an honorable gentleman.
– Is the motion seconded ?
– I second the motion.
-Does the right honorable member wish to speak now?
.- The House has been entertained by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) in his best pantomimic fashion. He has mixed his general history, and displayed a lamentable ignorance of biblical history.. He referred to a person who wrung his hands and said, “ I am not guilty “. I suppose that the right honorable gentleman was referring to Pontius Pilate, who washed his hands in an endeavour to relieve himself of responsibility. The right honorable gentleman could find no historical allusion to support that imaginary figure who did the things that he accused the Labour party of wishing to do.
The Opposition supports your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and will oppose the motion. Of course, the Government has a majority, and its supporters have decided that they will go down with the Prime Minister. Right or wrong, they will stick to him, because the old ship is sinking, and they might as well all sink together. If I may change the allusion, may I say that honorable gentlemen opposite have decided, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, that it is better for them to hang together because if they do not, they will certainly hans; separately.
– It was Lord Melbourne who made that remark.
– It was Benjamin Franklin.
– No, Lord Melbourne.
– Lord Melbourne came a.bout a generation and a half after Benjamin Franklin, and he may have repeated Franklin’s words.
– A very good one.
– Yes, I shall give the right honorable gentleman a lesson in history one day, but just now, I wish to remind him of the happenings of a few evenings ago. He deliberately set out to insult the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). He admitted that he had done so.
– Order! I shall not allow the honorable member to proceed in that fashion. He cannot accuse the Prime Minister of having deliberately set out to insult the honorable member for East Sydney, and he must withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw the statement at your direction, Mr. Speaker, but my interpretation of the remarks and actions of the Prime Minister on that occasion leads me to believe that he set out to offend the honorable member for East Sydney, and make a remark which was calculated to hurt the honorable gentleman and hold him up to public hatred, ridicule and contempt. It was offensive. That is why I have raised the position this afternoon. It is all right for the Prime Minister to give a dissertation on the legal position of members of the Communist party, and on the failure of his Government to persuade the Australian people to vote away their liberties. We opposed the Communist Party Dissolution Bill because the Prime Minister went far beyond the avowed purpose of that legislation. I think that the right honorable gentleman “ ran dead “ in the referendum, because he asked for powers which he never really wished to exercise. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has told us that the honorable member for East Sydney employed a man named Garden. That, is so. Garden robbed people, and engaged in a conspiracy which was intended to hurt the honorable member for East Sydney. I point out that the honorable member for East Sydney, as soon as he discovered the facts, reported the matter to the police, and Garden was brought to trial and sentenced to a term in .gaol. A royal commission investigated the matter, and the royal commissioner found that the honorable member for East Sydney had acted properly in every way. The royal commissioner actually went further, and paid the honorable gentleman a particular compliment for the manner in which be had submitted all his accounts. I was present in this House when the Prime Minister of the day tabled the document, and everybody congratulated the honorable member for East Sydney.
Government supporters interjecting,
– I am not talking to those people who have come into this House in recent times, and whose standards are not, perhaps, as high as those of the Prime Minister. However, the present Prime Minister, in my presence, did a magnanimous thing. He congratulated the honorable member for East Sydney, and said, “ I never believed for a moment that you were guilty “. So did the present Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), as the leader of the Australian Country party. I thought they were two splendid gestures because, whatever political fights they might have had with the honorable member for East Sydney, they did something on that occasion that made me proud of our parliamentary institution. The Vice-President of the Executive Council made no such gesture.
– I did. I said that he got clear of it.
– But you covered it over with a lot of criticism which was intended to convey the impression that there had been something sinister in the association of Mr. Garden and the honorable member for East Sydney. The VicePresident of the Executive Council was a friend of a former member of this Parliament, a gentleman named Ley, who was convicted as a murderer.
– Order !
– I did not know him.
– Yes you did. He was in the Liberal party with you. Does that make the right honorable gentleman an associate of murderers?
– Order !
– Or a person who condones murder?
– Order ! The honorable member’s remarks are beyond the scope of the motion.
– I am making comparisons as the Vice-President of the Executive Council made comparisons. Surely we of the Opposition have someliberty to express ourselves on matters of this sort. There was corruption in the New South Wales Liberal party in the days of WoolcOtt-Forbes, when a man named Walker was sent to jail. Many honorable members on the Government side of the chamber were associated with Walker.
– Order ! The honorable member must come somewhere within shooting distance of the terms of the motion.
– My remarks are as close to the subject as were those of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who was permitted to proceed without any interruption from the Chair. History will pass judgment on the motives and the actions of the people whom the right honorable gentleman has aspersed in the charges that he has made against the Labour party and its leader. The Prime Minister himself has appeared in court on behalf of trade unions, some of which had Communist officials at one time or another. Does that make the Prime Minister a friend of Communists and communism? The Prime Minister has appeared in court for the Shell oil company on occasions. Does that necessarily make him a defender of predatory wealth in. all its forms and activities? Does the fact that the Vice-President of the Executive Council was associated with the New Guard necessarily make him a supporter and defender of the late Adolf Hitler and the late Benito Mussolini? These are pertinent issues, which may be raised in view of the issues that the VicePresident of the Executive Council has raised. The Opposition supports your ruling, Mr. Speaker. We are not satisfied entirely with the way in which we have been allowed to state our point of view and, although we support the ruling, we think that you should have insisted that the Prime Minister should withdraw his statement and that, if he refused, you should have named him as you have on other occasions named honorable members on this side of the House.
– I have seconded the motion because I believe that it raises a matter of great principle and an important issue of practice in this Parliament. Your ruling, Mr. Speaker, if the House accepts it, will have the effect that any reference to an honorable member as a friend or supporter of communism, or as having friends and supporters amongst Communists, will be considered to be so derogatory that it must, be deemed unparliamentary and withdrawn. I feel that, upon reflection, you might have taken another view. The issue of communism in Australia is a. major political issue and the activities of Communists are major political facts of our every-day existence. Therefore, it becomes essential for this Parliament from time to time to consider those activities and their impact upon our political life and community life. Communism, being expressed through a legally recognized political party, inevitably becomes a topic for discussion in this Parliament. Advocacy or criticism of communism, by honorable members in this chamber becomes inevitably a matter for comment by other honorable members. Advocacy of communism, support for Communists, friendship for Communists and acceptance of support from Communists are all matters legitimately within the bounds of debate in this Parliament. “We on this side of the House have referred frequently to the close association between Communists and certain members of the Labour party. “We have referred also to the support given to the Labour party by members of the Communist party at elections.
– That is not true.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) says that my statement is not true. Will he deny that at elections where Communists and nonCommunist candidates opposed endorsed Labour party candidates, he repeatedly instructed supporters of the Labour party to give their second preference votes to the Communist candidate rather than to a candidate of the Liberal party or the Australian Country party? That has occurred repeatedly in my own political experience. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has reminded me that when he was opposed in the electorate of Kooyong by a Communist party candidate and a Labour party candidate, Labour voters were asked by the honorable member for Melbourne himself to give their second preferences to the Communist party candidate.
– I ask for a withdrawal of that statement. It is offensive to me, and is untrue.
– Order ! The honorable member for Melbourne must wait until the right honorable gentleman has finished his speech.
– Is it a fact that, during that election, the Labour party instructed its supporters to give their second preferences to the Communist party candidate rather than to the man who was then Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament? The Prime Minister has assured me that that was done, but the honorable member for Melbourne denies it. I leave it to the country to determine where the balance of probability lies on that issue. The honorable member for Melbourne certainly will not deny that from time to time it has been the practice of the Labour party to issue instructions to its supporters to give their second preference votes to Communist candidates rather than to candidates of the Liberal party or the Australian Country party. There should be nothing surprising about that, because it is notorious that the Labour party enjoys the financial and electoral support of leading figures in the Communist party. I shall proceed to establish the truth of that statement. The Labour party is not composed solely of individual members of the party. Its organizational structure is such that, its membership extends to trade unions that are affiliated with it. It is common knowledge that the leadership of many of the key industrial unions of this country is in the hands of acknowledged and unashamed Communists at the present time. Those unions are affiliated with the Labour party. Their members pay an annual contribution to the political funds of the Labour party. Has the Labour party ever sought to dissociate itself from either those unions or their financial support because they are led by
Communists, because their policies are directed by Communists and because their political and other activities are being conducted in the interests of the Communist party?
During the last federal election held in this country, in some electorates there were three-cornered contests between Liberal candidates, Labour candidates and Communist candidates. In at least five of those electorates, the Liberal candidate had a clear lead over the Labour candidate when voting concluded. There are four of five honorable members opposite who, but for the fact that they received the second preference votes of people who voted for Communist candidates, would not be in this Parliament now. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) is one who comes to my mind. I invite honorable members opposite to examine the facts of the last general election. I shall supply a list to prove my point if the Opposition wants me to do so. It is notorious that the Labour party has looked for the support and help of the Communists. I recall the referendum campaign in 1944, when additional powers were sought for this Parliament. The then Prime Minister arranged for a committee of, I think, five members to organize the referendum campaign for the Labour party. Two of the members of that committee were notorious Communists. Is that denied?
– Yes, it is.
– The facts speak for themselves. The facts confirm what was said by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison). It is clear that honorable members on this side of the House are justified in saying that the Communist party, in its election campaigns, has given its second preference votes and its support to honorable members opposite, that certain members of the Labour party have had close relations with members of the Communist party, and that they have frequently adopted a recognizable Communist line in debates in this Parliament - none more so than the honorable member for East Sydney. He has sought to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds in this connexion. As honorable members opposite know, he, more than any other mem ber of the Opposition, has sought to present to this House the point of view of the Communist party, expressed in its publications from time to time.
Under those circumstances, I say that the Prime Minister was justified in making the statement that he made. I say also that, in view of the political activities of the Communist party in this country at the present time, the capacity of this Parliament to perform its duty would be seriously restricted if our discussions and debates were so limited as to exclude any reference to the relations between the Communist party and some honorable members of this House. I support the motion.
.- 1 want to preface my few remarks by referring to one aspect of the incident that has caused this discussion. For a considerable time, it has been the practice of the Parliament that, when an honorable member says he considers a remark to be objectionable and asks for it to be withdrawn, the remark shall be withdrawn. The honorable member concerned is the person who determines whether the remark was objectionable. Exception was taken to a remark that I made yesterday. I stated that an allegation made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was a deliberate lie. I have withdrawn my statement. If I were prepared to allow the statement made by the Prime Minister to remain, that would be an admission on my part that what he said was true, whereas there was not an atom of truth in it. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) has said that, although the Prime Minister referred to members of the Labour party as being friends of the Communists, we have accused honorable members opposite of being fascists and friends of fascists. Of course, we have. The thing that amazes me is that honorable members opposite, evidently recognizing the truth of that accusation, have never asked for a withdrawal, or have done so only on rare occasions. I can understand why they do not want to ask for a withdrawal of statements of that kind. If this matter were ever considered by an impartial tribunal, they would be condemned, because there is abundant evidence that they are friends of the fascists. The Prime Minister has admitted that he is favorably disposed to the Nazi and fascist forms of government. When he returned from one of his periodical trips overseas, he said that we should try to understand the Nazi form of government. He talked about the benefits which had accrued to fascist countries, and there are any number of instances on record of his favorable references to fascist parties. The VicePresident of the Executive Council for years failed to deny in this Parliament that he was associated with the New Guard, which was a fascist organization that had been established for the overthrow of responsible government in New South Wales. The right honorable gentleman denied his association only after a space of years, when it became very unpopular to be associated in any way whatsoever with the fascist ideology.
The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) will not deny that he contributed a series of articles to a Melbourne newspaper under the caption, “ Why I am a Fascist without a shirt “. I suggest to the Minister that if he wishes to challenge the charge that we have made about the association of members of the Government with fascism in this country, let him read to the House those articles that he contributed to the Melbourne newspaper. Surely honorable members have not forgotten the time, before the outbreak of hostilities with Germany in 1939, when the notorious Nazi spy, Von Luckner, visited this country. Who were the people feting him at the community’s expense? They were the members of the present Government, who were being highly entertained with Von Luckner’s wonderful demonstration of strength in tearing up all the telephone directories lie could find. These are the gentlemen who took exception to charges by the members of the Labour party regarding their association with fascism.
Now let me refer to one of the statements made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council regarding a person by the name of Garden, who was given a three years’ gaol sentence upon conviction on a charge of forgery. The VicePresident of the Executive Council, in an attempt te mislead the public and this
House in regard to the facts of that matter, did not mention at all that it was I who covered wrong-doing in the relevant department, and referred the matter to the Commonwealth investigation department for investigation. The royal commission could not be said to have been “stacked”, because the commissioner, Mr. Justice Ligertwood, had been appointed by an anti-Labour government in South Australia. At the conclusion of that royal commission the judge made a finding about which I am justly proud. He said that he had no reason to doubt one word of the evidence that I had given before the royal commission. Honorable members opposite say nothing about these matters, because they want to continue their smearing tactics. -This matter is merely part of the smear campaign that they have been conducting in this country for the past few weeks, because they hope to remove control by Labour of any position that it might hold when the Royal visit takes place next year. In other words, the anti-Labour parties want to occupy all positions of authority. That is why a smear campaign against the Labour controlled Sydney Municipal Council is being conducted at present by honorable members opposite.
I shall now offer a challenge to any honorable member opposite who suggests that I was not completely cleared of the allegations made as a result of the political conspiracy in which members of the Liberal party were engaged. I offered voluntarily to place the whole of my affairs before the royal commission for examination by an independent authority appointed by the commission, and when that independent authority had gone through my affairs he gave me a complete clearance. Let the honorable members on the Government side submit their private affairs, including their financial affairs, to the same examination and see whether they will all come through with the same flying colours. That challenge also applies to the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne), who is still the sixandeightpenny lawyer who tries to intrude into all debates whether he is competent to do so or not. Let the Vice-President of the Executive Council deny that a barrister by- the name of Hutton, a campaign director for Mr. Treatt, the Leader of the New South Wales anti-Labour parties, was collecting funds to defray the expenses of Garden’s defence. Is it not also a fact that Mr. Isaacs was advised by Miss Jolly Smith, who was one of the foundation members of the Communist party, and by Sir Percy Spender, who is now the Australian representative in Washington. Of course, the Liberal party was banding with other people to try to destroy me because it had found me a rather difficult opponent in the political sense in this Parliament and throughout the electorates.
Let us now examine the record of honorable members opposite and try to find out what they have done. It is a wellknown fact that the late Mr. Justice Halse Rogers conducted an investigation into the misuse of government funds by the members of this Government when they formerly held power in this country, and it was established that government funds were being used to try to bribe union officials to betray the trust of the members they were elected to represent. Among those involved were people who were alleged to be Communists. Now let me deal with thu Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) because we are now having an open discussion on this matter. During the 1949 coal strike, which honorable members opposite have stated was Communist-inspired, the Minister for External Affairs, when visiting the Newcastle coal-fields, visited one of the Communist officials in his home while the strike was in progress. Surely they are notorious facts. Now let us refer to the referendum that was held in regard to the Communist Party Dissolution Act. The Prime Minister, in one of his unguarded moments in this House when he was franker than he usually is, admitted that one of the uses to which that legislation could have been put would have been to take action against the members of the Australian Labour party in this House and in the Senate. That is one of the reasons why the people suddenly became aware of the danger of this vicious legislation, and realized that it was designed to crush liberty and freedom in this country. Then they responded to the call of the Labour party and defeated it. I conclude by saying to honorable members that the
Speaker’s action to-day is consistent with Ids rulings in this House for some years. That is, that when an honorable member has objected to some statement it has to be withdrawn. There have -been numerous cases when a withdrawal has been ordered, and the members of the Government parties have rallied to the support of the Speaker; but to-day, because his ruling is against the Prime Minister, they want to dissent from it.
Whatever might be said as to the advisability of this practice, which has been followed for some time, it cannot be argued that the Speaker is not consistent, and is not ruling in the way that he has ruled on a number of other occasions. Honorable members will destroy democracy if they endeavour to force on this Parliament one rule for the Opposition and another for the Government. If the Prime Minister is to be at liberty to make statements which other honorable members consider objectionable, that will help to defeat democratic government in this country. I appeal to honorable members to be consistent and not to decide this matter on a purely party basis. It is obvious that the Prime Minister is at fault, and I ask honorable members to support the Speaker’s ruling.
– I rise to make a personal’ explanation. I was misrepresented by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) when he made certain remarks about economic articles that I wrote for the Melbourne Herald in 1934. I did not say in any way that I supported the Fascist party in all its actions. I proved, when the opportunity occurred, that I was prepared to fight for democracy with something other than ray tongue, and that opportunity could have been accepted also by the honorable member for East Sydney.
– The honorable gentleman was the most expensive soldier Australia ever had. He fought in two wars and he was captured in both.
– I understand, Mr. Speaker, that the House is still debating the motion ?
– I think so, very remotely.
– I wish to speak to the motion with some precision. The question now before the House is whether a ruling that it is unparliamentary to refer to an honorable member as enjoying the support or friendship of Communists should be dissented from. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has completely resolved that argument, because, in the course of his characteristically modest and restrained speech, he accused me, without any reproof and, therefore, presumably within the rules of the House, of being a sympathizer with the Nazis, he accused my gallant and honorable friend, the Minister for Works (Mr. Kent Hughes) of being a fascist, and he sprinkled around a small shower of other allegations which would have been fascinating if they were new.
Mr. Costa interjecting,
– But, as I have been here for nineteen years longer than the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa)-
– But the right honorable gentleman is on his way out.
– I have heard such allegations many times. I have also heard in the past the suggestions of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), who says that I am now on my way out. I have gone out, and I have come back. Odd remarks are made in a debate of this kind. I sometimes wonder whether the honorable member for East Sydney remembers, even remotely, that he was, in the wisdom of Providence, a member of the Curtin Government and of the Chifley Government. I wonder whether he has forgotten that fact, because one of his favorite gambits in this House is to attack something which events prove to have been done or said by the governments to which I have referred. It must be marvellous to be able to survive in Parliament indefinitely after having a bit each way. For example, the honorable member for East Sydney, in his last offering -to the House, said with bitterness - would it be unparliamentary, Mr. Speaker, for me to say with simulated bitterness - that supporters of the Government said that the coal strike in 1949 was Communist-inspired. So.they did, and so did the honorable member for East
Sydney at that time. As my personal friend and political opponent, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), remembers so well, the government of the day - in my opinion most properly - used public moneys in order to publish large advertisements in which it explained to the people of Australia that the coal strike was not an industrial dispute, but that it was a Communist conspiracy.
– Therefore, honorable members of the Opposition are antiCommunists.
– That may give comfort to the honorable member for Melbourne, but it gives no comfort to his nominal supporter, the honorable member for East Sydney, because the honorable member for East Sydney stated that supporters of this Government said it, and he implied that the Government was wrong. I have only to remind honorable members opposite of the fact that the majority of the then Cabinet - I have no doubt that the honorable member for East Sydney dissented - said with massive good sense that it was a Communist conspiracy.
– Therefore, honorable members of the Opposition are antiCommunist.
– Therefore, honorable members opposite did carry the fight to the Communists, but, unfortunately, not all of them. That is the real point. I have been accused by the honorable member for Melbourne of having friends or supporters among the Communists. I am bound to remind the honorable member, although he may have forgotten it in the scurry of political events, that, when I had a Labour opponent and a Communist opponent, which is not an uncommon state of affairs in the division of Kooyong, he and a certain other gentleman who is now in another place were in charge of the “ How to Vote” cards for the Australian Labour party in the State of Victoria. The honorable gentleman then made .an error, which doubtless he now regrets. The honorable member made the error of issuing an instruction in the division of Kooyong for people to vote No. 1 for
Labour, to vote No. 2 for the Communists and to put Menzies last.
– The lesser of two evils.
– I am indebted to the honorable member for “Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). That is exactly what I thought he would say. I should like to have it put on record that the honorable member for Wilmot said, “ The lesser of two evils “. In other words, he would have taken the same course and he would have said “ Give the Communist your second vote and give Menzies your third “. I do not mind being put last by the . Australian Labour party. I should not like it to be thought that that keeps me awake at night, but it does throw a little light on the question in relation to who are the friends of the Communists.
Mr. Clyde Cameron interjecting,
– I had great hopes f or the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), but he has been getting into bad political company lately. Before I resume my seat after this very interesting and illuminating debate, I should like to refer to the comments of the honorable member for East Sydney, who tells us he values his reputation for telling the truth, in relation to our supposedly false allegation that the coal strike in 1949 was Communist-inspired I have before me one of the large, and I should think very expensive, press advertisements which were published by the then Prime Minister of Australia. In order to ensure that nobody will confuse the then Prime Minister with myself, I draw attention to the fact that this advertisement was published on the 1st July, 1949. The then Prime Minister of Australia had in his Cabinet a sponsor of Cabinet solidarity and one who was bound by Cabinet decisions - the honorable member for East Sydney. The newspaper advertisement stated -
ARBITRATION has done this for the Miners!
The Coal Industry Tribunal, which the Communist section of the miners’ leaders have repudiated in staging this strike, was created at the request of these same miners’ leaders.
The advertisement went on to describe the benefits that had been achieved for the coal-miners by the Joint Coal Board and arbitration, and it concluded with the following statement: -
Arbitration and vigorous Government action brought all this about! The Communist section of the miners’ leaders want to throw all these gains away and smash the arbitration system.
– What has that got to do with it?
– I shall tell the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) what that has to do with it, if he has not followed my remarks with his customary care. The honorable member for East Sydney, in the course of his speech, said that honorable members on this side of the House had falsely stated that the coal-miners’ strike in 1949 was a Communist strike. I do not know whether it is relevant or irrelevant. I would accept a ruling on that matter. The only reason I mention it is to show that it would be very odd indeed if I rose in my place and said that the honorable member for East Sydney, in saying what he did about the coal-miners’ strike was not telling the truth, and the honorable member then rose and said, “ I regard that statement as offensive and I demand its withdrawal “. Since the honorable member was good enough to refer to the coalminers’ strike of 1949, I produce the answer to show that the truth is not in him and also to show him what the Cabinet, of which he was at least a subscribing member, said on that occasion.
– On a personal explanation, Mr. Speaker, I have been misrepresented by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has said that, in 1946, I authorized the issue of the “ Vote thus “ card in which a Communist candidate was given preference over the Prime Minister. The truth is that I have never authorized the issue of a “ Vote thus “ card in my life.
– Who issued it?
– The right honorable gentleman will not find my name on it, nor did I have anything to do at any time directly or indirectly with the issue of “ Vote thus “ cards. The Prime Minister also referred to something that happened in 1943. What he has in mind in respect of that year is the fact that the Liberal party sent out “ Vote thus “ cards in New
South Wales in which Liberal candidates, one of whom was Senator Dein, recommended preference to Communist party candidates ahead of Labour party candidates.
– Order !
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. Eric J. Harrison having handed in, in writing, his objection to the ruling,
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Will the Minister for Immigration say whether there is any valid and natural reason for fixing a. period of five years as the probationary period for European immigrants before they can become naturalized? Is it intended to reduce the period to three years? Does the legislation provide for exceptions to be made?
– The provision that re quires aliens to reside in Australia forfive years in order to qualify for Aus tralian nationality is one of very long standing. The period has been determined by this Parliament,, and is accepted in other parts of the British Common: wealth, as a reasonable period to be spent in the country of adoption in order- to become qualified for naturalization. There are good reasons for prescribing such a period. A decision to become naturalized is a very important decision for any man or woman to make. It is proper that immigrants should, be fully aware of the consequences of the decision, and the country of adoption should be assured that a person seeking naturalization has proved his worthiness to be accepted as a member of the community. It is not intended to reduce the qualifying period. Under special circumstances, persons who have given service to the allied cause in time of war are allowed to count that period’ of service as a part of the qualifying- period for naturalization. The legislation gives the Minister discretionary power to shorten the period for minors, if he sees fit. That discretion has been exercised in suitable cases..
-Is the Minister for the Interior aware that there is abundant evidence that the building of the Warraboor weir, near Swan Hill, in Victoria, will increase the productivity of large areas of land, some of which are now only partly productive, and others wholly unproductive? Can he give me any information about the action that is being taken to speed up the construction of that desirable project?
– The project, has been under examination by the River Murray Waters Commission. The States of Victoria and New South Wales actually have the responsibility of bringing the matter forward. They asked the commission to investigate the suitability of design and the method of construction.. I understand that the commission has undertaken that work, and has forwarded the information to the two States. If New South Wales and Victoria desirefurther action to be taken, they must submit their request to the commission, and the matter will receive further consideration.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister in the absence of the Minister for Civil Aviation. I consider that the question should be answered before the Parliament goes into recess, because it involves a matter of great importance to Australia. Can the right honorable gentleman say whether the Government has given, or is giving, consideration to a plan for operating the trans-Tasman air service with land aircraft and naming a private or commercial airline authority to operate this potentially profitable airline? If this decision has been, or is about to be made, will it not have the effect of bringing into the field of international airline operations a private or commercial international airline operator, which is entirely opposed to the principle at present and hitherto followed by the present owners of the airline - the United Kingdom, New Zealand and. Australian governments - in operating international overseas air services only by a government authority or authorities? If any such proposal, or any variation of it, is contemplated, can the Prime Minister give an undertaking, to the House that the Parliament will be given an opportunity to discuss the matter before any action, detrimental to the profitable and highly efficient, government airlines is taken ?
– I shall bring the question to the notice of the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– Considerable confusion exists in the minds of the people of Queensland because of a statement by the Minister for Labour in the State, on behalf of the Minister for Mines, that the Commonwealth has withdrawn a promise of assistance in the search for uranium in that State. Will the Minister for Supply kindly clarify the attitude of the Government, and describe the help that the Commonwealth is prepared to give in the search for uranium in Queensland?
– My attention has been directed to a statement which, I think, has been made by the Minister for Mines on this matter. Some days ago I indicated in answer to a question by another honorable member that this Government, the Bureau of Mineral Resources and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission were willing and eager to give help to all State governments in the matter of prospecting for uranium. I said that the Commonwealth would give assistance to Queensland, but I added that in respect of an early scintillometer survey, the two aircraft which we had available were committed until the end of this year and would not be available until next year. I understand that the Minister for Mines seemed to think that the aircraft would not be available next year for service in Queensland. That is not so. As soon as they are free, they will certainly be made available by this Government. However, it must be understood that we have many commitments, and that the number of aircraft available for this work is limited. I did say, and I repeat, that I hope that, the Queensland Government and other State governments will take action in the meantime to send land parties to mate their own prospecting surveys.
– Has the Prime Minister heard about to-day’s market prices which indicate that the price of eggs has increased by 3d. a dozen, flour by £5 a ton, meat by 2d. per lb., and bread by Id. a loaf, and that production board officials predict that food prices in Australia are likely to send household bills to record high levels before Christmas? Is the Prime Minister aware that the basic wage is pegged as from the 30th September last, and that prices are rising higher and higher? Is the right honorable gentleman in favour of the continuance of those conditions?- If he is not, will he make a national effort, in keeping with a national leader, to see that the same effective control of wages and salaries is applied to prices and profits?
– I have neither heard, nor seen the reports to which the honorable member for Banks has referred and therefore I can offer no useful comment.
– Has the Prime Minister given consideration to the appointment of a committee to examine the need for an Australian national theatre, and to the provision of a Com- . monwealth theatrical fund to enable Australians to gain experience overseas?
– That matter has engaged, and is still engaging, a good deal of attention.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior a question in relation to the situation of a number of tenants of New South Wales Housing Commission homes who are paying high rents because of the harsh terms of the agreement between the Commonwealth and the State. Is it a fact that the high interest rate on the loan money advanced to the State is responsible for the excessive rents? Will the Minister call a conference of representatives of the Commonwealth and the States with a view to easing the position of the States, particularly New South Wales, where many houses are being built?
– I shall refer the honorable member’s questions to the Minister for National Development, who is in charge of housing.
– My question to the Minister for the Interior refers to war service land settlement and arises from a statement by the honorable member for Bourke that the total amount to be expended on war service land settlement throughout Australia during the current year will be only £7,000,000. Is this figure correct ? If not, what does the Minister expect to be the approximate expenditure on war service land settlement for 1953-54 if the governments of the principal States of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland stand up to their obligations?
– I think that the figure of £7,000,000 was obtained from a bill which provided for the allocation of money to the agent States under the war service land settlement scheme. In addition to that amount, £1,500,000 will be provided from the revolving fund of the agent States, which makes a total of £8,500,000 that will be paid by this Government direct to the agent States. That total does not take into account certain much smaller sums that will be expended by the Commonwealth in the principal States. If I remember the facts correctly, Victoria has allocated £5,500,000 for war service land settlement this financial year, New South Wales has allocated £3,000,000, and Queensland has allocated £855,000. Thus, the total allocations by the Commonwealth and the States amount to just under £18,000,000. That amount, not £7,000,000, is the correct figure.
– On behalf of the Minister for External Affairs and myself I lay on the table the following paper: -
International Labour Organization - 36th Session, Geneva, June, 1953 - Reports of the Australian Government, Employers’ and Workers’ Delegates.
In the interests of economy, I do not propose to have the paper printed, but copies will be made available to honorable members who may be interested. In accordance with recent practice, I shall inform the House at a later date of the action taken, or proposed to be taken, in respect of the recommendations made by the conference.
– I present a report from the Standing Orders Committee dated the 2nd December, 1953, recommending the adoption of a new standing order incorporating suitable provision to meet the requirements occasioned by the proposed opening of the Parliament by Her Majesty the Queen.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leave - proposed -
That the following new standing order be adopted by the House: - “ lA. On any occasion upon which Her Majesty the Queen intends to declare in person the causes of the calling together of the Parliament, the House shall attend Her Majesty at the time and place appointed.”.
.- The Opposition agrees with the Government that the proposed new standing order should be adopted. It will be a permanent standing order and not merely a special provision, for the occasion next year when Her Majesty the Queen will visit Australia. It presupposes that Her Majesty will declare in person, on other occasions in the future, the causes for the calling together of the Parliament. It is to be hoped that our young Queen will be able to visit Australia again not too distantly after 1954.
– Hear, hear !
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies), agreed to - That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to the exercise by the Queen of powers under Acts of the Parliament.
Bill presented, anc! read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The powers conferred by this Parliament on the Executive are almost invariably expressed to be exercisable by the Governor-General acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council. By section 61 of the Constitution, the executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen, and the Sovereign often exercises that power acting on the advice of her Australian Ministers. For example, she does so in reference to the appointment of Australian Ambassadors, and the late King George VI. did so in the case of the declaration of war on Japan. However, I am advised that, notwithstanding section 61 of the Constitution, Her Majesty cannot, as a matter of strict law, exercise any power conferred on the Executive by a statute of the Parliament. In other words, she can exercise a prerogative right but not a statutory right as the law now stands.
This bill therefore provides that any power under a statute which is exercisable by the Governor-General may be exercised by ITer Majesty the Queen when she is personally in Australia. The exercise of the executive power by Her Majesty “will then take its place among the executive acts of the Commonwealth alongside those performed by the GovernorGeneral as the Queen’s representative. A similar measure has been passed by the New Zealand Parliament. The object of this bill, of course, is to ensure that Her Majesty, when present in Australia, shall be clothed with the complete executive power .of the Commonwealth, whether it be derived from common law or from statute. It is not expected that this power will need to be exercised much, if at all, but I am sure it is the feeling of all members of this House and of all the people of Australia that, although Her Majesty, while she is here, will still be represented by the Governor-General, who will, in the normal course of events, perform a number of important executive acts, it will be agreeable if, while she is here, she can meet with her executive councillors in her own country of Australia and, if the occasion arises, perform executive acts without legal question.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) - by leave - agreed to.
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1045-1952. as amended by the Commonwealth Bank Act 1953.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read ii second time.
The purpose of this bill is to rectify the position which has arisen as a result of a recent High Court decision affecting section 28 of the Re-establishment and Employment Act. The High Court held, for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, that it was not within the power of the Commonwealth to invest State courts with an administrative function. Sub-section (1.) of section 28 of the act provides that where any person who considers he is entitled to preference in employment has been refused employment, he may apply to a court of summary jurisdiction constituted by a police, stipendiary or special magistrate for an order directing his employment. The High Court held that that was a conferment of an administrative function and, inasmuch as section 28 (1.) attempted to invest State courts of summary jurisdiction with non-judicial power, the section was invalid.
It will be appreciated by honorable members that the effect of this judgment is to rendel” nugatory to a. considerable extent the preference in employment provisions contained in section 27 of the act, as there is now no tribunal to which a person who has been refused employment in breach of section 27 may apply for an order directing his employment. The High Court, in the course of its judgment, indicated, however, that nonjudicial power could, with the consent of a. State, ,be conferred upon State officers as designated persons. The States were accordingly asked whether they were willing for their magistrates to be designated as persons who could hear applications and make orders under section 28. Consent to certain of their magistrates being so designated has been obtained.
The bill proposes the repeal of the existing section 28 and the insertion of a new section, which will enable formal arrangements to be made by the GovernorGeneral with the Governors of the several States for the classes of magistrates who have been approved by the States to be proclaimed prescribed authorities for the purpose of applications under this section. The prescribed authorities will have power to make orders directing employment similar to that which the existing section purports to confer on courts of summary jurisdiction.
There is nothing controversial in the measure, and I commend it to honorable members.
.- It appears that the High Court has invalidated the appeal provisions of the Re-establishment and Employment Act. It has said that a court has no right to hear an appeal under the provisions of that act. The Government proposes, by arrangement with the States, to introduce a new appeal system. Instead of a police magistrate sitting as a court to hear appeals, we shall have a police magistrate sitting as a police magistrate. Apparently that will overcome the difficulty caused by the judgment of the High Court. It is necessary to preserve the right of appeal of aggrieved persons. If this is the best way. in which that can be done, the Opposition offers no objection to the passage of the bill. We are glad that a way has been found to give effect to the desire of everybody that aggrieved persons shall have a right of appeal. As the decision of the High Court will be complied with in a manner which the legal advisers of the Government have said will be legal and constitutional, everybody should be happy.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) said the High Court had invalidated a provision of the Reestablishment and Employment Act. The High Court may have declared the provision to be invalid, but it did not invalidate it. A. legislative provision becomes invalid because of some constitutional provision. The High Court is merely the instrument provided by the Constitution to declare whether a provision is valid or invalid.
Mi-. Calwell. - Only one section of the act was invalidated.
– Yes. In law, there is a clear distinction between a court and a designated person. The bill will overcome the difficulty caused by the judgment of the High Court, and similar difficulties should not occur in the future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill is, I think, quite noncontrovevsial. Certainly it encountered no opposition when it was introduced in another place. The object of the measure is to remove certain doubts that have arisen in regard to the validity of the appointments, first, of the chief judge and other judges of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and, secondly, of certain officers of the Public Service of that Territory. Section 59 of the Papua and New Guinea Act provides that the chief judge and each other judge of the Supreme Court of the Territory shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral by commission under the seal of the Commonwealth, and may be removed from office by the Governor-General on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity, but shall not otherwise be removed from office. During 1949, the chief judge and three other judges of the Supreme Court of the Territory were appointed by commission under the hand of the Governor-General, pursuant to section 59 of the act. However, in each of the commissions the tenure of office was expressed to be subject to the pleasure of the Governor-General. Recently, doubt was expressed whether that was consistent with the provisions of the statute. The legal advisers of the Government consider that, notwithstanding the restriction of the tenure of office that each commission purported to impose, the appointments as made were valid; nevertheless, it would be advisable to remove any doubt by validating legislation. The bill is designed to place beyond any shadow of doubt the validity of appointments that have already been made.
It provides also for the reappointment by the Governor-General, by commission under the seal of the Commonwealth, of the chief judge and the three other judges concerned. The Government proposes, not only to validate the appointments made, but also to make fresh appointments of the same people in valid and unchallengeable form. The bill provides for seniority to be assigned to the judges after re-appointment, the seniority to be according to the dates of the respective original commissions. It provides also that a person re-appointed as the chief judge or as a judge under the provisions of the measure shall hold office as if the appointment were an appointment under section 59 of the act, and that the tenure of office after re-appointment shall be deemed to be a continuation of the tenure of that office before reappointment.
A clause of the measure deals withthe special case of one of the judges who, before the date of his re-appointment under these provisions, will have reached the age of 65 years. Section 59 (4.) of the present act provides that a person who has held office as a judge of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea may continue in office during the pleasure of the GovernorGeneral after he has attained the age of 65 years. Judge Gore will be in that position after his re-appointment under the terms of this bill. It is proposed that we shall recognize that situation and say that, in conformity with the provisions of the act, he shall continue in office during the Governor-General’s pleasure.
Mr.Calwell. - Does that mean he could continue in office until he was 75 years of age?
– He will be in the the same position as he would have been if no question of the validity of his appointment had arisen. Doubt has also arisen about the validity of certain appointments that have been made to the Public Service of the Territory pursuant to the provisions of section 30 of the Papua and New Guinea Act. The Governor-General, by instrument dated the 29th June, 1949, delegated to the Minister for External Territories power to make appointments to the Public Service of the Territory. As honorable members recall, on the 11th May, 1951, the Department of External Territories was abolished and the Department of Territories was created. Our legal advisers have expressed the opinion that, when that administrative change was made, the instrument of delegation to the
Minister for External Territories ceased to be effective and should have been replaced by one in favour of the Minister for Territories. The bill is designed to validate appointments purported to have been made by the Minister for Territories from the time of the abolition of the Department of External Territories in May, 1951, until the 25th June, 1953, when an instrument of delegation to the Minister for Territories was issued by the Governor-General under section 30 of the act.
A3 I have said, there is nothing con troversial in the bill. It is designed to validate certain, actions taken in accordance with the will of the Parliament as expressed in previous legislation. I commend the measure to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 26th November (vide page 576), on motion by Mr. Anthony -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The bill now before honorable members is designed to amend the Navigation Act to give effect to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, and for other purposes. It might be pointed out that this measure is fairly large because it contains 41 clauses and embodies 105 pages of closely printed matter. The object of the bill is to ratify the decisions of a convention on the safety of life at sea, which was held in 1948. It is interesting to note that about 30 countries were represented at that convention, which was held in London. Australia was represented by two technical officers of the Australian Government, a representative of employer shipping interests, and a representative of employees engaged in shipping activities. Of the 30 countries that attended the convention, 21 have so far ratified its recommendations, and nine, including Australia, have yet to do so. Five countries, including Japan, which were not represented at the convention, have since signified their intention of ratifying the decisions of the convention and ha.ve taken the necessary action to do so. Therefore, when this matter is finalized, the decisions will have been ratified by Australia and some 34 other countries.
It is of interest to trace the gradual evolution of an understanding between the nations of the world about the important matter of safety at sea. International interest appeared to have been awakened in 1912 after the loss of Titanic. Because that accident involved a frightful loss of life, and the destruction of what was regarded as the world’s largest and safest ship, it was realized that an international understanding on the conditions that were to operate in ships and the measures necessary to make vessels as safe as possible, was necessary, and proposals were put forward by one European country that an international convention might well consider those important matters. As a result of those suggestions, discussions were held in the 1920’s and the first international convention on safety at sea was convened in 192S. In 1934 our own Navigation Act was amended to include the principles and proposals that had been adopted in 1928. The legislation now before the House proposes to incorporate in our Navigation Act the considered judgment of the experts of 30 countries who, in 1948, devoted weeks to intense study to the matter of safety at sea. It was appreciated by all countries that because of the great experience obtained as a result of the many maritime disasters that occurred during “World War II., and the different types of ships that are now in operation, much valuable information has been gained and that that information might well be pooled by the nations to provide even safer conditions than had been provided through the 1928 convention. Consequently, we have this bill before us.
The measure might well be considered in two parts, the first of which deals with machinery amendments necessary to the Navigation Act, to permit altered definitions to be made law and to provide for the drafting of regulations in respect of the large number of technical questions to which this legislation relates; and, the second of which., and this is the bulk of the measure, seeks to repeal the conditions prescribed by the present act and to insert a new schedule containing the provisions agreed upon by the international convention. I desire to make it clear that the Opposition agrees with the statement of the Minister who introduced the bill, that it is not a controversial measure and that it will not change any of the principles contained in the Navigation Act. Also, to the extent that it does amend the Navigation Act it does so in a manner which improves safety at sea. The bill is highly technical in some respects, and I suggest that an indication of its technical nature may be obtained from an inspection of part of the new schedule VI., at page 35 of the bill, which deals with permeability. I suggest that even the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) will have the greatest difficulty in determining what those regulations actually mean.
– I wrote a book on similar matters at one time, but nevertheless I agree with the honorable member.
– I am glad the Minister agrees that the measure is highly technical. However, certain important aspects of it should be stressed. One is the new provision to deal with stability in ships. In this connexion, the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony) said -
Another new feature being adopted internationally is the supply of stability information when a ship is built, and the keeping of this information on board. This will enable the shipmaster to determine how loading will affect the stability of his ship.
Apparently, even though the shipbuilders have been aware of a ship’s stability information, no attempt has hitherto been made to inform the master of the ship of that knowledge. The information concerns the safe distribution of weights, and the special risks that are involved because of the particular construction of the ship. One of the provisions of this measure is that such information must be at all times in the possession of the master on board the ship, and must bo available so that when different types of cargo are being loaded the master will be in a position to make sure that the weight is distributed in a way that will safeguard the stability of the ship. Another matter which will become a’ international law has already been provided in Australian law for many years.
That is that certificates shall be issued with respect to lifesaving and firefighting equipment. Our Navigation Act, which has always been regarded as one of the most up-to-date in the world, provides for the hue of certificates of various descriptions. A certificate of equipment is required in respect of all Australian ships. Under the provisions of the convention, ships of all the signatory countries must have certificates of equipment covering lifesaving and fire-fighting appliances.
Another important decision made by the convention refers to the method of making future amendments to navigation law. In the past, when an amendment was found to be desirable, the only way in which it could be made was by the unanimous consent of all the countries that were parties to the relevant convention. Consequently, in certain circumstances, a country which was not interested in a new amendment could fail to indicate its willingness to have the amendment made, and the amendment, which might have been of value to other countries, would then lapse. It is believed now that conditions change so rapidly that some more effective means of having amendments made might well be introduced, and the United Nations will now create a body to be known as the Assembly of the International Maritime Consultative Organization. Any amendment to the International Navigation Law will be referred to that body, and will become part of the law upon approval by a two-thirds majority. I suggest that that system will be of great improvement on the old system of making amendments.
The provisions of this bill will not necessarily apply to interstate shipping around the Australian coast, because it has been designed to deal essentially with international shipping - that is, ships voyaging between different countries. However, it should be made clear that conditions in Australian coastal ships are already provided for in our own navigation laws. I have been assured by the officers of the navigation department that, if necessary, the regulations applying to the Australian coastal shipping will be amended to ensure that any additional safeguards and precautions contained in the international agreement will be incorporated in the law that applies to our coastal ships. This measure gives wide power for the making of regulations. The giving of such power seems to be essential, because many of the provisions that are contained in the convention must be put into the form of regulations that will be of a very technical nature. Although the majority of the decisions of the convention have been incorporated in the new .Schedule 6, there are many other matters such as radio equipment on which new regulations must be drafted. Because of the technical nature of these regulations, some little time may elapse before they are drafted, gazetted and put into operation. The passing of this legislation does not mean that all of the decisions of the convention will be put into effect immediately.
I think that my suggestion in relation to the matter to which I shall now refer should receive the earnest consideration of the Government. I think that it is undesirable that such a length of time should elapse between the adoption of the convention and the passing of the appropriate legislation in Australia. For instance, one finds that, although certain conventions were adopted by a conference that was held in 1929, Australia’s Navigation Act was not amended until 1934. A period of approximately four or five years elapsed. Although the convention that is now under discussion did not begin to operate until November, 1952, the conference at which the convention was adopted was held in 1948. It will be noted that the relevant legislation has been presented to this House at the end of 1953. When the fact that further regulations must be drafted before this legislation may become operative, is taken into consideration, it may be well towards the end of 1954 before the decisions become law in Australia. I conclude by saying that, where Austraiian standards are higher than those which have been adopted by the convention, those standards will remain in operation. In no way does the convention reduce the safety standards that have been adopted in Australia. The bill seeks to give legislative force to the decisions that have been based on experience which has been gained over the past twenty years. This measure raises no controversial issues, except perhaps the length of time that is taken for ratification. It will improve’ the present legislation and it will make life at sea much safer than it has been in the past. For those reasons the Opposition supports the bill.
.- This is the second occasion within a week on which this House has been asked to adopt an international convention. International conventions are a very healthy sign of progress. They indicate that, despite the fact that there are fears about future happenings, nations are able to work together and are able to pool their knowledge for the benefit of mankind. The international character of safety at sea has been recognized only during the present century. It has been recognized, in the main, because of the fact that the British nation, which has always been a nation of seamen, has been successful in its efforts to introduce there international conventions. [Quorum formed.”] Any reference to the question of safety at sea should not overlook the fact that, long before these international conventions came into existence, the people of Great Britain prided themselves upon the safety of their ships. They have done so for approximately 100 years. No reference to this subject would be complete unless the name of Samuel Plimsoll were mentioned and unless reference were made to the fact that the adoption of the Plimsoll load line was the major step that was taken towards ensuring the safety of ships at sea. The words of the poet that those who die at sea were unknelled, uncoffined and unknown, were scarcely true, because prior to the adoption of the Plimsoll line the ships that went to sea were known as coffin ships because so many men died in them. The next forward step was the passing of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 in England. That act is still in existence and it still plays a large part in ensuring the safety of English ships. That act is regarded as being a magnificent piece of legislation. It is a huge piece of legislation, which may well be described as monumental. It contains no fewer than 748 sections and in addition 22 schedules. Reference should also be made to the marine insurance underwriters, who naturally have safety at sea very much at heart. Their efforts have resulted in the increased safety of ships. Finally, our discussion takes us to the great Titanic disaster. It was primarily that disaster which led England to advocate the introduction of international conventions. The convention of 1948, which is now under discussion, sat steadily for no fewer than seven weeks. Not -only representatives of the shipping industry, but also representatives of all the great seamen’s unions participated in those discussions. No fewer than 30 nations were represented. The convention had before it a store of knowledge and experience that was gained over the twenty years that had elapsed since the previous convention. That experience had been greatly increased by the events of the war years. Much progress was made in ensuring safety at sea. The three principal matters that were considered were, first, the safe construction of ships; secondly, the provision of proper safety equipment; and thirdly, the loading, or perhaps I should say the overloading, of ships.
I shall refer to the third matter first. The question of the storage of grain in ships was considered for the first time by an international convention. As honorable members can well understand, the shifting of grain in a ship during a gale could result in the destruction of the ship if the grain had not been loaded properly in the first instance. Provision has been made for the loading of grain in such a way as will not imperil the safety of the ship. Progress was made in relation to the provision of fire-fighting equipment on passenger ships, in relation to the provision of life-saving equipment and, in particular, in relation to the provision that lifeboats should be equipped with radio apparatus in order that they might have a greater chance of being rescued. Attention was given also to the provision of direction-finding apparatus and to the packing and storage of dangerous goods. Another very important step forward was an extension of the direction in which ships should go to the rescue of persons in peril to include aircraft. It was provided that, irrespective of the manner in which a ship received information of the peril, it should go to the rescue of those in distress. Previously there had been great limitation upon the instructions that a vessel was bound to accept. This legislation must be regarded as humanitarian legislation, of which the countries of the world may be proud ,and which may be put upon the same footing as the humanitarian legislation of the last century in relation to the introduction -of safety -measures in factories and mines. It represents a. tremendous forward step.
In some ways the conditions observed in ships on the Australian register are very much better than those provided for in the convention although the convention represents a great forward step for some other signatory countries. Apart from dealing with financial matters it lays down a code of safety precautions which were .agreed to by representatives not only of the unions but also of the shipowners. A discussion of matters that concern the merchant navy and the safety of mariners should not be concluded without a reference to the fact that the men of the merchant navy are constantly facing the perils of the deep. During the war from the day upon which hostilities began until they were concluded the men of the merchant navy faced perils that were probably greater than those faced by men engaged in any other form of national defence service. The casualties in the merchant marine were greater than were those of the other services. This legislation will bring happiness, not only to those who go down to the sea in ships, but also to their wives and families.
.- It is a good augury, as the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) and the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) have said, that so many nations have been able to come to an agreement at least upon some important matters. That may give us reason to look forward with some hope to the future peace of the world. It seems to be a long time since the days of the coffin ships, until we remember that they existed not more than 100 years’ ago. This legislation will do a great deal to ensure the safety of men at sea. I direct attention to the fact that, of the 30 countries, the representatives of which attended the conference, nine have yet to ratify the convention. They are Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, Greece, Panania, Poland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Australia. It will be well for us when Panania adopts the convention because ships registered in that country have offered unfair competition to the ships registered in other countries. Ships which fly the flag of Panama have not adopted anything like the safety standards enforced by most countries even before this convention was drawn up. They caused the Labour Government a great deal of difficulty. When I was Minister for Immigration ships on the Panama register brought immigrants to Australia under conditions which would generally not be accepted in ships operated by companies in Great Britain and the United States of America. Many complaints were voiced in the press concerning these so-called hell ships. It is true that after this convention is ratified we may still have to suffer the competition of ships that fly the Panama flag. They are owned, not by the citizens of Panama, but usually by unscrupulous people of other countries who register them in Panama and proceed in a buccaneering way unfairly to compete with ships registered in other countries and at the same time endangering the safety of their passengers and crews. I hope, that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), or whoever may occupy that office in the near future, will soon be able to say that the nine countries which I have mentioned as not yet having ratified the convention, have done so. Australia, is among the last of the countries which sent representatives to the conference to take the necessary action to do so. Already more than twenty countries have signed it. Altogether, 26 countries have ratified the convention which revises the convention of 1929. Of those countries, 21 were represented at the conference. The House may confidently accept this measure. I support the honorable member for Bendigo, who has said that the Opposition welcomes this legislation in the interests of humanity.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Message received from the Senate intimating that the Senate had agreed to the appointment of a Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and had appointed Senator Gorton, Senator Maher, Senator McCallum and Senator Wordsworth to be members of the committee.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Beale) read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Beale) read a first time.
Debate resumed from the 26th November (vide page 573), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition opposes this bill, the purpose of which is to repeal Part VI. of the Life Insurance Act 1945. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), in a speech the report of which covered only a few lines, as usual, gave practically no information about the purpose of the legislation. The right honorable gentleman said that the proposed amendments are desirable for purposes of clarity and that none of them will weaken the act or prejudicially affect the rights of policyholders in any way. At the conclusion of his speech he said -
The bill will remove those sections of the main act which provide for the establishment of a government insurance office, to which the Government has always been apposed.
That is not a statement of fact. When the original legislation was before the House in 1945 the then Leader of the Opposition, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), praised it. The bill was read a second time without a division. Section 132 of the principal act, which is included in Part VI., reads as follows : -
The Governor-General may establish an insurance office to he known as the Commonwealth Government Insurance Office.
Section 133, which is also in Part VI., reads as follows: - (1.) The Commonwealth Government Insurance Office shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal, and may hold land, and may sue and be sued, in its corporate name. (2.) All courts, judges and persons acting judicially shall take judicial notice of the seal of the Commonwealth Government Insurance Office affixed to any document or notice and shall deem that it was duly affixed.
Clause 134, which is in the same part, reads - (1.) The Commonwealth Government Insurance Office -
in relation to its management and operations and the carrying on of its business -
The Chifley Government introduced the 1945 legislation for two reasons. It wanted to be sure that there would be in existence a Commonwealth insurance office to take over the businesses of some of the insurance companies which were under great difficulties and proved an embarrassment to the better-conducted life insurance concerns, both mutual and otherwise, which then operated in the same field.
– And a few others as well.
– It had no desire to take over others as well. I shall tell the story for the information of the honor able member for Evans (Mr. Osborne). The Government intended to take over those companies in order to protect the interests of policy-holders in the event of the larger companies not doing anything about the matter. The Treasurer, in his second-reading speech, said that the 1945 act replaced six State acts. He should have said “ superseded “ instead of “ replaced “. Similar legislation, with the exception of Part VI., was passed in 1936 by the Victorian Parliament which gave effect to all the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Life Insurance which was appointed by the Dunstan Government and presided over by Mr. Justice Clyne, who is now a Bankruptcy Court judge. We had another purpose in view when we took power to establish this office. We desired that a reserve power should exist, which a government could exercise if an insurance office, large or small, failed to carry out the provisions of the Life Insurance Act in respect of the rights of policy-holders in regard to surrender values, the right to paid-up policies, and the use of proper life tables. It transpired, during the hearings of the royal commission in Victoria, that certain companies were using life tables based upon the expectation of life in England about the year 1868. We followed the Victorian act in this matter, and required life insurance offices to base their actuarial calculations on the expectation of life disclosed in the last census held before that year. That provision was wise. The Opposition at that time did not like that power which we were taking, and the Treasurer, Mr. Chifley, gave an assurance to the Parliament that Part VI. of the legislation would not be brought into effect until the Parliament had been notified of the intention.
– Notification of the intention, or legislation?
– I am telling the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske), if he will listen to me, that the previous Treasurer, Mr. Chifley, gave an assurance that Part VI. of the Life Insurance Act would not be brought into effect for the establishment of a government insurance office until the Parliament had been notified of the intention. That provision did not meet the wishes of the Opposition parties of that time, because the then honorable member for Warringah, Mr. Spender,, now Sir Percy Spender, moved the following amendment to clause 133 : -
That, in clause 133, sub-clause (I.) paragraph (a), the word “prescribed” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “approved by resolution of both Houses of the Parliament”.
The then honorable member for Warringah sought, by that amendment, to prevent a government which desired to set up an insurance office from doing certain things that were prescribed. . He considered that those things should be done only after approval had been given for them by both Houses of the Parliament. The honorable member did not go further than that. He did not say that the Commonwealth Government Insurance Office should not be established, and he and his colleagues did not vote against the clause. The only division which was taken at any stage when the bill was under consideration was on the honorable member’s amendment, which was defeated by 31 votes to fourteen. The clause was then passed without further criticism, and the whole of Part VI. was agreed to without further, challenge. The bill received the Governor-General’s assent and became law a few weeks later.
The Treasurer has stated that the act has given great satisfaction, and the Prime Minister has described it as good legislation. I agree with their views. For the first time in Australian history, we have a comprehensive life insurance act. The Commonwealth allowed the States to exercise insurance powers until Mr. Lang became the Premier of New South Wales, but this Parliament passed special legislation in 1932 to authorize the Commonwealth to take over the deposits which the State then held and was proposing to seize. As time has passed, people have recognized the value of the Life Insurance Act. I again direct attention to the fact that that act was based upon a law enacted by a Country party government, with the support of the Labour party, in Victoria, eight or ten years earlier. The claim that the Government parties have always opposed the establishment of a Commonwealth Government insurance office is, on the evidence which I have adduced, without the slightest foundation.
I have not seen in any policy statement, and I certainly have not read any speech made in this House, which indicates that the Liberal party and the Australian Country party are opposed to the idea of a Commonwealth insurance office. Every State has a government insurance office. Some of them deal in life insurance, some in fire insurance, some in marine insurance and most of them in accident insurance. As a matter of fact, the private companies are vacating the field of accident insurance almostentirely in favour of government insurance offices. If State governments of all political complexions have found it desirable to establish State offices, there should be no reason why, in certain circumstances, a Commonwealth Government insurance office should not be set up. The power which was given -in the Life Insurance Act 1945 was to be used in an emergency. No harm has come from the incorporation of that provision in the act during the last eight years, and no harm would come from allowing it to remain therein in the future, but I have a shrewd idea that the representatives of the insurance companies, when they came here recently at the invitation of the Treasurer for consultation on the filling of loans, offered to do certain things in consideration for certain actions of the Government.
– The honorable member would invent anything.
– No, I would not. I am directing attention to the fact that the proposed amendment is . a quid pro quo. There is no doubt that pressure has been applied to the Government by some insurance companies to get rid of this most desirable provision. Those who support the repeal of the sections which provide for the establishment of a government insurance office will indicate that they do not want a government at any time, or in any circumstances, to intervene in order to protect the interests of policy-holders.
Insurance is big business in Australia now. More than 5,000,000 life insurance policies are held, some of which are described as ordinary policies, and others as industrial policies. 1 notice that the bill contains a provision to change the law concerning industrial policies. An industrial policy is generally taken out by a person, who lives in an industrial area, and pays weekly contributions, whereas premiums are paid on an ordinary policy monthly, quarterly, halfyearly or yearly, by cheque or cash at the office of the company concerned.
I shall now deal with the other provisions of the bill. Clause 3 provides for the omission from the definition of “ company “ the words, “ but does not include the Commonwealth Government Insurance Office “. An industrial policy is also defined, and there cannot be a great deal of objection to that. Clause 4 proposes the insertion in the act of a new section which deals with the cancellation of the registration of companies. The Treasurer has pointed out that certain companies have been registered over a period of years, but have not commenced business. The Government is now taking power to cancel the registration of those companies which have not actually started in business. Clause 5, which seeks to amend section 36 of the principal act, deals with the substitution and withdrawal of deposits, and clause 6, which seeks to amend section 44, deals with accounts and balance-sheets. Again there cannot be a great deal of objection to those provisions.
Clause 7, the purpose of which is to amend section 48, deals with actuarial reports and abstracts and statements of life insurance business. I should like to know why the Government cannot take action at this late stage to wind up some companies which are never likely to be able to pay 20s. in the fi. Some of those companies have been cited in the courts. They were established in New South “Wales, where no protective insurance legislation existed prior to the enactment of the Commonwealth act in 1945. A number of excanvassers and officials of companies established little companies. They took a percentage of the profits, and the rest was left to the policy-holders. From the beginning, those companies have been in great financial difficulties. They have been able to pay policies, which have matured. out of collections of premiums on policies which are still in existence. I do not wish to mention the names of those companies, but they are known to the Commonwealth Actuary and other Treasury officials. Action should be taken to liquidate those companies, and distribute to policy-holders their equity in them. Proposed new section. 48 (3.) merely substitutes a new form for the publication of actuarial information and abstracts and statements of life insurance business. “We shall be asked, when we consider clause 8, to pass many provisions that occupy two-and-a-half pages of the bill, but the Treasurer has completely ignored them in his second-reading speech. Honorable members, if they find difficulty in interpreting the legal phraseology, are evidently expected to confer with the Commonwealth Actuary, or agree to the clause, whether they know anything about it, or not. I do not consider that to be fair.
– An explanation of the clause can be given in committee.
– I have been a member of this House a few years longer than has the Minister, and I should have thought that the Treasurer would have given an explanation in his secondreading speech of the meaning of each of the proposed new sections. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) says that the explanation can be given in committee.
– This is essentially a bill for consideration in committee.
– I feel that we shall get no more information about it in committee than -we received from the Treasurer in his second-reading speech.
– I am a mine of information on this matter. The honorable gentleman will be surprised when he hears me.
– The Minister might, for once, be interesting and informative.
– There is always tha; hope.
– I shall look forward to enjoying the experience, now that I have been advised that the Minister has some knowledge of some legislation. At any rate, the former Treasurer, Mr. Chifley, when he introduced the Life Insurance Bill in 1945, explained its provisions in great detail, aud every honorable member at that time had a precise knowledge of the meaning of them. Consequently, the bill had a speedy passage through the House. However, I note that reference is made in clause 8 to provisions on valuations, and the payment of dividends and bonuses from statutory funds. The last reference is to the amount that a company shall allocate from statutory funds as profits for shareholders, or as bonuses for policy-holders. If my memory serves me correctly, the existing legislation provides that companies owned by private interests may appropriate 20 per cent, of their profits each year for their own benefit. In practice, I understand, they appropriate only about 5 per cent. Surely the time has come when we should try to convert them into mutual companies. The big and respected life insurance companies in Australia are the mutual companies, such as the Australian Mutual Provident Society, the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited, the Temperance and General Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited, and the National Mutual Life Association of Australasia Limited. The Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Company Limited is not a mutual company, but is owned by private interests, although it uses the word “ mutual “ in its title.
– It is a very good company, though.
– That may be so. The Minister may have shares in it or hold policies with it. If so, I commend him upon his foresight and acumen. The rights of the* owners of big insurance companies to draw tribute should be gradually reduced. I repeat my suggestion that this Parliament should pass a law that will ultimately make all these companies mutual companies. The bill contains no provision that could lead to that result. When the bill is being considered in committee, I shall ask that progress be reported in order that we may obtain information on its various clauses from, the officers who are in attendance. We should be informed of the precise meaning of the clauses. At this stage, Mr. Speaker, I ask for leave to continue my remarks so that the Treasurer may have an opportunity to table certain documents.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
Taxation - Thirty-second report of the Commissioner of Taxation, dated 1st November, 1953, together with statistical appendices, and move -
That the paper be printed.
As a result of the proceedings in the High Court in the McGrath case, it is not desirable that copies of the report be made available to the press or members of the public until the Parliament has given the necessary authorization. I have mentioned this matter to the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who has agreed not to oppose the motion in order that copies of the report may be circulated as soon as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- Clause 9 provides for the deletion of a paragraph of section 55 and the insertion of a new paragraph dealing with valuation balance-sheets annexed to abstracts prepared in pursuance of Division 5. It is impossible for honorable members to understand the precise purpose of the proposed new paragraph unless the Commonwealth Actuary is allowed to explain it to them, through the responsible Minister. Even if we compared the proposed paragraph with the paragraph that is to be omitted, we might not be able to determine the reason for the suggested alteration. We should not be asked to pass legislation of this sort without having some knowledge of its purpose.
– The bill should be referred to a committee.
– That is a worthwhile suggestion. At any rate, I hope that we shall be allowed to report progress at the committee stage so that we can obtain the desired information. Clause 10 provides for the elimination of certain words in section 62 of the principal act which refer to the Commonwealth Government Insurance Office.
– ‘That is consequential on the provision for the repeal of Part VI.
– Clause 11 also is consequential on that provision. Clause 12 deals with notice in relation to proof of age and provides for the amendment of section 81. The new provision may not be so beneficial to the policy-holders as the Treasurer would have us believe it will be. It may result in legal difficulties.
Clause 13 deals with the misstatement of age. I well remember certain happenings before the Labour Government brought down its insurance legislation in 1945. Some companies were so mean and contemptible that they took advantage of mistaken declarations of age in order to deprive policy-holders of benefits. They seized all the premiums that had been paid by such persons, even though they might have held policies for many years. The Labour Government’s legislation put an end to that sort of thing. So far as I am aware, there is nothing wrong with the provisions of section 83 of the act in relation to the misstatement of age, and I know of no reason why it should be amended. I recall a Church of England clergyman in Melbourne who had a “whole of life” policy, but who, at the age of 93 years, was refused any benefit by the insurance, company. It ruled that he had to live to 96 or 97 years of age before he could realize on his policy. The Labour Government’s legislation enabled him to benefit from his thrift because it thought that he had lived long enough to have earned the right to do so. This bill may have the result of preventing other old people from obtaining insurance benefits to which they would be entitled under the present act.
Clause 14 refers to minors. It is hard to follow all the legal terminology of the clause in relation to the rights of minors and their guardians. Clause 15 deals with assignment of policies. From a cursory examination of the clause, it appears to be intended to benefit insurance companies rather than policyholders. That is an additional reason why we should have been told in detail of the Government’s intentions. I do not propose to accept the casual explanation of the entire bill that was contained in a single sentence of the Treasurer’s speech. The right honorable gentleman said, with reference to the provisions of the bill -
None of them weakens the act- or prejudicially affects the rights of policy-holders in any way.
The House must be given additional information about each clause if it is to be the judge of the situation. I regard the Treasurer’s speech as a gross insult to the House. The right honorable gentleman apparently regards it as a mere registering authority for the opinions of the Government. We have been asked to pass legislation hastily without having sufficient factual information in our possession. Clause 16 deals with the assignment of policies to companies and the rights and liabilities that arise from such assignments. The subject of policies held by trustees is dealt with in clause 17. It will make the performance of certain acts by trustees easier, but the rights of persons affected by trusts may be restricted by the new provision if trustees should act improperly. We should have additional information on this clause also. Clause after clause is couched in language that is not intelligible to us unless we know of the reasons for the Government’s proposals. Clause 18 deals with family insurance policies, but its object is not readily apparent. Clause 19 relates to the provision for dispensing with probate or administration in certain cases. This may be a desirable provision and, if enacted, it may reduce the costs incurred by people who benefit from insurance policies that do not exceed a value of £500. However, we have been told nothing to prove that the clause is as desirable as it appears to be on the surface.
Clause 20 provides for the insertion in the principal act of a new section which relates to the death of the owner of a policy if the owner is not the person whose life is insured under that policy. Clause 21 covers one and a quarter pages of the bill with provisions in relation to unclaimed moneys. There were fewer words in the Treasurer’s second-reading speech than there are in this clause. Clause 22 contains a definition of the term “ child’s advancement policy”, and clause 23 provides for the amendment of section 116 of the act to conform with the amended provisions in relation to such policies. Clause 24 deals with lost policies, a subject that I thought was dealt with effectively already in the existing legislation. However, the Commonwealth Actuary and his staff, or the Parliamentary Draftsman, or both, consider that the existing provisions should be clarified. The clause provides for the repeal of section 119 and the substitution of a new section 119. The change may not be of great value. Clause 25 refers to the return of industrial policies and premium receipt books after inspection. In the absence of any explanation from the Treasurer, I arn not satisfied that the. clause is either desirable or necessary. Clause 26 contains other provisions in relation to premium receipt books and the obligation of insurance company representatives to show the dates on which premiums are paid. Policy-holders will best safeguard their interests if they protect their premium receipt books and avoid surrendering them to officials of insurance companies except when necessary. Receipts should be issued for the books. Clause 27 will repeal part VI. I have already referred to this proposal, and I shall not discuss it further. There is a clause that deals with voting by post. Apparently it has been inserted in the measure owing to the difficulties that some insurance offices are having with persistent seekers after directorates. Under their by-laws, they have to do certain things.
– The honorable member does talk a lot of rubbish !
– If I want to learn anything about rubbish, I shall go to the expert on it. I refer to the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale). It is all very well for the Minister, who has a brief - he has never been able to handle briefs very well - to make insolvent observations, but I want to know what the clause means. It would be much better if he were to tell us what it means.
– If the honorable member will sit down and give me a chance to tell him what it means, I shall do so.
– I shall not give the Minister a chance to do so yet. I want some information about this bill, and I propose to address myself to it. Clause 29, clause 30 and clause 31 propose amendments of the act which, for the life of me, I cannot understand. It is proposed to amend the first, second, and sixth schedules of the act, but the Treasurer, in his one-page speech, did not tell us anything about any of the schedules.
The Opposition will oppose the motion for the second reading of the bill. In committee, it will oppose the clause that proposes the repeal of Part VI. of the act. This measure has been thrown at honorable members. It has been flung on the table. The Treasurer should have demanded at least as much information to give to honorable members as his inefficient substitute, the Minister for Supply, has in his possession at the moment.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) is suffering from an acute attack of cacoethes loquendi, as the Latins say.
– That is an unparliamentary expression!
– I explain, for the benefit of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon),, that it means an incurable itch to speak. It is not possible to deal with all of the matters to which the honorable member for Melbourne referred in bis spate of words, but I want to deal with his quite disgraceful allegation that the proposal for the repeal of Part VI. of the act, which makes provision for a Commonwealth Government Insurance Office, has been inserted in the bill at the instigation of life insurance companies. The honorable member alleged quite coldbloodedly that representatives of life insurance companies came to Canberra and that, for a quid pro quo in connexion with subscriptions to Commonwealth loans, we agreed to repeal Part VI. of the act. Let me say something about this matter that decent honorable members will find it hard to quibble about. I have a specific assurance from Mr. Balmford, the Insurance Commissioner, who, I understand, is held in high regard by most members of this House, including members of the Opposition, that the life insurance companies knewnothing whatever about this proposal until “the bill was introduced. They were not told about it, they were not asked about it, and they knew nothing about it. What was clone was done in pursuance of government policy. If that does not shut up most of the critics of this proposal I shall be surprised.
The honorable member for Melbourne has said that he is opposed to the repeal of Part VI. of the act, hut it is a strange thing that in 1945, when that provision wasbeing discussed by the Parliament, he said -
I assure the committee that no action will be taken by regulation to give effect to this clause.
He was referring to clause 132 of the Life Insurance Bill 1945, which made provision for the establishment of a govern- ment insurance office. He went onto say -
In other words, before any action is taken to put the clause into effect, separate legislation will be introduced.
A little later, he said -
I have given an assurance that this Government
It was a Labour government - will bring down legislation to establish the Commonwealth Government insurance office, and to define any business which that office may undertake.
In view of those remarks made by the honorable member in 1945, it is obvious that his opposition to the repeal of Part VI. of the act is completely hypocritical. Honorable members opposite admit that the Labour Government did not intend to establish a government insurance office. Therefore, the provision made in the act for the establishment of such an office is redundant. Yet, because we propose to remove a redundant provision from the act, we have been attacked by the Opposition. I am not sure that the Labour party would not establish a government insurance office if it were returned to power. A plank of the platform of the Labour party is the socialization of insurance companies. If Part VI. of the act were not repealed, a future Labour government might give effect to it. We do not intend to give the Labour party an opportunity to do so, because we propose the repeal of that part of the act.
The only other comment I have to make refers to the criticism by the honorable member for Melbourne of what he described as the lack of actionby the Government in connexion with insolvent insurance companies. Let me tell the honorable member that, of the many life insurance companies in Australia, only one is in financial difficulties. The affairs of that company are being investigated by the High Court of Australia. An application is before Mr. Justice Fullagar at the moment.
– I join with the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) in criticizing the complicated measure that has been presented to us and the summary manner in which we are expected to deal with it. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 786).
.- This measure is designed to validate the appointments of certain judges, because there is some doubt about the validity of those appointments. I have been assured that the legislation is necessary, and that it should be passed forthwith. The Opposition offers no objection to the passage of thebill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Mr. ERIC J. HARRISON (Wentworth - Vice-President of the Executive
Council and Minister for Defence Production) [5.41]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Tariff Board Act provides for a hoard consisting of four members, who may be appointed for terms of not less than one and not more than three years, with eligibility for re-appointment. The purpose of this bill is to carry out the desire of the Government, recently announced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), to increase the membership of the board from four to seven to enable it to sit concurrently in two divisions, each normally of three members. Sufficient flexibility is provided, however, to enable the chairman of the board to vary the membership of the divisions to four or two, if special cases of inquiry arise which render it desirable, in his opinion, to depart from the normal membership of three. Honorable members will appreciate that the work of the Tariff Board involves an intimate understanding of the tariff. It is proposed, therefore, that one member of each division be an officer of the Department of Trade and Customs. The chairman of the Tariff Board would not necessarily attend meetings of a division called for the purpose of hearing evidence, although he might elect to do so, but, to ensure uniformity of policy, he would attend meetings of either division at which a report was being prepared.
The existing act provides that members of the board may be appointed by the Governor-General for terms of not less than one year or more than three years. The bill proposes that the maximum term of appointment be increased to five years. The extension of the maximum term of appointment is designed to enable a prospective member to be offered an appointment for a reasonably long term. It is thought that the prospect of a term of five years might encourage men of outstanding ability to offer themselves for appointment to the board. When the board was established in 1921, there were three members. The membership was increased to four in 1923, and has not been increased since then.
It is unnecessary for me to refer in detail to the changes that have taken place in Australian industry in the last 30 years. Industries established before or during the 1920’s have expanded to meet the needs of a growing economy, and this expansion has been accompanied by wide . diversification of industry. Many of these industries, which are essential to the country in peace as well as in war, have been established in the post-war era of high capital costs. Whilst, in many cases, there is the compensating factor that equipment is efficient and up to date, some manufacturers are experiencing difficulty in meeting the competition of their overseas counterparts, whose capital costs were incurred at a lower general level. Changes in cost levels have exposed some efficient Australian manufacturers to competition that it is difficult for them to meet with the present levels of tariff protection. This is particularly true of industries protected to some extent in the past by fixed rate duties - that is, duties calculated on physical measurement, such as so mud a square -yard or a ton.
Successive Australian governments have subscribed to the view that the appropriate method of protecting efficient Australian industry is by means of the customs tariff. In arriving at the level of protection to be afforded, consideration is given to the findings of the Tariff Board made after public inquiry. This view has such general acceptance that it could well be described as a national policy of reasonable protection for efficient producers. The Government has consistently resisted a tendency to regard import licensing as a means of complementing the protection afforded industry by the customs tariff. Import licensing has as its object the most effective use of overseas exchange available to Australia. The protection to Australian industry that is incidental to the operation of import licensing has, in fact, enabled some industries to become established without tariff protection. The removal or relaxation of import licensing, which will be effected as soon as circumstances permit, would leave some of these industries exposed to competition. The Government considers that the level of tariff protection required to enable the industries to continue after licensing is removed should be determined by the Tariff Board without undue delay.
The Tariff Board has, at the present time, some 46 references on which it has not yet reported. In addition, several cases are under examination by the Department of Trade and Customs to determine whether a prima facie case exists for reference by the board. Many of those inquiries cover industries with wide ramifications. The Government anticipates that the provision of two divisions of the board will enable the average time taken for an inquiry to be held and a report to reach the Minister to be considerably reduced. In its 32 years of operation the Tariff Board system has been accepted with confidence by all sections of the community. The board hears evidence on oath at a public inquiry at which all interested parties may give evidence. In its annual report, which must be tabled in both Houses of the Parliament, the board gives a clear picture of the factors that have influenced its recommendations, as well as an outline of the general economic position.
The system has removed the matter of tariffs from the political arena, and has provided an impartial body to report to the government of the day on the course that should be taken. Of course, when the Government presents its policy on particular industries to the Parliament, the Parliament finally decides on the duties to be imposed. This is, honorable members will agree, right and proper, and in accord with the principles of sound democratic government. So successfully has the Tariff Board system operated over the past 30 years in Australia, that inquiries have been received in respect of it from overseas, and it has, in fact, been copied by some countries. The Government considers that it is now time to extend the present system to bring it up to date, and to enable the board to cope with the additional volume of work that has arisen from the industrial development of Australia. The provision for two divisions should enable the board to expedite its present procedures, and so allow the earlier determination by the Parliament of the duties to be imposed on particular goods. No departure is contemplated from the sound principles that have been developed in relation to the workings of the board, and the small additional expense involved will, it is expected, be outweighed by the benefits that will accrue. I commend the bill to honorable members.
.- The Government is making a virtue out of necessity in this matter. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) has stated that the Government intends to establish two tariff boards, because the industrial development of Australia has proceeded so rapidly that one board is not able to deal with the many applications for tariff protection that have been lodged by established industries. I understand that there are 46 applications before the present board. Those applications have not been made because of industrial expansion, but because this Government has created inflation, and our economy is balancing on a razor’s edge. Quite a number of old established industries that have never sought tariff protection before are applying for it now. Let us have two tariff boards by all means if they will help to preserve our industries. The Labour party does not oppose the appointment of more tariff boards, but I suggest that the necessity to appoint two boards to overcome arrears of work is a reflection on the Government’s economic policies. As usual with this Government, it is a matter of too little too late. I venture to say that before the second tariff board begins to hear applications, some of our industries will have ceased to exist, because twelve months at least in some instances must elapse before the tariff board has concluded hearing evidence and made its report. The Minister need not think that this Government will not be in serious difficulty in twelve months’ time, or even in six months’ time, because of its failure to act sooner to protect our industries.
– Is the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) forecasting another depression?
– I am forecasting the Government’s ultimate defeat.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a. second time.
– I am astonished’ at the haste displayed by the Government in dealing with this measure. The Tariff Board is concerned with Australia’s secondary industries, and it influences for good or ill the fate of many of those industries. I am disappointed because the Government has not allowed honorable members a greater opportunity to discuss the general operations of the Tariff Board. The principal purpose of this measure is explained in the second part of it. It is to increase the number of members of the Tariff Board, and to allow the board to function in two sections. Perhaps there might be some doubt about the wisdom of that method of administering tariff matters, because it seems, from the measure, that r.he chairman of the board must concern himself with both sections. If the purpose of the bill is to facilitate the hearing of tariff matters, how can that objective be achieved if the chairman has ultimately to deliberate on all matters before both sections of the board ? Perhaps it would be more reasonable to establish a completely separate tariff board, and arrange; for one board to specialize in certain industries and the other to specialize in other industries. Or, perhaps there could be several boards. 1 ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) how the chairman of the board, who is subject to the usual physical limitations, will be able to sit as chairman of the two sections of the Tariff Board at the same time?
In the last annual report of the Tariff Board it was stated that the board was asked to adjudicate on the economic results of certain industries. I believe that that part of the report indicates that the board questioned its ability to solve many of the problems that have been put before it. However, it is the only body that we have to handle trade protection matters, but it would seem that the measure before ‘ the House does not accomplish any very striking reforms. A limited body is asked to adjudicate on the question whether industries should or should not be protected. Involved in that function are matters of high importance to our secondary industry, which employs about 1,000,000 people and is responsible for the well-being of all those people as well as their families. Therefore, it will be seen that our secondary industry is a. very important factor in our national life. Consequently, it is most disturbing that this matter should be placed before the Parliament only the day before we are due to go into recess. Matters affecting the tariff are usually brought before us in the dying hours of a session, and when honorable members of the Opposition ask the smiling Vice-President of the Executive Council whether an opportunity will be given them for a broad debate on the tariff, he usually says that such an opportunity will be given in the next session. The matter of Australia’s participation in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade has not been dealt with by the Parliament, although representatives of many governments have recently been in session.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Adermann).Order ! The honorable member should confine his remarks to the bill.
– I suggest that the Tariff Board is connected with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, because it is the body that is concerned with Australian tariffs. I also suggest that the powers of the Tariff Board have been vitiated to some degree by the Ottawa Agreement, and by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Honorable members of the Opposition well realize the importance of secondary industry to Australia, and we all know that employment in those industries is less to-day than it was eighteen months ago. Therefore, the actions of the Tariff Board are most important to the future of this country. This measure has taken me by surprise. I believed that the secondreading debate would be adjourned today, and that an opportunity to discuss the measure would be given to honorable members to-morrow. However, there seems to have been an agreement between the Government and the Opposition, and I make no comment about that; but I do suggest that there should be a more adequate discussion in this chamber of the important matter of the Tariff Board. I also suggest that there is at present a need for a. full economic inquiry into the effect of the tariff, along the same lines as the inquiry that took place in 1931 and 1932.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
.- Before the committee adjourned, I had asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) to explain the general meaning of the proposed new section 6 of the principal act. It will be remembered that the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in his second-reading speech, laid great stress on the necessity to preserve the integrity of the Tariff Board and upon the significance that it attached to its relations with people overseas. The right honorable gentleman emphasized that the board is as free from political control as it is possible to make it. I think that an essential feature of the activities of the Tariff Board is that it should be independent in its judgments and that it should not be merely a political body. That is why I am concerned about the proposed new section 6. My reading of the section seems to indicate that it provides that the two or three members to which it refers shall be public servants. I am not sure, but I think that at present there are two public servants on the board. If two boards were established, there would be one public servant, two other members and the chairman on each of the boards. That would be the ordinary pattern. If it is intended to appoint seven people altogether, there would be one public servant, two other members and the chairman on one board and two public servants and one other person on the other board. The chairman would move from one board to the other. I should like to be sure that these public servants would not be public servants in the ordinary sense of the term but only in the sense that they were appointed as members of the Tariff Board. If it were intended that they should be members of the department after the board has been established, the Government would be open to the criticism that the board was not independent but that it would be subject to the control of the government of the day. I should like the VicePresident of the Executive Council to give honorable members an idea of the manner in which the board will work. I would not raise this matter if I did not regard it as imperative that the complete independence of the Tariff Board should be maintained. If at any time it was thought that the board was simply an instrument in the hands of the Executive, all virtue in the establishment of the Tariff Board would be lost. Because provision is being made for a board of seven members, and because the Government is insisting that the only member who will be completely familiar with the tariff rules shall be a public servant from the Department of Trade and Customs, it seems to me that that person should be entirely free from departmental control. I should not like to see the Government appoint a board that comprised two public servants, one member of the public and a chairman who may or may not be a public servant. The Vice-President of the Executive Council laid much stress upon the necessity of having a hoard that was noted for its integrity and its independence.
– I should like to make one or two observations before I deal with the matter that was raised by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland). My remarks are directed, in the main, to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). When the honorable member for Melbourne Ports rose to make his contribution to this debate, he complained of the fact that he had not sufficient time to devote to the matter. He claimed that he was being restricted unduly and that, because the committee was rising within a short space of time, he would be precluded from making his speech. He said that, if he had had more time, he would have been in a position to criticize the bill much more lucidly and intelligently.
– The honorable member did not say anything of the sort.
– That is obviously what he was implying. Let me remind the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that, if he wished to have more time to discuss this bill, he should have been in his place and should have risen during the second-reading stage. The honorable member would then have been completely unrestricted, because he would have been able to devote to the debate the full allotted time. The fact that the honorable member did not avail himself of that opportunity cannot now be used by him as a basis for saying that the Government is restricting debate. The fact remains that the allotted time for a second-reading speech was his if he wanted to take advantage of it. The honorable member did not take advantage of it. Therefore, he should not now rise in his place and complain that he had not sufficient time to discuss the matter. If the honorable member’ was not in his place to do so, it is his responsibility and not the responsibility of anybody else. The criticism that has been levelled against the bill in relation to the appointment of additional members to the Tariff Board is criticism that is really without foundation in fact. As the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) pointed out, I said that there were approximately 46 applications awaiting decision. Indeed, there were considerably more than that number when the honorable gentleman occupied a seat on this side of the chamber. As I pointed out recently, the Labour Government left a back-lag of applications. The fact that the Government has succeeded in reducing the number of applications that are awaiting the decision of the Tariff Board and the fact that the Government proposes to appoint additional members to the Tariff Board is an indication of the interest that it has in the welfare of secondary industries in this country.
I now wish to deal with the matters that were raised by the honorable member for “Warringah. The honorable member asked me to indicate the status and functions of the additional public servants. As the honorable gentleman knows, there are at present four members on the Tariff Board, two of whom are public servants. The honorable member knows also that they are not active officers of a special department. They are public servants because it is necessary tohave on the Tariff Board a public servant who knows, from the departmental point of view, the circumstances surrounding, the application. It is necessary for that member to make available that information in the course of the board’s investigations. It is proposed to appoint additional members to the board. There will be one additional public servant. Theother members will be chosen because of their peculiar adaptability and’’ experience and because they will be ableto make full inquiry into the matters that have to be considered by the board. The chairman will be in a position to assist on questions of policy and matters that require his determination. In other words, whereas one board is operating at present, two boards will operate in future. There will be no alteration to the method of procedure or administration.
Sub-section (2.) of proposed new section 6 provides that at least two, but not more than three, members shall be officers of the Department of Trade and Customs prior to their appointment to the board. The existing act provides that one member shall be an officer of the Department of Trade and Customs. I think that the explanation I shall now give will answerthe question that was raised by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. Clause 6 repeals section 12a of the principal act, which provides for the appointment of a committee to conduct any inquiry or other business of the board and report thereon to the board. Under the proposed new section 12a, the chairman may determine that a particular matter may be dealt with by a division of the board and that any division so constituted shall have all the powers of the full “board in relation to .that matter. That means that the division would conduct the inquiry and report direct to the Minister. It is also provided that more than one division of the board ma.y be constituted by the chairman, and that the divisions may operate concurrently. It is required that the chairman shall so constitute each division that one of the other members, and not more than one other member, shall be a former officer of the Department of Trade and Customs. For the purpose of a division, two members will form a quorum. The whole object of this amendment is to allow two divisions of the board to operate simultaneously. In practice, although normally the chairman will not sit to take evidence, he will preside at meetings of each division when the division is discussing and preparing a report. I think that that is the matter about which the honorable member for Warringah was concerned. I hope that that explanation will clear up any misconceptions that he may have had.
.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) has explained to the committee some aspects of this bill. Provision is made in the bill for the appointment of three additional members to the board, including two who are not members of the Public Service. Honorable members were told recently by the Minister that the alterations to the tariff items were in accordance with the recommendations of the board. If this bill is passed, the result will be that this Parliament will give to another board power to make recommendations to the Government. I am very much interested in the establishment of new industries in this country and I know that in many instances those industries must receive the protection that will enable them to continue their operations. In my electorate many new industries have been established for the manufacture of goods which previously -were imported, and which the exporting countries are able to export in large quantities. Doubtless that is the reason why there is a back-lag of more than forty applications that are awaiting decision by the Tariff Board. The matter that concerns me is whether the appointing of these members in order to determine, in effect, the future prices of goods in. this country will result in further inflation. I am not convinced that the present operations of the Tariff Board constitute the best method of giving protection to industries in this country. It should be possible to institute a better system. If an industry which manufactures only 10 per cent, or 15 per cent, of Australian requirements of a product obtains additional tariff protection, the price of the competing imported product, which supplies 85 per cent, or 90 per cent, of the Australian market, is thereby increased. Surely a better solution can be found for this problem. Small industries which, in our own interests, should be encouraged should be assisted by means of a bounty or subsidy rather than by additional tariff protection, which merely adds to the spiral of inflation.
There is a danger that the Tariff Board, in making its recommendations to the Government, may be influenced more by the need to increase the revenues of the Commonwealth than to protect Australian industries. To the additional duties imposed as tariff protection merchants add margins of profit ranging from 30 per cent, to 50 per cent., and thus inflation is worsened. The manner in which applications to the new Tariff Board will be dealt with will depend upon the kind of men appointed to it. “We must ensure that persons appointed to the board shall give first consideration to the interests of the country as a whole.
I sympathize with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), who was badly treated by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. The right honorable gentleman said that if the honorable member for Melbourne Port? had been in his place when the Minister made his second-reading speech, he would have had ample time to deal with thi’ bill.
– Order ! I shall not allow the honorable member to reopen that matter.
– The Chair allowed the Vice-President of the Executive Council to “ put it over “ the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. Surely I am entitled to reply to his statements.
– Order ! That matter has been dealt with. It is outside the scope of the bill.
– You, Mr. Chairman, have the last word to say in these matters. If you think that it is good policy to allow a member of the Government to say the last word on every occasion, we can do nothing about the matter. Surely you will realize that the Opposition has some rights. When members of the Government and their supporters “ slang-whang. “ Opposition members, and we seek to reply to their utterances, we are usually gagged by the Vice-President, of the Executive Council.
– Order! If the honorable member does not confine his remarks to the bill, I shall direct him 10 resume his seat.
– Does the Government intend to appoint two outsiders to the new board who will fall in with its wishes and bo more concerned about the necessity for obtaining additional revenue than about the interests of Australian manufacturers and consumers?
– Undue delay takes place in the consideration of applications made to the Tariff Board. Last week I directed a question to the Vice-President of the Executive Council regarding an application made to the board by a firm engaged in the manufacture of cotton textiles. The right honorable gentleman informed me that the application was being considered by the Tariff Board and that a decision could be expected within the next few months. I am aware that the board has to consider a great many applications and that in existing circumstances delays are inevitable. It is to be hoped that the establishment of an additional board will allow the back-lag of applications to be overtaken.
Like the honorable member for Melbourne, I have looked forward to this opportunity to express my views upon several matters associated with the tariff. I should like to discuss the policy of the Government in relation to prices which are intimately related to the proposals contained in the bill. The granting of additional tariff protection to small Australian industries will not bring, about price stability or reduce production costs. I have suggested a better means by which those objectives can be achieved. The Minister made a very brief secondreading speech on the bill and, before I had an opportunity to digest his remarks, he made an arrangement with the honorable member for Melbourne, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, to dispose of the bill without delay, as the result of which we are to be given little opportunity to consider its implications and to state our views upon it. The Minister may ask why, in those circumstances, the honorable member for Melbourne agreed to his request that the bill be given a speedy passage. I am aware that it is the usual practice to dispose expeditiously of measures of this kind during the dying hours of a sessional period. Sometimes we are inclined to wonder whether the practice of introducing bills at such times is not deliberately followed by the Government in order to stifle discussion. Every member of the Parliament should have the fullest opportunity to express his views on matters brought before him,, particularly on important measures such as the bill now before the committee which so vitally affects, not only Australian industries, but also the well-being and future prosperity of the Australian people.
.- The Government has for too long delayed the introduction of this measure, the purpose of which is to expedite the hearing of applications by secondary industries for tariff protection.
– I rise to order. I ask you, Mr. Chairman, whether the honorable member is in order in commencing a speech as he has done during the committee stage. The committee has directed that the bill be taken as a whole and the honorable member should be obliged to state the clause to which his remarks relate. I seek guidance in this matter because, if you allow him to pursue that line, you must also allow me to do so.
– The matters dealt with by honorable members must relate to the proposals contained in the bill.
– The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), who, on several occasions, has reminded his constituents that he was a prize-winner in a debating contest at the competitions at South-street, Ballarat, should know that it is customary for an honorable member to begin a speech by making a few introductory remarks. Before I had completed my introductory remarks the honorable gentleman rudely interrupted me. About eighteen months ago I said in this chamber that the Tariff Board took from eighteen months to two years to complete a a investigation into an industry which had sought additional tariff protection, f contended that the delay in finalizing the investigation was too great and that appropriate measures should be taken to speed up the procedure. In 1951 the Australian Country party tail was wagging the government dog, and members of the Australian Country party said, “ “We must restrict and destroy secondary industries “..
– It will be recalled that at that time the Government proposed to divert employment from so-called uneconomic and luxury secondary industries to primary and basic industries. Honorable members opposite wanted to shut down Australian factories on the ground that in a well-balanced economy unessential industries, and uneconomic industries - the textile industry was mentioned - : should be discouraged and that emphasis should be placed on basic industries and primary production. The Prime Minister said that his Government would use all its powers of compulsion, to that end. That was one occasion on which a policy applied by this Government was successful. In March, 1952, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) declared that the country was almost in a state of insolvency and that the flood of imports had resulted in the displacement from industry of no fewer than 100,000 employees.
– To which clause of the bill does the honorable member relate his remarks?
– The honorable member for Burke is attempting to make a second-reading speech. His remarks are not relevant to any clause. He must confine himself to the bill.
– My remarks relate to the general purpose of the bill which is to facilitate the hearings of applications by Australian industries for tariff protection. I congratulate the Vice-President of the Executive Council on the fact that even at this late stage he has accepted the advice which I gave eighteen months ago. Surely I am entitled to do so even though he is acting belatedly on a suggestion that
I myself made. The establishment of a second Tariff Board will enable applications to be dealt with more expeditiously and will enable a tariff wall to be erected without delay against the flood of goods from a resurgent, industrialized Japan, from Germany and from other continental countries in which the working conditions of the people are by no means comparable with those in Australia. It has been said that Australia is pricing itself out of the markets of the world.
– Order ! The honorable member must discuss the proposal to establish a second Tariff Board and matters incidental thereto.
– I am endeavouring to state reasons why an additional board should be appointed as quickly as possible and why its members should be impressed with the need to carry out their functions in accordance with the wishes of the Australian people instead of yielding to the dictates of the Australian Country party element in =the Government. The stimulation of Australian secondary industries is essential in order to enable us to absorb our rapidly increasing population. We should strive to develop our secondary industries to a position comparable with that of industries in highly industrialized countries, such as the United States of America. The members of’ the new Tariff Board should have an Australian outlook. They should be imbued with the need for development of Australian industries but with due regard to the general welfare of the community as a whole. We do not suggest that tariff protection should be accorded to- small and comparatively unimportant secondary industries to the disadvantage of the people as a whole. I advise Government members to study carefully the new protection policy initiated by the Labour party, which protects industries that need to be developed, the persons employed in them, and the consumers of their products. Protection of that kind has been afforded by Labour governments in the past, and. will be provided in the future by the men of broad,, national outlook on this side of the chamber. The future to which I refer is not far distant. Members of the Labour party will occupy the benches on the other side of the chamber, and members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party will constitute the Opposition.
– The contradictory speeches delivered by Opposition members make it exceedingly difficult for us to understand the policy of the Labour party. One Opposition member expresses the opinion that the Government is giving too much encouragement to secondary industries, and another Opposition member considers that the policy of the Government is preventing the establishment of secondary industries in country districts. It is perfectly well known that secondary industries are afforded protection by the Government in this respect, that we believe in the development of private enterprise, and that one of the prerogatives of private enterprise is to send its business to the places which pay best. I mention that matter in passing.
The honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) has expressed concern that the Government is protecting so-called mushroom industries. That situation can be avoided if the Tariff Board is able to conduct its investigations with thoroughness and expedition. I shall not cite figures showing the industrial development which has taken place since the beginning of “World War II., because everybody knows that a tremendous expansion has occurred. The function of the Tariff Board is to prevent the unfair treatment of secondary industries, and restrain the predatory tendencies of industries. Sufficient machinery must be provided to enable that matter to be dealt with efficiently and expeditiously. At this stage, I wish to sound a note of warning for the benefit of some Opposition members. Some industries, such as the optical munitions industry, do not employ many persons, but they are vital to the defence of this country. The work of such an industry must not meet with interference as a result of any action of this Parliament. Our very existence may depend, as we had good reason to know in World War II., on the efficiency of such an industry. The electronics industry is also vital to our defence. One function of the Tariff Board is to ensure that industries of that kind shall not be detri mentally affected by decisions of this Parliament.
I sound another note of warning. Too much of the discussion so far has been on the assumption that the secondary industries are the only industries that need protection or assistance. The constituents of the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Luck) and myself are vitally concerned with the delay that has taken place in remedying the deplorable condition into which the tin industry has fallen. In one district in my electorate, only one out of 22 plants was working recently. Representatives of the tin industry conferred in Tasmania, and subsequently made representations to the Tariff Board for assistance. This is a vital primary industry - not a rural primary industry, but a basic primary industry - and its requirements should be examined by the Tariff Board expeditiously. I congratulate the Government on having recognized the present difficulty, and on having taken this step to resolve the impasse. I shall not labour that matter. It is for the tin industry to state its case to the Tariff Board. I believe that the industry has an excellent case, but time is of the essence of the contract. Men are becoming unemployed, not through any fault of this Government, but because of a combination of circumstances overseas. The delay that has occurred in rectifying the situation is due to the fact that the Tariff Board is overloaded with work.
The tin industry is not the only primary industry with which the Tariff Board may be called upon to deal. It is essential that when the prosperity of an industry and the employment of men engaged in it are threatened, the requirements of the industry shall be examined by the board as expeditiously as possible. The expansion of Australian industry has thrust upon the Tariff Board an intolerable and unprecedented load. Perhaps this provision for the appointment of a second tariff board will not be adequate to remedy the situation completely. If continuity of employment is to be assured and trends in world markets are to be met expeditiously, we may have to appoint a third tariff board. However, the present provision is a step in the right direction. I congratulate the Government on this hill, and trust that it will he passed without further delay.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
.- I rise on a matter of privilege.
– Order ! Does the honorable member propose to conclude his speech with a motion ?
– I do. I rise at this stage, because there appears to be no other way in which the Opposition can obtain definite information about whether parliamentary telephone lines are being tapped. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) have been completely evasive when they have been questioned on this matter. They have refused to answer without any qualification whatever whether parliamentary telephone lines are being tapped. If the Prime Minister had been prepared to be quite frank in regard to this matter, there would have been no necessity for me to submit the motion that I propose to submit at the conclusion of my speech. However, the Prime Minister has evaded questions, or refused to answer them. In effect, he has tried to make this House believe that he actually knows nothing about the matter. His reply to a question by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) wathat he had no knowledge of the matter one way or the other. It is at least three weeks since the honorable member for Hindmarsh first raised this matter in thi’ House. If the Prime Minister did not know three weeks ago he should know now. He certainly should have had the information on the following morning. Is there any honorable gentleman in this chamber who does not believe that this matter is sufficiently serious as to warrant an immediate investigation by the Prime Minister to ascertain the facts? The Opposition asks for nothing more than that.
I frankly admit that mine were no more than suspicions three weeks ago, but they have been strongly fortified since the Prime Minister has failed to give an emphatic contradiction to questions about, whether the telephone lines into this building are being tapped. If the Prime Minister did not know whether they wen being tapped when the honorable member for Hindmarsh first raised the matter, why did he not find out? Why did he not get in touch with the chief of the security service? The security service is answerable directly to the Prime Minister, but evidently he did nothing about the matter. Three weeks ago, he had the audacity to say that he did not. know whether the security service actually had an office in Canberra. It is a strange position if the Prime Minister did not know three weeks ago that the service had an office in the Australian Capital Territory. I inform him that the office of the security service is in the same block of buildings where his own department is situated. The offices of the security service are almost outside his back door, yet he does not know where they are situated. Why did he not find out? If the honorable member for Hindmarsh wanted to know whether the security service had an office in ‘Canberra, why could not the Prime Minister have told him, because he must have known that the service had an office in the. Australian Capital Territory? It is a most serious matter if there is any interference with telephone conversations or messages that are passing between a member of this Parliament and anybody outside the Parliament. I have been advised that the security service is reinforced when the Parliament is in session. Why is it reinforced ? Does anybody suggest that a reinforcement of the security service is required because any honorable member is in danger ? Or is it because the Government believes - and the security service is used for this purpose - that there is greater need for a surveillance of conversations or communications between members of the Parliament, and people outside it?
When this matter was first raised in the House, mine were nothing more than suspicions. It is perfectly true that there had been interruptions, or what I believed to be interruptions, when I was using the telephone for conversations between my home and Adelaide, and between the Parliament and outside callers. I had nothing more than suspicion upon which to base my inquiries at that time. When the honorable member for Hindmarsh asked a direct question of the Prime Minister because he had experienced similar trouble, I naturally expected the right honorable gentleman to assure honorable members immediately that their telephone conversations with people outside Parliament House were not being interrupted. However, instead of doing so, the Prime Minister said that he had no knowledge of the matter one way or the other. All the answers that the right honorable gentleman has given to questions on this subject mean merely that he does not know anything about it. When I asked him whether the security service had authority to tap telephone lines if it wished to do so, and whether any such incident had been reported to him or to the Government, he did not say, as he should have done, either that the security service had such authority or that it had not, or that any incident had been reported to him or that it had not. He said that the question was hypothetical. What was hypothetical about it? I wanted to know from the Prime Minister, as the Minister to whom the security- service is directly responsible, whether any such incident had been reported to him. My purpose in asking that this matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges is merely to obtain from those who are able to state the facts the answers that I have not been able to obtain by asking questions in this House.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh and I decided, because we had been unable to obtain satisfaction from the Prime Minister, to call on the security service to see whether it could assure us that our telephone conversations had not been tapped. But the security service, instead of receiving us as representatives of the people and answering our questions, locked all the doors, closed the windows and refused even to meet us. Its officers did not even ask the nature of our business. Evidently they were not interested in it. We did not see any of them on that occasion, and they have not since contacted me or the honorable member for Hindmarsh in order to tell us whether they have tapped telephone lines at any time. That is all we wanted to know. Is the Prime Minister prepared to tell this House without any equivocation that, to his knowledge, parliamentary telephone lines have never been tapped by the security service or any other authority? Further, will he assure us that, by communicating with the security service and anybody else who may be in a position to tap telephone lines, he will take all the necessary steps to ensure that there shall be no interference with telephone conversations between honorable members and people outside Parliament House? For week after week, the right honorable gentleman has refused to reply definitely to our inquiries. He is an expert at dodging direct answers to questions, as most honorable members will admit. Had there been no equivocation, there would have been no necessity for me to raise the matter in this way. However, because the right honorable gentleman, to whom the security service is directly responsible, has refused to answer my questions, and because the honorable member for Hindmarsh and I have been unable to obtain an interview with any member of the security service in order to clarify the matter, I now move -
That the question as to whether or not the telephones used by members of the Parliament are being tapped, and, if so, by whom, be referred to the Committee of Privileges.
– I second the motion. I hope that honorable members on the Government side of the House will stop treating this matter lightly. It is not trivial. In fact, it is a very serious matter when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) refuses to give unequivocal answers to simple questions that affect the vital privileges of members of this honorable House.
– And the safety of Australia.
– Does the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) suggest that members of this Parliament are likely to prejudice the safety of Australia?
– The duty of the security service is to protect Australia’s safety.
– Does the honorable member say that the security service suspects members of this House of treasonable or subversive activities?
– In that case, and in any event, I repeat -that it is a serious matter for the Prime Minister to refuse to give an unqualified denial to the suggestion that the security service has tapped the telephone service of this House. It is his duty not to equivocate on a matter that affects the privileges of members of the Parliament.
I shall relate the history of this matter. On the 27th May, 1952, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) directed the following question to you, Mr. Speaker: -
Are you aware that telephone lines from this House to places outside are being tapped? Is that being done with your authority? If not, will you investigate the matter and discuss with the Postmaster-General or whoever is the appropriate authority the steps that should be taken to ensure that this practice shall be discontinued, because of the danger that it presents to the secrecy of government administration and, possibly, to the security of this nation?
Mr. Speaker replied
I think the honorable member for Herbert should take action. If this tapping of telephone lines is taking place, I say without hesitation that it is a very serious breach of the privileges of every member of the House.
– Who said that?
– A gentleman who has had more experience of parliamentary procedure than almost any other member of this House, and, to his credit, I say publicly that there is no better guardian of the privileges of the Parliament.
– Order ! The Speaker is not involved in the motion before the House.
– On the occasion to which I have referred, the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) made the following statement to the- House : -
The honorable member for Herbert, by the manner in which he asked his question, implied that he knew that telephone lines from this House were being tapped.
The honorable member for Herbert interjected -
I have been informed that that is so.
The Postmaster-General then said -
If the honorable gentleman has such knowledge, I have not. I have no knowledge at all of any such procedure. If the honorable member has information that will enable me to prevent such a practice, I shall be glad to receive it.
On the following day, the PostmasterGeneral obtained leave to make the following statement to the House: -
As I said yesterday, I have no knowledge of any tapping of telephone lines from this House. However, a periodical check is made of the traffic offering by the authorized and routine technicians of the Postal Department, in order to ascertain the loading on the lines serving Parliament House, and whether they are adequate to handle the traffic offering successfully.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has since informed the House that a technician of the Postal Department has assured him that it is not necessary to tap telephone lines in order to ascertain the loading on them as the Postmaster-General suggested. Therefore, that statement by the PostmasterGeneral was, to say the least, rather interesting. On the 3rd June, 1952, the honorable member for Herbert directed the following question to the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) who was then the Acting Prime Minister: -
Has the Acting Prime Minister been informed that for a considerable period telephone tappings have occurred, and, if so, has this been done with the knowledge of the Postmaster-General or any of his officers? If. the Acting Prime Minister has been so informed, will he state whether he considers the reply of the Postmaster-General conveys the true position to the House, and will he assure the House that the most extensive possibleinvestigation will be made into this matter, and that the House will be presented with the result of that investigation before the end of the current sessional period?
The Treasurer made the following reply:-
I have no information on the subject that the honorable member has mentioned but, if he has said, it should be a fitting subject for investigation by the Committee of Privileges the position is as serious and an important as of this House.
I agree with the right honorable gentleman that the subject is a fitting matter for investigation by the Committee of
Privileges of the House. As the Prime Minister will not categorically deny that telephone lines to Parliament House are being tapped, the Committee of Privileges should conduct an inquiry in order to ascertain why he will not do so. The motion that has been proposed by the honorable member for East Sydney has the endorsement and support of the entire Opposition in this Parliament.
I refer the House now to more recent occurrences than those I have mentioned. Yesterday the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) asked a question on this subject, in answer to which the Prime Minister said -
In the absence of the Postmaster-General, I have no doubt that I can say at once that the honorable member’s telephone conversation was not tapped. Such a thing would be entirely unpardonable, and it does not occur.
I emphasize the right honorable gentleman’s assurance that the tapping of telephones does not occur.
– That is a fairly straight answer.
– I agree. The matter could have rested there but for the answer that the Prime Minister gave to a question that I asked later. That answer has raised a great deal of doubt in my mind concerning the reliability of his reply to the honorable member for Kingston. He continued his answer to the honorable member with the following statements: -
Some honorable members make it clear when they ask questions, that they are basing them on telegrams or on telephone conversations. Other honorable members allow that fact to be understood by implication.
Immediately after the right honorable gentleman had given that answer to the honorable member for Kingston, I asked him -
Will the Prime Minister deny that the telephones of private citizens or of members of Parliament have been tapped by the security service?
He replied -
I have no knowledge of the matter one way or the other.
I want to know how the Prime Minister could assure the honorable member for Kingston that telephone conversations were not tapped if his statement to me that he had no knowledge of the matter one way or the other was truthful. When the right honorable gentleman had made the statement that I have quoted, I interjected -
The right honorable gentleman cannot deny it.
He then said -
I have said that I had no knowledge of the matter one way or the other. I deprecate this obviously political attempt to suggest that the rights of private citizens are being invaded. I have not the slightest doubt that our enemies, the Communists, are quite capable of tapping telephones if they get a chance, and I have not the slightest doubt that a security service in this country that is worth its salt has to deal with these fine gentlemen as it finds them.
Another question on the same matter was directed to the Prime Minister on the same day. The honorable member for East Sydney asked a simple question, but a very important question so far as the privileges of members of this House are concerned. The honorable member asked whether the security service had the right to impinge upon the privileges of members of this honorable House. The Prime Minister should have been able to give an unequivocal reply to that question. The security service should have no right to impinge upon the privileges of members of this House, and the Prime Minister should have been able to say so. But he did not answer the question. He evaded the issue by saying -
I merely carry on the tradition of the previous Government.
If it is true that the telephones of honorable members are being tapped now, I do not believe the previous Government did that. But I am not concerned one iota with whether it did or did not do so. I do not care whether a Labour government, a Liberal government or any other government is in office. I will not stand for my privileges being interfered with by the security service. I say it is a damnable thing that the Prime Minister should refuse to answer a simple question that concerns the privileges of this House - privileges that men have died for.
Government members interjecting,
– If honorable members opposite study the grand traditions of parliamentary government, they will discover how difficult it was for parliaments to gain the privileges that we enjoy. Can we afford to allow them to slip away from ns as easily as they appear to be slipping from us now? The Prime Minister ought to give an unequivocal answer to our question. Does the security service tap the telephones of members of this House, and does it have the power to do so?
– The question with which the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) concluded his speech can be answered very simply. The answer is “ No “. I gave that answer some time ago. The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) put a question to me yesterday, quite courteously, which indicated that he feared a telephone message or a telegraphic message that he had received had been disclosed by somebody. It was a perfectly fair question, and I answered it. I could not answer by the book, because I am not the Postmaster-General, but I am sure the honorable member for Kingston understood my answer. I said -
In the absence of the Postmaster-General, T have no doubt that I can say at once that the honorable member’s telephone conversation was not tapped.
Then I added-
Such a thing would be entirely unpardonable, and it does not occur.
I should have thought, in my simplicity, that that was a pretty complete answer to the suggestion that members of this House have their telephones tapped or their telegrams read. As the two honorable members who have spoken to-night apparently require things to be said three times, I shall say them twice more. Their telephones are not tapped. Their telegrams are not read. Their telephones are not tapped. Their telegrams are not read. What I say three times is true, as a celebrated literary character once said. This motion is - I must be careful, because I do not know whether this is a parliamentary expression - a mere stunt. It is designed to create a new atmosphere to replace an atmosphere that exists elsewhere, and that makes even the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) singularly uncomfortable.
Let me say a few things about the security service. I shall not say all things because any leader of this country has a grave responsibility in relation to national security and should not chatter about the security organization on street corners. When I say that, I say what my distinguished predecessors from the other side of the House would have said, and, in fact, did say. I hope the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) will not take objection when I say that the present head of the security service, to my full knowledge and with my full consent, has more than once discussed security matters with him. The security of Australia is not my privilege. It is the privilege of Australia. I hope the day will never come when the head of the security service cannot, .with full trust and confidence, talk to the Leader of the Opposition as freely as he can to the Prime Minister.
– That is a part of. the arrangement made originally.
– I entirely agree. 1 am not arguing about that. What I am saying is that there is no difference between the Opposition front bench and the Government front bench with regard to the position of the security service, the rights it has and the great secrecy that ought to attend its work. When I was the Leader of the Opposition I was always treated with the utmost frankness on these matters by the then Prime Minister. In the same way, if something happens now that ought to be known by responsible leaders in this House, the security service, with my full approval, has a talk with the present Leader of the Opposition.
If the purpose of the motion is to force me to disclose the identity, methods or “ what have you “ of the security service, it will fail. I shall not disclose them, any more than my predecessors did. So far as the location of the security service in Canberra is concerned, the honorable member for East Sydney may not believe me when I say that I literally did not know where it was. That may appear extraordinary to him, but let me tell him, so that it will guide him in the future, that during the last four years I have been into the head office of my own department, which is in the same building as the office of the security service, only twice. I have done 99 per cent, of my work from my office in Parliament House. He may be surprised, but it is true to say that I did not know where the office of the security service in Canberra was. I made inquiries and I found, to my great interest, that it was still exactly where the previous Government had put it. If anybody wants to create an air of suspicion and mystery, it is easy to do so. The office of the security service happens to be in what is called East Block. It so happens that in East Block there is a post office, my own department and the security service. There may be. other offices, for all I know. The .office of the security service was there when the honorable member for East Sydney was a full and practising member of the previous Government. The oddity is that at that time he did not complain about the security service being in the same building as a post office, but now he complains about it, and I regret that he has persuaded the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) to complain with him.
Because so much nonsense may be talked about this matter, I think I ought to say that the business of the security service of Australia is to counter the efforts of foreign spies. Let us make no mistake. The Communist enemy does not stand on punctilio in these matters. He finds out what he can, where he can and how he can. I repeat that no conversation of any member of the Parliament has been monitored, is being monitored or will be monitored, but it may very well be that under some circumstances, nothing to do with members of the Parliament, the security service, in defending the safety of this great country, might be compelled to resort to what we should regard as irregular means to counter irregular activities. All I want to say about that matter is that the instructions on which the security service acts now are identical with those upon which it acted in 1949. There have been some changes of personnel. The distinguished former Director-General of the service hag returned to his judicial duties in South Australia, and a distinguished .military officer is in charge of the organization now. I can tell the House that, not only the instructions but also the practice in these matters are precisely the same now as they were twelve months before I came into office. The next thing I want to say is that all senior “ directors of the security service, except one, who is an ex-naval officer, were recruited by the previous DirectorGeneral. I do not mention those matters because I want to criticize the former Director-General. He is a man that I know well and for whom I have the warmest regard. He is a man of high integrity and high repute in this country. When he returned to the Supreme Court of South Australia, we appointed another Director-General. If I were to sit in conference with my responsible predecessors and discuss what was done and how it was done, we should have no points of difference whatever. They and I are equally concerned with the security of Australia.
This miserable implication that some new technique is being employed and these hints of militarism and tapping the telephones of private members are a mere stunt. It is not remarkable that they were received to-night in admirable silence by those who sit alongside and behind the honorable member who proposed the motion and the honorable member who seconded it. A reference was made the other day by the honorable member for East Sydney to files being kept. He appeared to be rather apprehensive about files. Again, I can console him and relieve- him. I can say categorically that there are no files held by the security service upon any member of the Opposition or, indeed, upon any member of this Parliament.
– Or upon any one else?
– I hope that the security service keeps files on some people. If the honorable member for East Sydney is trying to tell me that no files are to be kept on Communist agents and prospective saboteurs, that is a very curious thing. All I can say is that as far as this Parliament is concerned - and I believe that the motion dealt only with this Parliament and referred only to its privileges - I can relieve the honorable member’s mind by saying that so faT .as this Parliament is concerned, the security service does not keep files. I am happy to say that we have had no occasion - and I hope that that state of affairs will continue - to suppose that any honorable member of this Parliament, whether he be a Government supporter or a member of the Opposition, is a potential enemy of his country.
The only other matter that I want to mention is that if any honorable member wants to speak to somebody in the security service, there is no occasion to be theatrical about it. There is no occasion to arrive at the security service office with cloak and dagger and try to burst in, because I tell honorable members quite plainly that if I were the Canberra manager or agent, or whatever he may be called, of the security service, and somebody said to me, “ I want to come in and see what you are doing”, I would keep him out. The whole matter is perfectly simple. Any honorable member who wants to talk to the security service, and who has something to talk to them about, has only to use the telephone book. There is no mystery about this matter, the telephone number of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization is in the telephone directory at page 6, and for the benefit of those who cannot find it on page 6 it is also shown at page 20. I should have assumed that a. member of the Parliament who wanted to know something could look at the telephone book and ring the security service and say, “ Could I come down and have a talk with you ? “ I have yet to be told that the security service of Australia, which has as its business the security of the country, has refused to have a conversation with a member of the National Parliament, a parliament which is far more responsible for our security than the security service itself.
– The security service did refuse
– I would also do so if somebody arrived without notice and without arrangement, and just wanted to blow in. I would certainly say to him, if I were in the position of the officer concerned, “I cannot see you”. Why not? There is no loss of dignity in observing courtesy, and the rules of civilized conduct. If an honorable membor has something that he legitimately wants to find out, there is nothing to prevent him from ringing the proper telephone number and saying, “ I am Mr. A, B or C, I would like to come and have a talk with you”. But, of course this thing, which I hope I have reduced to its sorry proportions, was designed as a stunt for one single marvellous purpose. That is, to put up a smoke-screen to cover what is happening in Sydney at this moment.
– I desire to mention three aspects of this matter. The first is the position of the security service, the second the motion before the House, and the third the action that the House should take. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has referred to the establishment of the security service. It was established by the late Mr. Chifley under a separate charter that gave it great and independent powers. I was Attorney-General of the Commonwealth at the time of its establishment and it was made part of the duty of the security service to make reports from time to time, almost as a matter of routine, to the Prime Minister of the day and the Leader of the Opposition of the day. . It was understood that its establishment was necessary, because a security service to deal with espionage or counter espionage was essential in the interest of Australia. The Prime Minister’s statements about that matter were substantially correct.
– Completely correct.
– Nothing could be more correct than substantially correct. Does the honorable member wish me to revise every word that I say ? If so, his attitude is adolescent. The charter of the security service was intended to be a great charter to independent officers not controlled by ordinary public service rules, and the first chief of the staff was Mr. Justice Reid, of South Australia. I share responsibility for the charter of the security service. After Mr. Justice Reid retired from his position and resumed duty on the Supreme Court of South Australia, his place was taken by Colonel Spry, who has tried to carry on his office, and it is a great office, in accordance with the traditions established by Mr. Justice Reid. I have no evidence of just cause for complaint against Colonel Spry as the head of the organization. But, this particular motion does not mention the security service. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) became satisfied that there was telephone tapping going on. It is of no use for the Prime Minister to dismiss the allegation as a stunt; indeed, it is not worthy of him to do so. I do not share the conclusion that the right honorable gentleman has reached, because I believe that whatever has happened could have an innocent explanation.
I repudiate the suggestion, as far as the Opposition is concerned, that this motion has any basis in political stunting. There is too much political stunting in this House, and usually it comes from the Government side. For instance, nothing has been more disgraceful than the attempt of the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) to interfere with the course of justice in Sydney. The Opposition considered this matter, and came to the conclusion that if the honorable members for East Sydney and Hindmarsh were satisfied that telephone tapping was taking place, not necessarily by the security service, they were entitled, as a matter of good practice in ‘accordance with the privileges of the House, to have the matter examined to ascertain whether evidence could be produced before the Privileges Committee. I took the same attitude when the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) brought up a matter of privilege. I moved then that the matter be referred to the Privileges Committee. If the honorable members for East Sydney and Hindmarsh wish to maintain this matter, the Opposition will support them for one purpose only, that is, to have the matter referred to the Privileges Committee, which will investigate it, without interfering with the administration of the security service for whose establishment I accept a share of responsibility.
– How did you get on in Gwydir ?
– Very well indeed, thank you.
– Order ! The House is dealing with a very important matter of privilege, and I expect honorable members to treat it in accordance with its gravity.
– The Privileges Committee can hear evidence, deal with complaints and report to the House. If this matter is pressed by my colleagues, the Opposition will support them.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. ERIC J. Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the question as to whether or not the telephones used by members of the Parliament arc being tapped, and, if so, by whom, be referred to the Committee of Privileges.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from the 20th Novem ber (vide page 368), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
was Minister for Immigration was the ceremony that was performed when new Australians were admitted to citizenship and when the Australian flag was displayed with great prominence and with agreat effect upon our new fellowcitizens. I understand that that procedure is still being followed. I could suggest other matters that are similar to those to which I have referred in relation to the American flag. It is sufficient to say that Australia is no longer marching to nationhood. It is a nation in its own right and a nation that is integrally associated with Britain and the British Commonwealth of Nations. There should be special provision of the kind to- which I have referred. The Government should not be content with the passing’ of this legislation, but it should protect the flag in the same way that such countries as the United States of America protect their flags.
.- I think that on an occasion like this something should be said in relation to the Australian flag, which fills us with so much pride and devotion. It is a flag that portrays both history and tradition and exhibits distinctiveness and symbolism. In the most important part of the flag, the part nearest the hoist, appears the glorious Union Jack, a flag that thrills the heart of every Englishman. That flag not only reminds us of our history but also, because it embodies the flag of St. George, the flag of St. Andrew and the flag of St. Patrick,- of those three great countries, England, Scotland and Ireland which are really a part of ourselves and to which we owe a great deal.
One of the features of our flag is the single star. In blazonry a single star indicates unity. The single star in our flag indicates the unity of this country, which formerly consisted of six colonies, and. therefore it symbolizes our federation. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) reminded us the star now has seven points, the seventh point having been added in 1908 to mark the establishment of Commonwealth territories. The Southern Cross, which appears on the fly, is a distinctive feature of the flag. The Southern Cross is the distinctive constellation in the southern hemisphere and we Australians, the residents of Terra Australis - the great southern land - are naturally intimately associated with that distinctive constellation. It is not without interest to recall that the great poet, .Dante, referred to the four major stars of the Southern Cross as representing the virtues of prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude, all of which are great qualities from the point of view of nationhood.
Something has been said about symbolism. The blue background on which the Southern Cross appears, reminds us of the seas in which this island continent is set, the seas over which our ancestors journeyed to Australia, and the seas upon which our destiny lies. Our flag will now appear in the pages of the statute-book. Even a weary and austere lawyer may find his eye brightening, and his heart tingling when he sees it there. When we see it wafted in the breeze it will be an inspiration to all of us.
.- I do not disagree in the slightest way with the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske), nor does the Opposition offer the slightest objection to this bill. We feel, however, that more could have been done at this time, not only to make the Australian flag a truly national flag, but also to follow along the lines of the American legislation, enacted by the United States Congress and approved by the President on the 22nd December, 1942, which established certain regulations regarding the display and use of the American flag by such civilians or civilian groups or organizations as may not be required to conform to regulations promulgated by one or more executive departments of the Government of the United States of America. We have had an Australian flag almost since federation. Our flag was first selected in 1903 or 1904. Up to the present the Red Ensign has had significance equal to that of the Blue Ensign-
– That is quite wrong.
– It is not, as I shall quickly prove. The Army and the Navy, and later, the Air Force. adopted the Blue Ensign, but no act of parliament prescribed that the Blue Ensign was the official or national flag of Australia. It is well that at this time, 53 years after federation, we should decide to recognize the Blue Ensign as the national flag. Every nation needs a symbol of its unity. A flag may not matter so much to the people of Great Britain where the Royal Family is in residence as a symbol of their country’s unity and greatness. Australia is to some degree in the same position as the United States of America. The Americans have adopted laws which give their flag a significance that some people may regard as almost idolatrous but that flag is a symbol of American unity, and of the indivisibility and greatness of the American nation. We would do well to follow the line taken by the Americans and enact provisions such as those mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). The Americans will not permit their flag to be defaced. The Stars and Stripes is honoured in America and nobody is allowed to place upon it a superscription of any kind or to do anything to interfere with the approved design. In this country it is now the custom for the Prime Minister to fly an Australian flag which has superimposed upon it the Australian coat of arms.
– I was not the first to fly such a flag.
– I did not say that the right honorable gentleman was the first to do so. The Prime Minister is getting hypersensitive.
– I am getting to know the honorable member very well.
– If the right honorable gentleman knows me as well as he thinks he does, he would- know that I would not suggest that he was the first to fly such a flag when in fact he was not. We have defaced the Australian flag, by superimposing upon it the Australian coat of arms. There should be a special flag for the Prime Minister and another for the Chief Justice. The President of the United States of America has a special flag. It has a dark blue rectangular background on which appears the coat of arms of the President in its proper colours. The flag of the Vice-President of the United States of America has a blue background upon which appear thirteen stars. I noticed that when Vice-President Nixon was recently in Australia he flew the Stars and Stripes on the right side of his motor car and the Vice-President’s flag on the left side. In this country the Prime Minister should fly the Australian flag on the right side of his motor car and a special Prime Minister’s flag on the left side. We have a special flag for the ‘Governor-General. The one at present in use is different from the flags flown by Governors-General before the appointment as GovernorGeneral of Sir William McKell. Sir William flew, not the Union Jack, as was customary, but another flag. The
United States of America is not the only country that has enacted legislation of the kind I have described. The Government of Ireland and some European countries have also done so. The Prime Minister should consider the need for further legislation to enable us to fall into line with the United States of America, whose people serve their flag with great devotion and sacrifice.
It is true that a flag is merely a piece of bunting, but it is also true that it is something round which the whole nation can be rallied. The honorable member for Balaclava waxed rhetorical about the symbolic significance of the blue background. I do not disagree with anything that he said but it is true that there is also an historical significance in the blue background, but not of the kind about which the honorable member spoke. A flag with a blue background was specially chosen by the men who made the famous stand at the Eureka Stockade.
– What rot !
– It may upset the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) to know that Eureka played a part in Australian history and that the flag of Eureka is perpetuated in the blue background of our flag.
Now that we are to have a national flag, let us give it pre-eminence on all occasions. I regard as unnecessary the provision in the bill which relates to the flying of the Union Jack. Nobody wants to prevent the flying of the Union Jack. The Prime Minister obviously included the provision in the bill in order to allay the fears that some people may have that, by adopting an Australian flag, we in some way do harm to the British Commonwealth or diminish the significance of the Union Jack in its relationship to the people of Great Britain. It is right and proper that Australians should have the same regard for their national flag as Canadians have for the Canadian flag, the South Africans for the South African flag, the New Zealanders for the New Zealand flag and the people of the United Kingdom for the Union Jack. I support the bill.
.- This should be a proud day for this Parliament. The purpose of this bill is to declare a certain flag to be the Australian national flag. I propose to trace briefly the history of the flag. The Commonwealth Gazette of the 29th April, 1901, published an invitation to the people to submit designs for a national Australian flag. The Gazette of the 20th February, 1903, depicted the approved design of the flag. The Gazette of the l5th August, 1903, contained official advice about the use of the flag. The Gazette of the 19th December, 1908, contained details of an alteration to the design of the flag. The Gazette of the 22nd May, 1909, published amended designs of the Australian flag. The Gazette of the 23rd March, 1934, depicted the correct design of the flag in full detail. In 1908, a seventh point was added to the large star in the lower half of the hoist to represent Australian territories. The judges who examined the original designs submitted by the people were asked to consider these points - loyalty to the Empire, the federation, history, heraldry, distinctiveness, utility and cost of manufacture. Flag etiquette prescribes that no flag or pennant should be flown above the Australian flag on the same halyard, with the exception of the Union Jack. Our flag symbolizes the loyalty of Australia to the Empire and its unity with the British Commonwealth. Perhaps it can best be described in a verse which reads -
We hoist it to show our devotion
To our King, to our country and laws;
It’s the outward and visible emblem
Of advancement and Liberty’s cause.
If the flag is the outward and visible emblem of advancement and liberty’s cause, there must be an inner spirit, and, of course, that is the spirit of the British people over the years. Australians have inherited that spirit. Some one has said that you can stagger drunken in public places, or blaspheme in the street, and no one will take much notice; but if you stand bare-headed while a troop of old soldiers go by, or salute our flag fluttering in the breeze, some one is bound to titter and say that you are showing off. But you should stand firm, because the flag is the symbol of deeds which have made the Empire. Our flag will be held in honour through out the world only as long as we practise the principles that have made it great.
We should remember that we all are makers of the flag, and that the flag is what we make it. It is only a symbol or an emblem of advancement and liberty’s cause. But let us, in this Parliament of Australia, thank God that the British people and the Australian people have always been in the forefront of advancement, liberty, freedom, justice, honour and all those things to which right-thinking, clean-living men should aspire. I am tremendously proud that this bill has been introduced, and that I have this opportunity, in this Australian Parliament, to take part in the debate. This bill declares a certain flag to be the Australian flag. May the people of this country realize the significance of the flag! May they, in the years to come, follow the example set by people in the past who have made our flag respected ! May people all over the world know that, wherever they see the flag flying, they can expect British justice, because British justice has made our flag honoured ! Let us realize to-night that all people are free who stand beneath its folds! It is the flag of a British people. Let us always fight, in peace or in war, so that it will continue to be so.
There is an old saying that peace hath her victories no less renowned than war. Much of the honoured reputation of the flag has been won in wars, but honour for it can also be won in peace-time. The man who is prepared to give a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay is the good citizen who brings honour to the flag. Let us instil in adults and children in this great Commonwealth a deep respect for our emblem at all times. Let us give thanks that we are able to incorporate the Union Jack in our flag, and that we, in this Parliament, are able to declare the emblem bearing the Union Jack and the Southern Cross the Australian national flag!
.-Iwish to refer to clause 6 of the bill, which deals with warrants to use flags, clause 7 which provides rules for the use of flags, and clause 8 which relates to the flying of the Union Jack. Briefly, those clauses provide for the authority for the use of the flag, and the privileges associated with. it. I refer to those provisions because I was most disappointed during the coronation celebrations to find, in a number of towns which I visited, that whilst citizens, local governing bodies and civic bodies availed themselves fully of the privilege to fly the Union Jack, the Red Ensign and the Blue Ensign and a considerable amount of bunting, the display on Commonwealth public buildings was sadly deficient.
I welcome those provisions in the bill which prescribe the conditions under which the flag may be flown, but I express the hope that Ministers will ensure, in future, that Commonwealth departments will be supplied with Australian flags, and other appropriate flags, for important occasions, and that the flags will, in fact, be flown. The Royal couple will visit many country towns next year, and the people will show their loyalty in various ways, including the flying of flags. I have noticed, and probably other honorable members have also noticed, the poor display of flags on Commonwealth buildings. This matter is more important than appears on the surface. Citizens and local governing bodies are prepared to display their loyalty publicly. Commonwealth departments should do so in equal measure.
.^-1 am proud indeed that our flag displays the Union Jack in the top lefthand corner, because it is a symbol of the unity of the British Commonwealth of nations, of which Australia is a part. Not many people in this country will differ from the views I express on this subject. For my part, I feel that this symbolizes the unity of the whole, which is made up of those parts that recognize Her Majesty as their sovereign; and the whole is, at all times, greater than a part.
I have another statement to make about the flag. For the first time, a bill has been introduced into this Parliament for the purpose of declaring a certain flag to be the Australian national flag. A little more than 50 years ago, the Commonwealth of Australia was established, and the man who was given the title of the Father of Federation forecast that the next great constitutional development would be the subdivision of the existing unwieldy States. My one regret is that this Australian flag does not incorporate at least a dozen stars, each of them representing a State. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has stated, quite correctly, that the United States flag has thirteen stripes, which represent the thirteen original States, and that each of the 48 stars on the American flag, represents a State. All those stars were not incorporated in the flag simultaneously. A star was added to the flag as a new State joined the union. Speaking from memory, T think that the last occasion on which a State joined the union was in 1910, but two other States are in process of being admitted.
I hope that the period in which Australia’s constitutional development has been absolutely stultified is drawing to a close. I sincerely trust that it will not be long before a bill will be introduced into this House that will reflect the growth of Australian national sentiment and ideas, and herald the destruction of provincialism, particularly the provincialism of the great capital cities, which hang on to privileges as a country village would hang on to a small bridge. I think that those remarks are. appropriate to a debate on a bill to declare a certain flag to be the Australian national flag.
.- I take this opportunity, when we are discussing the Australian flag, to express, on behalf of a number of schools in ray electorate, appreciation to the Government and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for having made provision for the presentation of Australian flags to them. Each educational institution, whether it be a State school or a private school, secular or denominational, has been presented with a flag. The Prime Minister wisely decided on that course of action. It has been my privilege to present those flags to various schools since the Coronation, and I am happy to be able to report to the right honorable gentleman and to this House that, on every occasion, it was thrilling to sense the pride that existed among the children and the parents who witnessed the ceremony.
It is only right and proper that the Australian flag should be recognized officially in the manner provided in this bill. All of us can be justly proud that the Union Jack, which is the emblem of the country of our ancestors, has been given pride of place at the top of the flag. I am sure that this day will arouse a feeling of pride in the Mother Country. To us, the flag is a rallying point. The flag of Australia will never shame us so long as Australians, individually and as a nation, do nothing which will cast shame on the flag. We are proud of the flag to-day, andI think that generations to come will boast about what we have done to establish the prestige and proud tradition that the flag will represent to them. Such a spirit will pervade the people of the Commonwealth, as they realize that this flag is officially the Australian national flag. They will feel a new sense of loyalty to our country, and a determination to make Australia really as big as we think it is capable of being.
I support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who has suggested that an official publication be issued setting out the way in which the flag should be used, and the occasions on which it may be properly flown. When I am a guest at a gathering, and I see the flag used as it should not be used, I am inclined to correct the person who is responsible for it, but I have never been sure whether it would be in order to do so or not. Such occasions would be unlikely to arise if an official publication on the correct usages of the flag were widely distributed. I have pleasure and great pride in supporting the bill.
– in reply - For the benefit of honorable members who have discussed the subject, I point out that rules for the use of the flag may be made and published under clause 7. The Government has arranged for a meeting, which will be held to-morrow, to draw up a set of rules. One of the items to be considered will be the rules that shall obtain with reference to the United States of America. The points that have been raised by honorable members on both sides of the House will be very carefully considered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
– I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following subject: -
Proposed erection of the Commonwealth Administration Centre (First Stage) at Melbourne, Victoria.
Ordered to be printed.
Debate resumed(vide page 783).
– This is an important bill, as must be every bill that affects the exercise of royal powers, and it should commend itself to the House. The bill has been drafted in anticipation of the forthcoming visit to Australia of Her Majesty the Queen. The first and main provision is that, when the Queen is personally present in Australia, any power under an act exercisable by the Governor-General may be exercised by the Queen. Involved in this provision is the relationship of the Crown to the Government of Australia, and particularly the Executive Government of Australia. Section. 61 of the Australian Constitution states that the executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen. Those are the exact words of the statute to which the Constitution was annexed in 1901 when it became law. Thus, at all times, by the supreme law of the Commonwealth, the executive power of the Commonwealth belongs to the Crown and is continuously vested in the Queen. The section also provides that the executive power is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of the Constitution, and of the laws of the Commonwealth. That statement is taken directly from section 61 of the Constitution, which is the supreme binding law of the Commonwealth.
There are three provisions in the section. The first is that the executive power of the. Commonwealth is vested in the Queen. That covers the execution and maintenance of all the laws of the
Commonwealth. The second is that the power is exercisable by the GovernorGeneral as the Queen’s representative. The bill commands that, when the Queen is personally present in Australia, the power exercisable by the GovernorGeneral may be exercised by the Queen. It is a royal power and is vested in her. Whether it be a prerogative power or a power under statute, it always remains present in her. The bill will enable the Sovereign, when in Australia, to do what can be done in her name by the GovernorGeneral. Thus, it accords with the provisions of section 61 of the Constitution. In 1901, there was a constitutional argument to the effect that, because section 61 provided that the executive power of the Commonwealth was exercisable by the Governor-General, it could not be exercised by any other authority. Those who held that opinion argued, for instance, that the power could not be exercised by the Duke of York, who later became King George VI., when he came to open the first Commonwealth Parliament. No such argument can arise in the case of the Sovereign visiting Australia in person, because to the Sovereign belongs the constitutional executive power. That power is always vested in the Sovereign, and, if the representative of the Crown in Australia can exercise it, surely the Sovereign herself can exercise it. The second provision of the bill is a declaration that the Governor-General has the same powers with respect to instruments made by the Queen under the bill as he has with reference to instruments made by himself. If the Governor-General exercises a power under a statute to make a proclamation or issue regulations, the proclamation or the regulations can be amended from time to time by the Governor-General.
This bill merely provides that, if the Queen issues some executive instrument, upon advice tendered to her, the Governor-General may, after her departure from Australia or even while she is still in Australia, treat that instrument as an executive instrument for which he is responsible and may amend and alter it accordingly. This provision follows automatically as an incidental to the main provision that I have discussed. It embodies a saving of all the powers exercisable by the Governor-General and is a safeguarding provision. There are precedents for the Sovereign exercising the executive power of the Commonwealth while the Sovereign is not in Australia. During World War II., for instance, the actual instrument to declare a state of war with Japan was signed by the King himself. ‘ The view was taken that the Governor-General should not, or perhaps even could not, do so in the existing state of the instrument describing his powers. Therefore, the King signed the instrument to declare war, and Mr. Curtin, as the Prime Minister of the day, countersigned it. The Sovereign acted upon the advice of the Australian Prime Minister, and, to that degree, the executive power of the Commonwealth was vested in the King and was exercised by him although he was not in Australia. The bill simply provides that, while the Sovereign is in Australia, she may perform acts authorized under statute, as the Governor-General may perform them.
The final provision of clause 2, which is the principal clause, really explains the whole purport of the bill. It provides that references to the Governor-General, or the Queen, shall be interpreted as references to the Governor-General, or the Queen, acting with the advice of the Executive Council. That is simply a re-statement of the great principle of the Australian Constitution, which is not expressed in writing anywhere in the Constitution. I have referred to the executive power vested in the Queen and exercisable by the Governor-General, and I could have referred to other powers of an executive character. The truth is that, although those powers legally belong to the Queen or the Governor-General, they are, in this completely self-governing member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, exercised and exercisable on the advice of Ministers responsible to the House of Representatives. That is the working rule of the Constitution, although it is nowhere explicit in the Constitution. It is aptly summed up in clause 2 (4.) of the bill, which means that any power related to the executive power which is exercised by Her Majesty while she is in Australia, or by the GovernorGeneral, shall be exercised always upon the advice of the Federal Executive Council. These matters are important because it is intended that, on one ceremonial occasion, Her Majesty shall be advised by Ministers responsible to the Parliament, and particularly to the House of Representatives. When that is done, it will be plain, as it is in Great Britain without a written statute, that Her Majesty acts constitutionally and responsibly, not personally. The act will be performed by Her Majesty in accordance with the advice of Ministers responsible to the Parliament. That is the generally recognized understanding of the constitutional convention which is so strict that it is now, in fact, the law. The Opposition supports the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Hasluck) read a first time.
Debate resumed from the 20th November (vide page 370), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill is important, not only because of its provisions but also because of the problem to which it relates. It is designed to extend the area of assistance given to what I shall call State universities and university colleges within those universities. They include, not only the older universities, but also new universities such as the University of Technology and the university established in New England by the New South Wales Government. The bill is welcomed by the Opposition because it fits into a pattern that we should examine closely in the interests of education and good government. The additional financial assistance for which the bill provides will be welcomed by every university in Australia. The task of the old universities - I shall refer particularly, by way of example, to the University of Sydney - has been rendered almost impossible during the last four or five years owing to the additional costs that have been imposed upon them. The cost of buildings and of maintenance work has risen greatly. The Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme enabled a great number of students to apply for admission to various faculties after the war. That rush of students placed a great physical burden on the universities, and the demands made on their teaching staff increased enormously.
I have the honour to be a member of the Senate of the University of Sydney. I know that the financial assistance provided under this measure will be of great assistance to that university. The assistance will take the form of a grant to the New South Wales Government. The university has received considerable assistance from that Government. The grant made to it hy the State has increased eightfold or tenfold during a comparatively few years. The State Government has done everything that it. can do to assist the University of Sydney from the funds at its disposal, and the additional assistance provided under this measure will be of great value.
What is the pattern to which I have referred? It is a pattern of increasing Commonwealth responsibility and activity in the field of education. Honorable members remember the great scholarship scheme that was introduced by the Chifley Government. It was largely the work of Mr. Dedman. Under that scheme, a large number of scholarships tenable at universities were established by the Commonwealth. That .caused an extra demand to be made upon the universities. Simultaneously, a plan was evolved for the establishment of a National University at Canberra, where emphasis was to be laid upon research. As a result of the constitutional alteration of 1946, the Commonwealth Parliament is authorized, under the social services power, to provide benefits for students. That power is unrestricted. The Commonwealth is marching into the field of education, in which, for many years, the States had the primary responsibility.
Under this legislation and previous legislation, the Commonwealth Parliament is making definite grants to the States for the purposes of assistance to universities.
I welcome all these developments, although some difficulties are arising from them. For instance, the salaries paid to members of the National University are such that they attract to that university some of the most able members of the staffs of State universities. Recently, a distinguished professor of Greek at the University of Sydney accepted an important position in the National University at a higher salary. That is one of the results, not of paying too much to the men appointed to the National University, but of the inability of State universities to pay adequate salaries to their staff. The Commonwealth Parliament cannot say it is powerless in the educational field. It has great powers. It is exercising one of its powers by making provision in this bill for grants to be made to the States for educational’ purposes. Under the social services power of the Constitution, we can provide benefits for students, and we are not restricted in connexion with either the benefits themselves or the standard required to qualify for them.
The State governments, which are dependent for their finance on Commonwealth tax reimbursements, are unable to carry out the educational programmes that are necessary in the States. It may be said that they balance their budgets, but they do so only because they cut their costs according to their cloth. Deputations from teachers’ organizations and parents’ and citizens’ associations of New South “Wales have pointed out that there is an enormous amount of ground to be made up in the field of education in that State, despite the great increase of money expended on State schools and on grants to other schools. We are tackling this problem piecemeal, but we shall have to tackle it in a bolder and more radical way. The Commonwealth collects taxes in this country, and makes tax reimbursements to the States. The States, restricted in that way, are short of money for many purposes, including education. I do not see how we can carry on in that way. This legislation fits into the pattern that I have tried to describe - a pattern of increased Commonwealth intervention in the educational field. The Commonwealth has established the National University, has instituted a great scholarship scheme and is making grants to universities in addition to those made by the State governments. The pattern is one of a demand for greater educational opportunities and facilities which is being acceded to, at any rate to some degree, by the Commonwealth. But I think the Commonwealth must enter into the educational field to a greater extent. That is the point of view from which I approach this measure.
I have told the House how valuable this additional financial assistance will be to the universities, which are finding it difficult to make ends meet and pay adequate salaries and pensions to their great teachers. Shockingly small pensions are being paid to some of the greatest teachers that the University of Sydney, for example, has ever known. The expenses of higher education are increasing constantly. This bill will do something to enable the universities to meet their expenses, and I welcome it for that reason. I wish more could be done. Although housing and national development are very important, the education of the youth of Australia, our greatest asset, is even more important. I believe that only by a joint Commonwealth and State effort shall we be able to make progress in a field that is of vital importance to this and future generations.
– I desire to take up this matter where the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) left it. The right honorable gentleman said that this measure could be traced to the work of Mr. Dedman, and that the time had arrived when we should reconsider the whole matter of university education in relation to the powers provided to the Commonwealth when the Constitution was altered by the social services referendum. This bill is the result of the actions of Mr. Dedman and others in the spacious days of post-war reconstruction. It may be said to be the child of a marriage of convenience between post-war reconstruction and uniform taxation. It should also be remembered that this is not the last measure of this character which will arise from the alliance of post-war reconstruction and uniform taxation. We have already dealt with State grants, and this bill is another instance of the way in which uniform taxation legislation is distorting the administrative structure of the country, especially that of the federal system. Why are we dealing with this matter? The Constitution, in its original form, did not allow the Commonwealth to make provision for education. I believe that that was a wise prohibition. Any one who thinks about Commonwealth control of education, or who knows of the large expenditure on education by the Commonwealth, will feel disturbed about the consequences that will flow from such a condition. The power to finance education has really been obtained by a misadventure. The passing of the social services referendum provided an opportunity, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, for the Commonwealth to deal with students, but I do not regard it as an opportunity so much as a danger. . The reasons for this measure go back to the days when our defence power was rather indefinite. Educational grants rested first on the appropriation power, and then on the defence power of the Commonwealth.
The Department of Post-war Reconstruction was interested in expanding the activities of the Commonwealth, particularly in fields such as education. Under an aggressive Minister, that department made continual forays into the State domain, which resulted in the department taking a number of scalps. Some of tha scalps were commerce and agriculture, housing and education. The taking over of activities in education by the Commonwealth has had important consequences. One of its results was that after the Department of Post-war Reconstruction had taken its scalps, it had to build a wigwam in which to hang them. The wigwam was an extension of the Prime Minister’s Department and became known as the Universities Commission of the Office of Education. Of course, that was the wrong place for the scalps, and the expansion, of the Prime Minister’s activities is one of the reasons why we are killing our Prime Ministers. We are giving them too much to do. Apart from that type of skirmishing, the Department of Post-war Reconstruction was interested in research. The reconstruction organization asked the universities to undertake various types of research for defence purposes. The universities were willing to do that, and they expanded their facilities and staffs, extended their buildings and spent Commonwealth subsidies on research. Then the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme was introduced, and became one of the greatest Commonwealth educational activities. Such large amounts were being handed over to the universities by the Commonwealth that the universities came to regard that money as an integral part of their finances. When the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme began to taper off the universities became financially embarrassed, and some of that embarrassment still remains.
Research work began to be carried out to some extent by the Australian National University and the Canberra University College, and it became unnecessary for the Commonwealth to subsidize research in the States to the same extent as in the post-war reconstruction period. Then an important problem to be faced by the universities was where to obtain money to carry on the activities that they had undertaken as the result of the suggestions and demands of the Department of Postwar Reconstruction. They could no longer expect generous gifts from wealthy people who wanted to endow memorials in the universities, because if we are to have a socialist system in which as much as possible is to be taken from the better-to-do and given to the lesser-to-do, we must reach a stage when people will no longer be able to give to our public institutions as they have done in the past. At that point the socialists have to decide what proportion of the national resources are to be made available to carry on activities which have no mass political appeal. In such a situation how are- we to finance university activities, and how shall we determine priorities for investment, because the State is the only remain - ing body able to provide finance. However, the universities had to look elsewhere for money to finance their activities after the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme tapered off and the research grants dried up. Then they asked the Commonwealth for grants of money for educational purposes.
When this Government assumed office at the end of 1949, one of the first matters that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had to face was the provision of money for universities. He appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate university finance. The commission was presided over by the late Professor Mills, and Sir Douglas Copland represented the university vice-chancellors, and Mr. Goodes, the Treasury. That body reported to the Prime Minister, and after long discussions with the States a certain proposal was put to the States and approved by them. In 1951 a measure was passed whereby the Commonwealth undertook to provide financial assistance to the States for universities during 1951, 1952, and 1953, and a special grant was made for 1950. A most ingenious method was used to provide that finance.’ A grant was made to the States, but it was sn linked with the universities that it was impossible for the States to expend the money except for university purposes. So, constitutional propriety was observed.
This bill is more difficult to read than any other bill submitted during this session of the Parliament, hut it is perhaps less involved than the bill that it replaces. Nevertheless, it is the basis on which money is to be granted to universities. It lays down a basic amount which the Commonwealth shall contribute, but it will contribute it only on condition that the States and the universities find sufficient money to enable them to qualify for the grant that the Commonwealth is prepared to make. Roughly, the procedure is that the Commonwealth will give £1 if the States find £3. The amount of the grant is calculated in such a way as to ensure that the universities will be able to balance their budgets. But, if the universities are to balance their budgets they have to get from the States an amount sufficient to qualify them for the Commonwealth grant. If that arrangement had been made, the State universities would not have been able to carry on.
In consequence of the arrangement everybody is happy - the universities because they can balance their budgets, the States because they can get additional sums from the Commonwealth under the uniform taxation scheme, and the Commonwealth because it is able to play the part of fairy godmother to the universities. But these grants to the universities do not by any means solve their problems and, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, the States still have many anxieties. The number of students that flowed into the universities after the war has decreased, but there is still a large number of new students, and universities all over Australia are confronted with the problem of finding money for buildings, equipment and staff salaries. In the Canberra press in the last few day.* there have been suggestions from t]it leaders of the university medical schools, and other sections of universities, that the whole matter should be reconsidered, because not enough is being done to enable university training to be maintained at. the standard that prevailed before the great rush of students after 1939. They have also been concerned by the changes in the nature and content of university education. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the New South Wales university of technology. I cannot understand why anybody who knows anything about a university or about a school of technology should speak of it as a university of technology. . There may be such a thing as an institute of technology, but to speak about a university of technology is to employ a contradiction of terms.
The development of the New England University College has been a remarkable experiment in the provision of a residential college in a country area for university students. The establishment of that college has been one of the most important of the developments that have taken place in the last two decades. It has been a remarkable success and I think there is every reason to believe that it will go on from strength to strength. One thing which I disapprove is the proposal of the New South Wales Government to grant to the New England University College independence from the University of Sydney on the condition that the New England University College conducts correspondence courses for all kinds of people in New South Wales. Some of us who were engaged in the conduct of correspondence courses during the war believe that there were some advantages to be derived from conducting correspondence courses for troops in the field. However, certain kinds of correspondence courses should be viewed with some suspicion. The manner in which the New South Wales Government proposes to deal with this matter causes a considerable amount of uneasiness. I think that in Australia there should be one university the activities of which are devoted to the provision of correspondence courses. I do not think that every university should be engaged in the conduct of correspondence courses, because that is the surest way of depreciating all the standards that one expects from university teaching.
Another field, in which tremendous development has taken place is that of adult education. Some of us who were associated with army education during the war years hoped that, when such activities were discontinued, it would be possible to take over some of the equipment and staff in order to conduct adult education along more substantial lines than those which were followed in the years before the war. There has been great development in adult education in New South Wales in particular, and development to a degree in Victoria and Western Australia. It must be borne in mind that in New South Wales more money has been spent in the field of adult education in recent years than ever before in the history of that State. That money is provided from subsidies which the New South Wales Government receives from this Government. I doubt very much whether a large portion of the money that has been made available in New South Wales would have been made available if that State had not received it as a State grant from the Commonwealth under uniform taxation. I am interested in the field of adult education and, as honorable members probably know, I am interested in it for many reasons. One of those reasons is that, unless
Ifr. Bland. something is done in these days of the welfare State to provide training for people in order that they may occupy their leisure, social conditions will deteriorate. I think that, in a State in which less and less work is being done and more and more is being demanded, the community stands in jeopardy unless the people can be compensated for the things that they are losing. A considerable amount of money should be devoted to the training of people who have an unwonted amount of leisure and who do not know what to do with it.
In the short time that is available for discussing such a measure as this, one can offer only random suggestions in the same manner as the Leader of the Opposition made suggestions when he was speaking. Taking into consideration all the circumstances that have arisen, the method by which the universities are seeking to finance themselves and the kind of development that has taken place, I think it will be admitted that the time has arrived for an investigation of all of the activities of the universities. One should look at the question, not merely from the point of view of administration, but also from that of the substance of the whole content of university education. If honorable members were to note that there are three universities in Australia which are spending almost £1,500,000 a year, they would realize that the universities have entered into the field of big business and that it is important that the organization of the univesrities should be such as to ensure that the money was being spent to the best advantage. 1 do not suggest that one should apply the same kind of measuring rod to university business management as that which is applied to ordinary business concerns, but universities should not be allowed to imagine that they are immune from public criticism, such as recent criticism in regard to the manner in which universities are managing their affairs. I think that the whole organization of the universities should be overhauled in the light of the new methods that are being adopted. Insufficient thought is being given to the question of business management. The same problems arise in a university as those which arise in any business concern, namely, the investment of capital, care of buildings, staff management and the retaining of public confidence.
Probably the most important reason for university reform is the latent danger in the growing dependence of universities upon the States for their subsistence. In earlier days when universities received from private benefactors large bequests which amounted to hundreds of thousands of pounds, there were never any tags attached to those gifts. The benefactors might suggest a preference for the development of one particular school in the university, but there was never any attempt to interfere with the teaching of the universities. I have been appalled by the fact that even in this House suggestions have been made from time to time that the Government should take account of the subjects that were being taught in the universities and of the views of people who were teaching those subjects. I imagine that that danger of political interference will always be present, but it is a danger against which universities should be safeguarded. It increases with the direct dependence upon governments for funds. That is another reason why I think that the time has arrived for an investigation of university activities. Any one who is associated with a university knows the constant demands that are being made by the professional schools for the provision of additional sums of money. One is fearful of the results of that technical training, because it is nothing more than technical training. Most of the people who belong to those professions are highly illiterate. More money should be spent upon the humanities. One feels that it is likely that smaller amounts of money will be spent on humanities when there are pressure groups that seek to control the way money shall be spent on the professional schools. Another matter to which proper consideration has not been given is the development of universities in country towns. In other countries most of the big cities have their universities. ‘ What is to be the place of the university in the country towns of New South Wales, for example? No thought has been given to that matter, although thought has been given to petitions that have been sent to the universities. There has been pressure like that which was exerted by the New South Wales- Government for the establishment of a university at Wagga for the purpose of training school teachers. That seems to be an entirely unworthy object and I think it should not be accepted as a reason for the development of universities in country centres.
I conclude my remarks by repeating the suggestions which I have already made. I consider that the time has arrived for a review of university education in Australia. People seem to become sensitive when anybody suggests that there should be an examination of our institutions. They tend to invest them with an aura of sanctity and dislike looking at the way they work - or should work. They have never faced up to the fact that universities have completely changed their characteristics in every country in the world. In Great Britain, a royal commission into the activities of the older universities produced a pattern upon which those universities later functioned. The universities of Australia need similar guidance. I think also that there should be a review of the universities in order to ascertain whether their business organization is satisfactory from the point of view of ensuring that they get value for the money that is being spent or that is supposed to be spent on university education. This bill, which follows the pattern of the bills that made provision for grants to universities for the years 1951, 1952 and 1953, will carry us on to 1954. I should like to think that before the end of 1954 the Government will have reached a decision in relation to its policy towards universities for 1955 and that it would not be tied to the outworn spirit of post-war reconstruction, nor be limited by the provisions of uniform taxation. I should like to think that the Government should look at our universities afresh in order to ascertain whether they were playing the role that they ought to play and whether they were playing that role effectively.
Mr. W. M. BOURKE (Fawkner) f 11.13]. - Honorable members always listen to the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) with respect,. particularly when he is speaking upon the subject of education, with which he has been associated for a lifetime. When the honorable member was discussing the question of education as such, many of his remarks were very interesting and were listened to with great attention. It was only when he strayed from a discussion of the educational aspects of the question and when he advanced what I might mildly term his old-fashioned views of politics that he seemed to me to make some- rather remarkable statements. The honorable member pointed out that the Australian Constitution makes no provision for education and he deplored the fact that the Commonwealth had made what he described as certain forays into State domains, including the domain of education. The honorable member made some remarkable statements in that connexion. I think it is generally agreed that Commonwealth instrusion into the field of education - perhaps “ intrusion “ is not quite the correct word to use - has had very beneficial effects upon the educational structure of this country.
– Call it an adventure.
– I do not think that is the correct word. There is the Australian National University, an institution which I have had occasion to criticize in this House, but which, despite certain blemishes, is a noble concept and one which should produce fruitful results in this country. There is the Commonwealth scholarship scheme under which scholarships are granted to young people in the community who otherwise would not have the opportunity of receiving a university education. The honorable member for Warringah in what I regard as a remarkable part of his speech deplored the Commonwealth’s intrusion into the sphere of education, but he did not propose an alternative. I invite the honorable member to state an alternative to the provision of Commonwealth assistance for higher education in the form of grants to universities and scholarships which enable young people to pursue a university education.
– Get rid of uniform income tax.
– That suggestion opens up a very wide field for dis cussion. It is easy for the honorable member to- dismiss the matter in that way. Whatever- his views may be, Commonwealth assistance to education in this sphere has come to stay. That is all to the good. The proposals contained in this bill constitute the latest methods by which the Commonwealth proposes to assist education. The Commonwealth’s interest in education, as the honorable member has said, began largely as the result of postwar developments. The Commonwealth met the cost of the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme as it had a constitutional duty to do. It provided the necessary money to enable the universities to cope with all the reconstruction trainees who took university courses after the war. When the reconstruction training scheme petered out in 1950 the universities were faced with a great crisis. A committee of inquiry to which the honorable member referred was established and considered the two main problems that then faced the universities. The first was the difficulty experienced by the universities in meeting current expenditure and in obtaining sufficient money to pay their staffs adequately and to. finance running expenses. The second problem related to the planning for the future development of university education in Australia, and to the question whether it would be better to develop big universities in the cities or to concentrate on the provision of small universities in country centres. It involved planning on a Commonwealthwide basis and over a long period, covering the whole sphere of university education, the capital development of universities and the like. The committee made certain recommendations which were given, effect to by the scheme which this bill is designed to continue. Unfortunately, the committee considered only the current needs of the universities. The second and basic problem was not considered by the committee and apparently nothing has been done about it. The committee made certain recommendations that were designed to remedy the immediate chronic financial condition of the universities. As the result of the tapering off of financial assistance from the Commonwealth when the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme came to an end, tile universities faced bankruptcy. A complicated formula was then devised under which the income of the universities from fees paid by students and grants made by the States was to be supplemented by grants from the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth wa3 prepared to make grants to the universities only after their revenues from the two sources [ have mentioned reached a satisfactory level from the point of view of the Commonwealth.
This bill continues the scheme which was brought into operation by the legislation passed in 1951. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in his second-reading speech, stated that the formula has been simplified by this bill. That may be so, but it is still very complex. As the honorable member for Warringah has said, this is one of the most difficult, bills to understand that has been introduced into this Parliament for a considerable time. It should be simplified. An examination of the bill reveals that the Commonwealth prescribes the amount of revenue which the universities must receive through the payment of fees by students and through State grants. If the universities obtain the qualifying amount of revenue from those sources, they are entitled to basic grants from the Commonwealth. The basic grants which the universities are automatically entitled to receive after they obtain the qualifying amount of revenue total £868,000, a not inconsiderable amount. From that point onwards we reach the really complex part of the formula under which the Commonwealth provides for further grants, which it calls second-level grants, up to a total of £649,000. The Commonwealth proposes to pay an amount equal to one-third of the excess of the income of the universities over and above the qualifying amount up to a maximum of £649,000. I suggest that the Commonwealth grant to universities should be put on a much more straightforward basis. Even worse than the complex formula which is incorporated in the bill is the fact that the conditions attached to the second-level grants are far too harsh. The rather anomalous situation has been created in which the Commonwealth virtually says, “We shall make available £1,500,000 for universities this year, but of that amount £649,000 will come under the heading of second-level grants. That is the maximum amount which may be paid to universities which satisfy the qualifications”. The universities are struggling desperately for money, not for capital development or future developmental works, but for money with which to pay their staffs, adequate salaries and to do immediate work which is vital and urgently necessary. The Commonwealth has set aside a certain sum of money, hut has said to the universities, in effect, “ You may have the money only if you satisfy the requirements which have been prescribed “. The universities are unable to satisfy the requirements.
Neither of the two major universities, the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney - I do not attempt to place them in their order of relative importance - will be able to qualify for the maximum second level grant because of the onerous conditions imposed by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth should be more generous in this matter. It should not impose conditions in relation to the second-level g grants that will prevent the State universities from receiving the amount which the Commonwealth says is inevitable under that heading. Instead, of the present arrangement under which the Commonwealth: pays an amount equal to one-third of the excess revenue earned by the universities over and above the qualifying amount, I suggest that the second-level grants should be based on an amount equal to one-half of. the revenue of the universities over and above the qualifying amount. If the universities receive income over and above the qualifying amount the Commonwealth would then pay them £1 for every £2 by which their revenue exceeded the qualifying amount instead of, as at present, £1 for every £3. The Government should, seriously consider my suggestion. The qualifying conditions should be eased in order to enable the universities to obtain the full amount of the second-level grants provided for in the legislation.
For the University of Sydney the second-level grant provided is £202,000. If my suggestion were adopted it would be entitled to receive the full amount and its financial condition would thereby be considerably alleviated. For the University of Melbourne the second-level grant is £165,000. That amount would represent a very welcome addition to the revenue of that institution. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who is in charge of the bill, to be more generous and to make good the boast that the Government is assisting the universities. The conditions imposed on the universities should be eased so that they may obtain the full amount to be provided for them and not merely a portion of it.
Sitting suspended from 11.28 to 12 midnight.
Thursday, 3 December 1955
– Another criticism which I wish to level against this legislation is that the formula with which the universities have had to comply, in order to qualify for the second-level grant from the Commonwealth, takes into account the fees paid by the students and the amount of the grants from a State. The universities, in an endeavour to raise their revenues from fees and State grants in order to qualify for the higher amount of the Commonwealth grant, have been literally compelled to increase students’ fees. It has been a most unfortunate fact that fees payable by students attending the Melbourne University have risen considerably during the last couple of years. For twenty years, fees had not been increased, but in 1951 they were raised by 50 per cent., in 1952 by 25 per cent., and in 1953 by 20 per cent. It .seems clear that a further increase of fees will be made next year. Those substantial increases follow directly from the formula in this bill, which really places an obligation upon the universities to extract as much revenue as they possibly can from the students, in order to enable them to qualify for the increased amount of the Commonwealth grant.
Constantly increasing fees are bad for the community. As a result of the liberal Commonwealth scholarships scheme and other forms of assistance, approximately 75 per cent, of the students who attend the Melbourne University receive some form of assistance towards the payment of their fees. Only 25 per cent, of the students have to bear the full cost of the constantly increasing fees. I suppose that the figure is much the same in other Australian universities. This means that the burden of constantly increasing university fees falls particularly heavy upon part-time students, who are a most worthy section. They are, for the most part, public servants who desire to obtain a university degree ; men and women who work for business firms and desire to obtain a university degree in arts or commerce; and a number of lawyers. As one who has had some personal experience of the hardships of a part-time university course, I consider it to be a particularly unfortunate result of the formula in this legislation that a part-time student is severely hit by constantly rising fees. I again appeal to the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) to pay some regard to the position of part-time students. Many of them will not be able to continue their studies unless some change is made in this harsh formula. Those are some of the unfortunate results which will flow from this bill.
I have been discussing the revenue which is necessary to enable universities to pay the salaries of their staffs and ordinary running expenses, and keep their heads above water. As the result of grants from the Commonwealth and the State, and students’ fees, the Melbourne University, which we may regard as being typical of Australian universities, is just able to hold its own. At the moment it is operating with an overdraft of £130,000, on which it pays interest amounting to £5,000 a year. The university is just holding its own without making plans for buildings and equipment, and the provision of facilities for research and developmental projects which are so essential if the university is to play the part that it should play in the community. It is high time that the Government did more than merely make grants to universities, which are to help them to meet their everyday expenses.
The Prime Minister admitted, in his second-reading speech, that those grants would not solve the problems of the universities by any means. It is high time that a representative commission was appointed, consisting of persons who could give expert advice on this matter, to draw up a long range and balanced plan for the whole of Australia, so that the development of universities in the future can be mapped out and ari examination made of the provision for buildings and other capital outlay, and whether existing universities should be expanded in order to provide facilities for the increasing number of students in the years to come, or whether new universities should be established in the country. An examination should also be made of the provision of adequate facilities for research. All those matters should be considered so that the finances of the universities may be placed on a sound basis for a period of years, and the development of the institutions can be adequately planned.
I now come to the vital matter of research, and its association with the business community. It is a fact that the business community does not make adequate contribution to the universities so that they may carry on with research work. In the United States of America, big secondary industries contribute substantially to the funds of universities to enable them to carry out vital research. Some contributions are made to Australian universities for those purposes, but I suggest that the business community should make more substantial payments to their funds. The Commonwealth and the States are already making substantial contributions to the revenues of universities, and students’ fees have reached the limit. I should like to make a concrete suggestion about the way in which the business community should contribute for the benefit of the universities and, in that way for the benefit of the people.
Certain researches are being conducted in the United States of America into lung cancer, and it has been established that 95 per cent, of that disease is directly attributable to cigarette smoking. Scientific tests have been conducted, and have proved a direct connexion between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. The incidence of that deadly disease is increasing considerably in the community, and a direct link exists between the increasing incidence, and the increase in cigarette smoking. I consider that the British Tobacco Company (Australia) Limited, which, for all practical purposes, has a monopoly of the manufacture and distribution of cigarettes in Australia, has a direct moral obligation to provide funds to enable selected universities to carry out research in an effort to discover why tobacco smoke causes lung cancer, as a first step to the discovery of a means to prevent or cure that disease. When we examine the financial structure of that company, we find that it is well able to meet that moral obligation. The company, according to its latest report and balance-sheet, which I have here, has capital and reserves of £13,900,000.
– Order ! The honorable member’s remarks are hardly relevant to the bill. If cigarette smoking is the cause of lung cancer, the easy way to avoid that disease is to cease smoking cigarettes.
– I thought I was making one of the few constructive suggestions that have been advanced in this debate. I was making the point that the universities lack adequate facilities for research. If those institutions are to carry on their task in the community, they must be able to conduct fundamental research work. They cannot do so unless adequate funds are made available to them. I drew the analogy with other countries to suggest that the business community should make substantial contributions to the funds of the universities. I consider that the British Tobacco Company (Australia) Limited has a direct moral obligation to contribute to the funds of universities so as to enable them to carry out research into such a vital matter as lung cancer. I merely put that forward as one illustration of the work that could be done in that direction.
I have suggested that a commission should be appointed to draw up a longrange plan for universities, and to consider certain matters which I have mentioned. Such a commission would also be the logical body to review the business organization of universities. The honorable member for Warringah, who referred to that matter, pointed out that although the money flowing into the coffers of a university is still inadequate for the work that has to be done by the institution it is still a considerable sum. The universities are really in business in a big way.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. DRUMMOND (New England) [12.15 a.m.3. - Having regard to the late hour, I propose to condense my remarks on the important subject of financial assistance for universities. This debate hits been characterized by two factors which I invariably noted, in one instance with disapproval and in the other instance with approval, in debates on education in the New South Wales Parliament. My disapproval arose from the fact that education seemed to interest only a limited number of members. My approval was earned by the commendable desire of members of all parties to remove the discussion of education from the realm of party politics. The same factors have been evident during this debate. I was happy to hear the speeches of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke). The Government deserves to be congratulated upon this bill. It was only recently that the Commonwealth Parliament first provided specific assistance for education, particularly university education..
Before I proceed further, I wish to dispose of a few misconceptions. I agree entirely with the honorable member for Warringah that the States would benefit considerably if their financial independence were restored to them. However. I want to disabuse honorable members of the possible misapprehension that the States, if they were financially independent, would be able to do all that is needed in the field of education. I am able to speak with personal knowledge of educational problems because, unfortunately, as Minister for Education in New South Wales, I had to face a difficult state of affairs that developed after World War I., when changing technologies and new conceptions of education had a tremendous impact upon the finances of the State. However, the changes th.it occurred between 1918 and 1939 were relatively slight in comparison to the changes that are taking place now. After World War I., Australia’s predominantly rural economy fast took on the aspects of an industrial economy. This resulted in tremendous, demands upon the educational organization, from the lowest to the highest levels, which were imperfectly appreciated by the community generally. At the same time, the child population increased rapidly. In a period of fifteen years, the total enrolments in all educational establishments in New South Wales increased by 37 per cent. Over the same period in Victoria, the increase was 36 per cent. In Great Britain, however, the increase was only 4 per cent. Only those who have had the responsibility of administering education systems can fully appreciate the heavy demands that this made upon all branches of education. Similar heavy demands are being made upon ‘education systems to-day. In the last ten years, about 100,000 new children have been admitted to schools in New South Wales alone.
But other changes are taking place as well. Australia developed an industrial economy after World War I. Now we are moving into an electronic era, and the resources of the States and the Commonwealth are being, strained to the limit in order to prepare everybody who can be prepared for the higher and extremely costly form of education that this change requires. Classical education is relatively cheap when compared with scientific and technological education. There is a danger that we may try to save money by starving the classical side of education and neglecting the humanities in order that we may have more money for other forms of education. No greater crime could be done to this country than to rob it of the leadership that comes from a liberal education. A scientifically trained man without the broad background of a liberal education is a potential human tiger, with all the capacity of the trained scientific man but without any compensating qualities. Let us be warned by what happened in Hitler’s Germany, which I studied at close quarters in 1936. The Germans deliberately suppressed the humanities so that they might concentrate on other aspects of education, and they brought into existence for a time the most godless, ruthless and destructive force that humanity has known, without a shadow of conscience or anything that represented human mercy or understanding of human suffering. These things are written large. Not far from Germany to-day there is another force that is endeavouring to reproduce the same state of affairs, and it has been largely successful in its aim. Therefore, whilst I congratulate the Government upon the work that it has done in the field of education - and this work has been much greater than many people realize - 1 warn it that education is one and indivisible.
It is at this point that I disagree with the honorable member for Fawkner. Both he and the honorable member for War- ringah suggested the establishment of a commission to inquire into the broad aspects of university education with the object of placing it upon a proper footing. I favour the proposal, but the plan will certainly fail if it is confined to university education alone. Our education problems must be seen in proper perspective. In 1936, we established in Australia for the first time a Ministers’ council of education. It has not functioned so well in recent years as has the Australian Agricultural Council, for instance. The Agricultural Council deals with important matters, but nothing is. so important as education, upon which we must depend for the continuance of our civilization and its standards. I do not know why the education council has not functioned with complete success, but I know that the time has come for the Commonwealth to take the lead in such matters. It must bring the States together in order to make a thorough review of the effects upon education of new technologies, the rising tide of births since World War II., and immigration. This problem requires statesmanlike treatment. Education must not be dealt with piecemeal. Although an analysis of the position of our universities may be helpful, it cannot be successful unless we realize that the superstructure cannot be sound without solid, foundations. University education, of course, by a strange paradox, is not only the apex of education, but also, in certain respects, a reinforcement of the foundation because of the breadth of mind and understanding that it brings into the field of education.
I do not want to convey the impression that this Government is not doing a great deal for education. The expenditure for which this bill provides, and other amounts included in the Estimates, show that the Government proposes to expend nearly £9,000,000 directly this year on various forms of education. The Australian National University, of course, will absorb a certain amount of this money. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, a great educational institution in the truest and broadest sense of the term, will use over £3,725,000. If we include the cost of technical assistance that will be provided for less fortunate nations, the total Commonwealth expenditure on education for the year will be between £13,000,000 and £14,000,000. The honorable member for Warringah said that we needed a new approach to the business problems of the universities. My own experience and thought on this subject impel me to agree wholeheartedly with his comment. I say at once, so that there shall be no misunderstanding, that we must always have distinguished scholars in charge of our universities. The change suggested by the honorable member for Warringah does not necessarily mean that the man who handles the business side of a university should not be a distinguished graduate, with a wide experience of business. Such men could have the assistance of highly trained businessmen. A careful analysis of university education shows that we are still trying to carry on, with slight amendments, the organization that was established for the old classical type of education, when: modern scientific and industrial developments require all sorts of sweeping changes “in university organizations. This throws an undue burden on the old-fashioned organization.
There is scope for a tightening up of the business side of university administration in order to cope with this change. I say that without any intention to reflect upon men who are doing the best they can in present circumstances. I pay an emphatic tribute to this Government for the valuable assistance it has given to universities, including the New England
University College, with which I am intimately associated as a council member. Commonwealth aid has been of great value to that institution. However, if we wish to deal effectively with university education in this changing world, let us do the job properly. The Commonwealth should take a lead in establishing a council of education representative of State Ministers of Education and their departmental heads. Such a council should appoint a standing committee and co-opt the assistance of the best available outside brains. It should get down to the job of considering whether the Commonwealth should take over all education - which God forbid - how much finance is required, how the money should be obtained, and how it should be expended. That is something that is long overdue, but it must be done if this country is to meet the demands that are being made upon it for defence, security, the development of national resources and, above all. the development of citizenship. I think this wider, broader and more complete approach to the problem must be made as soon as possible.
– This bill has been discussed tonight by two senators of the University of Sydney. The first senator is the most distinguished alumnus of that institution, and the second is an emeritus professor whose chair, on his retirement, the Senate found it impossible or unnecessary to fill.” The University of Sydney is the alma mahir of many other distinguished members of this House. . They include the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale), the Minister for the Navy and the Minister for Air (Mr. McMahon), the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) and the honorable member for Oxley (Dr. Donald Cameron). That list does not exhaust the galaxy of talent on university matters in this House. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) is a foundation member, and, indeed, the father, of the New England University College. The honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Andrews) is a member of the council of the University of Mel bourne. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and the honorable member for Oxley are members of the council of the Australian National University.
This bill flows from the efforts that a Labour government made at the conclusion of World War II., and in the years immediately after it. Under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme, hundreds of thousands of pounds were spent every year on Australian universities, not only on their current expenses but also on their capital equipment. As a result of the 1946 referendum, which was sponsored by the first senator of the University of Sydney who spoke to-night, and opposed by the second, power was given- to this Parliament to provide benefits for students at universities and in other educational establishments.
The purpose of the bill is twofold. It is, first, to repeal the 1951 act. That is a laudable object. Reference has already been made to the obscurity of that measure. It is noteworthy for its obscurity, even among the other legislation passed by this Parliament. One can concede that it would require a student of advanced semantics to understand it. There is no doubt, as was suggested by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland), that literate honorable members could be found who could reframe the measure and make it easier to understand. The second purpose of the bill is to double the second-level grant, but that is largely, one might say, an academic objective, because a university, to be awarded any secondlevel grant, must first secure three times the amount of such grant in addition to the qualifying amount that it receives from all sources. The income of a university can come only from State grants or student fees. It is impossible for the States to increase their grants to universities. If student fees were increased, the object of university education would be largely defeated, because fewer students would be able to take advantage of it. The Governmentdoes not expect to spend the full amount of the second-level grant. It appears from page 141 of the Estimates that only a half of the amount of the second-level grant was expended last year. Expenditure fell short of the estimate by about £75,000. The estimate for this year is hundreds of thousands of pounds short of the maximum second-level grant. Therefore, one may expect that the bill will do very little more for university education.
There are some defects in the measure. No provision is made for capital works in any State university, except alterations or equipment costing not more than £500. Another defect is that the amounts of the basic grant set out in the schedule are the same as those set out in the schedule of the 1951 act. The result is that there will be a virtual halt to the birth or extension of activities in universities, particularly in the smaller universities. If the universities of “Western Australia or Tasmania decided to establish medical or engineering schools, they would receive no assistance for those purposes under this measure. “What is to happen to the system of free education that prevails in Western Australia, or the system of residential education that prevails in the New England University College?
There is one very striking anomaly in the schedule to the bill. Honorable members will observe that in most instances the proportion of the qualifying amount to the basic grant is three to one. But that is not so in the case of the New South “Wales University of Technology. In that instance, the proportion of the qualifying amount to the basic grant is, not three to one, but seven or eight to one. Is that because the members of the Government as a whole adopt the somewhat snobbish attitude adopted by the honorable member for Warringah that an institute of technology has no right to bear the title of university? Surely that is a completely retrogressive and outmoded attitude, A century ago, the main faculties in a university were the faculties of theology, law and medicine. They ranked in that order. The only technique that was required in any of those three faculties was a knowledge of the classics. That has been departed from in every educational institution in this or any other country, whether it be called a university, institute, college, lyceum or polytechnic institute. I submit that an injustice is being done to the New South Wales University of Technology, which already is fulfilling some of the purposes that have been fulfilled in the United States of America by the institutes of technology in Massachusetts and California, which have been responsible for the improvement of industrial techniques.
The bill imposes a limit on Commonwealth grants to all the State universities - three in New South Wales and one in each of the other States - but it is well known that no limitation is imposed on the amount that the Commonwealth can spend on the Australian National University. That university will receive from the Commonwealth this year very much more than any other university in Australia will receive from the Commonwealth. I do not want to minimize in any way the importance and world significance of the research work that is being done in the National University, but I say there should be no restriction of the grants to State universities, which carry out essential functions. They cater for a much greater number of people than the Australian National University, and they teach some of the basic techniques that we shall need if we want to be well administered or to develop in the industrial, scientific and health fields.
It was significant that the honorable member for Warringah harked back to the days before uniform taxation, and, happier still, to the days before federation. He still regards university education and opportunities for such education as matters only for the States. He says that if uniform taxation could be done away with, and if we could forget the great improvements that have been made as a result of the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme and the 1946 referendum, the financial problems of the universities would be solved. That is an unrealistic attitude. Uniform taxation may be a good thing, as honorable members on this side of the House believe; or it may be a bad thing, as some honorable members opposite believe. But, whether good or bad, it has come to stay. One consequence of uniform taxation is that the States, which have the primary responsibility for university education under our Constitution, no longer have the means to expand university facilities. They will never again have the means to do so. It is true that the uniform taxation formula provides for increased tax reimbursement payments to !>e made to the States if their populations and costs of living have increased, but it makes no provision for the birth or increase of activities. Let me take one well publicized current example. Atomic energy was unknown at federation, or at the time when uniform taxation was introduced in this country. Accordingly, it was not provided for either in the Constitution or in the tax reimbursement formula. Therefore, the Commonwealth cannot finance it, except in respect of bombs under the defence power. The States cannot finance it, because the tax reimbursement formula did not contemplate it. The result is that research into the civil use of atomic energy is confined to the Australian National University - in respect of which the Commonwealth can do what it likes because the university is in a territory of the Commonwealth - and to the University of Sydney, where Professor Messel, once a constituent of mine, is, with characteristic flamboyance, seeking aid from industrialists. But, as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) pointed out, industrialists in Australia to-day are not as generous as their forbears were, or as their counterparts are in the United States of America. It may be that industrialists consider, as do most other people in the community, that education should be a social service and, therefore, should bo financed by the community as a whole.
I point out it should not be in the gift of charitably minded persons. I point out that the uniform taxation system makes no provision for the increase or the birth of activities in State universities. In no field of human endeavour in this country ot elsewhere has there been such an increase of activity since the war as there ha3 been in the field of eduction. The only comparable increase is in medical and cognate techniques and facilities. Consequently, in education as in health, the States no longer hare sufficient resources to keep pace with the latest developments. During the term of office of the previous Government and also of this Government, the total grants made to the States under uniform taxation have not been limited to grants under the formula but in the last three years the supplementary grants have been decreased by the present Government in each succeeding year. Two years ago the supplementary grants totalled £33,577,000. Last year they were £27,145,000, and this financial year will be £21,910,000. Therefore, far from the States having sufficient resources to increase their educational facilities, they are having their resources for those purposes restricted.
It is impossible any longer to regard education, as the honorable member for Warringah regards it, as a State matter. Education has expanding frontiers, and the Commonwealth is the only authority that has expanding .financial frontiers. The States will never again have expanding financial frontiers, and consequently, will not be able to cater for new activities. This Parliament is able to do so and it should do so. The Constitution does not give the Commonwealth power over education, but this Parliament can do anything until its actions are challenged in the High Court by somebody. Who is going to challenge Commonwealth expenditure on education? Certainly not State governments, and certainly not private citizens. Education is a national and not a State matter.
– What does the honorable member mean by “national”.
– Recently the honorable member for Evans slipped in his professional standards, but I am astonished at him slipping in his academic and social standards.
– I am of the opinion that the honorable member does not mean anything by the word “ national “.
-! have already remarked the return of the honorable member for Evans from certain entertainments. In Western Australia and Tasmania, for example, there ‘are no faculties of medicine or engineering.
– There is a faculty of engineering in the University of Western Australia.
– The Minister frequently interjects when I am speaking, but he has just made his first intelligible interjection. I am happy to hear that the University of Western Australia has a faculty of engineering. However, it has no faculty of medicine. Surely one must take an Australian viewpoint - perhaps even the honorable member for Evans can understand that word - and say that students from Western Australia, who desire to undertake medical courses, should be able to go to any university in Australia. Indeed, why should we take only a national or Australian view? The University of Sydney has the only school of veterinary science in Australasia, and one of the few faculties of agricultural science. It is of no use to take a parochial, narrow view in these matters. Australians anywhere should be able to go to any university in the country. I do not go so far as to say that just because they wish to go to universities they should receive their education for nothing. That, however, that is the elysian position in Western Australia, and honorable nienbers in this House have benefited from the contributions of many graduates of that- university. Education should be free at the universities of Australia for all those who are able to distinguish themselves there.
It is quite academic to approach this matter by detailing the position before uniform taxation or before federation. Uniform taxation has come to stay, and it is only a step to uniform administration. Federation was another step in the same process, and it is futile to look at the position of universities in this country before federation, because no university in Australia had as many faculties at federation as it has now. For example, the university of Sydney had only one-half as many. Nor was the expenditure of any university at all commensurate with present-day expenditure. The University of Sydney cost the State of New South’ Wales’ less’ than £13,000 a year at federation. We do not oppose this bill, but we believe that it could be better still. Rather than have a system of subsidization of universities on a standard that requires the States to treble the excess above a qualifying figure before they get a second-level grant, another system should be adopted. I believe that the system that the Chifley Government adopted under the Tuberculosis Act would be quite practicable for universities. Under that system one calculates the cost of capital and recurrent expenses of an institution in a base year, and the Commonwealth pays all capital and recurrent expenses above the expenses of the base year. That scheme has been carried on in tuberculosis hospitals in this country for five years, and it would be satisfactory if applied to university education. The universities are costing more and more, and in the future will be catering for more and more Australians. We should not limit university education by leaving it primarily to the States, but we should make it a Commonwealth responsibility. With our primacy of financial opportunity we should undertake the primacy of responsibility for university education.
– I desire to say a few words as a graduate of the university of experience. Like most honorable members, I did not have the opportunity to acquire a university education, and probably I can see the picture a little more clearly than many of those who had that good fortune. I believe that education should be a Commonwealth responsibility, and power over education should be added to the powers in section 51 of the Constitution. If the Commonwealth obtained power by referendum, we could make a better job of universities than is being made of them at present. I speak as a member of a party which has done more for university education than any other party in this country. Indeed, those who have done the big things for university education are those who saw only the outside of a university. The Chifley Government established the Australian National University, and, in 1943, set up a universities commission to advise the Government on man-power problems concerning university students. As a result of the activities of that commission we eventually established the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. Under that scheme the ex-servicemen of World War II. were to get a much better chance of rehabilitation than the men of World War I. We also established the Commonwealth scholarship scheme under which 3,000 scholarships are granted annually to boys and girls to enable them to enter our universities. All those things are to the credit of the Chifley Government. Anything that this Government has done for universities may be creditable, but it still has not done nearly as much in that direction as Labour governments.
The Labour party has always been concerned with education, primary, secondary and university. We believe that knowledge is power, and always seek to avoid obscurantism. We tried to make university education available to larger numbers of people, but because ,of the inflation engendered by this Government university fees have had to be increased to such an extent that all those who attend universities without Commonwealth assistance, and that is 40 per cent, of the students, are finding it difficult to maintain themselves. I have before me a copy of a report prepared by the Australian Vice-Chancellor’s Committee, entitled The Crisis in the Finances and Development of the Australian Universities. Honorable members would certainly benefit by reading that report, which indicates that Australia treats university education in a particularly niggardly fashion compared with some other countries in the world. In the United K]ingdom the running cost of universities is £24,000,000, which represents 12s. a head of the population, or .21 per cent, of the national income. We spend £4,700,000 or lis. a head, or .15 per cent, of the national income on universities. Canada spends 40,000,000 dollars a year or £1 5s. a head, or .31 per cent, of the national income. The best example of how to treat universities is afforded by the United States of America, which spends 1.00,000,000 dollars or £3 a head, or 1.30 per cent, of the national income on its universities. When we do as well as that in Australia we shall be doing the right and just thing for the young people of the community. The University of Sydney spends £161 per student per year, the University of Melbourne £176, the University of Adelaide £152, the University of Queensland £197, the University of Western Australia £240, and the University of Tasmania £438, per student per year. If Tasmania can spend £438 per head of population on its university students, the richer States of New South Wales and Victoria should be able to do better.
– I challenge the accuracy of that figure.
– If the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) challenges the figure, he challenges the report of the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee which advised his Government. The report and recommendation of that committee formed the basis of the present Government’s scheme in 1951. Whilst it is true that South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania receive certain reimbursements from the Commonwealth through the Commonwealth Grants Commission, it cannot be said that the responsibility for maintaining State universities is largely a Commonwealth responsibility. The State governments must do better. The universities will have to examine their responsibilities also, because the present crisis in university finances has been developing over the past twenty years. A report on the finances of the Melbourne University was made in 1936, but the Victorian government of that day did nothing and neither did the Australian governments from 1936 to 1943. This Government, under the States Grants (Universities) Act 1951, accepted certain responsibilities in relation to State universities. The bill now before the House seeks to increase by approximately £330,000 the amount that otherwise would have been voted. The total amount of money that will be voted under this bill for this year is more than £1,500,000. Because the legislation is tied to a formula under which the States must pay £3 for every £1 that is paid by the Commonwealth, it is unlikely that the universities of Sydney and Melbourne will receive much advantage from the legislation during this year. Because of the influx of immigrants and the rising birth rate, the population is increasing rapidly and the number of students who will attend the universities in future will be much greater than it is at present. The Vice-Chancellors Committee stated in its 1951 report that in 1953 the number of students . might fall a little below the 1951 level of approximately 29,400, but that after this year enrolments would rise steadily until 1960, when they would reach a total of approximately 40,000, and that they would rise by approximately 2,000 each year after that. But Australia still has much the same facilities that were provided by universities 20, 30, 40 and sometimes 50 years ago. Perhaps when the Chifley Government established the scholarship scheme it should not have expected the State universities to incur all the capital expenditure and all the maintenance expenditure that would be required consequent upon the influx of such a large number of students. In Melbourne to-day 220 students are studying first-year medicine. In 1919, the number who were doing first-year medicine, was not much different. But of that I am not certain. However, because of the quota system, only 160 of the present number will be able to study second-year medicine. As a result of the growth in population, the universities of Melbourne and .Sydney should be educating approximately 400 students in medicine each year. Honorable members have listened to speeches by university graduate after university graduate. University education is not something that is exclusive to a special class in the community. I am arguing for a new deal in university education. I want the Australian Government to accept greater responsibility in regard to capital expenditure.
– Say it in specific terms.
– In specific terms, I am supporting the vice-chancellors of the Australian universities, and I want the Government to give effect to the recommendations that were placed before it in 1951. As the honorable member for Oxley (Dr. Donald Cameron) is a university graduate and a man of distinction, let me remind him that the Chifley Government solemnly promised to provide £125,000 for the establishment of a medical school at the University of Western Australia but that this Government has repudiated the promise.
– Western Australia has not got a medical school.
– But they want a medical school. If a medical faculty were established in Western Australia, it would relieve the pressure on the eastern universities, particularly those in Adelaide and in Melbourne. The promise should never have been repudiated. University fees are being increased to such a degree that soon many people who are not receiving assistance will not be able to pay the fees. The movement in relation to fees should be downwards and not upwards. I wish to cite some figures in relation to the University of Melbourne which at one time was in my electorate and is now in an adjoining one. The Council of the University of Melbourne has raised student fees by another 25 per cent, for next year. That means that the total increase since the end of the war has been 180 per cent. The fees have now reached a level beyond which it would be very undesirable to go. There are 6,983 students at the Melbourne University. The fees that were collected in 1953 amounted to £346,000. Approximately 60 per cent., or 4,143 of the total number of students, are in receipt of some form of financial assistance, but the remaining 40 per cent, have been badly hit by the increase in fees. The deficit on the operations of the university of Melbourne in 1953 amounts to £40,000. That brings the accumulated deficit to £130,000 all of which has been incurred over the past few years and is directly due to inflation. Staff salaries are far below the level that is necessary in order to attract the best persons to vacant posts. It is difficult to retain staff. The university has just authorized an increase in salaries for next year, but that is only an alleviation and not a solution of the problem. Salaries will remain below the desired level. It is clear that a university should be able to attract, in some cases, applicants from overseas, but at the present time it- is difficult to do that in Melbourne and in Sydney and probably elsewhere. The importance of the maintenance of a high standard of training is obvious to all honorable members.
I now wish to refer to the three-to-one ratio. There is great merit in a ratio system which does not encourage the
States to reduce their assistance. While university education remains primarily a State responsibility, the States must assume the major portion of the cost of maintaining the universities. The Sydney and Melbourne universities have not yet been able to benefit to the full extent to which they should benefit from the increase in the second level grant. The Melbourne University easily secured the first level grant, but last year it qualified for only £75,000 of a possible £82,500 in relation to the second level grant. This year the Melbourne University will receive approximately £77,500 from the second-level grant. Even with 25 per cent, increase in fees in 1954 and an increased government grant at the rate of £70,000 per annum, the Melbourne University will receive approximately £30,000 less than the maximum figure of the new second-level grant. It is clear that university revenues have been increasing. As fees are increased and as State government grants are increased, so does the Commonwealth subsidy rise. Before the Melbourne University can receive the full benefit of the present legislation in 1954, its State grant, plus fees, must be increased by at least £90,000.
I appeal to the Government to make provision for medical research. If I were appointed Treasurer to-morrow, I would give £100,000 to the universities of Sydney and Melbourne to be spent by the faculties of physiology in research work in the universities and in the pathology departments of the leading teaching hospitals in order that people might be kept healthy and thus live longer. If that result were achieved Jess money would be needed for hospitals and the like. Australia must face that question. When it does, Australia will be a better country. In fact, I should like to see the Department of Health make greater grants for research work than it is now making. I should like to see special legislation introduced under which the Australian Government would contract with the senates of the Australian universities to pay, not for technological faculties or even for the humanities, but for medical research. I have said my part on behalf of the universities of Australia. I hope that the day will come when Australia will have as many students per head of population passing through its universities as there are in the United States of America, with consequent benefit to themselves, to the community and to the country’s economy.
.I did not intend to speak during this debate, but the entirely irresponsible speech to which honorable members have just listened-
– That is what I would expect from a snob.
-Order ! The honorable gentleman will withdraw that statement.
– I shall withdraw it; but, when the honorable member for Balaclava accuses me of making a completely irresponsible speech and does so in an insulting way, I am entitled to say something.
– The honorable gentleman is not entitled to say that.
– I have never been so described in my life, and I do not believe that it is true.
– It is certainly not true.
– I regret the necessity to describe the speech to which I have just listened as being irresponsible. I can only say that it appeared to me to be irresponsible and I think it appeared to other honorable members, at least on this side of the House, to be irresponsible.
– It was based on the report of the Vice-Chancellors Committee.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) cited figures from a document. He also read some prepared matter. I do not know what was the origin of that prepared matter. The honorable member gave no indication of its origin.
– I prepared it myself.
– It is sufficient to say that, whoever prepared that matter-
– I prepared it myself.
– Was quite as ignorant of the subject with which the honorable member was dealing as was the honorable member himself.
– That is quite true, because the honorable member prepared it himself.
– The honorable member referred to American universities and to the money that he said was spent on American universities. Apparently, the honorable member has no knowledge of the fact that America has degrees of universities. It has A class universities, B class universities, C class universities, and so on. Only the A class universities rank with the universities of Australia. The academic level of the other so-called universities is in no way comparable with that of Australian universities. In the United States of America it is the common practice to refer to university lecturers as professors. We do not grant the title “ professor “ to a person merely because he is a university lecturer. Such a title is conferred only upon a person who is qualified to hold it. It is clear that the honorable member for Melbourne was completely at sea when he dealt with this subject. He attempted to attack the Government on the ground that it had not provided sufficient money for the universities, yet the government of which he was a member provided only a very small percentage of the grants that have been provided by this Government. The Australian Constitution imposes no obligation upon the Government to provide money for educational purposes. This Government has taken upon itself an obligation to do so because it believes that the universities should be adequately provided for. It is providing far more money for that purpose than Labour governments with which the honorable member for Melbourne was associated did, or ever thought of doing. Merely because an honorable member has had the good fortune to have received a university education - and I so regard it - he is branded by the honorable member for Melbourne as a snob. Those who know me - and many people know me - have never before described me in that way.
Not one word was said by the honorable member for Melbourne about the fact that one-third of the amount pro- vided by this Government for universities is provided by way of Commonwealth scholarships.
– Which we initiated.
– -But the cost of which the present Government is now meeting. Is the honorable member so completely one-eyed as to say that the Commonwealth scholarship scheme ceases to be worth while merely because we are continuing it? I cannot understand why the honorable member, who spoke in such a restrained way in the earlier hours of the sitting, should indulge in these maunder rings of the morning.
– I rise to order. I regard that expression as offensive and ask that it be withdrawn.
Government supporters interjecting,
– Order ! I shall not ask the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) to withdraw it.
– “ Maunderings of the morning.” I know what that means !
– I am sorry if I have hurt the feelings of the honorable member.
– I am perfectly sober.
– Order !
– I have said that I am perfectly sober, and I mean it.
-The implication in the honorable member’s remark is that the honorable member for Balaclava is not perfectly sober.
– That is not so. The attack was made upon me.
– No other interpretation could be placed upon the honorable member’s words.
– Not at all!
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) must contain himself. I have said on other occasions that immediately a suggestion is made by an honorable member that another honorable member is not sober I shall demand that the House shall judge the matter. I now ask the House to judge this matter.
– I withdraw any words that might have given rise to the belief that I had insinuated that the honorable member for Balaclava is not perfectly sober. Interjections made by honorable members opposite seemed to suggest that I am not perfectly sober.
– I did not believe that the words of the honorable member for Melbourne contained an imputation against my sobriety.
– It does not matter against whom the imputation was directed.
– I think that it was directed against me by the interjections made by honorable members opposite.
– Of course it was against the honorable member for Melbourne; he is completely irresponsible.
– Does the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) insinuate that the honorable member for Melbourne is not sober?
– The Opposition has suggested that the salaries paid to university staffs are so low that the universities are not attracting the best professors, scholars and lecturers.
-Such a suggestion was not made by an honorable member on this side of the House.
– The statement is completely erroneous. The standards of teaching and the scholarship of the staffs of Australian universities are exceedingly high. We need in no way be ashamed of either our standards of teaching or the qualities of our professorial and teaching staffs. The adverse position of the universities was undoubtedly aggravated by the introduction of the uniform income tax scheme. That aspect of the problem was referred to by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland). The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), in an exceedingly naive speech, made the strongest case I have ever heard in this House for the abolition of uniform income tax. I was unable to understand his depreciatory references to the honorable member for Warringah, a gentleman of great knowledge and wisdom who has earned the esteem of all honorable members in this House.
– Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– On behalf of the Labour party, I promise the universities of Australia a much bigger grant during the next financial year, when the Labour Government takes office.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I ask for leave to submit a motion to appoint certain honorable members to the Foreign Affairs Committee.
– Is leave granted?
– The Opposition grants leave.
– I heard an honorable member call “ No “. Therefore, leave is not granted.
– It does not matter. I have granted leave.
– Order ! The honorable member is presuming upon his position as Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The fact that he gives his consent to the granting of leave does not matter a rap under the Standing Orders. Leave is not granted when one honorable member calls “ No “.
– The situation can be met in another way. I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders he suspended as would prevent the Vice-President of the Executive Council from moving a motion forthwith.
– Is the motion seconded ?
– I second the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative with the concurrence of an absolute majority of the members of the House.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That Mr. Bostock, Dr. D. A. Cameron, Mr. Downer, Mr. Drummond, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Roberton and Mr. Wentworth be members of the Joint Committee appointed to consider such matters concerning Foreign Affaire as are referred to it by the Minister for External Affairs, and that the foregoing resolution be communicated to the Senate by message.
– I think that the honorable gentlemen named in the motion have been capable and distinguished members of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the past. They have not got the Government into too much trouble yet. I do not think that, in the few months that remain before the general election, they will do much harm, and I am quite prepared to assist the Government to appoint them to what has been described as the Foreign Affairs’ Committee, but which can be more properly described as a foreign affairs study circle. If we view the committee in that light, I think we shall appreciate the contributions which those honorable gentlemen will make after they have been suitably educated.
– I think that the honorable gentlemen who have been proposed as members of the Foreign Affairs Committee cannot be of any assistance to the Parliament on any committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Section 8 of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1951, provides that there shall be a chairman and a vice-chairman of the committee who shall be elected by the members of the committee at their first meeting or as soon thereafter as is practicable. The power to elect a chairman or vice-chairman is, therefore, confined to the first meeting of each committee as it is set up at the beginning of each Parliament. With the death of the former honorable member for
Corangamite, Mr. McDonald, who was the chairman of the committee, the members of the committee found that they had no statutory power to elect a successor to him. The committee is without a chairman at present and the vice-chairman has been carrying on in his stead.
However, that situation is also without a proper statutory basis, since the vicechairman may, by section 8 of the act, only act in the place of a chairman who is absent or under a disability. There is no power for the vice-chairman to act in the place of a chairman who is deceased. The purpose of this bill, therefore, is to remedy the position. Provision is made, first, that the committee may elect a chairman or a vice-chairman from time to time and that the chairman and the vice-chairman shall hold office during the pleasure of the committee; and, secondly, that the present vice-chairman shall be given retrospectively the power to act as chairman from the day following the death of the late chairman until the day on which this bill becomes an act. I commend the bill to honorable members.
– This bill appears to be quite reasonable. It is wonderful how, as the years roll on, something that has been the practice in this Parliament is found to be either ultra vires the Constitution, or otherwise invalid, and the Parliamentary Draftsman has to submit a new proposal. Let us hope that the Public Works Committee will be placed on a firm foundation at last. The Opposition gives its blessing to the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed (vide page 797).
– Before the debate was adjourned earlier, I had joined the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in criticizing the submission to the
House of such a complicated bill so late in the present sessional period. The bill contains 33 clauses, which cover sixteen printed pages. The second-reading speech of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) occupied less than one foolscap page of typescript. I mention, in fairness to the right honorable gentleman, that I have discovered that he has made available to the Leader of the Opposition an explanatory memorandum covering five typewritten pages. I consider that the Treasurer should have read that explanation to honorable members for their information.
The bill seeks to amend the Life Insurance Act 1945 in a number of important respects. Members of the Labour party view with concern the proposal to repeal the sections that deal with the Commonwealth Government Insurance Office. The Treasurer dealt with that matter briefly in his second-reading speech in the following words: -
The bill removes those sections of the main act which provide for the establishment of a government insurance office, to which the Government has always ‘been opposed.
Apparently, those sections are to be repealed in conformity with the Government’s so-called anti-socialist policy. Life insurance, when it is viewed objectively is virtually a method of collecting savings from a section of the people and investing them in government loans. The assets of insurance companies are already more than half nationalized. Approximately two-thirds of the total assets of assurance companies in Australia are invested in government securities. The bill seeks to repeal the definition of industrial policy in the original act, which reads as follows: - “ industrial policy “ means a policy upon which the premiums are, by the terms of the policy, made payable at intervals of less than two months, and are contracted to be received or are usually received, by means of collectors.
The bill proposes to insert the following definition : - “ industrial policy “ means a policy in respect of which the premiums are contracted to be paid at intervals of less than two months and are contracted to bereceived, or are usually received, by means of collectors, and includes -
Perhaps the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale), who is in charge of the bill, can explain why this change is to be made. Anybody who has had experience of insurance companies knows the difficulties that individuals encounter sometimes because they have not thoroughly read the conditions of their policies. I should like the Minister to explain why the words “ By the terms of the policy “ which appear in the definition of industrial policy in the original act, are not acceptable to the Government and why the vague words “ premiums are contracted to be paid “ are considered to be more desirable.
– The purpose of the amendment is to assist the policy-holder.
– I am merely seeking clarification of a complicated situation. The provisions of the bill deal with highly technical matters, and I suggest that honorable members should be furnished with an explanatory memorandum of the reasons for the proposed changes. The Treasurer has stated, in his explanatory notes, that the amendment of the definition of industrial policy has been recommended by the insurance commissioner. That official may recommend an alteration, but this Parliament ultimately determines the matter. The insurance commissioner is not the government in this respect. The decision is supposed to be made by a responsible parliament.
I am dealing with the subject of industrial policies, because it is an important aspect of life insurance undertakings. The latest report published by the insurance commissioner contains some interesting facts about the operation of industrial business. Insurance, as honorable members know, is divided into two kinds - industrial business and ordinary business. The figures published in the report show that, at the end of December, 1952, there were 2,614,000 ordinary policies and 3,863,000 industrial policies in .existence. However, the ordinary policies covered an insured amount of £1,329,000,000 and the industrial policies covered only £270,000,000 which indicates that the average ordinary policy is worth about’ £800 and the average industrial policy about £127. The report also includes statistics which show that many industrial policies are forfeited from year to year. One of every three industrial policies in Queensland, for example, is forfeited. The average rate of forfeiture for the whole of Australia is 26 per cent. I suggest that -the Government and the Commonwealth Insurance Commissioner should investigate this circumstance.
The expense rates of the insurance companies are very high on industrial policies. The rate for ordinary policies represents 18 per cent, of the business transacted, whereas the rate for industrial policies is 31 per cent. This shows the extremely uneconomic nature of industrial insurance. Such insurance may be of some value to small people who manage to save money by contributing each week a few shillings which they might otherwise neglect to deposit in savings accounts. Nevertheless, it is an uneconomic method of securing savings. One reason for the high expense rate on industrial policies is that a wide variety, of companies engages in this class of business. Seven or eight insurance agents may visit the same street in. an industrial suburb every week to collect a few shillings from various policy-holders. The Commonwealth Government Insurance Office could have played a very important role in reducing the waste in this direction. The amount of the average industrial policy is so small that it represents merely a kind of savings scheme for small people. However, a large proportion of the money invested in this way is wasted because one-third of it is absorbed by agents’ fees and costs of administration. Furthermore, because of misfortunes of various kinds, such as unemployment, about one-third of the policies are allowed to lapse and the persons insured often receive very little return from their investments. There is every justification for the rationalization of industrial insurance. The Liberal party probably regards the present system as an example of free enterprise and healthy competition, but obviously it ‘ is a form of competition that has an adverse effect on ordinary people.
– The expense ratio of industrial policies is as high as 40 per cent.
– The average is 31 per cent. There is a mixture of good and bad companies. Even the average rate is too high.
– The Minister at the table- is a big shot in a private insurance company in Sydney.
– What did you say?
– You are a big shot in a private company in Sydney.
– Order !
– I have heard the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) make this sort of accusation previously. I ask that he be ordered to withdraw it.
– Order ! I did not hear what the honorable member said.
– He said that I was a big shot in an insurance company iri Sydney.
– Will the honorable member for Hindmarsh withdraw any offensive statement?
– I did not make an offensive statement. I should welcome an opportunity to repeat what I did say.
– What did the honorable member say?
– I thought that the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) was asleep at the time, but apparently he was not. I said that he was a “ big shot “ in a private insurance company in Sydney. I based my remark on a statement which the Minister made in this House and which is recorded in Hansard. He admitted that he had a very large policy with a private insurance company about which I had made complaints. This company charged an age pensioner in my electorate 150 per cent, more in premiums than he is likely to get if he lives for another five years. The Minister said that he knew the company well and’ that he had a large policy with it. Therefore, I consider that I am justified in reminding him that he is a “ big shot “ in this company.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. What the honorable member has said is completely and deliberately false. I have never said anything of the sort. I remember that he referred in this House to an insurance policy held by a pensioner or somebody else and had some grievance about it. 1 asked him what the facts were and suggested that there were good companies and bad companies. I said that I was a policy-holder in a good company. That is all I said. I defended the good companies against the general accusation that the honorable member had ‘made. The suggestion that I had a large vested interest, or something of that sort, in an insurance company is quite false. My only interest in any such company is the same as that of honorable members on both sides of the House. I merely happen to have been sensible enough to take out an insurance policy years ago.
-Order ! I am not able to say that the term “big shot” is necessarily offensive. Much depends upon the circumstances in which it was used. However, I think the honorable member for Hindmarsh might withdraw any imputation that may have been offensive to the Minister.
– In deference to you, Mr. Speaker, I shall certainly withdraw it, because you have a difficult job this morning and I want to help you as much as I can.
– Order! The honorable member cannot make any other statements.
– I want to say that the same company-
– Order! I shall not permit the honorable member to continue. There seems to be a general air of irresponsibility in the chamber, and I inform honorable members that, if it does not subside, I propose to suspend the sitting until 10 a.m.
– I wish you would.
– The Government’s intention to repeal the provision for a Commonwealth Government insurance office is to be regretted, because the office would be well suited to handle industrial insurance
Because of inflation, life insurance business is at a critical stage. The last annual report of the Commonwealth Insurance Commissioner discloses the holdings in government securities of insurance companies at the 31st December, 3 952. The assets of insurance companies that are subject to this legislation amounted to £609,000,000 at that date. Of that amount, £240,000,000 was held in Commonwealth Government securities and £98,000,000 in local government securities. An interesting fact revealed by the report is that the amount of government securities held by life insurance companies has declined during the last three or four years. The total in 1947 was £253,000,000. It increased to £263,000,000 in 1948 and £269,000,000 in 1949. However, it fell to £260,000,000 in 1950 and £240,000,000 in 1951. Of course, insurance companies have to pay particular attention to investment yields. The decline was due, no doubt, to the uncertain state of the bond market from 1950-51 onwards. As was pointed out recently at the annual conference of the Society of Actuaries, one difficulty of the insurance companies is that of finding sound investments other than government bonds. Insurance companies have invested heavily from time to time in mortgages, and, at December, 1952, their loans on mortgages totalled about £150,000,000. However, there has been a significant change in the last two or three years. More and more of the big insurance companies are turning to the industrial field in order to secure investments. This means that life insurance business is becoming tied more closely to the general economic prosperity of the nation. It cannot be divorced from the national economy, of course, because, without national prosperity, insurance business would fall off because the savings of the people would decline. However, if the industrial share market declines, insurance companies will become less secure. In 1947, the effective interest rate of all insurance companies on all investments was 3.6 per cent. By 1951, the rate had fallen to 3.57 per cent.
In other words, there was a decline of the interest rate and, due to inflation, of the real value of the assets expressed in terms of purchasing power. The figures for the last few years suggest that people are becoming more reluctant to take out insurance. The peak of insurance business was reached in about 1950. In 1951 and 1952, although we had an increased population, the amount of insurance business transacted annually was about the same as in 1950.
Life insurance is virtually a means of canalizing the savings of a section of the community into a certain form of investment. Owing to the implications of life insurance, companies should not be resentful when a government takes action, as a Labour Government did by the Life Insurance Act, to regularize and systemize insurance business, irrespective of the part of the Commonwealth in which it is carried on. Most of the amendments proposed by the bill are machinery amendments. The Government should make a more fundamental approach to this problem, owing to the impact of life insurance on the economic life of the community. We are too prone to throw up our hands in horror and say that the Government should keep its hands off insurance. But insurance cannot keep its hands off the Government because, for the most part, the only channel for the investment of the funds of insurance companies in Australia is government securities. If the insurance companies trust the Government as a field of investment. They should not resent a. suggestion that the Government should intrude into the insurance field more and more in order to regularize and control what is being done.
To my mind, industrial insurance has a shameful record. It is true that such insurance has been of some benefit, but I suggest that the economic burden it has imposed upon some people far outweighs the benefits that those people have received from it. Industrial- insurance is a. most uneconomic method of saving money. It is an example of competition parried to ridiculous lengths. It is easy to hide behind slogans and say that insurance should be left to free enterprise, but, in this modern age, insurance is not primarily a field for free enterprise. There are about 6,000,000 insurance policies in existence in Australia,, so we see that insurance reaches into almost every home in the community. In some ways, insurance business is rather like a health plan. When we get a scheme that is all-embracing, it seems absurd that we should have a number of separate channels for the collection of contributions. The more channels there are, the more expensive is each transaction.
We on this side of the House oppose the bill because it is designed to remove something which, in years to come, could well be a safeguard for the poorer sections of the community. The average value of an industrial policy on maturity is only £130, so it is apparent that industrial insurance is not a method of saving adopted by the wealthy sections of the community. It is a method used by the poorer sections of the people, who would benefit by rationalization of insurance of that kind. I suggest that the insurance companies, instead of competing with one another in the field of industrial insurance, should either unite or hand the business over to a government insurance office. After all, ah industrial insurance office is, in many respects, similar to a savings bank. We oppose the measure because it provides for the repeal of Part VI. of the Life Insurance Act, which we regard as an essential safeguard, and also because it proposes a number of technical amendments of the act which the Government has made no real effort to explain to us. Many of the clauses of the bill are drafted in technical terms which can be understood only by people well versed in insurance practice. I suggest that when a measure such as this is presented to the House, the Government should adopt the practice that is adopted in relation to income tax measures and circulate an explanatory memorandum.
-Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time ha3 expired.
.I shall attempt to reply to the criticism that honorable members opposite have made of the bill. It has been said that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) did not explain the measure sufficiently. The right honorable gentleman stated that the Government was- satisfied that all the proposed amendments were desirable for the purposes of clarity. That was an admirable summary.. I have taken the trouble to compare the bill with the Life Insurance Act, which it seeks to amend. The proposed amendments, which, appear to be extensive, are in the main either simple repetitions of sections of the act with slight changes of verbiage, or efforts to set out in exact terms what is now implied in law. The Treasurer gave an accurate summary of the measure, and it would be idle for me to go through it clause by clause and explain what is proposed.
It has been said that certain insurance companies are unsound, and that certain methods are unsound. We have been told by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that the Life Insurance Act, introduced by a Labour government, is a very good act. The honorable gentleman cannot have it both ways. If it is a good act, there cannot be anything wrong with the way in which insurance companies are conducting their business, and the companies cannot be unsound because they are registered under an act that requires them to lodge certain deposits and specifies various methods of ensuring their solvency. If the honorable gentleman believes the insurance companies are unsound, he was wrong when he said the act was a good one. I believe it is a good act, apart from, the provision relating to a government insurance office. It is. a good act because it was founded on the findings of a commission presided over by Judge Clyne, as he then was, which made a very thorough investigation of the matter. The Labour party was in no way responsible for that investigation. The 1945 act,, with the exception of the provision for a government insurance office, was, in effect, agreed to by all parties in the Parliament.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has said that the members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party did not object to Part VI. of the act, but that is not an accurate statement. In 1945, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who was then the Leader of the Opposition, said there was no need for him to approach the problem of a government insurance office from a doctrinaire point of view, and that it was sufficient for him to point out that, under the legislation, the Government had power to establish, by regulation, not only a government life insurance office, but also a government insurance office for the conduct of other forms of insurance business. He said that, overnight, a government could promulgate a regulation that provided for the establishment of a government marine insurance office, a government life insurance office or a government fire insurance office. A vigorous attack was made on Part VI. of the Life Insurance Bill presented to the Parliament in 1945. It is not correct to say that the matter was left in the position that the Prime Minister of the day would notify the Parliament if he proposed to establish a government insurance office. The matter was left in the position that the Government would not exercise the power given to it by Part VI. of the act, but would introduce independent legislation. I refer the House to the words used in that connexion -by the honorable member for Melbourne. At page 4001 of volume 183 of Parliamentary Debates, the honorable member is reported to have said -
I have given an assurance that this Government will bring down legislation to establish the Commonwealth Government insurance office, and to define any business which that office may undertake. That legislation will be introduced at the earliest possible date, compatible with other responsibilities which the Government has to discharge.
Then the late Mr. Chifley interjected and said -
If it is required at all.
The matter was left in that way. The Labour Government said that it was not going to exercise these powers. In fact, it was not at all sure that the powers were required. They have never been exercised. It was never intended that they should be exercised. Therefore, Part VI. of the act is a dead letter, and should be repealed.
I cannot understand why these amendments of the Life Insurance Act have been proposed.
– The honorable member cannot understand them n.t all.
– I do not expect the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) to understand anything. In my experience, he is always wrong. Clause 2 states -
Section three of the Principal Act is. amended by omitting the words - “ Part VI. - Commonwealth Government Insurance Office.”
That clause indicates that this Government is not prepared to allow the ‘Commonwealth to control any form of insurance. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) has said that the other amendments proposed do not amount to much. I thank the honorable member for his criticism of the bill. In my opinion, the proposed amendments amount to nothing. When we are dealing with insurance, we should bear in mind the actions of this Government in other fields. Recently, it introduced a national health bill which made provision for what amounts to compulsory insurance for pharmaceutical benefits, hospital benefits and medical benefits. If the Government is prepared to make provision For compulsory insurance for pharmaceutical benefits, hospital benefits and medical benefits, it should be prepared also to provide for compulsory insurance benefits. We must realize that if the Government is to enter the life insurance field, life insurance and industrial insurance ought to be nationalized.
– Let that be put on the record, nationalization of insurance.
– The Minister for Supply is talking of something that he knows nothing about. He usually interjects at the wrong time and in the wrong way. I am not in favour of compulsory life insurance, but if this Government is going to tackle compulsory insurance, it must go the whole way. It has already introduced compulsory insurance as to health and hospital benefits, and the third step is compulsory life insurance. But instead of a step forward, the Government has taken a step backward because it proposes to delete the words “ Commonwealth Government Insurance Office “ from the present act. If we are to have a reasonable and fair scheme of insurance, free from the usual racketeers who are in control of insurance organizations, then the scheme must be- administered by the Government. I have had sufficient experience of insurance to know that the majority of insurance companies are controlled in the interest of a few shareholders, and not in the interests of policy-holders. In 1915 I took out an insurance ploicy under which I am to collect £200 at the age of 60. Between 1915 and 1960 I will have paid £196 to the insurance company. If I collect on the policy at the age of 60,I shall get less than £400. The insurance company has not taken much of a risk because my policy is to be collected at maturity. At 3 per cent. compound interest, the money that I am paying the insurance company would return me about £600 at the age of 60, but I shall he lucky to get £400 as private insurance companies, because of their advertising, canvassing and collecting, have such a high scale of overhead costs that every person who insures with them is robbed from beginning to end. Moreover, the company with which I am insured is possibly the best-known insurance company in Australia.
On an average, insurance companies’ administration costs amount to more than 30 per cent. of the premiums paid in, and no business can afford to have that overhead. In industrial insurance the position is even worse. The minimum administration cost for industrial insurance companies is about 35 per cent. of premiums, and I contend that if this Government were sincere in its protestations that it has the welfare of the people at heart, we should not have sixteen pages of amendments, most of which mean nothing, but we should have a government insurance office. Until we get such an office we shall never have a fair and reasonable system of life insurance, industrial insurance, fire insurance or any other form of insurance.
I oppose the measure because I believe that although this Government has suggested that it is doing something for the benefit of the people, the only thing that it is doing is playing up to private insurance companies so that they can make more exorbitant profits than they have made in the past. I suggest that this bill is part of the pay-off to insurance companies for contributions that they have made to the Liberal party and the Australian Country party in the last two general election campaigns. Insurance companies, together with private banks and big industrial and financial organizations, produced the money to put the Liberal party and the Australian Country party in office. If this Government had any honesty or sincerity, then instead of introducing a measure of this kind it would apply the principles laid down in the health bill and make a government monopoly of all forms of insurance.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Beale) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue he made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Life Insurance Act 1945-1950.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definitions).
– I think the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) should explain to the committee the precise meaning of the clarification of the term “ industrial policy “. The Minister said that the amendment was designed to ensure that an industrial policy would remain an industrial policy and would not automatically come within the definition of an ordinary policy if the method of payment of premiums was varied. If the payment is not made at the rate of a certain number of shillings a week, but if a quarterly or a half-yearly or a yearly payment is made, obviously the nature of the policy is changed.
– It is not changed. The definition is being altered in order to provide for that position. The nature of the policy is not changed.
– The nature of the policy might be changed, but not its name.
– PerhapsIshould explain the matter. Under the existing act, an industrial policy is defined as one in relation to which the contract is for the payments to be made weekly, and it so remains in law, although it may not be convenient for the policy-holder to pay the premiums weekly and although in some cases they are paid monthly or yearly or the policy is regarded as a paid-up policy. If the parties make such an arrangement subsequently, the character of the policy as an industrial policy is not altered. The only purpose of the amendment is to protect the policy-holder.
– I accept the assurance of the Minister. As I said during the second-reading debate, an industrial policy is so called because it was the kind of policy that was popular in industrial areas in Great Britain.
– Originally it was.
– We call it an industrial policy because the premiums are paid at a certain rate each week. The Minister said that, if they were paid quarterly or half-yearly, the policy would still be described as an industrial policy.
– The fact that the parties make a new arrangement for payment does not alter the original character of the policy.
– With all respect to the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale), I am not satisfied with his explanation. I draw attention to the original definition and to the words “by the terms of the policy, made payable “ in lieu of which it is proposed to substitute the vague words “ contracted to be paid “. I should like the Minister to indicate the provision that specifies the mode of payment. The mode of payment is defined in the policy, but it is not necessarily a weekly payment. The words “ at intervals of less than two months “ appear in the bill. That might be anything from a day to a week or- from a fortnight to a month or two months. The operative conditions still apply, but. the words that it is proposed to delete are “by the terms of the policy, made payable”. I assume that most people, when they take out an insurance policy, are guided by the terms of the policy. I am not satisfied with the explanation. It certainly is not clear to me.
:. - I shall outline to the honorable member the precise terms of the departmental note. I thought it would have been more helpful if I explained the provision in a popular way rather than in a legal form. Clause 3 (6) of the bill clarifies the meaning of an industrial policy. The main feature of this type of policy is that the premiums are usually payable weekly and they are received by collectors. Any other type of policy is defined in the principal act as an ordinary policy. The amendment is designed to ensure that an industrial policy remains an industrial policy and that it does not automatically come within the definition of an ordinary policy if the method of -payment of premiums is varied, usually to meet the convenience of the policy-holder, or if it is made a paid-up policy in which case no further premiums are payable. That is, in more precise terms, what I said in general terms to the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell).
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 25 agreed to.
Clause 26 (Premium receipt book to show date to which premium paid).
– An agent will no longer be obliged to sign every payment in the premium receipt book but will be required only to sign at the top of the page and initial the remainder of the entries. I do not know that that is entirely satisfactory, although the insurance commissioner has recommended it. In the original legislation we required that all payments should be signed for, because there had been evidence that slipshod methods had been employed in some insurance company offices to the disadvantage of policy-holders. I suppose that we can give this new scheme a trial, but I do not know that it will be in the interests of policy-holders except, perhaps, in this respect, that if the agent merely initials the books he will be able to collect more premiums, so that the expense ratio will decrease a little. I see no other possible advantage in it. I think that the agent should sign each receipt. After all, a signature does not take much longer to write than initials. Perhaps the Minister can give some other reason for this alteration.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) is familiar with this type of policy and with the frequency with which collectors call for premiums. Experience has shown that the original provision, under which it was necessary to record in the premium receipt book each payment made by a policy-holder, and to sign each entry in full, was cumbersome and unnecessary. The commissioner, who has had wide experience, not only in that capacity, but also as the central authority to which information regarding insurance companies comes from all over Australia, has recommended that in respect of payments made in connexion with industrial policies, it would be sufficient if the first entry on each page of the premium receipt book were signed in full.
– Why does the Minister say that the writing of the signature in the hook is cumbersome ?
– I do not pretend to have any more detailed knowledge of this matter than has the honorable member for Melbourne. All that I am saying is that the insurance commissioner has recommended this method, and the Government considers that it is worth a trial.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 27 (Repeal of Part .VI.).
– This clause proposes to repeal the provisions of the act which relate to a Commonwealth government insurance office.
– Hear, hear!
– A director of the Commercial Banking Company of Australia Limited has interjected “ Hear, hear ! “ I oau understand the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) supporting the insurance companies and wanting to rid the legislation of a provision which might be used against an unscrupulous company at a future date, which might be helpful in taking over some of the little companies which cannot pay their way, or which, if a future occasion required it, might be useful to show some of the companies how to reduce their premiums even further by active competition. Honorable members opposite speak about the virtues of competition. In Queensland many years ago the late Mr. T. J. Ryan established a State insurance office and required all the insurance companies in that State to reduce their premiums by half and to provide greater benefits for their policy-holders. Having done that. he went into business to show them how to make profits on the new rates. It may be necessary to do that again, although I admit that the average insurance company does its business reasonably well and: observes the law.
The Opposition opposes the repeal of this section and. will test the committee by dividing on the issue. In that way we shall be able to see who are the friends of the big insurance companies, and who are the friends of the policy-holders. I ask the Minister not to delay the passage of the bill by making another unnecessary speech.
– I shall .give myself the extreme pleasure of pointing out to the committee and to the people of Australia just where the Australian Labour party stands in connexion with this matter. In spite of the camouflage that has been used and the way in which honorable members opposite have run away from the issue, their policy of nationalization of insurance emerges naked and unashamed. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has said, in effect, “ We must nationalize insurance “. That was also said by another honorable member opposite.
– That is not our policy for the next general election campaign.
– I have been sitting in torture for some hours listening to this debate, and I have heard at least three members of the Australian Labour party make a straightout avowal of their belief in the nationalization of insurance companies. They have been exposed, because when the Government seeks to take from Part VI. of the act the power to nationalize insurance, honorable members opposite say that they intend to test the committee and oppose the clause. Honorable members may remember that reference is made in the Australian Labour party policy to the nationalization of a whole stream of things, including insurance. That fact should be placed on record for the people of Australia to read. The Australian Labour party is pledged to nationalize the life insurance companies. We have seen honorable members opposite, one after another, get up and sneer at life insurance companies.
We have been told, on the authority of the insurance commissioner, that there is only one life insurance company in Australia which is in financial difficulties, and that the affairs of that company are in the hands of the court at the present time. All the other life insurance companies are stable. We have great companies, such as the Australian Mutual
Provident Society and the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Company Limited, which are run by private enterprise and serve the policy-holders who invest with them. Honorable members opposite are now coming into the open and saying, “ Nationalize them “. The people should know about that at the next general elections. The Opposition can test the matter in this committee, if it wishes to do so, and it will be defeated just as it will be defeated when the Government goes to the country next May.
– I think we might have a little more light and a little less heat in discussing this clause. The objection which the Opposition raises to the clause concerns the proposal to repeal a provision which would enable the government of the day to set up a Commonwealth insurance office, in case of necessity. On that ground the Minister has said, “But your policy provides for the nationalization of insurance “.
– Honorable members opposite have said so to-night.
– That is our policy; it stands on our platform. What we propose to do and what we propose to tell the people concerning our policy during the next Parliament, after we have won the forthcoming general elections, will be put before the people by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in his policy speech. As I have said, the Opposition has no complaint regarding the general manner in which the big insurance companies are being administered to-day. We passed a law to make the big companies act fairly towards their policyholders. That is all that we did. We did not take power under that act to nationalize any insurance company, although we could have done that in 1945, had we wished to do so. We considered that the position was well covered by the legislation that we introduced. As most of the companies are mutual companies, and as the policyholders obtain all the benefits from the profits that are made, to that extent the mutual companies have already been socialized. They are owned and controlled by the policy-holders.
That is a form of socialization. Therefore, the question of nationalization does not arise in connexion with the insurance companies or anything else.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has stated that at the next general election the Opposition will not put before the electors a policy on the nationalization of insurance. In 1946, the Chifley Government did not put before the people any proposal to nationalize the banks. There was not a whisper about it. Immediately after the Chifley Government was returned to power in 1947, it brought down a measure to nationalize the banks. In the same way the people have no guarantee that within six months of getting into office, the Australian Labour party will not try to nationalize the insurance companies.
.The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) has worked’ himself into a state of hysteria on two occasions during the debate in committee upon this measure. I remind him that this Government has introduced during this session of the Parliament a measure that amounts to nationalization of health services and hospital services. Moreover, it is to be a compulsory system. He has criticized the Opposition because nationalization of insurance is a plank of the Australian Labour party’s platform. I make no apologies for that plank of the platform. I oppose the proposal to delete from the Insurance Act the plan to establish a Commonwealth Government insurance office. I believe that a Commonwealth Government insurance office is an absolute necessity. It is needed to prevent the exploitation of the people in connexion with insurance. I do not believe that this Government has been sincere in anything that it has done, but if it were sincere in this matter, it would establish a Commonwealth Government insurance office. However, the Government lacks sincerity. It has been carrying out the dictates of the financial organizations that provided the funds for the propaganda that put the Liberal party and the Australian Country party into office.
– I rise to order. Already it has been pointed out on the authority of the insurance commissioner that the life insurance companies knew nothing about the passage of this piece of legislation. The statement that has been made by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) is offensive, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I accept the statement of the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) that the insurance companies did not know that this measure was to be introduced in the early hours of this morning.
– They did not know that the measure was to be introduced at all.
– But I believe that the Government, because of the contributions that were made-
– Order ! That has nothing to do with the clause that is before the committee.
– I am endeavouring to suggest that the section that is under discussion is to be deleted from the Insurance Act-
– Order ! General statements and imputations against political parties are not relevant to the clause that is under discussion and I ask the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) to confine his remarks to the clause.
– The Minister has informed the committee that the insurance companies did not know that this measure was to be presented. I accept the statement, but I believe that conditions’ were imposed by the insurance companies when they made contributions to assist the coalition Government.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Question put -
That the clause be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of bill - by leave - taken as a whole and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Since this Government took office-
– I rise to order. The Government wishes to proceed with the consideration of this bill, but I point out that we have not a copy of the Minister’s second-reading speech, or even a copy of the bill. In those circumstances, we cannot debate this legislation intelligently.
– The provisions of this bill were fully explained by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) in his second-reading speech in the Senate. Since the Government took office it has become increasingly apparent that the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-0952, which provides for the government of the Northern Territory, requires amendment in various respects in order to effect improvements which experience has shown to be necessary. The Government has, therefore, reviewed the provisions of the act in consultation with the Administration of the Territory and the purpose of the bill is to make the amendments which the Government and the Administration consider to be necessary. The bill also includes a number of amendments which the draftsman in the course of his drafting work found to be desirable or necessary. The original act of 1910 was enacted following the enactment of the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910 whereby the Commonwealth assumed control of the Territory from the Government of South Australia as from the 1st January, 1911. The original act provided for the provisional government of the Territory, and until such time as the Parliament should make other provision for the government of the Territory, the Governor-General was empowered to make ordinances having the force of law in and in relation to the Territory. In 1947, other provision for the government of the Territory was made when the act was amended to provide for the establishment of a Legislative Council for the Territory which would consist of the Administrator, seven official members to be appointed by the Governor-General on the nomination of the Administrator, and six elective members. The Legislative Council was empowered, subject to the provisions of the act, to make ordinances for the peaceorder and good government of the Territory. The amendments which are proposed in the bill, and which I will now explain, deal mainly with the office of Administrator and with the Legislative Cot neil.
T shall now deal with the office of Administrator. While the act contains provision rega rding the appointment of an Administrator and the appointment of deputies of the Administrator, it does not contain any provision regarding the general duties of the Administrator and the taking of oaths of allegiance and office by the Administrator or by a deputy of the Administrator, or regarding the appointment of an acting Administrator. These matters are dealt with in an ordinance of the Territory, the Northern Territory Government Ordinance 1932, but that ordinance makes no provision for the taking of oaths of allegiance and office by an acting administrator. In addition, a person appointed under that ordinance as acting Administrator could not exercise any powers or functions of the Administrator under the act unless separately authorized to do so. The ordinance also deals inadequately with’ the office of acting Administrator. The Government considers that these important matters should be fully covered in the act itself, and to do this it is proposed to repeal the existing sections 4 and 4a of the act and to insert in their stead the amendments contained in clause 5, sections 3a to 3d inclusive, of the bill together with the definitions contained in clause 4.
The first of the proposed amendments regarding the Legislative Council relates to oaths of office and allegiance. The act does not contain any requirement for a member of the council to subscribe an oath or affirmation of office and allegiance. It is most desirable that such oaths or affirmations be taken by members. Accordingly, this bill provides for oaths or affirmations to be taken in respect of the office and of allegiance to the Sovereign. I believe there will be no difference of opinion on that proposal.
The next matter with which the bil.] deals is the seniority of official members of the Legislative Council. The bill will permit the Minister for Territories to assign the seniority of official members. The present legislation provides that these members will have seniority as from the dates of their respective appointments to the council. This has certain disadvantages. In the absence of the Administrator as president, the senior official member is obliged to . preside at the council meeting. It follows, then, that the senior member should always be the member most likely to be more familiar with general Territory policy than any other member, not necessarily the member who, by reason of the date of his appointment, happens to have temporary seniority at that time. This aspect has greater significance when it is related to the fact that, by an earlier provision in this bill, the senior official member of the Legislative Council, may be called upon to act as Administrator in certain circumstances. The bill then allows seniority to be especially assigned and, in the absence of any such assignment, the seniority will rank as previously, that is, as from the respective dates of the appointments of the members to the council.
Another provision of the bill relates to the resignation of official members. The six official members hold office in the council during the pleasure of the Governor-General, but the principal act contains no provision, which would permit any official member to resign. Provision is now being made in that respect, and the bill sets out the procedural requirements of such resignations. The next proposal relates to the term of office of members of the Legislative Council and the holding of elections. The general intention of the proposed amendment in this respect is to make them conform to the practice that applies under the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Some doubts have been expressed whether the existing legislation makes it mandatory for the Legislative Council elections to be held concurrently with the federal elections. Also, the existing provisions restrict the term of office of elected members to no longer than three years, which restriction could result in there being a lapse in the continuity of elected members when, in making the council elections coincide with the federal elections, the latter are held at a time longer than three years after the previous elections. The bill clarifies these doubts and anomalies by allowing the Administrator to determine the date of council elections and by prescribing a three-year term of office, which, however, may be extended on the occasions when, to synchronize with federal elections, there is a period longer than, three years between two successive elections. Another proposal relates to the resignation of elected members. The bill amplifies the procedures necessary when an elected member desires to resign his office, the procedure being similar to that required in the case of an official member who resigns from the council. The principal act is considered to be unsatisfactory in respect of the filling of casual vacancies that may occur in the seat of an elected member. Our purpose is to make the elective character of the council clear in all respects. At present; if a vacancy occurs in’ the seat of an elected member it can be filled by nomination. Under the bill it is proposed to fill such a vacancy by by-election. By reason of an amendment which the Government accepted in the Senate, the bill provides that when a vacancy occurs in the seat of an elected member it shall be filled by by-election except when the vacancy occurs during the last three months of the elected member’s term of office, in which case it would be filled for the balance of the period by the appointment of a suitable person nominated by the Administrator.
In respect of qualifications and disqualifications the act prescribes certain events which prohibit an elected member from continuing in office. There are no similar restrictions imposed on a person desiring to nominate for election to the council. The bill adjusts this and sets out clearly and in better form than in the existing act the certain events which would preclude sitting members from continuing in office, in addition to new and similar provisions to disqualify certain persons from election to the council. A new provision in this clause prohibits an officer of the Public Service of the Territory or of the Commonwealth, whether permanent, temporary, or exempt, from being a member of the Legislative Council other than as an official member. The reason for this prohibition is the established practice against persons holding offices under the Crown also being elected to Parliament. The bill includes a minor amendment to clear a doubt which existed as to the validity of the regulations under the act which prescribe certain allowances payable to elected members as distinct from fees and travelling expenses. The question whether the president of the council should be counted for the purposes of deciding whether a quorum is present or not is not clear in the act. This bill clarifies the matter and specifically provides for the president, or senior official member acting in his place, to be so counted. A quorum is to consist of seven members, as previously.
The act at present provides that the Governor.General may disallow an ordinance passed by the Legislative Council, but it makes no provision for partial disallowance. This is considered to be a distinct disadvantage, in that it means the disallowance of the whole ordinance in cases where only a part of the ordinance may not be acceptable. A further weakness is that the act does not state clearly the effect of a disallowance. It is proposed to remedy these defects. It is also proposed to specify in the act the classes of ordinances which the Administrator is required to reserve for the Governor-General’s pleasure, and ordinances passed by the Legislative Council which contain provisions from which the Governor-General’s assent has previously been withheld or which the Governor-General has disallowed.
The draftsman has recommended a number of amendments designed to give clearer expression to certain of the existing provisions of the act. These include the substitution of the words “ public moneys “ for the words “ any part of the revenue of the Territory “ in section 48, for the reason that all moneys collected by the Administration form part of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and any moneys required for administration purposes are appropriated by the Parliament out of that fund. “ Public moneys “ is therefore, considered to be the more appropriate expression. Another proposal is to insert in a number of sections the actual titles of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1931 and the Northern Australia Act 1926 in place of the present refer’ences to “ this act “ or “ the act “. These and other minor drafting amendments are contained in clause 11 and clauses 14 to 20.
I commend the bill. Much of it is of a routine character designed to improve the existing legislation. Certain substantial provisions relate to the Legislative Council, and the changes proposed are based on experience. I remind the House that the parent act was introduced by a Labour government, and presumably expressed its views on the sort of legislative body that should be established in the Northern Territory. The bill will not alter the basic structure of the Legislative Council in any way. The Government seeks only to apply some of the lessons that have been gained from the working of the council. In the circumstances, I assume that there will be little opposition to the measure.
– I protest at the fact that copies of the speech by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) were not circulated in time to allow us to study its details.
– It was identical with the speech that was made in the Senate.
– Order! The Minister is not entitled to refer to the Senate.
– In view of the lateness of the hour and the circumstances in which we are debating the bill, we should have been given an opportunity to follow the course of the Minister’s speech. The purpose of the bill is to amend provisions of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act, which were introduced by the Chifley Government in 1947 for the purpose of establishing the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. Apparently, it represents the limit to which the Government is prepared to go in reforming and improving the legislative machinery of the Territory. I assure the Minister that the people of the Northern Territory will be bitterly disappointed that the amendments will be of a minor instead of a major character. Their aspirations to exercise their full rights as citizens in the management of their own affairs have been ignored. The bill, it is true, will effect some improvements to thu machinery of the Legislative Council, but it will not increase the powers or the privileges of the residents of the Territory. The provision for the appointment of deputy administrators gives us reason to hope that there will be some decentralization of the Administrator’s powers in the not-too-distant future. As a case in point, some of the Administrator’s powers, which are exercised from Darwin, could well he delegated to a deputy administrator in central Australia. This would make for the more efficient government of the Northern Territory.
The Opposition strongly objects to the fact that the bill does not provide for increased representation of the people of the Territory by elected members of the Legislative Council. The act provides that there shall be seven nominated, or official, members of the council, six members elected by the people in subdivisions, and the Administrator, who exercises both a deliberative vote and a casting vote. This makes a total of nine official votes against six elective votes. In the circumstances, it is obvious that any legislation that the Government wishes to have enacted can be passed by the council without difficulty. This gives rise to a sense of frustration amongst the elected members. It is true that provision for this arrangement was made in the legislation enacted during the term of office of the Chifley Government. However, at that time, just after World War II., conditions in the Northern Territory were unsettled and the post-war rehabilitation of the northern area was still in progress. T”or that reason it was considered to be wise to limit the powers of the elected members of the council. I did not agree with the decision of the Chifley Government at that time, but it was approved by this Parliament and the people of the Territory accepted it as an experiment in’ the hope that, as experience was acquired, it would be realized that elected members could well take over the functions and responsibilities that a majority exercises in a body of that character. I shall refer to this subject later, because I propose to move an amendment in the committee stage on behalf of the Opposition.
I object to the provision that is made for the resignation, in certain circumstances, of official members of the council. The Minister has said that the bill will bring such resignations into line with the conditions that apply to resignations of elected members. That is not true, because the resignation of an official member will not be effective unless or until it is accepted by the GovernorGeneral. That means that, if the resignation is not accepted, the official member concerned will be compelled to remain in office. This would involve an injustice to a man who did not wish to officiate as a member of the council. I propose also to submit an amendment- to this provision. The resignation of an elected member becomes effective when the letter of resignation is received by the Administrator. Why should it be necessary for the resignation of an official member to be accepted by the Governor-General?
One of the most contentious clauses of the bill is the provision which will debar public servants from election to the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. The Opposition disagrees entirely with that proposal. The election of a public servant -to the council is not comparable in any way with the election of a public servant to the Australian Parliament. In the first place, a member of the council receives only fees and certain small allowances, whereas a member of the Australian Parliament has a salary that is adequate for his own needs and the needs of his family. I shall refer to certain other aspects of this matter at the committee stage. The subsequent provision which will permit public servants who are at present members of the Legislative Council to continue to hold office until the next election is wise. If it were not included, the passage of this legislation would automatically enforce the resignation of public servants who at present hold office in the council as elected members.
I come now to the clause which will enable the Governor-General to disallow ordinances or parts of ordinances passed by the Legislative Council. I believe, and’ the Labour party believes, that some alteration should be made in the procedure for the disallowance of ordinances. At present what happens, in effect, is that the Minister for Territories recommends to the Governor-General that certain ordinances be disallowed. We consider that this is too wide a power for theMinister to exercise. This power of vetoshould he vested in the Commonwealth)
Parliament itself. Ordinances of the Legislative Council should he tabled in each House of the Parliament, and the Minister should have to move for the disallowance of an ordinance. The vetoing of ordinances that have been passed by a body which has a majority of nominated members is a serious matter. The ordinances are considered thoroughly before they are approved, and I believe that a move to disallow an ordinance should be made only after considerable thought has been given to the matter. I have no hesitation in saying, therefore, that the Minister should give serious consideration to transferring the power of veto from himself to the Parliament. Then,, when a motion for disallowance was moved, reasons would have to be given. The other provisions of this clause which permit the GovernorGeneral to disallow only part of an ordinance instead of the whole of it are good.
I come now to the broad principles of this legislation. Whilst I admit that the act under which the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory was established by the Chifley Government in 1947 was not perfect, at least it gave the people of the Territory a measure of self-government for the first time in history. The establishment of the council was an experiment and I am sure the step was welcomed by the people of the Territory. They realized that there rested upon them a responsibility to show that they were prepared and able to accept some of the obligations of selfgovernment. It was inevitable that weaknesses in the original legislation would be revealed as time went by. This measure will eliminate some of those weaknesses. It is regrettable that the occasion of the preparation of this legislation was not used by the Government to overhaul the principal act completely. For instance, this would have been a splendid opportunity to enlarge the council to make it a more effective medium for the expression of the will of the people of the Northern Territory in the administration of their own affairs.
Why has the Government seen fit to refuse Northern Territory residents the right to determine for themselves in their own way the manner in which their affairs are to be administered? It is argued that as Commonwealth taxpayers, generally, provide the money for the development of areas such as the Northern Territory, the Australian Parliament should control and administer the funds that are expended in those areas. Whilst that argument has some basis of logic, I believe that by 1955-56 at the latest, the financial position of the Northern Territory will be such that, out of its own reevnue, it will be able to provide funds for development. I am assuming, of course, that the government of the day will recognize that the Territory is entitled, to the revenue that its mineral wealth produces. I have in mind the wealth that flows from the production of such minerals as uranium, copper, silver, lead, and other metals which are justbeginning to be exploited. Surely there can be no argument against the proposition that the development of the Territory should be financed from the wealth that it produces. The people of the Northern Territory regard the present as the dawn of an era in which they will no longer have to go cap in hand to the southern taxpayers seeking hand-outs to develop the Territory’s resources. They are resources of which the nation is urgently in need. One would have thought that by _ this time something would have been done to take us a stage further along the road towards the goal of self-government, so that we could be prepared for the time when the control of the destinies of the Territory was placed in the hands of the people of the Territory, where it rightly belongs.
Au other reason has been advanced why we should not be allowed a decisive say in the control of our own affairs. It is that the people of the north lack the necessary experience of government and, in some way, are not as responsible as the people of the great States of Australia. All I want to say in answer to that argument is that the people of the north are just as capable of forming responsible judgments as are the rest of the Australian people. In many instances they are people who, by their votes, elected members of this House before they took up residence in the Northern Territory. What of their capacity to govern themselves? Every State, at some time in its history, had to make the decision to cease to be a dependent colony or territory and become a self-governing unit. Surely no one will suggest that the people who are doing great pioneering work in the north of this country and are manning our frontiers to-day are not the equal of the pioneers of the early days of our history, f vouch for the courage and initiative of the people of the north and affirm that, by whatever standard they are judged, they are the equal of their brother and sister Australians. The people of the north feel very keenly about the distorted view that, in some way or other, they are the mental and physical inferiors of their contemporaries in other parts of Australia.
Another argument advanced from time to time is that residents of the north of Australia cannot expect to enjoy the rights and privileges of their fellow Australians because they do not have to bear the obligations and responsibilities that their fellow Australians have to bear. The residents of the north have to shoulder every obligation that the average Australian has to shoulder. They enjoy no special position in the community when it comes to shouldering the responsibilities that go with Australian citizenship. They pay their income tax along with other Australians. They are subject to all the laws of the Commonwealth that require Australians to fight for their country. The fighting record of the men of the north of Australia compares more than favorably with the records of men from other parts of the country. The north must be developed in the national interest, yet citizenship rights there are limited. I direct the attention of honorable members to my own position in this House and to the limitations placed upon my membership of it. We are asking people to go north though they know that, by doing so, they will lose a right that is far more valuable than gold - the right to be a free and unrestricted citizen of Australia. Residents of the north find it hard to accept the position that people who come to this country from overseas can obtain full citizenship rights after spending five years here, while Australians can live in the north for a lifetime and yet not obtain those rights. The time has arrived for a full-seale review to be made of the status of the people of the north, so that they will be able to serve Australia on the same basis as their fellow Australians. With a view to ensuring that progressive steps will be taken in that direction, I move -
That all words after “ that “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide - (a) that the Legislative Council shall consist of a majority of elected members ;
that the Legislative Council be empowered to consider and report upon Estimates of Expenditure for the Northern Territory; and
that the Council be empowered u> take steps to co-ordinate the functions of departments operating in the Territory.”.
Before I entered this Parliament, 1 was a foundation member, so to speak, of the: Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. Therefore, I can speak with some authority of the difficulties that have occurred in the working of the council. My amendment proposes that the Legislative Council shall consist of a majority of elected members. I have said that the time is ripe for the people of the Territory to assume more responsibility for the management of their affairs. The legislation that established the council was passed six or seven years ago. Sine!-‘ then, some defects in the organization of the council have been revealed, but it can be said that the members of the council have gained much experience of the management of the affairs of the Territory. In view of the experience they have gained, and of the important part that the Territory will play in the affairs of the nation,. I say that, as a step towards the goal of full self-government, the people of the Territory should be given the right to elect a majority of the members of their Legislative Council. I urge the Government to accept that suggestion.
The amendment suggests also that the Legislative Council be empowered to consider and report upon Estimates of expenditure for the Northern Territory.
Under the present arrangements, the Estimates are prepared by departmental officers, and the members of the council have no knowledge of them until they have been presented to this Parliament. They cannot suggest the works that should be undertaken for the development of the Territory. If the Legislative Council has any functions at all they should include that of offering advice on the development of the area for which it legislates. I ask that the council be empowered to review the Estimates and to suggest additions and alterations, so that the people of the Territory will be able to feel that they have some part to play in the development of the area in which they live. No risk would be involved if that suggestion were adopted. Any item placed on the Estimates by the Legislative Council could, if necessary, be vetoed by the Treasury. A continuous check could be maintained on any proposition that was approved by the council, even if it comprised a majority of elected members. Safeguards in the form of the right of veto are at present vested in the Minister, but I hope that in future that power will be vested in the Parliament itself, in order to prevent any misuse of the powers and functions of the council. The propositions contained in the first two paragraphs of the amendment entail no risk to the Treasury, or to the taxpayers of the south, and their adoption would assist to prepare the Northern Territory for the day when it will enjoy complete governmental responsibility.
I come now to paragraph (c) of the amendment. At present it appears to be one of the weaknesses of the administration of the Northern Territory that many of the departments that function there are responsible, not to the Administrator, but to their respective Ministers in Canberra. In these days, any co-ordination that occurs is mainly accidental, and in no way due to compulsion on the heads of the respective departments. A method should be evolved to enable the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory to co-ordinate the activities of those departments. I commend the amendment to the Minister and the House, and I hope that it will be considered favorably.
– The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) is justifiably concerned with the failure of this Government to bring forward a comprehensive measure, having for its purpose the framing of a pattern of government to provide for the future development of the Northern Territory. I add my protest to that of other honorable members against the failure of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) to circulate copies of his second-reading speech in order to assist honorable members to consider fully the bill before the House. I protest also against the Government’s action in bringing forward this bill for consideration after 3 a.m. It is a regreta)ble state of affairs, and it is something that should not have been permitted in this Parliament. I believe that the development of the Northern, Territory is a matter of such importance that the Parliament should have considered the bill at a time when honorable members felt like considering it, and when their thoughts would be concentrated on the necessity to decentralize administration and develop this country in such » way as to attract more people to it. I know that supporters of the Government believe that that area should be written off. It is deplorable that the Government has been so unmindful of the importance of the Territory to Australia as a whole that it is permitting the bill to be dealt with in such a manner. The Minister’s second-reading speech was sketchy indeed. It did not do justice to himself, or to the Northern Territory, and. it was certainly not in the best interests of Australia. I commend the honorable member for the Northern Territory on his well-reasoned speech, and on the manner in which he came to grips with an urgent and important problem. He brought to this House a wealth of knowledge about a matter that has been very lightly dealt with by the Minister.
Irrespective of what has happened in the past, and the pattern of government that exists in the Territory at present, we should take action as soon as possible to develop that important part of Australia. As honorable members are aware, there are vast deposits of uranium and precious minerals in the Northern Territory, as well as vast potential agricultural and pastoral wealth. I am not amazed at the indifference that has been shown to this matter by honorable members who sit behind the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and call themselves Liberals, but I am amazed at the attitude of the members of the Australian Country party who, at their periodical conventions, discuss these matters philosophically. Honorable members opposite express their views forcibly at political science schools, but when they have an opportunity in this House to speak on an important matter they remain quiet. They have not advanced any constructive suggestions to help the people on the land who are doing important work in the interests of this country. There remains a vast amount of work to be performed in the Northern Territory. There is a tremendous job ahead of patriotic Australians who want to develop an appropriate pattern of government for the Territory. Prom my experience in the Territory, I know that there are many excellent people resident there who would be willing to undertake developmental work if finance were available.
I have before me a document that was circulated some time ago by the Minister. It contains reports dealing with health, works, laud, housing and accommodation, library services, and quite a number of other matters in the Northern Territory. They are excellent in their way. They were presented to the Northern Territory Legislative Council by good patriotic Australians who realized the necessity to develop the Territory, and they formed the basis of a debate in the council. As that body lacks the authority and power of ordinary urban or country municipal councils, the suggestions contained in the reports could not be implemented. Even shire councils in New South Wales have greater power than has the Northern Territory Legislative Council, because they enjoy the right to impose rates and to expend money. The council has no such rights. I believe that ultimately it will be necessary to divide the Northern Territory into a number of self-governing regions, and to decentralize administration so as to enable those regions to be developed in a practical way. Only by so doing can we ensure the safety and security of our land. I sympathize with the residents of the Northern Territory, who are hamstrung in every way. The Minister ha3 failed to take advantage of the opportunity that was presented to him to submit for consideration practical suggestions for the development of the Territory. The proposal of the honorable member for the Northern Territory that the majority of the Legislative Council members should be elected, could not possibly be objectionable. If his suggestion were accepted the Administrator and the Legislative Council would know precisely what they were doing, and we should hear no more of charges that the Department of Works in the Territory is obliged to send its recommendations to Canberra. Moreover, the Administrator would no longer be a rubber stamp. The present state of affairs in the Territory has been referred to on previous occasions by honorable members on both sides of the House, and I suggest to the Minister for Works (Mr. Kent Hughes) that his department be withdrawn from the Northern Territory so that the Territory’s works programme may be coordinated with its legislative programme and the work of the Administrator. This matter is of such importance that I hope an early opportunity will he given to honorable members to discuss it in a better atmosphere than there is in the House to-night. It is most unfortunate that this vast wealthy area is being discussed while the majority of honorable members on the Government side are fast asleep. That is a deplorable state of affairs. However, I suggest that the amendment of the honorable member for the Northern Territory should be accepted by the House and put into effect to the advantage of the whole nation.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Mr. Nelson’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.-)
Majority . . 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 - (1.) Sections four v to four k (inclusive) of the Principal Act are repealed and the following sections inserted in their stead: - 4ka. - (1.) A person is not qualified to be a candidate for election as a member of the Council if, at the date of nomination -
– I move -
That sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (1.) of proposed new section 4ka be left out.
This amendment would have the effect of removing from the bill the provision which disqualifies public servants from being elected to the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) stated in his second-reading speech that a principle was involved in the elections of these officers to positions in the Legislative Council and that it was bad for them to be elected to that body. If it is bad for civil servants to be elected to the Legislative Council it is also bad for them to be nominated to positions in the Legislative Council. Civil servants are deprived of enough of their civil rights by the very fact of their employment in the Northern Territory without a barrier being raised against their holding office as members of the Legislative Council. Two public servants are already elective members of the council and I do not think that any one can find fault with the way in which they carry out the functions of their office. If a civil servant is competent and is judged by the electors to be the most suitable man to fill a position in the Legislative Council the electors should have the right to choose that man to represent them whatever his employment may be. Comparisons have been drawn between civil servants seeking to fill vacancies in the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory and civil servants seeking to become members of other parliaments of the Commonwealth. The comparison is not just. The civil servant who goes into the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory has no alternative means of supporting himself and conducting the affairs of his office. He receives only a small fee and a small allowance as a member of the council which is not sufficient to support him and which does not allow him to resign his position as a civil servant. The position of civil servants who are elected to other legislatures in Australia is quite different. They are paid salaries as members of parliament which permit them to resign from their positions in the public service. I urge the Minister to accept this amendment and permit civil servants in the Northern Territory to continue to be elected to the Legislative Council of that Territory instead of being disfranchized as citizens of Australia.
– The Government is unable to accept the amendment. The provision is not intended to be a reflection on any person who has occupied or who at present occupies elective office in the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. The Government has no complaint in relation to the manner in which any member has conducted himself. Two of the present elected members of the Legislative Council are public servants who have been rightly esteemed for their services, but the Government thinks that it is a sound and well-established principle that a public servant should not be an elected member of a body, a part of the proper functions of which is to- sit in judgment upon and to make effective criticism of the Administration. In this case the principal bar is not a financial bar. “We believe that it is a sound and well established principle that a. member of parliament should not hold an office of profit under the Crown or that he should not have an expectation of financial reward under the Crown; but as the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has pointed out, that principle does not apply with the same force in the Northern Territory as it applies in this Parliament. The more important principle in the present case is the old and familiar principle that a man cannot serve two masters. A public servant, by virtue of his position as a public servant, is bound to serve the government. As an elected member of the Legislative Council, he, naturally, must exercise his right to criticize the administration and to make use of any information that he has in order to carry out his duty as a councillor. The Government is of the opinion that there is a real conflict between those two duties and that it is better for the traditions of Parliament and of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory, and for the conduct of the council’s business, that that clash should not occur. The Government is of the opinion that, because of the increase in population in the Northern Territory and because of the increased enrolment, the electors now have a much wider choice amongst general members of the community than they had a few years ago when the population was much smaller.
– The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) referred to a conflict of duty in relation to a public servant who is an elected member, but there is also the possibility of a conflict of duty in relation to a public servant who is a nominated member. An elected member may criticize the Administration, but in the past nominated members have criticized the Administration. If the Government saw fit to deprive a public servant of the right to be elected as a member of the Legislative Council, it should equally have seen fit to provide that no public servant shall be either an elected or a nominated member. That is the principle that has been advanced by the honorable member for. the Northern Territory, who was a foundation member of the council. I saw a report of the last meeting of the Legislative Council. I was a subject of dis cussion at that meeting. I was attacked by Mr. Matt Luke, M.L.C., for remarks that I had made in the Northern Territory in relation to the action of the
Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) when he permitted picture brides to be brought in from China.
– A lot of nonsense!
– If the honorable member had still been Minister for Immigration and had he been a vindictive man, he would have been in a position to dismiss him.
– I could have criticized Mr. Luke at the time if I wished. I was astonished to learn that, as soon as Mr. Luke had finished his tirade, Mr. R. S. Leydin, M.L.C., the official secretary to the Acting Administrator, rose in his place, said that he agreed with all that Mr. Luke had said about me and proceeded to deliver a tirade of his own. I gave the Minister some extracts of the speeches for his own information. An elected member may or may not criticize the Administration and use information unfairly. A nominated member could do the same, but he would run a greater risk than would the elected member. Inthis instance, a member of the National Parliament, who made statements which he believed he was entitled to make and which he believed to be correct, found himself the subject of animadversion in the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory by two public servants, one of whom was a nominated member and one an elected member. If the Government wishes to remove one, it might as well remove the lot. It might be a good idea to provide that no public servant may sit in the Legislative Council. It might be a good idea for the Minister, within the next few months to remove all the. nominated public servants and instead nominate representatives of industry and commerce from different parts of the Territory that at present are not represented by elected members. Under those circumstances, I think that the Northern Territory would have a more balanced council than it has at present. When the Labour party was in office, the Administrator of the Territory, Mr. Driver, criticized the administration of the former Labour Minister for the Interior, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson). As the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) said, I am not the least bit vindictive about what was said about me. I am not concerned about it. However, I do think it would be a good idea if the Minister were to tell leading public servants in the Northern Territory not to use their positions in the Legislative Council for the purpose of attacking members of this Parliament, irrespective of the party to which they belong.
Question put -
That the paragraph proposed to be left out. (Mr. Nelson’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of bill - by leave - taken as a whole and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 8 -
Notwithstanding the repeal effected by the last preceding section -
the National Health (Medical Benefits) Regulations, made . . .
the National Health (Medicines for Pensioners ) Regulations, made under that Act, as in force immediately before the commencement of this section, shall continue in force until the commencement of section eighty-one of this Act;
the National Health (Pensioners’ Medical Services Committees of Inquiry) Regulations, made under that Act, as in force immediately before the commencement of this section, shall continue in force until the commencement of section one hundred and five of this Act; and
the Pensioners Medical Services Federal Committee of Inquiry and the Pensioners’ Medical Services State Committee of . . .
Senate’s amendment No. 1. - Paragraph (c), leave out “ eighty-one “, insert “ eighty-two “.
Senate’s amendment No. 2. - Paragraph (d), leave out “ and “ (last occurring) .
Senate’s amendment No. 3. - After paragraph (c) insert the following paragraphs: - “ (f) the National Health (Medicines for Pensioners Committees of Inquiry) Regulations, made under that Act as in force immediately before the commencement of this section, shall continue in force until the commencement of section one hundred and five of this Act; and
the Medicines for Pensioners Federal Committee of Inquiry and the Medicines for Pensioners State Committee of Inquiry for each State which were established by the Minister in pursuance of section sixteen of that Act shall remain established until the commencement of Part VIII. of this Act.”.
New clause 79a. -
Senate’s amendment No. 4. - After clause 79 insert the following clause: - “79a. - (1.) Where, in pursuance of the last preceding section, the Minister suspends or cancels the registration of an organization -
the Minister shall, at the request of the organization, state in writing the grounds for the suspension or cancellation ; and
the organization may appeal to the Supreme Court of the State or Territory in which the principal office of the organization is situated. “ (2.) The Supreme Court of each State is invested with Federal jurisdiction, and jurisdiction is conferred on the Supreme Court of each Territory, to hear and determine appeals under this section. “ (3.) The Minister shall be the respondent in the appeal. “ (4.) Upon an appeal under this section, the Court shall have regard to the documents which were before the Committee or the Minister and the report (if any) of the Committee. “ (5.) If the Court is satisfied that the organization has not contravened, or failed to comply with, a provision of this Act or a term or condition subject to which the organization was registered, or that it is not just and equitable that its registration should be suspended or cancelled, as the case requires, the Court shall allow the appeal and order the removal of the suspension or the restoration of the registration. “ (6.) If the Court is not so satisfied, it shall dismiss the appeal. “ (7.) The Court may, where it considers it just to do so, instead of dismissing an appeal in accordance with the last preceding subsection, order the suspension of the registration instead of its cancellation, or order the reduction of the period of suspension imposed by the Minister. “ (8.) The Court may order either party to pay costs to the other party. “ (9.) The jurisdiction conferred by this section is exercisable by a single Judge of the Court whose decision is final and conclusive.”.
Clause 97 - (1.) Whenever -
an approved pharmaceutical chemist requests that his (2.) Whenever -
an approved pharmaceutical chemist ceases to carry on business the pharmaceutical chemist, medical practitioner or hospital authority shall notify the Director-General forthwith.
Penalty: One hundred pounds.
Senate’s amendment No. 5. - Leave out “ One hundred “, insert “ Ten “.
Clause 98- (1.) The Minister may determine the rates at which, and the conditions subject to which, payments shall be made in respect of the supply of pharmaceutical benefits.
Senate’s amendment No.6. - After “ may “ insert “after consultation with the Federated Pharmaceutical Service Guild of Australia.”.
The National Health (Pensioners’ Medical Services Committees of Inquiry) Regulations are repealed.
Senate’s amendment No. 7. - After the word “ Regulations “ insert “ and the National Health (Medicines for Pensioners Committees of Inquiry) Regulations.”.
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
The first amendment is necessary because of the misprinting of a number in the bill.
– The Opposition offers no objection to the amendment.
– The purpose of the second amendment is to leave out the word “ and “ last appearing in paragraph (d) of clause8.
– If the right honorable gentleman means that there are too many conjunctions, the Opposition has no objection to a reduction of their number.
.- The object of the third amendment is to provide a saving clause in order to ensure that the present regulations shall continue in operation until the act is proclaimed.
– Does that mean that the committee of inquiry which has been set up, and the regulations which have been promulgated, will not be covered properly in the meantime?
– They will not be covered during the next two or three weeks.
– I suggest that this is evidence of the rough-and-ready way in which the legislation as a whole has been drafted and the scheme prepared. The Opposition has no objection to trying to lick into shape a rather bad bill and a rather imperfect scheme. We are in a helpful Christmas mood, and for that reason we will not grill the Minister for Health any more than is necessary at this moment, but we shall give him fits somewhere else at a later date.
– I might say that the only reason for this amendment is to ensure that the relative regulations shall be in accordance with the final provisions of the bill.
The fourth amendment provides that appeals may be made against suspension or cancellation of registration of an organization. This amendment was agreed to unanimously in the Senate. It was supported by the Leader of the Opposition in that chamber (Senator McKenna) because it will give the right of appeal to the Supreme Court against the suspension orcancellation of registration by the Minister.
– I do not believe that the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) has been quite frank about this amendment. It is all very well to say that it was agreed to unanimously in another place. The fact is that a senator on the Government side who has had some ideas about appeal courts for a long time and prepared an amendment to a particular piece of legislation a year or so ago tried his apprentice hand again at drafting a bill. I refer to Senator Wright, who might have been a Minister if the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Townley) had not been chosen ahead of him. Senator Wright and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator MaKenna) put their heads together and the Minister for Health had to give way on the relevant clause.
– I said in this chamber that I was prepared to give the right of appeal. I made that statement to the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser).
– The Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) did not draft the amendment. It was drafted by a Government back-bencher in the Senate in association with the Leader of the Opposition in that chamber.
– So ‘long as the honor.able member for Melbourne keeps that impression in his head it will be all right.
– The Minister for Health has taken credit for something that was forced upon him. I am sorry that there are not one or two other Government senators who would support other amendments that the Opposition has put forward. However, in accordance with the Christmas spirit I shall allow the Minister to have his way.
..- The next amendment provides for the reduction of penalty from £100 to £10 in cases where an approved chemist ceases to carry on business as a pharmaceutical chemist at premises in respect of which he is approved, or a medical practitioner or hospital authority takes similar action and fails to notify the Director-General forthwith. The sixth amendment deals with the arrangement in connexion with the purchase of drugs by the Australian Government from chemists under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. I stated in my second-reading speech and in the committee stage that the Government would take the opportunity to make an arrangement in that regard for consultation with the Federated Pharmaceutical Service Guild of Australia.
– That does not give the guild the right to veto?
– No. The final amendment is consequential upon the third amendment and relates to committees of inquiry.
Question resolved in the affirmative
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
The Parliament - Valedictory - Atomic Weapons - Communism - Second Parliamentary Reporter : Retirement of Mr. H. H. S. TEMPERLY
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
In moving that the House do now adjourn, I should like to offer sentiments that are fitting having regard to the fact that we are approaching Christmas. No doubt there will be a prorogation of the Parliament and the next session will be opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. I should like first to refer to the fact that this year this House has suffered grievous losses of honorable members. They include Mr. Rosevear, Mr. McDonald, Mr. Mulcahy and Mr. Treloar. We have expressed our feelings about each of them in turn, but it is appropriate at this time to recall that probably we have not had for many years a session in which we have had such losses among our ranks.
I should like to offer my congratulations and the season’s greetings to you, Mr. Speaker, who have presided over us. Sometimes you have found us in rather tempestuous and truculent mood, but at all times you have exhibited your usual characteristic of knowing your own mind and expressing it fearlessly. I should like to express our thanks to the Chairman of Committees, to the Temporary Chairman, to the Clerk of the House and his assistants, without whom we would occasionally become completely befogged, to the officers of Hansard, to the officials of the Parliament, including the staff of the Parliamentary Library and the refreshment-rooms, to the press and to those who attend to the broadcasting of the proceedings of the Parliament
I should like to offer Christmas greetings to the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). I believe that it is appropriate also that I should say something about the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), and the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), who is the Leader of the House. There have been some singularly fruitful partnerships in sporting history. I am old enough to remember Hobbs and Sutcliffe and young enough to remember Ponsford and Woodfull. Now I remember with great pleasure, if I may break the rules for the purpose, Harrison and Calwell. The only difference was that Hobbs and Sutcliffe, Ponsford and Woodfull played on the same side. However, quite seriously, every honorable member of this House who knows something of the difficulty of putting through the Parliament a large programme of measures will be thankful indeed this year, as we were last year, for having had the business of the House organized by my friend and colleague, the Vice-President of the Executive Council and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I think it is true to say that the average number of bills which have been dealt with in the past has been approximately 50. Last year, the average number was more than 100, and this year it is nearly 100, and with the larger House compared with its numerical strength a few years ago, this would have presented enormous difficulty but for the organizing work which was done, with suitable hostility on various occasions, but with a great deal of co-operation, by my colleague and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I should like to say to both of them on behalf of the House that we are grateful.
– Get up and bow !
– Nobody is under any obligation to get up. That would be a work of supererogation because it is now nearly 5 a.m., and we shall not get to bed in any event. However, I should like to thank those two honorable members for the work that they have done.
The work which is done in the Parliament is underestimated by many people. The fact is that, in the course of a. session, there is much work to be done in the chamber, but much more work to be done outside it, and with the modern complication of measures and the problems that we have to encounter, all honorable members have a. great deal of work to do which goes far beyond the sittings of the House. I have taken many opportunities to point out to people in many parts of Australia, that nothing is so foolish as to measure the amount of time the
House sits and say that it indicates the work that a member of Parliament does.
– Tell that to Alan Reid !
– I have told it to many people in my time. The truth of the matter is that I have been a member of this House for nearly twenty years and have had a good deal of experience, both in government and in opposition, in that time. I know as well as any living man the amount of work which falls to the lot of members of this Parliament. The work of Ministers and even of Prime Ministers has doubled, or even trebled, in the last fifteen years. Therefore, 1 lose no opportunity to explain to people that the work which has to be done here is arduous and is not by any means represented only by parliamentary debate. However, it is in parliamentary debates and in our association round the House that we get to know each other and to understand each other’s problems. I am happy to be able to say after 25 years in parli iaments-
– Too long!
– Twenty-five years too long, I agree. But after all this time I am happy to say that the personal goodwill which exists in the Parliament is one of the guarantees of real national unity on basic matters. It is because we realize that to be so that we can understand our differences and fight them out with far better perspective and, at heart, with great goodwill. On behalf of the Government I extend to all members of the House our thanks for the way in which they have pursued their duties in the chamber and for the manner in which they have dealt with a considerable volume of legislation. I offer the hope that they will have a merry Christmas and a happy new yea]-, even though we have a feeling that in the course of the new year we may become involved in other contests, the result of which nobody, except the honorable member for Melbourne, can possibly prophesy.
– I thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for the Christmas greetings that he has extended to the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and I reciprocate them on his behalf. I join with the
Prime Minister in hoping that all members of the Parliament will have a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.
The parliamentary institution could not function with a government alone. There must always he a government and an opposition under the system which we regard as the best of all possible systems. Some people speak of elective ministries. Other people do not talk about such a system now, although they may have argued in favour of it at one time. I think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) advocated elective ministries when he was a member of the AllforAustralia League. However, those days have gone. The elective ministry system would not work in our Australian democracy. There must be an opposition to provide an alternative government if the people decide to change the government. Wc have had clashes in debate. We have also organized, things as best we can, and I thank the Prime Minister for his reference to my small part in the arrangement of the business. I can assure honorable members that my part was small. I had to negotiate with the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who had all the guns and, in addition, he is a difficult man to obtain any concessions from. I think that we would have been more successful in passing legislation if he had been more reasonable. However, I am prepared to settle on the terms laid down by the Prime Minister. We have managed to transact a great deal of business with reasonable expedition and at least some commendable regard for our duties because we have not allowed bills to pass without adequate discussion.
The Prime Minister has spoken of the work of the officers of the Parliament. The officers at the table render great assistance to honorable members. They are the silent members of the House, but they give us a great deal of assistance. Other members of the parliamentary staffs are always courteous and obliging, and are equally efficient as the officers inside the House. We owe a debt of gratitude to heads of departments and departmental officers, and the transport officers who arrange our aircraft bookings to and from Canberra.
By an oversight, I failed to express earlier my deep regret that we have lost valued friends this year. Indeed, we have lost many colleagues during the life of this Parliament. It has been a most unfortunate Parliament in respect of the number of deaths. No matter how violently we may oppose one another, we always feel the natural pangs experienced by human beings for those who are no longer with us. I have been a member of this House for thirteen years, which is long enough for me to recognize that no matter where people sit in the chamber, they can be friends outside the political arena. I value the friendships that I have formed here over the years.
The recess will be short. We shall return early next year, and after Her Majesty the Queen has visited the country, I assume that the Government will hurry into an election campaign. I do not know. The Prime Minister thinks that I know what will happen in the new year. I only express opinions. I know that the future rests in the lap of the gods, and the lap of the gods is a most uncertain seat. Whatever transpires will be the will of the democracy. Once the people have spoken, we, as democrats, must accept the decision, and make the parliamentary institution work.
.- I wish to bring before the House the most important and most urgent problem that confronts all governments in the world to-day. The development of armaments, particularly of atomic weapons, must cause thinking people of all nations a great deal of concern. In peace-time, the manufacture of armaments causes an economic loss that prevents the development of industry and an increase of prosperity. In war, which follows an almost unlimited period of preparation, the loss of human life, the sufferings and the degradation are almost unthinkable. Tomorrow, the leaders of the democratic world will meet at Bermuda, and that meeting should provide an opportunity to Great Britain and the United States of America to emphasize the importance of the problem of evolving an acceptable system of control of atomic weapons. Quite recently, the Russians made another suggestion for the control of armaments of this type, but it is similar to all the suggestions that Russia made previously because it does not provide for adequate inspection and control. This lack of agreement by the Soviet Union for the control of atomic weapons with adequate safeguards is not sufficiently emphasized by the press. Therefore, I suggest that the Australian Government should give the widest publicity to this aspect of the matter. The Russians simultaneously with the announcement of their latest proposal for the control and limitation of armaments and atomic weapons proposed a meeting of the foreign ministers of Great Britain, the United States of America, France and Russia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) should utilize every means at his disposal to urge the Bermuda conference to formulate a policy to be placed before the Berlin conference in relation to a system of control of atomic weapons. If this world is to be saved from disaster something of that sort must be done very quickly. The Bermuda conference offers an opportunity which should not be missed.
– I wish to refer to several matters whose mutual relevance will, I hope, .become clear as I proceed. The most successful work of Soviet agents has lain in the influence which they have been able to exert on our top-level policy. This has far transcended in its effects any advantages which have flowed to the Soviet from direct espionage. Influence on our top-level policy has been exerted by figures such as Alger Hiss and Dexter White, who were Soviet agents operating in the highest policy-making sphere. Their operations have been expanded and expounded by a number of people who, in many cases, may have been innocent dupes, or may, perhaps, themselves have been Soviet agents. One thinks, for example, of people such as Professor Blackett, who was formerly chief scientific adviser to the British Navy; one thinks of Professor Lattimore, so influential in the United States State Department; and one thinks, for example, of Dr. Burton, who used to be the senior official in charge of Australian foreign policy. One does not know whether these people were Soviet agents or not; the only thing one can say for certain is that all of them had considerable Communist connexions, and that the advice they gave was of such a character that it could not have suited Soviet Russia better even if they had been 100 per cent, traitorous. But, side by side with these questionable people, there is a number of top men whose loyalty cannot be doubted, and who were unfortunately duped by them or by circumstances.
The most notable achievement of Russian propaganda has been to persuade us, through the past seven years, that time has been on our side, and that the mere policy of continuing our defence programmes would assure us of safety, without taking measures to ensure worldwide and watertight international control of atomic weapons, before it is too late. Meanwhile, through all these seven locust years, our position has become weakened and prejudiced, while Russia went forward with her atomic preparations. Our minds were turned from the atomic issue, the one issue that really mattered, to issues of quite minor importance, which, unhappily, our leaders believed to be vital. This was the great achievement of the Communist network - to have controlled our thinking and our policy-making. Beside it, every other aspect pales into insignificance. While our security services chased the small fry, the big fish continued to operate. As a result of the drift and paralysis which their operations induced and encouraged, our world is already on the brink of irretrievable disaster.
The evil that men do lives after them. Even though people like Alger Hiss and Dexter White have been exposed as Russian agents, there is still a lamentable failure to understand that the policies they pushed and peddled were policies devised for the advantage of Russia. These policies still echo uncontradicted down the political corridors of Washington and Whitehall. Even though the foundations may have been destroyed, the superstructure still stands as a facade - rotten indeed, but imposing to the eye. Many people, even many of our leaders, are still under the domination of the Russian-sponsored thesis that our present defence policy is sufficient to meet the gathering atomic crisis. Present Russian propaganda is directed towards maintaining our delusion, until it is too late. Indeed, errors of this kind have a monstrous characteristic of self-perpetuation. Loyal and innocent people, who embraced the error in good faith in the past, cannot now abjure it without confessing their own past mistakes. It is a human weakness to strive to avoid such confession; in the political world it requires almost superhuman strength to face up to it. Attlee and Truman, Eisenhower and Churchill are all in the same -boat in this regard. To steer a correct course now involves them in admitting that their past course was wrong. They are big men, but are they big enough to do it? Only the event can give the answer.
Ironically enough, the memory of the Yalta situation, which should tell in Churchill’s favour, now tells against him. At Yalta, the dying Roosevelt, not in command of his full faculties, was persuaded by the traitor Hiss, who sat at his right hand, to side with Stalin against Churchill. In consequence, the whole of the post-war world was destroyed. At that one conference, the sick President did harm far outweighing all the good he had done during the whole of the rest of his life. Those who sup with the devils of the Kremlin need a long spoon and a steady hand to hold it. Americans, looking back on what happened to Roosevelt at Yalta, now wonder whether Churchill’s hand, nine years afterwards, is steady enough to hold such a spoon. I, for my part, do not know; but one can understand the reluctance of the Americans, after their Yalta experience, to join with a man whom they believe to be sick, in undertaking direct negotiation with the Russian dictator.
Let me now consider the Bermuda conference. This conference can take one of two courses. Either it can face up to the main issue of international control of atomic weapons before.it is too late, or it can waste its time and the attention of the world upon issues such as the European defence system. This is an issue of minor importance, both because the will to implement any signed agreement is lacking, and because, even if the will were there, the proposed system could give nothing more than a sham worse-than-
Maginot security. The Russian objective will be to concentrate our attention on this minor issue. Their offer of the Berlin conference, coming at this juncture, is a clever gambit, designed to make us waste more time in futilities. But if we are firm, and concentrate our attention on international control of atomic weapons, a peaceful and permanent settlement of the world situation is probably possible, even now. The real danger lies in further procrastination. I hope we will not be deflected from the crucial atomic issue. It is a good omen that Churchill is taking with him to Bermuda, his chief atomic adviser, Lord Cherwell, because it may indicate that Great Britain has some realization of the imminence and importance of the atomic crisis. Perhaps Churchill is swinging back to the concepts which he himself foreshadowed in his Fulton speech eight years ago.
At Bermuda, it is inevitable that France can play only the ignoble part of appeasement. Its Government has too slender a hold on public sympathy for it to be otherwise. Its local Communist party is too strong. The pathological fear of all Frenchmen towards a resurgent Germany, disastrous though it may be, is understandable. And no country is likely to welcome the prospect of being in the front line, especially a country which has had the experience of being there. No! Monsieur Laniel, in spite of his own record of personal heroism, can only add Vichy to the mixture at Bermuda. “What of Churchill and Eisenhower? They are human after all. They are public men. They will not relish the prospect of admitting that the policies which they have adopted or had wished on them from the past have been wrong, and that the present drift, which stems from these past policies, is a drift to absolute disaster. Are we to see them, two rather puzzled and rather frightened gentlemen, looking at one another across the table, and wondering how long they can conceal the truth from the world, from each other, and from themselves? God grant that it may not be so, because the longer the realization is put off, the worse the consequences will be - and it cannot be put off indefinitely. Truth may mean trouble, but delay means death. That is the background to the Bermuda conference. Let us trust that the leaders of Great Britain and the United States of America will face up to their responsibilities, before it is too late. For myself, I still cling to the hope and the faith that they will do so.
– I thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for his references to the staff of the House. Without them we should not be able to function.
I wish to call the attention of the House to the fact that the Second Reporter on the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, Mr. H. H. S. Temperly, will reach the age of 65 years this month and will retire from the service of the Parliament. Mr. Temperly, under the direction of the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, has been in charge of the Senate Hansard report since 1948. He had previously filled the position of Third Reporter. He joined the Parliamentary Reporting Staff early in 1924, and so has had nearly 30 years of continuous service as a reporter and editor. Previously, he had an enviable record in the Public Service of South Australia, mainly in the Lands and Survey Department, and later in association with the Public Service Commissioner. He had a short term of service as a Hansard reporter in the South Australian Parliament prior to his transfer to the Commonwealth Parliament. He is one of the rapidly shrinking band of officers who served this Parliament in Melbourne before the transfer of the Seat of Government to Canberra. It has so happened that the major part of Mr. Temperly’s work has been done in the Senate, but, during recent years, in his capacity as Second Reporter, he has also taken a considerable part in the editorial work entailed in the reporting of the debates in this House. Throughout his career in the service of the Parliament his work has been marked by the highest degree of diligence, accuracy and efficiency, and his retirement will be a distinct loss to the parliamentary service, and in particular to his colleagues on the Hansard staff. He will carry with him into his retirement the cordial wishes for long life, good health and happiness of all who have been associated with him.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– I wish all honorable members a happy Christmas and a. prosperous new year. I hope that we shall all meet here again in February.
– And that there will not be too many motions of dissent!
– They do not worry me in the slightest. The honorable member need not be concerned about that. I remark at this stage that no parliament in the history of the Commonwealth has had as many casualties as this Parliament has suffered since its election in 1951. I sincerely hope that we have come to the end of that rather long and difficult journey. I personally thank all honorable members for the consideration that they have extended to me on many occasions, and I trust that, whatever our differences may be in this chamber, we shall continue to be kindly disposed towards each other outside it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Conciliation and Arbitration Act -
AnnualReport by the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, for year ended 30th September, 1953.
AnnualReport by the Chief Conciliation Commissioner, for year ended 7th October, 1953.
International Monetary Agreements Act - AnnualReport on operations of the Act, and in so far as they relate to Australia, of the International Monetary Fund. Agreement and the International Bank Agreement,for year 1952-53.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for -
Department of Civil Aviation purposes - Mascot, New South Wales.
Defence purposes - Nowra, New South Wales.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Health - I. D. Carter, A. L. Ware.
National Development - D. E. Catley, W. D. Parkinson.
Social Services - H. J. B. Home.
Works- R. C. Hilton, P. W. Jeffries, D. P.Ruff.
Stevedoring Industry Act - Fourth Annual Report and financial accounts of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, for year 1952-53.
Sugar Agreement Act - Twenty-second Annual Report of the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee, for year ended 31st August, 1953.
House adjourned at 5.20 a.m. (Thursday) to a date andhour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
d asked the Minister repre- senting the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Will he furnish the following information with respect to the filling of vacancies upon the War Pensions Entitlement and Assessment Appeal Tribunals: - (a) Are applications invited from any interested persons who considers himself qualified for the position or are applications restricted to nominations from ex-servicemen’s organizations; (b) by whom, and by what procedure, are the applications dealt with; and (c) upon whom does the Minister rely for a recommendation as to the most suitable person offering?
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information : -
Section 55 of the Repatriation Act 1920- 1953 reads- 55.-(1.) There shall be such War Pen sions Entitlement Tribunals as are established bythe Governor-General. (2.) An Appeal Tribunal shall consist of a Chairman and two other members all of whom shall be appointed by the Governor-General. (3.) The Chairman of an Appeal Tribunal shall be a person who has been admitted to practise as a barrister or solicitor of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State. (4.) The members other than the Chairman shall be returned soldiers, and one shall be selected for appointment from a list containing the names of not less than three returned soldiers, submitted to the Minister by any organization representing returned soldiers throughout the Commonwealth.
Sub-sections (2.) and (3.) of section65 of the Repatriation Act 1920-1953 read - (2.) Each Assessment Appeal Tribunal shall consist of a Chairman appointed by the Minister and of two other members who shall be medical practitioners who have the necessary knowledge of the nature of disability from which the appellant or appellants is or are suffering. (3.) The Chairman of an Assessment Appeal Tribunal shall be selected for appointment from a list of returned soldiers who have been admitted to practise as Barristers or Solicitors of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State, submitted in the manner provided by sub-section (4.) of section fifty-five of this Act.
Entitlement Appeal Tribunals and Assessment Appeal Tribunals are differently constituted and, therefore, I reply separately in respect of such tribunals.
In relation to Entitlement Appeal Tribunals, applications are not invited except in respect of the member who is selected in accordance with sub-section (4.) of section 55. A notification is inserted in the Commonwealth Gazette inviting the submission of lists in accordance with sub-section (4.) of section 55. At present there are two Entitlement Appeal Tribunals - No. 1 and No. 2.
After verification of qualifications and war service, the Minister selects the members of an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal and submits them to the Governor-General for appointment. The present No. 1 Entitlement Appeal Tribunal was, in June, 1948, appointed for a period of five years from the 1st July, 1948, on the recommendation of the then Minister for Repatriation. In June, 1953, the same persons were again appointed for a period of five years from the 1st July, 1953, on the recommendation of the Minister for Repatriation. In May, 1950, another Entitlement Appeal Tribunal (No. 2) was appointed from the 1st July, 1950, to the 30th June, 1954. The Chairman appointed had previously been Chairman of an Assessment Appeal Tribunal to which he was appointed in November, 1944, by the then Minister for Repatriation. One other member was appointed who previously had been appointed a member of an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal on the recommendation of the previous Minister for Repatriation. The third member was selected from lists submitted in accordance with sub-section (4.) of section 55 of the act.
The Minister makes his own recommendation after considering all the evidence he can obtain.
Regarding the appointment of a Chairman of an Assessment Appeal Tribunal, the Minister must appoint a person from a list submitted in accordance with sub-section (3.) of section65 of the act. In relation to Assessment Appeal Tribunals the answers to the honorable member’s questions are: -
The name of the person appointed must be contained in a list submitted to the Minister by any organization representing returned soldiers throughout the Commonwealth. There are at present five Assessment Appeal Tribunals - Numbers 2, 4, 5,6 and 7. The present Chairman of No. 2 Assessment Appeal Tribunal was first appointed in February, 1947. The Chairman of No. 4 Tribunal was first appointed in May, 1945, and the Chairman of No. 5 Tribunal was first appointed in July, 1947, each by the then Minister for Repatriation. The present Minister has from time to time, reappointed these gentlemen. The Chairmen of Numbers6 and 7 Tribunals, which were created since the year 1950. have been appointed by the Minister.
The Repatriation Department checks the legal qualifications and war service of all persons included in the lists submitted by returned soldier organizations and then return them to the Minister.
After considering the qualifications and war service of all the persons whosenames appear in the lists the Minister appoints the person he considers the most fitted for the the appointment.
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following information : -
h asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows : -
AUSTRALIAN prisoners of WAR.
s. - On the18th November, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) asked the following question : -
I preface my question, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, by stating that some time ago an announcement was made that moneys received from the sale of Japanese assets in this country would be distributed amongst Australian ex-prisoners of war. As it is almost twelve months since the first payment was made, and as the payment was stated to be a first payment to the Australian ex-prisonors of war, will the Prime Minister say when the next payment is likely to be made?
I promised the honorable member a precise statement on the subject and I am now able to inform him as follows : -
When the Trading with the Enemy Act was amended to enable effect to be given to the Government’s decision to distribute the proceeds of the sale of Japanese assets amongst prisoners of war of the Japanese, the realization of Japanese assets in Australia proceeded. This disposal of all the assets has not yet been completed.
In order that former prisoners of war of the Japanese would not be prejudiced by the long delay involved in the sale of Japanese assets, the Government advanced from Consolidated Revenue the amount necessary to pay all former prisoners of war of the Japanese the sum of £32 a head. Naturally reimbursement of the amount involved will be made to Consolidated Revenue as, and when, moneys become available from the realization of Japanese assets.
The amount of £32 a head was calculated on the estimated realization value of the Japanese assets and itis most unlikely that there will be any excess available for a further distribution from this source.
When I made the statement about the distribution of the proceeds of the sale of Japanese assets in Australia, I indicated that the amount of £32 was an initial payment Any further payment, however, would be made out of the funds received from the International Committee of the Red Cross. These funds would be derived mainly from the sale of Japanese assets in neutral countries in accordance with the terms of the peace treaty with Japan. The Government has been pressing for some finality on the question of Japanese assets in neutral countries, but the problem is an extremely complex one and up to date no funds are available for distribution from this source. At present I am unable to give any indication of the likely amount of those funds or when they will be available.
r asked the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
The Minister acting for the Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
As toys and porcelain ware had not been imported from Japan since pre-war days, licences were issued in the first place to importers who had established import quotas based on their imports of toys and porcelain ware from all sources during the base year 1950-51 . It was subsequently learned that some Australian firms who had imported these goods before the war and firms who had established branch offices in Japan prior to the 1st July, 1953 (the date of the first quarter for which applications were accepted for licences to import the goods under notice from Japan) did not hold quotas, and import licences are mow being issued as follows: -
z asked the Minister for
Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 December 1953, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1953/19531202_reps_20_hor2/>.