23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took 4he chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Will the legislation that the Government proposes to implement in relation to monopolies and unfair and restrictive trade practices prevent take-overs -such as that of Farmer and Company Limited, Sydney, by the Myer Emporium Limited? Is the Government gravely concerned at the number of monopolies which have arisen in the retail trade in Australia -aid which are operating to the serious disadvantage of small shopkeepers and the community in general’/
M-. MENZIES. - It is not possible for me to anticipate what the legislation will contain because the legislation is still in course of preparation.
– My question to the Minister for Territories relates to the conference of local government councils which, 1 believe, is presently being held at Rabaul. The Minister no doubt will recall discussions that I had with him on this subject when a previous conference was held at Madang. Who are the representatives attending this conference? Who is the chairman? Are all members of local government councils eligible to attend? Does the conference take any decision on policy?
– This conference which, as the honorable member indicates, is the second of its kind, is composed of representatives from each of the local government councils in the Territory. Speaking in round figures, I think that 40 councils have sent representatives to the conference, which elected its own chairman. I apologize for having forgotten momentarily the chairman’s name, but he is a distinguished councillor from the Finschhafen region.
– The chairman’s name is Sumu.
– That is correct. I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Sumu has been elected as chairman of the conference. Representatives from the various councils are conducting the business themselves, discussing mainly matters that arise in the course of local government activities. In the broad sense they will not discuss policy. The only matters of policy that they will discuss relate to the responsibilities and activities of local government councils.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Since the right honorable gentleman is ministerially responsible for the Australian National University, will he convey the congratulations of his Government and of this Parliament to Professor Max Gluckman who, on returning to Britain after his studies at the Australian National University, has been elected president of the sociological section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science?
– The answer is in the negative.
– My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Supply. Is it a fact that negotiations have occurred between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of France in regard to the future use of the Woomera rocket range? If so, can the Minister give the House any information on the subject?
– The honorable member and other honorable members of the House will be aware that the British Minister for Aviation, Mr. Thorneycroft, visited Australia in September last and had some discussions with the Australian Government. He indicated at that time that Great Britain was considering having some form of international club in relation to space research, based on co-operation among a number of countries. I am not able to tell the honorable member now what discussions have taken place between Mr. Thorneycroft and representatives of other governments, but when the information comes to me, I will be pleased to let him know.
Mr.FULTON.-Has the Prime Minister made any inquiries into the mechanical tea harvester in use abroad, a pictorial presentation of which I left in his office some time ago? If he has not, will he do so as soon as possible? Will he also provide all information possible regarding the tea industry in the country where the harvester is in use, as tea growing could become an important industry in the development of north Queensland?
– As the matter does not fall within the ambit of my ministerial responsibility I had assumed that the paper had been forwarded to the correct destination and was being looked into. However, I will find out what has happened, and if there is a statement to make I will be very pleased to make it.
Mr.BRIMBLECOMBE. - I ask the
Minister for Trade: Does Australia share the views of the United States Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. Benson, whom I had the honour to meet yesterday, in relation to the concern felt in the United States about the possible effects on agricultural trade of the agricultural proposals made by the European Common Market?
– I think I can say that both the Australian Government and the United States Administration are in agreement in desiring to see maximum political cohesion in Europe, arising partly from the strengthening of the European economy by understandings between the European countries, in which I would include the United Kingdom. At the same time, however, the Australian Government shares with the United States Government some apprehension lest policies of economic co-operation in Europe result in a further constriction of the European market as an importer of foodstuffs, fibres and bulk commodities. The Commission of the European Economic Community - which represents the countries of the “ Inner Six “ - has recently composed some proposals to be put to the various governments. I understand that no decisions have yet been reached, but the view of the Australian Government and, I understand, the view of the United States Administra tion, are simultaneously being put through the proper channels to the effect that there ought to be preserved increased opportunities for freer trade. The cold truth of the matter is that since the immediate pre-war years, notwithstanding the increased population of Western Europe, including the United Kingdom, and greater prosperity generally, those areas which have been our traditional and historic markets have been contracting. Western Europe to-day imports 4,000,000 tons less in foodstuffs than it did before the war. This is due to some extent, we believe, to an excessive policy of agricultural protectionism. The case which is being put is designed to temper the enthusiasms for selfcontainment in Western Europe.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport in connexion with possible Government assistance in the construction of a container roll-on, roll-off type of vessel as planned by Captain Bob Houfe for the Bass Strait islands trade. Will the Minister inform the House whether the Department of Shipping and Transport has made a decision yet about possible financial support by extending a ship-building subsidy to the proposed vessel? Further, will the Minister state whether the reported statement of the Minister for Customs and Excise last Friday that a 300-ton vessel would be constructed and in operation by 1962 refers to the proposal put forward by Captain Houfe, or has the Government another proposition under consideration for the elimination of the shipping difficulties of the Bass Strait islands?
– Captain Houfe has been in consultation with the Department of Shipping and Transport over a period concerning the building and design of ships suitable for the King Island trade. Those discussions have not yet been completed, and obviously no decision has yet been made.
– Will the Minister for Air outline what objections, if any, the Department of Air may have to the erection of a television mast on Castle Hill at
Townsville, which is the site desired by Telecasters North Queensland Limited, the successful applicant company for a television licence?
– The honorable member has raised a question which I know is of great interest to the people of Townsville and surrounding districts who are looking forward to the installation of a television system; but for technical reasons, it is also of great importance to the Royal Australian Air Force and to everybody who flies aircraft iri and out of Townsville. Castle Hill lies squarely in the approach area to Townsville. Without going into technicalities, I point out that the level to which aircraft can descend when making blind approaches to the airport is determined by geographical features. As I understand the problem, any television tower erected on top of Castle Hill would raise the level to which aircraft can descend in blind approaches to Townsville.
This is not the sort of question one can discuss at length and in the scope of a reply to a question without notice, but I shall be glad to discuss this matter with the honorable member in detail and provide him with expert information about it. However, I can say quite clearly that to accede to the request for a television tower on Castle Hill not only would interfere with the operations of the R.A.A.F. in Townsville but also could create a situation of danger for anybody who flies in and out of Garbutt airport.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that as a result of the new sales tax proposals, the Government expects to have a considerable surplus at the end of this financial year? Is it also a fact that more than 20,000 exservicemen are awaiting finance to purchase war service homes, and that applications are being received at the rate of more than 19,000 a year? Is it true that the waiting time is now more than two years? If so, will the Treasurer consider making available to ex-servicemen finance that is likely to become available from the new taxes or from the central bank or from the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve to ease the appallingly long waiting period that is now so obvious? Further* will the Treasurer inform the Parliament of the real reason why ex-servicemen are being compelled to seek special loans from finance companies at exorbitant interest rates to purchase existing properties while, awaiting finance, when it must be apparent to all honorable members that funds could be made available from various sources for properties already available for purchase?-
Mr. HAROLD HOLT__ The honorablegentleman set out to ask a question and ended by making what amounted to » small propaganda speech. The first part of his question dealt with the amount of additional revenue the Commonwealth Government might expect to get from the sales tax measure announced earlier. My assessment is that if the measure has the results we hope for, there will be little or no increase in revenue; in fact, there could be some reduction in the revenue previously expected from this source. However, that remains to be seen. This Government, as is well known, has provided finance on an unprecedented scale for war service homes builders over recent years. In the last Budget, despite the pressure that was on us in other directions, and although the building industry was at that stage quite fully engaged, we did provide £35,000,000, the same amount as in the previous year. The information available to me does not confirm what the honorable gentleman put forward as a series of factual statements. My own information does not suggest that the waiting period has lengthened. Certainly, on the evidence of the number of home units constructed in the previous quarter, which was a record, it would appear that the Government is proving more successful than any Labour government before it in meeting the housing shortage in this country.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer a question relating to his financial statement and, in particular, to the proposal to obtain forced loans from life insurance organizations. If, in broad terms, inflation goes on at the rate of about 3 per cent, per annum, and if the rate of interest on Government loans is about 5 per cent, does this mean that the Government regards the difference - about 2 per cent, in real terms - as a fair return to the tens of thousands of little people for whom the life insurance companies are, in effect, trustees? Is it true that the Government has the full support of the Opposition in this matter and that, in extorting forced loans, the Menzies Government finds itself also in the company of the Stuart and Tudor monarchs of England?
– The honorable gentleman succeeded in introducing some highly debatable comment in the latter part of his question. I hope that there will be other more suitable opportunities for us to discuss these matters in greater detail, but I may answer the question broadly in this way: Not only is the action proposed in respect of life insurance companies consistent in principle, I believe, with action that this Parliament has previously endorsed in respect of the disposition of funds in the hands of savings banks and trading banks, but the Government, recognizing the value to the individual policy-holder of a stable currency, has adopted measures designed to check inflationary movements in Australia. The life insurance policy-holder has a very direct personal interest, for reasons which the honorable gentleman has mentioned himself, in seeing that inflation does not erode the value of his policy. The measures that we have adopted to which he has particularly referred, and the other measures which I have announced on behalf of the Government, are designed to reduce inflationary pressure and, in that way, to maintain, not only the real value of the bond return, but the real value of life insurance policies.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether the Government has any intention of helping dried fruits growers with a stabilized marketing scheme which they are requesting. If not, does the Government propose to take any action to assist the dried fruits industry?
– At present, the Government has no request in its hands from the dried fruits industry. The industry made representations earlier and I indicated, on behalf of the Government, that we were prepared again to consider the proposals previously submitted and start negotiations from that basis. The representatives of the industry intimated that they would ascertain what interest the industry might have in that approach.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. As the States have power in the field of hire purchase, will the right honorable gentleman consider convening a meeting of representatives of the States with a view to having a full discussion of hire purchase and the subsequent taking of any State action considered desirable or necessary, especially in relation to minimum deposits?
– I think honorable members are aware that there has previously been some discussion of this subject, at conferences called by the States, between the State Premiers themselves. The Commonwealth has been represented at those conferences. The Commonwealth was particularly interested in hire-purchase activities in Canberra, but the talks covered not only that question, but also all the general questions that arise in the hirepurchase field. As I have understood the matter, the object was to try to get a more uniform approach by the State governments to various aspects of hire purchase. These conferences have not yet succeeded in producing uniformity on several quite important matters, including interest rates and minimum deposits. I shall further consider what the honorable gentleman has suggested, as, no doubt, will the Prime Minister in his capacity as head of the Government.
– My question to the Prime Minister arises from a sincere concern for the welfare of hundreds of Canberra families, and it has no party political content. I ask the right honorable gentleman: Will he consider arranging a holiday, or a deferment, in the transfer of defence departments from Melbourne to Canberra, so that many of the houses now completed and held empty, and a larger number of those under construction, may be made available to the many hundreds of families in Canberra who are waiting - and who have in many cases been waiting a long time and in difficult conditions - for housing?
– If, in using the word “ holiday “, the honorable member is proposing that we should defer the transfer of people from Melbourne, the answer is that we propose to proceed with the programme, which is of very great importance, and an interruption of which might have unfortunate consequences.
– I wish to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. In view of the important effect of recent events in Laos on the future security and prosperity of South-East Asia, will the Minister make a statement to the House before it rises on what has happened in that country, what effect, if any, events there have had on the team from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority which has been making investigations concerning the Mekong River project, and what has been the Australian Government’s policy throughout the last two or three months, when these important events have occurred?
– I propose, as early next week as is possible, to make a comprehensive statement, so far as we can bring it up to date, covering the subject of Laos, events in the Congo, and other matters in which a variety of interests have been expressed.
– Africa, too?
– Including Africa.
– Shall we have an opportunity to debate the matter?
– I hope so.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Is consideration being given to the standardization of gauge of the railway line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill? If so, does the right honorable gentle man expect to make an early announcement on the matter, or is it likely that a decision may not be made until some time next year?
– This matter is now awaiting consideration by the Government. As soon as we have any decision to announce in relation to it, the honorable member will become aware of it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is he able to inform the House of the position with respect to the importing of unexpurgated copies of the publication entitled “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”? Will the Minister for Customs and Excise consider very carefully the Australia-wide religious opposition to this publication?
– At present, I have no information on this subject for the honorable member. I shall refer his question to my colleague in the Senate.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. The last statistical bulletin of the Reserve Bank of Australia shows the advances of the private trading banks as standing at more than £1,000,000,000. At an increase in interest rates averaging onehalf of 1 per cent., will the banks receive on these advances an additional profit of at least £5,000,000 in the next year? If this is so, how can the Minister justify a policy which, although designed ostensibly to ensure stability of the economy, imposes sacrifices on home-owners, small businessmen and other borrowers and allows the private trading banks to make extravagant profits?
– I think the honorable gentleman has overlooked the fact that, associated with a rise in the interest rates chargeable by the trading banks, there is to be an increase in the interest rates which they will pay to people who lodge moneys with them on deposit. There will be quite a substantial and sharp increase in deposit rates. Only after one could see the total outlay which the banks would have to make in respect of the increased deposit payments, set against any increased returns they could obtain from the increased interest rates on overdrafts, would one be able to determine just what increase, if any, had occurred in their profit earnings. I think it is only reasonable and fair to the banks to add that in recent times, according to my information, their profit earnings have been somewhat lower than the returns from industrial and other investments have been.
– Can the Treasurer state what will be the actual rate of interest on overdrafts that primary producers will have to pay under the new economic measures adopted by the Government? There seems to be some doubt among farmers about what the new rate will be.
– I have already pointed out that the directive which has gone to the trading banks has prescribed that the preferred rate shall apply to primary producers. I myself interpret that to mean that, in most instances, unless there are special features - unless, for example, finance is sought for the purchase of land which may have a speculative element - the preferred rate would be the minimum rate at which the bank concerned was lending to its customers.
– What is that rate?
– That would be the 5 per cent. rate.
– It has been averaging 5.2 per cent.
– Yes, it has been averaging 5.2 per cent. Our intention was that that average should be sustained, unless, as I have said, in particular cases there are special features which warrant a higher rate being charged. That is the intention of the Government. It has been clearly conveyed to the trading banks. We are seeking additional information from those banks which will show us in future not only the percentage of customers who are on the lower interest rates, but also a break-up of the industrial classifications of those customers. I think that should enable us to keep a closer check in order to ensure that exporters receive the benefit which the Government intends them to have.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister for Health. I ask him: Is it true that under regulations designed to protect Australian livestock from the dreaded foot and mouth disease, the importation of unsterilized canned meats rs prohibited? Was a shipment of canned meats recently confiscated by quarantine officers acting under these regulations, and is it a fact that some of that shipment actually reached retail shops before confiscation? If this is so, what precautions are now being taken to ensure the protection of vital Australian industries from similar occurrences?
– The importation of canned meat is permitted only on the production of certain certificates guaranteeing adequate sterilization. This is a protection against other diseases than foot and mouth disease, which is conveyed in other ways and has other quarantine measures employed against it. I am not certain of the details of the shipment about which the honorable gentleman has asked, but if he lets me have the particulars, I will obtain the information for him.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that the president of the Australian Wool-growers and Graziers Council has enthusiastically welcomed the Government’s economic measures and counselled primary producers not to be misled into joining the chorus of criticism of the Government’s action started by the Australian Labour Party? Can he say whether the Government had in mind the difficulties being experienced by primary producers when it took these measures to stabilize costs?
– I did see a report in the press to the general effect mentioned by the honorable gentleman. Of course, one of the factors in the mind of the Government when it came to its decisions was the special problem of the primary producer in a period when rising costs have threatened our export markets. But the Government is not concerned solely with the interests, however important they may be, o; any one section of the Australian community. It believes the action it has taken to be in the interests of the Australian people as a whole, and I can assure the honorable gentleman that, although many criticisms have reached me, I have been encouraged by the many expressions, not only from the farming community, of support and commendation of the measures which the Government has seen fit to adopt in the interests of the country as a whole.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. Can the effect of the new economic proposals on the budget of the average householder who is purchasing his home on instalments be given in terms of money? Does the increase of bank interest rates mean that such a householder must pay at least an extra 10s. a week, and who will get the extra 10s. a week? How will this affect the new consumer price index?
– I would say that the effect of the Government’s measures on a householder of the description given by the honorable gentleman would be favorable, if our measures have the result that we desire. First, there should be a stabilizing effect upon the cost of living generally and secondly, as far as interest rates charged on loans for home purchase are concerned, the directive which the Government requested the Reserve Bank to issue would have the effect of holding down interest rates to this class of borrower. Co-operative housing societies, for example, were included in the list of those whose advances were to be continued at the preferred rate.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for External Affairs. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he has any authoritative information about the allegations that a party or parties of Indonesians have landed on the coast of Dutch New Guinea.
– I regret to say that we have not. We are aware of the allegations that have been made, on the one hand, and of the denials, on the other, but so far we are aware of them only through cabled newspaper reports.
– I ask the Treasurer a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Wills. Is it not a fact that, on the average, the increased rates of interest which the banks will be required to pay on deposits will be about half as much as the increased amount they will earn on advances? Is it not also a fact that at present the level of advances is greater than the level of deposits and that it will continue to be so? Does this not mean that the seven or eight trading banks will acquire an additional income of something like £5,000,000 as a result of those increases in interest rates?
– A good deal of what the honorable member has put forward can only be ascertained from the experience of the months ahead. I should say that, generally speaking, the view of the Government was that the increases which would be made in one direction would be substantially offset by the increased payments which the banks would have to make to depositors. We shall be watching that position as time goes on.
– My question to the Minister for Primary Industry relates to the mention made in the Forster committee’s report on the Northern Territory of the possibility of developing the peanutgrowing industry in that area. Can the Minister say whether the marketing possibilities for Australian-grown peanuts are such that the industry can stand a substantial increase in production?
– I have not yet seen the report to which the honorable member refers. As to marketing possibilities for peanuts in Australia, the indications were that there would be an oversupply for edible requirements when the crop before last was harvested, but, with the shorter crop just harvested, it seems that there will be just about sufficient peanuts to carry on until 30th June next.
In the present circumstances, 1 think the market is a progressively increasing one, due to the promotion campaign entered into by the board, but I cannot see any really rapid improvement in marketing possibilities such as would be required to cater for any increased production of this commodity. Of course, there is the peanut oil market, but there again competition is encountered from other vegetable oils. At the moment, the Tariff Board is hearing cases submitted by all the industries concerned, and we are awaiting that report. I am aware that the Forster committee’s report suggested that there should be pilot farms. I think that is a commendable recommendation.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he is aware that his direction to the private trading banks that overdrafts be reduced is causing considerable embarrassment to contractors engaged on such works of national importance as the building of schools and hospitals. Will he now issue a direction that these contractors be given preferential treatment in his attempt selectively to control trading bank advances, bearing in mind the long delays in connexion with progress and final payments on government contracts?
– I have not had brought to my attention particular instances of the kind mentioned by the honorable member. I think what the Government has had to say in relation to the condition of the building industry as a whole is well known. Of course, it is not the Government’s intention that such essential works as schools, hospitals and other building projects of that character should be restricted. We believe that, by removing some of the pressure on the building industry, especially the pressure arising from construction of a speculative nature, some of these essential works can be carried om at a lower cost.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Lilley. Is it not a fact that a considerable increase in the demand for peanuts could be generated by removing the present restrictions on the manufacture of margarine?
– Apparently the honorable member desires a cheaper product than the good Australian butter which is so readily produced. I cannot see the prospect of any great extension of the peanut market as a consequence of increased use of margarine, because even if peanut oil is not available there are such things as cotton seed oil and other edible oils which are used as substitutes for it in the manufacture of margarine. I am all in favour of the present restrictions on margarine.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Granted that a rise in the interest rate may discourage new borrowing, what effect, other than increasing business costs, does raising the interest rate have on existing overdrafts? If an increase of the interest rate raises costs, is it not inflationary?
– Part of the purpose of the movement in interest and deposit rates is, in the first place, to encourage people to leave money on deposit with the banks, thus assisting the banks to increase their advances of money which otherwise might have gone out to speculative activities offering a very much higher rate of interest-
– I do not think you have a clue.
– Order! I warn the honorable member for East Sydney that if he does not keep order and refrain from interjecting, I will deal with him.
– Quite obviously, if the banks are not in the position to lend money at reasonable rates of interest, people unable to get the money and who feel that they have the need of money for their own industrial or commercial purposes will seek it elsewhere, even if they have to pay very much higher rates of interest to get it. So while, on the face of things, it might appear that the borrowers were paying a higher rate of interest than previously, and that therefore their costs will be higher, if in point of fact - as is likely to be the case - the banks did not have the funds to lend and the borrowers were driven to raise money at very much higher rates of interest in other directions, their costs would be higher than they will be in the circumstances which the Government envisages.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the fact that the Commonwealth Government pays out close to £1,500,000 to Queensland in an average year by way of unemployment benefit, will the Minister consider a greater concentration of effort with the Queensland Government in the rationalization of labour, particularly in north Queensland, which is the principal source of this unemployment problem because of the seasonal nature of the industries there, so that we can not only reduce the amount of money being paid out by the Commonwealth but also give more steady and sensible employment to so many hundreds of people who are affected each year?
– I think it is not incorrect to say that the number of people registered for employment in Queensland to-day is relatively low. I think it can also be stated that the amount of unemployment benefit paid is also relatively low. As to the question of seasonal employment in Queensland, some time ago I instructed my officers to consult with the Queensland Department of Labour and Industry to see whether they could work out some means of overcoming the seasonal fluctuations of employment in that State. As I understand it, the exchange of views was a very useful one and I think that the Queensland Government is now well aware of what measures it can take to avoid violent fluctuations in employment.
– I want to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. I desire to know whether he is aware that a day or so ago the Commonwealth Industrial Court imposed a savage fine of £500 upon the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, because some of its members had exercised their right to withhold their labour following failure to resolve an industrial dispute. Is it a fact that the matter upon which the federation was fined was heard and determined by three judges, two of whom had been active Liberal members of this Parliament in recent years? Does the Minister consider it conducive-
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honorable member for East Sydney has made a grave reflection on the judiciary.
– Order! The honorable member may persevere with his question but, as he well knows, any reflection on the judiciary is out of order.
– Mr. Speaker, on the point of order-
– Order! I have already given my ruling.
– Then may I speak to the ruling?
– No. That would be canvassing the ruling. The honorable member for East Sydney may proceed.
– Does the Minister consider it to be conducive to the preservation of industrial peace for the Government to continue a policy of rewarding former Liberal Party colleagues by appointing them to such judicial positions? Is the Minister aware that this practice has created a feeling of strong distrust of the arbitration system among the workers, the majority of whom are now convinced that they are receiving prejudiced political judgments on, and not a fair consideration of, their industrial claims?
– Order! The question is out of order.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
– The Government must have some purpose in view when it proposes to abandon general business to-morrow. I protested on the last occasion when a motion of this kind was proposed. I made a plea on behalf of the honorable member for Barton (Mr.
Reynolds) who has on the notice-paper a motion relating to ex-servicemen. I made a plea also on behalf of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) who has on the notice-paper a long and interesting resolution relating to decentralization. I indicated also that I wished tq have discussed a motion standing in my own name.
We all know that the session is moving to its close, but surely to-morrow could be devoted to a discussion of general business. At least, the matters that have been raised by the honorable member for Barton and the honorable member for New England could be discussed in part and honorable members on both sides pf the House given an opportunity to express some views on them.
Seemingly, the Government wishes to get on with the business of the House. I do not blame it for that, but members of the Opposition object to a deprivation of their rights even at this late stage of the sittings. They do not like to surrender the opportunities that are afforded by Grievance Day or by general business day at any time and under any circumstances.
– I have participated on a number of occasions in discussions that have arisen on general busi-ness day. One of the more miserable aspects of the motion which is now before us is that if we discuss it now and challenge the Government’s action we shall limit even further the discussion that the Government is permitting of the Crimes Bill.
-I join with other honorable members on this side of the Parliament in protesting- at the postponement of general business”. I suppose that no government in our time has treated the Opposition of this Parliament with more contempt than has the present Administration. Last night we had the spectacle of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) giving us a lecture on the sitting qf the parliament. But he is in this place for only one-quarter of the time. In the early part of the. session when these matters could have been deliberated he did not bother even to remain in Australia. The Government has told us that we must postpone general business - on which members on both sides of the
House wish to speak - so that before rushing into recess we can without adequate discussion give effect to legislation, some of which is most objectionable to the Australian people. It is time that a most emphatic protest was registered by honorable members on this side of the Parliament.
I, with other honorable members, believe that we are entitled to discuss general business, which, in our view, is just as important as the legislation that the Government is introducing. There can be no reason for the constant postponement of general business. In days gone by the Government has sought to postpone Grievance Day, and only after continuous protests from the Opposition have we been given even a limited opportunity to discuss various matters.
The Government’s handling of the legislation which is now before us indicates its absolute contempt for the right of free speech. The Opposition receives no justice; it has no rights. Measures are gagged and we are not allowed to debate fully important legislation which will have farreaching effects in this country. I should like the Treasurer to give us some explanation for his proposal to postpone general business day. What are the Government’s reasons for its action?
I dp pot expect back-benchers on the Government side to tell us because they are dumb. They do as they are told. They do not see legislation before it is introduced and they do not seem to care, but we on this side of the chamber want to know what is going on. We want the Treasurer to tell us the reasons behind his proposal. He has a zigzag mentality, as honorable members will have noticed by his economic policy. What he. puts forward to-day may be altered to-morrow. All these factors should be taken into consideration.
I represent about 40,000. electors and I demand the, right, to. be heard in this Parliament when important matters are introduced. I should like to hear discussed the motions which have been listed by the honorable member for Barton and the. honorable member, for New England, but more importantly I should like to hear discussed the resolution of the Leader of the. Opposition (Mr. Calwell) relating to the report of the Constitutional Review Committee. I cannot help but think - I am confirmed in this view by the Government’s plan to postpone general business to-morrow - that the Government is seeking to avoid discussion of the motions which are on the notice-paper, particularly that in relation to the report of the Constitutional Review Committee which was brought down some time ago. These matters require explanation.
I, with other members on this side of the Parliament, object to this suppression of free speech. Our right to discuss important matters has been taken from us. We are rushing into recess with a flood of bills being introduced in the last days of the session that could have been introduced in the earlier stages. Why could the Government not have brought down earlier in the session the legislation dealing with electoral reform? So that we can go into recess, not only are we being called upon to give up our right to discuss general business, but also we are being denied the right to speak fully on important legislation. The Government is seeking, by every means possible, to prevent discussion, first of all of the Crimes Bill and then of other legislation which it knows to be unpopular.
I join with the Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members on this side of the Parliament in registering a protest at the contempt which is being shown to us and to the people that we represent, by this Government which is power-drunk, incompetent and, as is apparent to us all, has lost the confidence of the Australian people.
.- The moving of a motion of this kind is preliminary to the early closing of the Parliament.
– Your attitude to the Crimes Bill has shown how sincere you are.
– I can understand the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) wanting to hurry back to his spear-fishing and to visit the Isle of Capri again in the near future. This Parliament has much more important work to concern it than that which has been engaging the Treasurer. I disagree with some of my colleagues in relation to what has been called the Treasurer’s zigzag policy. I do not think that the Treasurer even knows what it is all about. I do not think that he has a clue. I think that he merely reads what is handed to him on scraps of paper by the economic experts in the department.
– Order! I ask the honorable member not to reflect on the Treasurer.
-In view of your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I do not propose to proceed any further along that line except to remark that when I rose in my place the Treasurer reflected on me and I thought that I was entitled to retaliate.
We belong to a well-paid organization and I think that we are entitled to give much more consideration to the important matters that have been submitted to the Parliament than this Government has permitted. There ought to be some arrange ments for the orderly conduct of the business of this chamber. Every honorable member will admit that when the Parliament assembles for its sittings there are periods when the Government is battling to keep the Houses occupied because it has no legislation prepared. But when we near the conclusion of the sessional period the Government, in an attempt to avoid proper consideration of important measures, day after day throws new legislation before us. In fact, there is no doubt in the world that what this Government fears more than anything else is the criticism of a virile Opposition. That is exactly why it wants to close this Parliament up.
Let us take the Crimes Bill as an illustration. The guillotine was brought down in regard to this measure, and so farcical did the proceedings become that before the committee had reached a particular part of the bill the end of the time allotted for the consideration of that part had already been reached, so that there was no time at all for certain clauses to be considered. There was no time even for the Minister in charge of the bill, the Attorney-General, to give any explanation of what the Government was submitting. There was also no time left for him to move his amendments, and we had the farce of Government amendments being carried - as they can be under the provisions of the Standing Orders, and I am not contesting that point - without having actually been moved by the Attorney-General. That was one result of the application of the guillotine. Members of the Government were not even afforded an opportunity of moving their own amendments.
Surely there has been no more important measure brought before this Parliament than the measure to amend the Crimes Act. The Opposition claims, and the trade union movement outside claims, that the purpose of this measure is to stifle free speech.
– Order! The honorable gentleman is getting away from the subject-matter before the Chair.
– Yes, but I am coming to the point, Mr. Speaker. The point I am trying to make is that all sections of the Australian community to-day are criticizing the proposed amendments to the Crimes Act, because they infringe the people’s right to criticize the policy of the Government. But how can they expect to obtain the right of free speech from this Government if it is denied to the Opposition - the elected representatives of the people in this Parliament?
There are many matters that the Parliament has to deal with, and the Treasurer has not given us any reason why the Parliament has to hurry into recess. If all these important matters are still on the business paper why cannot the Parliament be kept in session. I know that the Treasurer will say that members are anxious to get away from the Parliament and get to their homes. Let me tell the Treasurer that I do not know of one member on this side who does not want this Parliament to continue in session so that we can consider some most important matters still requiring attention. The people who want to get away are the members of the Government, who want to go jaunting to every corner of the world while the problems of this country are not adequately dealt with. Honorable members opposite are interjecting. They can easily test the Opposition’s sincerity if they want to do so. I have made the statement that we are prepared to sit here and keep the Parliament open to conduct the business of the nation. If honorable members opposite think that statement is not sincere they can test its sincerity by keeping the Parliament open, and we will be here to handle the business of the nation.
We certainly do not want this fascisttype Government closing down on the criticism voiced by members of the Parliament - the elected representatives of the people. We may be, at the moment, a minority in this Parliament. But I am perfectly satisfied that, having regard to what the Government is trying to do in its infringement of civil liberties in this country, and what it is doing in wrecking many people by its economic policy, although we may be in the minority in this Parliament at the moment, we will have a majority outside if the electors are afforded an opportunity of passing judgment on this Government.
.- I wish to add my protests to those of my colleague, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). We have had the spectacle, over recent years, of the greatest curtailment of speaking time ever imposed by any government in Australia. I have been here since 1946, and several years of my membership of this Parliament were during the term of the Labour Government. Yesterday, this Government had the nerve to tell the Parliament that it was being generous in giving us two days and a bit on the committee stage of the Crimes Bill. The greatest bill ever to come before this Parliament was the bank nationalization bill in 1947. Mr. Chifley, the then Prime Minister and Treasurer in the Labour Government, gave that debate three solid weeks in this Parliament. Out of 75 members of the House, 73 spoke on the measure. And this Government talks about generosity! It does not know what free speech in this Parliament is. It does not know what liberty of speech is here. On the Crimes Bill we have had about 40 divisions already, and nearly half of them have been to apply the gag. I can say, quite truthfully, that by bureaucracy and the use of the gag this Government is misgoverning Australia to-day.
Another point I wish to raise is the time made available for general business. I think that we have had only one debate on general business this year, and the year is nearly finished. That was on a motion by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). I cannot remember any other debate on general business. Let honorable members opposite cast their minds back, if they disagree with me. I have been here every sitting day this year.
– That was because your side moved motions of urgency on most of the sitting days.
– We have moved such motions on some of the sitting days. That is the only way that some members on this side of the House have of bringing important matters before the notice of the country. Even in adjournment debates, on occasions, we do not have the opportunity to speak until well after midnight.
– And they even gag those debates.
– Yes, the Government even gags those debates, as the honorable member for Fremantle reminds me. We will have late sittings for the rest of the session. What member can give right and proper attention to the government of the country at 2 o’clock in the morning? I ask you!
We are quite willing to sit for an extra week in this place if only we can finish the daily business at 11.30 p.m. every day, which is a normal, sensible and humane time to finish a day’s sitting of the Parliament, instead of being kept here until 2 o’clock or 3 o’clock in the morning, which is inhumane, irrational and stupid.
During the committee stage of the Crimes Bill yesterday we had the spectacle of 35 minutes of the time allotted for debate passing with not one word spoken in debate. Such a thing had never happened before in the history of this Commonwealth Parliament. But it happened yesterday afternoon, when we were going through one division after another. “ Ring the bells and lock the doors “ was the story of those 35 minutes. That is a disgusting and shocking state of affairs in this National Parliament.
I know that honorable members opposite do not like to hear this kind of thing from us. What is the general business which is before the Parliament, but which I am sure we will not reach this year? The Treasurer will tell us, when the present motion is carried in a moment or so, that there will be no more general business before the House this year. On the notice-paper is an item of general business, notice of which was given by the honorable member for Barton some time ago. The motion of which he gave notice is -
That in the opinion of this House, provision should be made for automatic pension entitlements to ex-servicemen and members of the Forces who may beafflicted by cancer.
This item has been on the notice-paper for weeks, and it is a very important item. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has on notice a motion in regard to constitutional reform. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) has on notice a long and very interesting motion on decentralization of population and industry. Those matters will go by the board because of the actions of this gag-happy Government which, I hope, will not be here after the next general election.
.-I am concerned, naturally, about the motion in my name which has been on the noticepaper for months. My feelings about it are pretty strong because I know that many people outside are aware that the motion has been on the paper and are looking forward to the Government’s giving some reconsideration to this very important issue. Perhaps not a lot of people are involved, but the people who are involved are very sorely involved.
The other important issues which have been referred to by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) are constitutional reform and decentralization of population and industry. Those are matters which concern the people outside very importantly.
The only other point I want to make is the effect that this constant gagging of the Opposition is having on the conduct of this Parliament. Last Friday, most of the newspapers reported in rather lurid terms the events that took place in this chamber last Thursday afternoon and evening. The Government must take a lot of responsibility for the irritation that was caused to the people’s representatives who come here after weeks of consideration to deal with legislation such as the Crimes Bill and who are gagged. It is their duty to put before the Parliament the opinions of the people that they represent. Yesterday, we had the farcical spectacle of provisions going through without debate at all. Not a word was spoken or a shot fired. The people outside would be very disappointed with the Opposition if it allowed these procedures to continue. We had to take the steps that we took yesterday. “They were probably more extreme than we would like, but we wanted to direct the attention of the .people to the overbearing and arrogant manner of the Government and the most unfair treatment ‘that is meted out to a big section of the people’s representatives in this Parliament. I protest accordingly.
.-I join with my ‘colleagues on this side of the House in protesting against the action of th6 Government in postponing general business. Little time is given to honorable members to ‘take part in debates. I think the people’s representatives are entitled to speak when important matters are put on the notice-paper. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has spoken of a motion of ‘the Leader of ‘the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) calling fo-r information on the recommendations of the “Constitutional Review Committee. The decisions of that committee could have very wide and important effects oh “the country at a time when the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has been talking about depression and has been warning that we might be falling into a depression again. The Government has implemented legislation and rushed measures through the House by weight of numbers.
Nobody denies that the Government has the weight of numbers, but at least we are entitled to an explanation of the postponement of private members’ business. The Treasurer should tell us clearly just why honorable members are denied the right to speak, and I refer not only to members on this side of the House, but to the members of this Parliament generally. Our general business day is to be taken away from us. Members of the Australian Country Party are affected as well as members of the Opposition. Why cannot the Parliament remain in session? Why cannot the Treasurer tell us in simple terms just why the House cannot remain in session to enable discussion? Never mind saying that members do not want to stay here. It has been said that the Cabinet will be here until Christmas. If Cabinet will be here, is there any reason why every member of this Parliament should not remain?
– The Treasurer has said that there rs no reason. He should arrange for business to proceed in accordance with a proper timetable and for the House to sit to a reasonable hour at night and so avoid the late sittings we have had in the past and will have in the future. The guillotine has been used to stifle criticism of the Crimes Bill. the motion to enable Government business to take precedence to-morrow has been proposed so that honorable member’s will be Unable to voice criticism of the measure. They are being denied the right to speak on the Grimes Bill. The Government by its arrogant actions is trying to stifle criticism.
This Parliament is entitled to know the reason. Does the Government fear criticism? Is it frightened of what honorable members will say? Does it deny that honorable members have the right to express their opinions? Surely, the treasurer does hot want to rush off to play Father Christmas, because he dealt Australians a body blow with his last economic measure. I protest on behalf of 60,000 electors in my electorate. Honorable members should have the right to speak on every measure. We are being denied that right by the brutal actions of the Government which uses the gag at every opportunity.
.- This is another indication of dictatorship to the Commonwealth Parliament by the Executive Government. Over the past few weeks, honorable members have had the nauseating experience of seeing item after item of important business being rushed through the Parliament at the behest of the Ministry. It is distressing to me to find on the business paper still matters affecting all members of the community. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has a motion regarding ex-servicemen who are afflicted by cancer. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has tried to have some action taken on the report of the
Constitutional Review Committee. This all-party committee dealt not only with the forms of this House but also with matters concerning the government of the country and its economic life, restrictive trade practices and monopolies. All these matters go deep into the heart of the community.
We find on the business paper also an item submitted by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) relating to decentralization, and calling upon Parliament to take action to overcome the maladjustment of the population. But members of the Government parties have had the whip cracked over them and they will come into line, abjectly deferring to the Cabinet and the Executive Government. They are fearful and are afraidto stand up for the matters to which they have addressed themselves. Here is an opportunity for the Australian Country Party to show that it rs different from the Liberal Party. During the Calare by-election members of the Country Party pretended thattney were a different entity altogether and tnat they stood for rural industries. Here is an opportunity for them to support the honorable member for New England and to deal with the question of erosion of the countryside of its population - the flood of people from the rural areas to the big cities on the seaboard. The building-up of great centres of population in the hinterland is being neglected.
Will the honorable member for New England stand in his place to speak his mind on this matter? Will the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) and the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) and other supporters of the Country Party stand in their places? Surely the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and other honorable members who represent dairying districts will express themselves clearly and positively against the report of the committee which has inquired into the dairy industry. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) kept that report quiet and hidden away throughout the Calare by-election campaign and he will use it on some occasion in thenear future. I have no doubt that the report of the committee which inquired into the dairy industry will mean thewithdrawal of ‘the subsidy of f’13,500,000–
– Order! The honorable gentleman should come back to the business before the Chair.
– I was trying to direct the attention of the House to the type of business which might be discussed if honorable members were given their rights. Those rights are being denied to us by the Government. I call to all honorable members, including those who sit on the back benches on the Government side, to join with the Opposition in asserting their rights as elected representatives of the people and to ensure that general business is taken to-morrow so that important matters may be aired in this place. Are these matters merely placed on the businesspaper for display to the people of this country? Are they meaningless and withb’u’t purpose? Are they listed only to enable ah honorable member to go back to his people and say that he had a matter of importance on the business paper for Parliament? This is not convincing. This is not satisfying. The only way in which Parliament can be made to work satisfactorily is to have these matters debated. They all meritthe attention of the Parliament. This afternoon, I call upon all honorable members who believe in their rights, to stand in their places, to speak for their constituents, to assert themselves, and to declare that general business shall take precedence over Government business tomorrow.
.- Mr. Speaker, I have listened to this debate very carefully.
-You were outside.
– I went outside in order to get a copy of “ Hansard “ from which I could quote so as to show what happened when Labour was in office. According to “ Hansard “ of 1st June, 1949 -just before Labour went out of office - the late Mr. Chifley moved -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
– When was this?
– On 1st June, 1949. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was a Minister at the time.
-Didyou agree with the motion?
– Order! I must ask the House to come to order. The honorable member for Mallee has the call. Members are all familiar with Standing Orders and they know that interjections are out of order.
– Perhaps, in the hubbub, some members have not heard what I said. I have quoted from page 356, volume 202 of “ Hansard “ of 1st June, 1949. On that day, the then Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party, Mr. Chifley, moved -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
– Read on.
– There is no more in the motion. After there had been some objection to the motion in the way that Oppositions always object, and as we have seen the Opposition objecting to-day, Mr. Chifley said this -
There has been a show of heroics by members of the Opposition in connexion with this motion.
We have seen the very same thing to-day - a show of heroics. Clearly, the Labour Party in Opposition is quite different to the Labour Party in Government. The honorable member for East Sydney and the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) were in the Parliament at that time but they expressed no objection to the motion whatever.
– What did I say?
– You remained mute. You had not the courage to speak for or against the motion.
– What did I say?
– The honorable member for East Sydney said nothing at all, but as “ Hansard “ shows when the vote was taken he voted with the “ Ayes “.
– How did you vote?
– I voted in the historic way in which Opposition members vote on this subject. I am not trying to gain a point against the Opposition. All I am pointing out is that, traditionally, govern ments have to move a motion such as this in order to get the business of the House through and that traditionally, it is the occupation - if I might so call it - of the Opposition to make what Mr. Chifley called an heroic show.
– in reply - I think that the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has flattered the Opposition by comparing the nauseating performance that we have witnessed this afternoon with the “ heroics “ as described by Mr. Chifley in 1949. A member of the Opposition has said that the Government has treated the Opposition with contempt. On to-day’s performance, the Opposition is entitled to be treated with contempt, not only by the Government, but by the people of this country. Certainly, the Leader of the Opposition will give no thanks to his supporters. He rose on this matter and expressed himself briefly and temperately. He registered an Opposition point of view. He well knew that there was a time limit applying to the discussion of the Crimes Bill. But his supporters have confirmed what the Government had believed yesterday, namely that the Opposition thought that probably the Crimes Bill discussion could finish last night. However, in order to give more debating time, and so to meet the request of the Opposition, the Government was prepared to carry the debate on to dinner time tonight. Now what has happened? An hour or more of the extra time that we made available for the debate on the Crimes Bill has been dissipated in this footling demonstration by the Opposition. The Opposition’s complaint is without any substance. It comes from an Opposition which, already this year, has shown itself vulnerable on the very point to which attack is directed at this time. If honorable gentlemen opposite seriously believe that private members’ business should be immune from the kind of interruption which I have proposed to the House, why is it that so often in the course of this year they have chosen private members’ day in order to raise a matter of urgency, thus, by caucus decision, depriving members on both sides of the House of the opportunity to deal with private members’ business?
At times, I have urged the spokesman for the Opposition to leave the matter of urgency until another day so that private members could exercise the right given to them under Standing Orders. But that suggestion has been brushed aside because Opposition members wanted to raise their matters at a time when they would have a good press or when they would be on the air. What do they care about the rights of private members in those circumstances? I have made the claim more than once in this place that at no time in recent history - certainly not during the last 25 years when I have had some personal experience of these matters- have private members of this Parliament had more opportunities to speak provided by a government.
– You should look at the statistics.
– Not only have I looked at the statistics, but I have been a member of Parliament since long before the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) came here. As has been shown by the honorable member for Mallee, the most ruthless and oppressive treatment was handed out by a Labour Government when we sat on the other side of the House. It is from some recollection of what went on in those days that I claim that the Government has been far more considerate of the rights of private members than any previous Government - in my time, anyhow. The Opposition has now frittered away an hour of the time available for the consideration of the Crimes Bill. Of course, the real justification for the Government acting in this way is that we are reserving time for what, in our judgment, are matters of greater importance which are to come before the Parliament and which are necessary for the Australian people at this time.
Not only has the Opposition frittered the time away in this fashion this afternoon; it has also, by going through this childish performance of forcing divisions on the gag, and forcing divisions on amendments which it knows are going to be carried by overwhelming majorities, simply burnt up the substantial time that otherwise would have been available for discussion of the Crimes Bill. In other parliaments the Opposition maintains its good sense. Take the House of Commons as an example.
In that gathering the Opposition will register a viewpoint and be content to have that viewpoint on the record. It knows that it will not make its viewpoint any better understood by the general public simply by going through this childish performance of forcing a division when it knows that overwhelming numbers will be recorded against its views. Instead, it uses the time available to it for sensible, analytical discussion.
Why cannot honorable members opposite show some maturity in these matters and use the time available to them in a more constructive and valuable way? I do not think anybody inside this Parliament - certainly in the Government ranks, whether in the Liberal Party or the Country Party - is going to be fooled by this show put on by honorable members opposite, who hold their arms out and appeal for a display of independence on the part of honorable members who sit behind the Government. We do have independent minds on our side of the House. We do have men who, having expressed an opinion, are prepared to support their opinion by their vote. Their actions may not always give comfort to the Government. I would have to search my memory, however, to discover cases in which honorable members opposite, who were opposed to something that their own party had decided, had come forward and supported by vote the opinion that they expressed with so much conviction.
I think that honorable gentlemen on the Government side know that the Government would not have taken this course of action unless it believed that in the time available to us there were more important matters to be dealt with. What humbug for honorable members opposite to say, “Let us go on sitting until Christmas”. They will say that in the Parliament, but they do not say that to me in the corridors.
– Who speaks to you in the corridors? I do not talk to you in the corridors.
– That is acceptable to me.
– Well, put us to the test. Who has spoken to you?
– Name them or prove yourself a liar.
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I am not prepared to accept the views of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) as a fair sample of Opposition opinion. Obviously the Opposition does not accept his views as a fair sample of Opposition opinion, if one can judge from the support it has been prepared to give him. I have had member after member coming to me.
– Who are they? I do not think you are telling the truth.
– They have said, “ We thought that the Parliament was going to rise on 24th November. We have made commitments.”
– I do not think you are telling the truth.
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney is continually interjecting. I have already warned him, and I must now tell faim that if he does not desist I will take action.
– I will let honorable members search their own consciences on this matter. There are many amongst them who have said they had the impression that the Parliament was going to rise on 24th November, that they had accepted commitments in their electorates and elsewhere after that date, that they then found that the sitting time was going to be extended to 1st December, they now find that it appears likely to be extended to 8th December, and that they have been put to a good deal of inconvenience because of these developments. Certainly there are many honorable members on this side who have expressed those sentiments.
Members of the Cabinet will be coming here on Cabinet business probably until Christmas Eve, so it would cause them no great inconvenience if the Parliament remained in session. But there is a problem for some honorable members, many of whom speak proudly of the number of electors they represent, in getting back to their electorates and dealing with their constituents. It is only a few weeks or a few months ago - a matter of weeks only, relatively speaking - when I put to honorable members opposite a proposal which would have enabled us to spread the sitting days with more convenience to many honorable members, and would have provided more actual hours of discussion in the weeks in which we would have sat. But honorable members opposite said that they did not want the proposal which would have given us more discussion time.
– Your own party knocked it.
– No, it did not. The matter was not dealt with finally until honorable members opposite had made it known that they did not want a revision of the sitting programme which would have provided more time for discussion of the matters before us. When the Labour Government was in office, and Mr. Chifley was dealing summarily with a motion similar to the one now before the House - and he gave far less information about it than I have given to-day - he simply said, “We have electorates to attend to and we do not want to be here all the time”. Apparently that was good enough for the Labour Party in Mr. Chifley’s day, but it is not good enough when this Government is in office.
I think the best service we could all do the Parliament would be to terminate discussion of this motion and get on with the business before the House.
Question put -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . 29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works’ Committee Act 1913-1960, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Construction of new Commonwealth Offices at Toowoomba, Queensland.
This proposal provides for the erection of a three-story building with reinforced concrete frame and brick infill panels. It will accommodate local staffs of the Commonwealth Employment Service, Commonwealth Electoral Office, Department of Social Services and Postmaster-General’s Department. The building could be extended, if required, at a later date over the site of the existing post office to provide additional office space and a new post office at ground-floor level.
Although the estimated cost of the proposal is only £91,000 it has been agreed that examination by the Public Works Committee could assist in the establishment of principles to be adopted in the planning of similar buildings in other provincial cities of comparable size.
I table plans of the proposed building.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 22nd November (vide page 3135).
The heading to Part VII. of the Principal Act and sections seventy-seven, seventy-eight and seventy-nine of the Principal Act are repealed and the following heading and sections inserted in their stead: - “ Part VII. - Espionage and Official Secrets. “77. - (1.) In this Part, unless the contrary intention appears - article ‘ includes any thing, substance or material; cipher ‘ includes -
Penalty: Imprisonment for seven years. “ (2.) On a prosecution under this section -
Penalty: Imprisonment for seven years. “ (5.) If a person receives any sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document, article or information, knowing or having reasonable ground to believe, at the time when he receives it, that it is communicated to him in contravention of section seventy-eight of this Act or sub-section (2.) of this section, he shall be guilty of an indictable offence unless he proves that the communication was contrary to his desire.
Penalty: Imprisonment for seven years. “ (6.) If a person receives any sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document, article or information, knowing, or having reasonable ground to believe, at the time when he receives it, that it is communicated to him in contravention of sub-section (3.) of this section, he shall be guilty of an offence unless he proves that the communication was contrary to his desire.
Penalty: Imprisonment for two years. “ (7.) On a prosecution under sub-section (2.) of this section it is not necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of a particular act tending to show a purpose prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial, to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen’s dominions and, notwithstanding that such an act is not proved against him, he may be convicted if, from the circumstances of the case, from his conduct or from his known character as proved, it appears that his purpose was a purpose prejudicial, or a purpose intended to be prejudicial, as the case requires, to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen’s dominions.
Upon which Mr. Whitlam had moved by way of amendment -
In proposed section 77, after sub-section (1.), insert the following sub-section: - “ ‘ (1a.) The foregoing definitions shall apply only to matters which are material to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen’s Dominions.”.
.- Mr. Chairman, I point out to the committee that we are discussing together at this stage two of the most objectionable and obnoxious features of a very objectionable bill. We are concerned with the offence of espionage. Any ordinary man would think that that offence concerned the possession, collection, using, passing on or communicating in some way of some information or material which is relevant to defence, which is material to defence and which has some importance in relation to defence. The Opposition has proposed an amendment which would make the law so provide. If this amendment is agreed to, the matter which it is an offence to possess, communicate or pass on must be related to defence and material to defence. The provision which the Government has chosen to put before the committee, of course, is not of that nature. This provision contains the widest possible definition of “ information “ and “ article “ that the Government is capable of drafting.
Sub-section (1.) of proposed new section 77 of the principal act provides -
In this Part, unless the contrary intention appears - “article” includes any thing, substance or material; . . .
There is nothing whatever in existence that is excluded from that definition. An article that it could be an offence for a person to be in possession of or to communicate, that person thereby being liable to seven years’ imprisonment for the offence of espionage, is so widely defined that it could include any thing, any substance or any material in existence. Nothing is excluded. When we turn to the definition of “ information “ contained in the same sub-section, we find that the views of the average man would seriously conflict with the definition given. The average man would think that the offence would be related to something which is secret or which has some element of secrecy - something which is even slightly material to defence. But the definition of “ information “ is expressed in these words - “ information “ means information of any kind whatsoever, whether true or false and whether in a material form or not, and includes -
Consider the words “ true or false “. How could any false information possibly be of any assistance to a foreign power? Are not these words put in rather deliberately in order to provide a trap - to permit false information to be left about in the hope that it will trap somebody and that, if it does, the Government will not lose anything?
– That was the illustration given by the Attorney-General on television.
– That is so. The Opposition takes the view that the ordinary man would take, and says that anything which is secret or material to defence ought to be protected. But this Government says, “ We shall throw the net as wide as we possibly can in order to include every person who could be in possession of any material or information “.
Several other elements are involved in this question. First of all, the matter, article or information must be of use, directly or indirectly, to a foreign power, lt can be said quite rightly that any information - economic information or information about the population, the distribution of the population, the rainfall or the number of members in this place - could be, directly or indirectly, of some use to a foreign power. That does not in any way narrow the wideness of the basic definitions on which this offence of espionage is to be based.
There is also the element of prejudicial purpose. The accused person who is in possession of information or who communicates or receives it, has to have a purpose prejudicial to safety or defence. This does not provide any safeguard, because a purpose prejudicial can be established by establishing known character. A person who is in possession of information, which may be broad and general and have no relation to defence and which may be of some use to a foreign power, will be convicted if his known character is of a kind to which the judge or jury objects. So there is no safeguard here.
Is it any wonder in these circumstances that teachers have seen a danger in this proposed new section of the principal act? A teacher may be in possession of information and may have a political record to which this Government and conservative courts object. Is it any wonder that research workers have seen a danger in this provision? Is it any wonder, finally, that journalists have seen a danger in this provision? At this point I shall quote briefly from a communication sent to me and to other honorable members by the Australian Journalists Association. On the second page of the communication, this question is asked -
How could these amendments affect the activities of journalists?
The answer given is -
First, the A.J.A. view is that the extension of the concept of “ espionage “ to the gathering of information in time of peace is objectionable.
I support that objection. The communication goes on -
Newspapermen can never accept happily any restriction on their activity in gathering news and publishing it, but they recognize that in time of war some restriction is essential. During World War II. Australian journalists had a good record of co-operation with the censorship, and this was made easier because there was machinery for the Press to put its point of view to the censorship and the censors were themselves journalists. Government roundsmen received much information in confidence and observed those confidences.
However, where there is no clear and present danger, newspapermen cannot accept readily the same restriction on their right to gather and publish information in the public interest. Where there is no clear and present danger, the effect of publishing any information must be too hypothetical to outweigh the newspaperman’s duty to his employer and to the public.
That deserves emphasis, and I agree with it completely. These points have never been dealt with. Neither the AttorneyGeneral nor any other honorable member opposite has attempted to deal with them. The throwing of the net widely over any article and any kind of information, the intangible provisions which say, “ It may be of assistance to a foreign power “, the wide use permitted of known character to complete the offence, the bringing together of these two or three most objectionable features in the whole of the bill and the attaching of a penalty of seven years to the offence lead to the conclusion that what the Government is out to do is not to protect defence secrets or something material to defence, but to protect bureaucracy and its exercise in the Public Service, so that it can be made an offence to obtain any information at all, and not information which may be secret or relevant to defence. The effect of the law, if it is passed, is to provide the opportunity for the Government, whenever it wishes to do so, to prosecute almost any person who may possess a known character at any time - that is the only requirement - for having any information in his possession, which may be of assistance to a foreign power - and that covers almost .everything.
The only additional element that the Government will be required to prove is known character, and when that is done all the elements of the offence are complete. The people to whom bureaucracy might object - we have seen case after case of this in recent times - are the people who may have the known character to complete an offence. The complete silence day after day of Government supporters on this matter, their willingness to accept these provisions from the beginning without any objection, and their unwillingness to accept the possibility that this offence could be unfairly and improperly applied in times of tension by a nervous government, provide the real test and show this Government’s complete lack of concern with civil liberties and its willingness to use the power of the executive and the bureaucracy to cut down or to infringe civil liberties.
.- The amendment seeks to insert a new subsection (1a.) in the following terms: -
The foregoing definitions shall apply only to matters which are material to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen’s Dominions.
The amendment seems to flow from a misunderstanding of the requirement of intention that is preserved in the offence portion of the provision. Proposed new section 77 is in itself merely an interpretation section; proposed new sections 78 and 79 create the offence. If one looks for the offence in proposed new section 78, one finds in sub-section (1.) that the requirement is -
If a person for a purpose prejudicial, oi intended to be prejudicial . . .
In proposed new section 79, sub-section (2.), the requirement is -
If a person for a purpose prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial . . .
So, intent is clearly the focal point on which discussion of the amendment should centre. Because intent is preserved, there is no necessity for the amendment. Indeed, the amendment in itself contains a great deal of vice in that it proposes that if a person performs some act with intent and it turns out that the matter concerning that act with intent was of no use to the defence of the Commonwealth, he is allowed to go and is free to try again to achieve his objective. The mere fact that what he takes and communicates turns out not to be of defence significance to the Commonwealth does not mean that he should be free to try again and on the second occasion find something that is really vital to the defence of the Commonwealth. The vice of the amendment is clearly exposed and I think the committee should reject it for the two reasons I have given.
Mr. Chairman, I want to turn to sub-, section (7.) of proposed new section 79, which is the known character provision. No provision of any bill could have been subject to as much misconception as this provision has been. The misconception is clearly revealed in remarks made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). Even the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, to my great surprise, showed that he misunderstood the matter completely. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said yesterday that this is permitted in times of national emotion. He said that this is almost certain to cause a miscarriage of justice because of the fact that it is permitted in times of national emotion. What the Deputy Leader completely overlooked is that, whether it is permitted in times of national emotion or not, before the evidence is admissible it must be put before a judge and the right to introduce it sought. Then it must be proved, and proved in the atmosphere of the court room, which I am quite sure eliminates all sense of national emotion.
If the suggestion of the Deputy Leader is that in times of national emotion there will be a miscarriage of justice, he will find a clear demonstration to the contrary in Ahler’s case, which I am sure he knows. Here, in 1914, in. the first months of the war when national emotion could be said to exist, a man was charged with treason. He admitted the act, which was that he encouraged German citizens in England to return to Germany, there to fight against England. All the elements of national emotion that any one could want were present, and yet the accused was acquitted. Surely this demonstrates that moments of national emotion do not necessarily mean a miscarriage of justice. Indeed, I should say that the mere fact that it was a time of national emotion would mean that the jurors and the judge would be more alert to ensure that there was no miscarriage of justice. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) says that this is a provision which will be applied viciously by the Government. Not at all! The Government cannot apply it. That is the very element of it. It is the court - the judge and the jury - which applies it.
Dealing with the offence of espionage, the honorable member for Yarra has suggested that if somebody gives information to another country relating to population, rainfall or the number of members of this chamber, it may be of value to that other country and therefore he has committed an offence. It is a great pity that the honorable member for Yarra should resort to these ridiculous propositions when putting his arguments. The giving of information cannot constitute an offence if there is no intent. In the conveyance of information relating to these things, there would be no intent. If there were intent to assist the enemy, the person giving the information would be liable to conviction by a jury after a proper trial.
As to the known character provision, there seems to be a misconception about certain facts. When a person is charged, the first thing which must be proved is the act that forms the basis of the charge. When that act is being proved, the circumstances surrounding it are proved also. One of the examples which has been given is that of a wharf labourer working on a wharf when a vehicle of war falls on to the wharf. He may then be charged, and it is suggested that if he happens to be a member of the Communist Party he will be convicted. Let us be realistic about this. Everybody in this chamber knows that a wharf labourer works in a minimum gang of eleven. The first thing to prove is where this wharf labourer was at the time the vehicle of war fell. It must be proved that he was in a position in which he could possibly have contributed to the falling of the vehicle. If the vehicle falls when the man is standing on the wharf, it is obvious that he has no means of causing it to fall. Therefore, you cannot prove the act.
– Suppose he is the winch driver.
– We will suppose that he is the winch driver, that he puts on the brake, that the brake comes off and that the vehicle falls on to the wharf. There will be an investigation to see what caused the brake to come off. Suppose that the winch driver says, “ This was an accident. The brake came off.” In the course of proving the act, it will be proved whether or not the winch ever allowed anything to fall before. The brake will be examined to see whether there was a flaw in the metal which caused it to shatter to pieces. All these points will be investigated. It is necessary to prove so much in proving the act itself that you progress along that path.
Sub-section (7.) is a mere enabling provision. Under the law at present, known character can be admitted under certain circumstances, but the ordinary rules of law do not cover such a thing as this. If a man is charged with housebreaking, the fact that he is an active member of the Communist Party has no relation whatever to the offence. On the other hand, if he is charged with an act of espionage, there must be an enabling provision to permit of evidence as to character being admitted, if such evidence is relevant. When a prosecutor wants to introduce evidence-
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question put -
That the sub-section proposed to be inserted (Mr. Whitlam’s amendment) be so inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Roberton) agreed to -
In proposed section 78, sub-section (1.), omit “prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial,”, insert “ intended to be prejudicial “.
– I move -
In proposed section 78, omit sub-section (2.)
The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), who has already spoken to the committee, has shown the extraordinarily wide definition of “ espionage “ which covers every substance or article in the world and includes every possible form of information, whether true or false, a report of a conversation or, in fact, anything whatever. The honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), who has recently spoken, has shown that the only protection of any individual in these circumstances is the provision relating to intent - an intent to be prejudicial to the defence of the Commonwealth.
The sub-section which I now seek to eliminate deals with the method by which this intention is to be established and shows that the known character of the accused can be taken into account and used as evidence of his intention to act in a way prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth. This is a position which is perfectly clear to the ordinary citizens of Australia, and while there have been many important provisions in this measure which have not been appreciated or understood, and can scarcely be appreciated or understood, by laymen, this is a principle which every ordinary Australian citizen understands and believes in - the necessity for maintaining the principle that a man is to be regarded as innocent until he is proved guilty. The average Australian believes - and strongly resents the fact - that this provision takes away that elemental and fundamental safeguard of British justice.
– It does nothing of the kind.
– The AttorneyGeneral interjects that it does nothing of the kind, and he said as much last night. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition quoted one or two actual cases in which a man could be convicted and in which the determining circumstance is the known political record, the Attorney-General said that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had overlooked the fundamental element that the offence is committed only if a person does something intended to be prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth. Of course that has not been overlooked, because that is a provision which the Government has deliberately placed in sub-section (2.) and which we are seeking to delete. The Attorney-General went on to say -
The honorable member has claimed that this can be proved by giving evidence of character. That is an erroneous assertion because the jury must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the existence of the purpose.
The provision which we are seeking to have eliminated says expressly that the jury can be satisfied by taking into account evidence of the previous known character of the accused man. Indeed, the AttorneyGeneral goes on to admit that in the next sentence of his speech, when he said of the jury-
Whether it will be satisfied by a little piece of evidence or by a lot of evidence is a matter entirely for the jury.
Of course it is, so long as sub-section (2.) remains in the legislation, but if it is taken out the position stated by the AttorneyGeneral no longer exists and the traditional protection of the accused man remains. The Attorney-General is a Queen’s Counsel, and very learned, but there are other most eminent counsel in this country who have disagreed with his interpretation of this subsection. He is not the final and only arbiter and we must face the dreadful possibility that he might be the judge in court before whom some of these accused persons appear.
I wish now to refer to a letter in the “ Canberra Times “ this morning, signed by David K. R. Hodgkin, Clerk of the Australia General Meeting, Religious Society of Friends. This is the organization of Quakers, which I am certain has the respect of every member of this chamber for its sincerity and honesty of purpose, its humanitarian motives and its qualities of mercy and justice. Part of this letter reads -
Friends are not yet satisfied thai the “ known character provisions “ will not in some instances prejudice the accused. Nor are we satisfied with the provisions which prohibit us from intentionally giving relief or medical aid, and even in some cases moral and/or political support within the Constitution, to our fellow men who may be branded as “ enemies “, or citizens of an “ enemy country “.
I turn now to the Executive Committee of the Australian Council of Churches, which is surely also a body that has the respect of every member of this committee and which, having obtained legal advice which differed strongly from that given to the House by the Attorney-General, said -
The Council also believes that the provision to admit “ relevant known character matters “ in regard to sabotage and espionage charges should be deleted entirely. The executive committee urged also that the legislation should not be rushed in any way that would prevent further study and possible further revision.
I have before me a letter addressed by the Reverend Alfred M. Dickie, of North Essendon Presbyterian Church, on 21st November, 1960, to the Attorney-General, replying to the Attorney-General’s remarkably offensive letter to the Presbyterian Assembly of Victoria. The Reverend Dickie says -
I am very surprised, and I venture to think that the Assembly would be very surprised, that you had come to that conclusion especially in view of the words of the seventh premise itself.
In the preceding paragraph the writer had referred to*-
He points out what the Attorney-General apparently had not realized, that the premise itself states -
Whereas the Prime Minister claims that the Crown must prove the elements of the offence, there are two and only two elements of the offence, an act and a purpose of a certain kind - the word “ elements “ must include both. Moreover, where certain words from the evidentiary provision of the bill are omitted from the premise their omission is intimated by the presence of dots, thus “. . .” The presence of such dots indicates, not an intention to mask or mislead, but the presence of words which can be learnt by research. Moreover, the whole provision it is imperative for you to know, was stated in full to the Assembly.
That was before it reached a decision which the Attorney-General has since declared was reached by the assembly on misleading deliberately misleading - information. The letter continues -
If ever this bill becomes law, and thereunder one innocent person suffers death or life imprisonment or even a lesser term, the Church will know that it did not allow this kind of legislation by default. More importantly, it will know that because of this action for the safeguarding of freedom it will retain the right in the sight of God and men to give comfort and strength to those who thus suffer.
The CHAIRMAN__ Order! The honorable member’s time has expired, and the time allotted for the consideration of clause 49 has also expired.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Allan Fraser’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . . . 22
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The question is, “ That clause 49, as amended, and the circulated amendments of the Government to that clause, be agreed to “.
Circulated amendments of the Government -
In proposed section 78, sub-section (2.), paragraph (a), omit “prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial,”, insert “ intended to be prejudicial “; omit “ prejudicial, or a purpose intended to be prejudicial, as the case requires,”, insert “ intended to be prejudicial “.
In proposed section 78, sub-section (2.), paragraph (b), omit “prejudicial, or a purpose intended to be prejudicial, as the case requires”, insert “ intended to be prejudicial “.
In proposed section 78, after sub-section (2.), insert the following sub-sections: - “‘(3.) On a prosecution under this section, evidence is not admissible by virtue of paragraph
of the last preceding sub-section if the Magistrate exercising jurisdiction with respect to the’ examination and commitment for trial of the defendant, or the Judge presiding at the trial, as the case may be, is of the opinion that that evidence, if admitted -
would not tend to show that the purpose of the defendant was a purpose intended to be prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen’s dominions; or
would, having regard to all the circumstances of the case and notwithstanding the next succeeding sub-section, prejudice the fair trial of the defendant. “’ (4.) If evidence referred to in the last preceding sub-section is admitted at the trial, the Judge shall direct the jury that the evidence may be taken into account by the jury only on the question whether the purpose of the defendant was a purpose intended to be prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen’s dominions and must be disregarded by the jury in relation to any other question.”.
In proposed section 79, sub-section (1.), omit paragraphs (c) and (d), insert the following word and paragraph: - “ or (c) it relates to a prohibited place or anything in a prohibited place and -
he knows; or
by reason of its nature or the circumstances under which it came into his possession or control or for any other reason, he ought to know, that it should not be communicated to a person not authorized to receive it.”. In proposed section 79, sub-section (2.), omit “ prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial,”, insert “ intended to be prejudicial “.
In proposed section 79, sub-section (7.), omit “prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial,”, insert “ intended to be prejudicial “; omit “ prejudicial, or a purpose intended to be prejudicial, as the case requires,”, insert “ intended to be prejudicial “.
In proposed section 79, after sub-section (7.), insert the following sub-sections: - “ ‘ (7a.) On a prosecution under this section, evidence is not admissible by virtue of the last preceding sub-section if the Magistrate exercising jurisdiction with respect to the examination and commitment for trial of the defendant, or the Judge presiding at the trial, as the case may be, is of the opinion that that evidence, if admitted -
would not tend to show that the purpose of the defendant was a purpose intended to be prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen’s dominions; or
would, having regard to all the circumstances of the case and notwithstanding the next succeeding sub-section, prejudice the fair trial of the defendant. “ ‘ (7b.) If evidence referred to in the last preceding sub-section is admitted at the trial, the Judge shall direct the jury that the evidence may be taken into account by the jury only on the question whether the purpose of the defendant was a purpose intended to be prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen’s dominions and must be disregarded by the jury in relation to any other question.”.
Question put. The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . . . 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 50 -
Section eighty of the principal act is amended -
by omitting from paragraph (b) the words “or stored,” and inserting in their stead the words “ obtained, tested or stored “;
Section proposed to be amended -
The following places shall be prohibited places: -
Any place not belonging to the King or the Commonwealth where any ship, arms, or materials or instruments of use in time of war, or any plans or documents relating thereto, are being made, repaired, or stored, under contract with, or with any person on behalf of, the King or the Commonwealth;
.- I move -
After paragraph (e), insert the following paragraph: - “ (ea) by adding at the end of paragraph (b) the words ‘ which is for the time being declared by the Governor-General to be a prohibited place for the purposes of this Part of this Act, on the ground that information with respect thereto or damage thereto would be useful to an enemy or to a foreign power ‘; “.
Clause 50 seeks to amend section 80 of the principal act, which defines prohibited places. In that definition prohibited places are relevant to the three crimes of sabotage, espionage and breach of official secrets. Those three crimes are dealt with in sections which have already been defaced by the known character - that is, the political reputation - provisions. In particular, the provision on espionage is of very wide definition, and it is possible under that provision to commit espionage if one makes, or obtains, or communicates sketches, plans, photographs, models, ciphers, notes, documents, articles or information that are likely to be, might be, or are useful to a foreign power. It is difficult to conceive of anything which might not, in fact, in days of total war, be useful to a foreign power. It does not have to be an enemy power. Its being merely a foreign power is enough. That means any power which is not in the Commonwealth of Nations.
Attention has already been directed to the extreme menace involved in those wide definitions of sabotage, espionage and breach of official secrets, and the ease of proving all of them where persons have political reputations which are not acceptable to a conservative government. But there is still one way in which the committee can, in some sense, preserve our liberties, a way in which the committee can ensure that there will be some limit to the matters which are subjects of sabotage, espionage and breach of official secrets - a way in which we can ensure that to a certain extent those offences will be committed only if materials or documents which are of use in time of war are concerned, even if, in fact, those matters and those materials are not secret and do not involve matters of security or secrecy. That can be done by the committee’s supporting the amendment which we have moved, which will add at the end of paragraph (b) the words - which is for the time being declared by the Governor-General to be a prohibited place for the purposes of this Part of this Act, on the ground that information with respect thereto or damage thereto would be useful to an enemy or to a foreign power.
It is true that this definition will not limit the very wide definition which is given to sabotage, which is in another part of the act. An act of sabotage means the destruction, damage or impairment of any article, inter alia, that is in, or forms part of, a place which is a prohibited place under the meaning of section 80 of the act. It would, however, tighten up the definition of espionage and breach of official secrets. Espionage is committed if a person, for a purpose intended to be prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen’s dominions - and that purpose can be proved by giving evidence of his political reputation - approaches, is in the neighbourhood of, is in, enters, inspects or passes over a prohibited place.
A breach of official secrets is committed if a person, for a prejudicial purpose - proved by evidence of his political reputation - communicates a document or an article or information which relates to a prohibited place or anything in a prohibited place, and if he knows, or, by reason of the nature or circumstances under which it came into his possession or control, or for any other reason ought to know, that it should not be communicated to a person not authorized to receive it.
Yesterday, I told the committee how widely prohibited places are defined. The particular definition with which we are concerned is in those terms -
Any place not belonging to the Queen or the Commonwealth where any ship, aircraft, arms or materials or instruments of use in time of war, or any plans or documents relating thereto, are being made, repaired, obtained, tested, or stored under contract with, or with any person on behalf of, the Queen or the Commonwealth.
Honorable members will note that it is, possible to commit sabotage, irrespective of this amendment, and espionage and breach of official secrets if one damages or communicates any document which isin one of those private places with a government defence contract, even if the document or article has no relation whatever to the defence of the country. We have already unsuccessfully sought to limit the definition to provide that any of those documents or articles which are damaged or communicated must, in turn, be of use in time of war. That was, we believe, a perfectly reasonable addition. We now want to ensure that the public is informed which are prohibited places. The places would be declared under our amendment by the Governor-General in the same way as the Governor-General already has to declare other premises listed in the succeeding paragraph. Under the following provisions, a prohibited place is -
Any place belonging to the Queen or the Commonwealth which is for the time being declared by the Governor-General to be a prohibited place for the purposes of this Part of this Act on theground that information with respect thereto, or damage thereto, would be useful to an enemy;
Therefore, there is a safeguard that public property must be declared by the GovernorGeneral; that is, you must know what public property is a prohibited place. There is, however, no provision for the declaration, of private property which is to be a prohibited place. We think it is reasonable enough to insist that private property, evert if it has a government contract, should not be regarded as a prohibited place unless itis similarly declared. Apparently there isno objection to specifying and publicizing a publicly owned place which is a prohibitedplace. What, then, can be the objection tospecifying and publicizing a private installation which is to be regarded as a prohibited place?
Instances were given in the debate on the sabotage provisions that ordinary shops and! factories engaged in repairing Air Force watches or canning bully beef or making Army boots could be prohibited .places; yet, in the case of sabotage, it is possible for a person about whom evidence of political reputation could be given, to be tried and convicted for sabotage if he has damaged or destroyed or impaired - whatever that might mean - any article in such a factory or shop. The article which he damages, destroys or impairs does not need to have any relation to defence. It does not have to be of use in time of war. The only requirement is that it should be in a factory or shop that has a contract with the Government. It is quite absurd, surely, to suggest that there is any disadvantage in declaring a private place and not in declaring a public place.
It is true that the Attorney-General, in the debate on our amendment on the sabotage provisions, said the definitions were intentionally wide. We were deprived of an opportunity to debate the espionage provisions and the official secrets provisions, but it may be that the Attorney-General intended these definitions to be just as wide. He may want to catch as many people, innocent or guilty, as possible. We want to see that the traditional processes of British law are preserved-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I shall not keep the committee more than two or three minutes. At I understand the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, he is concerned that a person may take a sketch plan, photograph or something of the kind or that he may be in a prohibited place and then be discovered with a sketch plan which is in fact of no particular value from a defence point of view; or it may be that the prohibited place is of no consequence to defence. The essential point is contained in the opening words of proposed new section 78 -
If a person for a pur-pose prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial, to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen’s dominions -
makes a sketch, plan, photograph, model . . .
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has failed completely to take that provision into account. What he has said really is that if a person takes a sketch for a purpose prejudicial to the safety of the Commonwealth and then he finds that he has, in fact, drawn a dud, or if he is in a place to carry out some sabotage that really may be harmful to our defence effort but finds that it is only a place where bully beef is canned, he should escape scot free. That is the kind of argument I cannot understand. The man has deliberately set out to do something prejudicial to the Commonwealth but it happens, in fact, that although he intends to do it, he does not succeed in his purpose. I see no reason why he should not be punished for his attempt to do something that was intended to be prejudicial.
Mr. REYNOLDS (Barton) [5.101.-The objection that the Labour Party takes in this matter lies in the very tenuous connexion between what a person does and the rather extreme crime with which he is to be branded. It is supposed that he takes something with intent to take it to the prejudice of the country’s security. The point to which we object is that reliance on his intention is to be taken entirely from the man’s character as proved. I said during the debate on the motion for the second reading of the bill- and I am more convinced than ever of this - that the only difference between the main proposition that has been put to us on this bill and that put forward on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill in 1951 is that in 1951 persons could be branded outright as Communists and as a danger to the security of the country. Our whole objection then was to the definition of a Communist and what was dangerous to the security of the country. Who was going to define a Communist? What we wanted then - and what the majority of the people wanted - was that a person should be dealt with according to his actions. If he carried out misdeeds against security, he should be punished. We still say that.
Our objection is that the Government has come a step further. It proposes to deal with persons on the basis of actions, but the definition of an action prejudicial to the country has been cast so wide that the main reliance is still upon the political allegiance of the person who is being accused. We feel that the very definitions in this bill, and the references to places, are so wide that if the Government wanted to it could catch practically anybody in the land. Nearly anybody could be framed. So we come back to the point that the main reliance is still on the character - the previously established character - of the person; and in this case, it is the political character.
An admirable article was published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ this morning which pointed out the danger of this provision. The Government is still relying on character and a person would have difficulty in proving that he dissociated himself from a political allegiance which the Government might regard as dangerous to the security of the people. So we are back pretty much to the issue that was vital in 1951 of denning what is a Communist and who is a person who, in his non-conformist political attitudes and opinions, is dangerous to the security of the country. The actions could be almost incidental to those factors, and the definitions are so framed and are so wide that they could take in practically everybody. If you set out to catch a person because you knew he was a Communist and politically offensive to the government, the actions encompassed in these provisions are so wide that you could catch anybody and the trial would be really on the basis of a man’s known political character.
.- The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has mentioned the provisions relating to known character, but in inveighing against the Crimes Bil] he has failed to make any mention of section 78 (2.) of the Crimes Act. The relevant part states -
On a prosecution under this section it shall not be necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of any particular act tending to show a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the Commonwealth or any part of the King’s Dominions, and, notwithstanding that no such act is proved against him, he may be convicted if, from the circumstances of the case, or his conduct, or his known character as proved, it appears that his purpose was a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the Commonwealth or any part of the King’s Dominions;
That section has been in the act for years. The Labour Party when in office had the chance to rectify what it regards as this terrible provision but did not do so. Let us look at the Vagrants, Gaming, and Other Offences Act of Queensland. There are similar acts in other States. Section 55, sub-section (IX.) of the Vagrants, Gaming, and Other Offences Act of 1931 reads as follows: -
Particular acts. - Where an intent to commit an indictable offence is a material element of an offence, it shall not be necessary to prove that the person suspected was guilty of any particular act or acts tending to show his purpose or intent, and he may be convicted if, from the circumstances of the case and from his known character as proved to the court, it appears to the court that his intent was to commit an indictable offence;
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has brushed off existing law by saying that it applies only to men of the vagabond type who might be sentenced to three months’ gaol. The Vagrants, Gaming, and Other Offences Act provides for a man, in certain circumstances, to be gaoled for up to twelve months. Yet the Deputy Leader of the Opposition attempts to wipe it off as unimportant!
There is another aspect of the matter to which I wish to direct the committee’s attention: I still have to be convinced that you can have one principle of law relating to a vagrant and another principle relating to other citizens. The Opposition says, in effect, that proof of known character may be produced in evidence against a man who has been charged with being a vagrant, with being in possession of goods suspected of having been stolen, or having no visible means of support, but should not be produced against any other member of the community. I consider that, in making that suggestion, the Opposition is acting contrary to the principles of justice. I seriously suggest that every person is entitled to receive justice whether he is a vagrant, a person charged with being in possession of goods suspected of having been stolen, or an ordinary citizen.
This matter was taken even further by the Leader of the Opposition: He suggested that because section 78, sub-section (2.), of the Crimes Act had not been used for a number of years, people had forgotten about it, and it was not necessary to take any notice of it. How strange to say that a law should be forgotten if it has not been invoked for a number of years! Will the Opposition suggest that if there is no kidnapping in any State for twenty, 30 or 40 years or more as in the case of Queensland, the law against kidnapping should fall into disuse? Will the Opposition suggest that, because no holder of a judicial office has corruptly asked, received, obtained or agreed to or attempted to receive or obtain any property or benefit of any kind for himself under section 120 of the criminal code of Queensland since the code was introduced, the section no longer should have validity? If no one has offered violence to an officiating minister of religion under section 206 of the criminal code of Queensland or no one has disturbed religious worship under section 207 of the code, are we to say that those sections are outmoded?
The Opposition’s suggestion that a section of an act has fallen into disuse because it is not resorted to for years is ridiculous. Such a section as we are discussing exists in the law of Canada. It was introduced there in 1939. It was introduced in New Zealand in 1951 and has existed in the United Kingdom since 1911. It is regarded as necessary for one reason: There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face. It is impossible under certain circumstances for any person to say what a man intended in his mind. Society, in order to protect itself, as far back as 100 years ago found it necessary to have a provision such as this. It has been in the Vagrants, Gaming, and Other Offences Act in Queensland for many years. It has been in other acts that I have mentioned and it has remained in those acts because it is necessary.
.- All that the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bandidt) has proved, of course, is that Attorneys-General, the legal profession, and legal philosophers have been falling down on their jobs. Their failure to define things, and to analyse the criminal code in the light of developing thought and needs, is no reflection on the debate from this side of the chamber, but on those people whom I have mentioned. There may well be a strong case for some statute of limitations to apply to all acts so that every so often all laws that have not been used should be brought before the Parliament for reconsideration. It is not good enough for such provisions as this to remain on the statute-book, waiting for somebody to be caught up in their toils.
The honorable member for Wide Bay, whom I understand is a practising member of the legal profession, ought to be helping the evolution of British and Australian law towards a restriction of the field of prosecution and a widening of the protection to which the average Australian considers that he is entitled. Trial by jury, the non-admissibility of hearsay evidence, the non-admissibility of evidence of character in most provisions of the criminal code, the right to counsel - all these things have been revolutions in their time. This is one of the most disappointing features of the Attorney-General whom 1 understand has had a distinguished career at the bar. He has been one of Australia’s leading legal luminaries. So, in any revaluation of the law in this Parliament, he should endeavour to develop the protection of civil and individual rights rather than to expand opportunities for the prosecution to make its case.
The honorable member for Wide Bay mentioned provisions which I understand were written into the Queensland statutes some time in the 1890’s and which were subsequently imported into Commonwealth law. Now they are in this measure. There is no validity in the honorable member’s argument in that respect. This is 1960. Lessons should be learned from the past. The bad habits of the past should not be perpetuated. The honorable member spoke about various laws which had been on the statute book for some time without having been used. He mentioned kidnapping. This is an offence against the person and would be illegal, anyhow. The disturbing of a religious assembly is, of course, a breach of the peace and I presume that there are laws in respect of that too. The difficulty is that too many people who are making laws are continually widening the field and thinking up new crimes.
I agree with everything that the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has said with regard to this aspect of the measure. This is not a criminal procedure which is contemplated, but a political procedure. It amounts to a reincarnation of the 1951 Communist Party Dissolution Bill, and it is therefore suspect as far as we are concerned, and as far as any thinking Australian is concerned. I remind honorable members that in 1951 the people of Australia, by a majority vote, rejected the very suggestion that evidence of character should be brought in in these cases of political trials or political persecution or political restrictions. I believe that the question of onus of proof was the main matter with which the people were concerned at that time when they went to vote.
The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) raised the matter of prohibited places. We believe, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, that the provision as it stands is too wide. If we must have prohibited places they should be defined, so that no person can transgress inadvertently. According to the law as it stands at present - and this is what we want amended - a prohibited place is any place which has any significance for the defence of Australia. That must involve almost every factory in my electorate. I represent one of Australia’s great industrial areas. There are factories in my electorate making television receivers, motor tires, cameras, and all forms of clothing and textiles. Almost every kind of major industry is represented in that area. I have no knowledge of which factories are working on significant defence contracts, but I assume that some of them are. Under the provisions of the act as it stands, and which we want amended, there is no necessity to tell people which one of those factories is a prohibited place.
– And if you approach [hem or are in the neighbourhood of them you are a spy.
– That is quite so. One of the unfortunate results of the last war was that many nations suffered from a kind of spy mania. Returning travellers from overseas, who had visited Japan and various European countries, commented on what was almost spy-madness in those countries. Everything was prohibited. You could not look to your left or to your right without being suspected of harbouring a malicious intent. We do not want to import that kind of atmosphere here. I point out, in reply to honorable members opposite who talked about matters prejudicial to defence, that the word “ defence “ in these days has a much wider significance than it had even in 1946. In this age of total war everything is of defence significance. This is one of the reasons why major countries have almost got to the stage of hanging curtains around themselves, so that people cannot get in. A map of Australia is of defence significance if you send it to somebody in Russia or China or some other place where such maps may not be freely available.
These are the particular aspects of this part of the legislation which we consider could prejudice the freedom, the individual rights and the security of ordinary citizens. The effect of the legislation will not be that the Attorney-General will, every day and every week, drop on some unsuspecting citizen; what we point out is that the legislation will inhibit ordinary activities. It will make people concerned at the possibility that what they are doing may be considered a breach of the law. When the AttorneyGeneral appeared before the High Court on the challenge to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, the words he used, if I remember correctly, were, “ This bill is preventive, not punitive “- On this occasion he uses the word “ deterrent “.
I believe, first, that these provisions are unnecessary, and, secondly, that it is dangerous to implement legislation which will prevent legitimate industrial or political discussion or activity. At the very leastpolitical activity will be reduced, and believe that it is a good thing for the community if there is much public interest in all matters concerning public affairs. Nearly everything connected with government is a matter that vitally concerns the citizens of this country. There is too much secrecy at the present time. It would be a good thing if the defence forces and their activities were more closely scrutinized. People would get more value for their money. They might even feel more secure, although I doubt it. It is for these reasons that 1 look with some anxiety at provisions such as that contained in clause 56 of the bill, in which proposed new section 86d.)(b) provides -
A person who conspires with another person to prevent or defeat the execution or enforcement of a law of the Commonwealth shall be guilty of an indictable offence.
I think in the original act the term used was, “ to prevent or defeat the execution or enforcement of an act of the Commonwealth “. What is the difference between a law and an act? Why is this change being made? What is the significance of it? Any provision in an award of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is, in fact, a law.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) mentioned that people coming back from abroad have talked about the spy fever that was apparent in various parts of the world. The honorable member says that he would not like to see this imported into Australia. We could fairly ask the honorable member what it is that he does want to import into Australia at a time like the present. The honorable member went on to say that our defence forces and, 1 presume, our defence equipment, should be thrown open to the widest scrutiny by any person. That is what he said, but I do not think he intended to say that. If he had thought about it, I do not believe he would have made such a silly remark.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has frequently spoken about the Labour Opposition acting on behalf of the trade union movement in putting forward various amendments to this bill, many of which seem to have been given little thought by members of the Opposition, and about which few arguments have been presented by those members. In these matters I, in company with all other laymen, no matter on which side of the Parliament they sit. have to decide which of the opinions put forward by those who know their law should be accepted. It appears that there is a little confusion on the Labour side. Many honorable members representing Victorian electorates would have seen the television programme, “ Meet the Press “ last Sunday, when Mr. James Coull, secretary of the Victorian branch of the Federated Liquor Trades Union, and, I presume, a trade unionist, was interviewed.
He was asked, “Are you aware that in the Soviet Union sabotage, treason, subversion and espionage are punishable by death? “. He said that he realized that. The further question was put to him, “ In the event of a government that you supported being elected in Australia, would you feel that such a penalty should be provided for those offences?”. He said, “ Most emphatically, yes “. He was then asked, “ Why are you and your union or unionists against the imposition of these penalties at the present time?”. His reply was that the capitalist governments - so-called - should not have these powers, but that when the workers united and a workers’ government was in power, any one who rose against that government in any manner should receive the extreme penalty.
According to one section of the amendments moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, it is proposed that all private premises on which defence work is being carried out should be declared prohibited places. I often wonder whether he would like - I know he would not, but perhaps some members of his party would - to see signs erected at such places, saying, “Bombs here”, “Suitable for bomb”, or something of the sort, which would, of course, make things very easy for persons with subversive intentions. It would be quite ridiculous.
Idonot intend to bore my friend, the honorable member for Wills, by indulging in one of my reading epics, but I want to direct his attention to the report of the International Commission of Jurists on Tibet. J have heard the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) and various other honorable members opposite say that it is rubbish to suggest that in these days war is not declared. Apparently he believes that the diplomats still come along in their striped pants and swallowtail coats and give a week’s notice that war is going to be declared. If honorable members who hold those views would care to read this report they will discover what can happen and why the Government is taking action to ensure such things will not happen here. This is the report of the International Commission of Jurists on genocide practised by the Chinese communists in Tibet, in which the commission spoke of the taking of thousands of young children from Tibet to China, and of many other atrocities that were committed without any declaration of war ever having been made. I am prepared to see that this sort of thing does not happen to the people of Australia and that they always have the protection of the law, the judiciary and juries, and that our democratic way of life is retained.
– The honorable member wants to adopt the Chinese laws.
– On the contrary, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I want to see this country safe. I agree with this bill. And so does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, but he has not the courage to admit it.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, one can see quite easily how known character comes in. The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) began by implying that the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) wanted to import something sinister from overseas, and he ended by accusing the Deputy Leader of the Opposition of not having the courage to do certain things. Here we have an advocate of known character. He has a reputation that I should not like to see attaching to any one. His remarks are indecent and irresponsible. They are typical of the kind of thing that stands behind the whole of the Government’s propositions with respect to known character. We see this sort of thing every day of the week. We saw it here last evening. This Government’s respected Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), offended by an interjection, replied to it by saying that I want to see all saboteurs left free. That was an irresponsible and offensive remark which is quite capable of influencing the attitude of this Government in everything it does under the terms of this measure. The Government has based its position primarily on known character. All Government supporters in this place have done that. They start from a self-righteous position of superiority which is impossible to believe until it is seen. I am quite sure that the people of Australia do not know the Government as we see it here day after day. Government supporters continually assume that those who disagree with them have a character which would bring them under the provisions of this bill.
– On a point of order: To what clause of the bill is the honorable member for Yarra addressing his remarks?
– We are discussing the provisions of the bill which will have the effect of defining prohibited places. We say that people who could commit offences in relation to those places should know what the law is. That is precisely the matter which is before the committee at present, and I want to make that point clear. The Government, which will go to some trouble to make known what is a prohibited place in relation to public property, is not willing to accept the Opposition’s amendment, which would make the same thing clear with respect to private property.
– The same procedure should apply in respect of both kinds of places.
– We want to have exactly the same procedure applied in respect of both kinds of places. But here, as with everything else, the Government wants to throw the net as wide as it can, so that when the occasion arises it will be able to catch any one that it wants to catch in its net.
The position is that under proposed new section 78 of the principal act, it will be an offence to be in or near or to approach a prohibited place. That expression embraces a very wide range of places. It embraces, first of all, certain public places which have relation to defence and to the Services, and also a wide range of private places - private property and factories within which may be made goods which could be used by the defence forces. All these places can be prohibited places. What we are asking is that a clear definition of such places be given, because the kind of person who is likely to fall into the Government’s net is the kind of person who has a political character to which the Government objects, taking as it does a narrow, conservative point of view.
In the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ only this morning, there was an article - presumably by Professor Julius Stone1 - in which this statement appears -
Bad political character proved by what a man is alleged to have been and to have said and done leads inevitably to guilt by association, which is the essence of McCarthyism.
This measure has its foundation firmly in McCarthyism. Definitions in other provisions, such as this definition of the places which shall be prohibited places, are so wide that no one can be sure what is the first ingredient of an offence. As a result, any one can be put in the position of having committed the first ingredient of an offence, the second ingredient of which can be proved by establishing known character. In to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “, we have an article, presumably, as I said, by a professor of international law and jurisprudence, who points out in his own-
– On a point of order: The honorable member for Yarra, in putting his argument, says that the first ingredient of the offence relates to prohibited places and the second to known character. The provision of the bill with which we are now dealing contains no reference whatever to known character. Therefore, by way of a point of order, I suggest to the chair-
– No point of order is involved. The honorable member for Yarra is dealing with a matter related to the clause under discussion and is illustrating his argument.
– I hope to make it clear to this legal gentleman, the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), who finds it very difficult to grasp a common-sense proposition, because his mind is completely filled with tangled legal ideas, that the matter which we are now discussing is the definition of prohibited places. The Opposition wants to have that definition made clear in relation to certain prohibited places, and I am arguing that because of the wide, vague and general nature of the Government’s definition, a person could commit an offence under proposed new section 78 of the principal act without knowing that he has committed an offence.
– That is not possible.
– Of course it is possible. I do not intend to enter into an argument with the honorable member, who is hardly ever called to order for his interjections. He has a voice like a fog horn and he goes on interjecting.
The point that I am making, Mr. Temporary Chairman, is that this provision with respect to known character and every other provision linked with it are based fundamentally on McCarthyism - on guilt by association of political character. The political character with which the Government is concerned is political character of a kind with which it disagrees; and that covers a wide range.
This situation will create doubts in the minds of the people - doubts of a kind which will be present particularly where a man might be innocent of the offence with which he is charged. And the prime element of this offence - the first objective condition - could be based on an innocent act. The act on which the offence is based could be accidental, but could be made into a guilty act by a person’s known character, that character being nothing more than his political reputation. So the first element of an offence can be based on an act which is completely innocent or is accidental. The second element, which becomes a matter of political reputation, then completes the offence. The first element is based on a very wide definition of prohibited places in section 80 of the principal act as it will be amended by this bill. The second element is political reputation.
The special correspondent of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ whom I have mentioned - presumably Professor Stone - states -
Even in the case of truly guilty men, the fact that evidence of political character went to the jury will enable doubts to be raised in the public mind as to whether there would have been conviction without that evidence.
In respect of this matter, it is quite pointless for the Attorney-General to imagine that because a judge instructs a jury to confine evidence of known character solely to intent, such evidence will not influence the jury with respect to the whole of the circumstances. To believe that the jury will not be influenced is to misunderstand completely what a jury is.
The article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald” contains this later passage -
If Sir Garfield could have been brought to see the inherent dangers of future McCarthyism that he was in course of writing into the criminal law, and to remember his own profound respect for the Common Law . . .
I have seen no evidence, since the AttorneyGeneral has been in this place, of his having any profound respect for the common law or even respect for honorable members on this side of the chamber who are opposed to him. The author of this article has a reputation in the law no doubt as good as is that of the AttorneyGeneral - if that is possible. The point that emerges from all this is that if the Minister had remembered these things, the provisions with respect to known character would not have been embodied in the bill.
The position is clear, Mr. Temporary Chairman, as has been the position with respect to other provisions. Throughout, the Opposition has endeavoured to have offences stated in precise form so that they will not have a general and portmanteau application. The Opposition wants the Government to define as clearly as possible the offences which it is submitting to the Parliament in this bill, but it has refused time and time again to take into account the points raised by the Opposition and to adopt much mors precise definitions. This proves to me that in this instance the Government is out to obtain a general, dragnet provision at the base of its law. By its attitude, it has demonstrated that it has no faith in its ability to govern or in the people’s confidence in it as a government.
– Order! The time allotted for the remainder of the committee stage has expired. The immediate question before the committee is, “ That the paragraph proposed to be inserted be so inserted “.
Question put -
That the paragraph proposed to be inserted (Mr. Whitlam’s amendment) be so inserted.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . 30
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- The bill is now a very much better bill than it was when it was introduced by the AttorneyGeneral two and a half months ago, but it is still too bad a bill to put on the Australian statute-book. When the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) spoke on the second reading of the bill, he moved that the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to achieve certain objectives. About half of those objectives have in fact now been achieved as a result of amendments which the Attorney-General was provoked to move or to adopt after the only Ministers who spoke during the second-reading stage had endorsed every feature of the original bill. As a result of the amendments which the Opposition sought and which the AttorneyGeneral accepted, there is now provision for trial by jury for all the offences introduced by the bill. There is now a means provided of specifying enemy countries and persons that it will be an offence to assist. There has now been inserted a guarantee of liberty, in good faith, to express criticisms and to seek alterations of the policy of the Australian or any other government. Furthermore, there is now a guarantee of liberty to pursue bona fide industrial action. In half a dozen cases, there is now provided, as there was not previously provided, the necessity to prove intent before any criminal act will be deemed to have been committed.
But, Sir, the bill still has features which the Australian Parliament should not accept. It retains the provisions concerning proof of known character - that is, of political reputation. It also still has the widest definitions of any crimes in any Australian statute. As a result of this bill which is now to be read a third time, it is possible for anybody with an adverse political reputation, present or past, to be tried and convicted for sabotage, espionage and breach of official secrets, even if he has had no guilty intent whatever, and even if he has done no harm whatever. That result is achieved because of the very wide definitions of the crimes of sabotage, espionage and breach of official secrets.
In each of those provisions, offences arise with respect to prohibited places. There is no specification or definition or proclamation of “ prohibited place “ in some circumstances. A prohibited place may be a private shop, or factory, or office, which is not known to have Government contracts and which contains documents or articles which have no security or secrecy aspects, but which nevertheless are the subject of these serious crimes.
An act of sabotage means the destruction, damage, or impairment of any article that is in or forms part of a prohibited place - that is, of a private shop or factory or office which has a government contract that may be unknown to the general public. The offence of espionage can be committed by anybody who makes or communicates a sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document or article that is likely to be, might be, or is useful to a foreign power. Such a document might be a time-table, a street directory, a photograph, a book, or a map which is readily obtainable in any shop in Australia. If, however, any person with an adverse political reputation has any such article in his possession, he can be tried and convicted for espionage. Furthermore, a person with such a reputation may be found guilty of espionage if he approaches, or is in the neighbourhood of, a prohibited place in the unspecified and imprecise significance to which I have already drawn the attention of the House.
In the last case, it is possible for a person to be tried and convicted for a serious breach of official secrets if he fails to comply with a direction to give up some article or document which relates to a prohibited place. There is no guilty intent there, but, under this bill as it is leaving us, the mere failure to comply with such a direction, without any guilty intention, amounts to a breach of official secrets.
There are many other features of this bill upon which, by the time-table, we have been deprived of the opportunity to vote. There is, for instance, no remedy available to the citizen who has been arrested or detained in or near a prohibited place unless the Governor-General is satisfied that the arrest or detention was without reasonable cause. The amount of compensation which is to be awarded is at the option of the GovernorGeneral. That is to say, one appeals from Caesar to Caesar. Caesar determines if damages will be awarded, and what damages, to somebody whom Caesar has wronged!
Again and again, in all these provisions, there are novel and unparalleled features which are a disgrace to our law. We should have expunged these Barwick blots from the statute-book of Australia. This is said to be an act which is modernizing the law, and which is necessitated by patriotic motives. But patriotism does not require the betrayal of British principles of justice! Modernization does not require the abandonment of our own traditional principles. The defence of liberty, which is said to be secured by this bill, involves not just a guarantee of investment and business practices, as the Attorney-General seems to think, but also the defence of speech and reputation. Under this measure, crimes can be committed in the name of security just as much as they can be committed in the name of liberty.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The time allotted for the remaining stages of the bill has expired.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a thirditme.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.6 to 8 p.m.
Message recommending appropriation received.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to make provision for the grant of financial assistance to the States in connexion with universities, and for other purposes.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Menzies and Mr. Hasluck do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In April, 1958, I had the privilege of presenting to the House a bill to give effect to the proposals of the Committee on Australian Universities, which met in 1957 with Sir Keith Murray as chairman. This bill sought parliamentary approval for the proposals of the Murray committee for the triennium 1958, 1959 and 1960. Once again it is my pleasant lot to introduce a bill on universities, this time to give effect to the proposals of the Australian Universities Commission for the coming triennium, 1961, 1962 and 1963. The commission is the permanent successor to the Murray committee. Honorable members will recall that the Murray committee recommended that the Commonwealth Government should have available to it continuous advice on the financial requirements of the universities if the universities are to develop rationally and coherently, and urged the appointment of a permanent commission for this purpose. Parliament agreed to the establishment of the Universities Commission in 1959. The commission consists of persons of eminence in university and business circles, and since its establishment last year it has exhaustively studied the problems of our universities and has brought forward recommendations on a wide range of matters. It has done this after taking into consideration all possible courses of action and after the fullest consultation with Commonwealth and State authorities and with all universities. The first report of the commission, which presents the recommendations and the comments of the commission upon present and future university problems was. as honorable members will recall, tabled in the House on Thursday, 10th November.
Sir, it is relevant in considering the report and the bill to recall the functions of the commission as defined in the Universities Commission Act of 1959. Under clause 1 3 the commission is to furnish information and advice on grants by the Commonwealth of financial assistance to universities established by the Commonwealth, and of financial assistance to the States in relation to universities, together with information and advice that is relevant to the need for financial assistance, the conditions upon which any financial assistance should be granted, and the amount and the allocation of financial assistance.
These functions are important, providing as they do for a financial future for our universities that has a great measure of stability. However, the next section, section 14, of the act places an obligation upon the commission that is to my mind of even greater importance. The section states -
The commission has, therefore, addressed itself in its report not only to the financial problems involved, but also to the present state and the future role to be placed by the institutions of this country providing services at the tertiary level of our educational system.
Honorable members have had the opportunity of studying the commission’s report. Of the many important questions raised, there are, I think, five which would seem to lay claim to special comment. First, there is the influence of what is now called demographic factors. Chapter 2 of the commission’s report presents estimates of the likely increase in student enrolments at universities. In 1958 some 42,000 students were enrolled at universities, and universities in Australia now predict, all other things being equal that by 1966 the number will have risen to 95,000. Those are phenomenal figures - 42,000, and eight years later, 95,000. These figures are considerably in excess of the estimates made by the Murray committee on the evidence then available to it. If this estimate is realized, the ratio of students enrolled at universities to the total population will be approaching 1 in 100. This, of course, has enormous consequences in terms of the pressure on facilities, demands for staff - a very great demand which is not easily met - and the need for more universities and university-type institutions.
As a result of these demographic changes leading to a great bulge in the relevant age groups, there is obviously a quite explosive development taking place in universities. The achievement in recent years has been a very remarkable one, but the commission has had to report that the changing age structure of our population and other factors have meant that, in spite of the greatly increased governmental assistance since the recommendations of the Murray committee were accepted, many of our university facilities are still below a satisfactory standard. After a review of the Commonwealth scholarship scheme, the commission supports the need for an increase in the number of scholarships from 3,000 to 4.000 a year. I refer to that because a number of questions on that point have been addressed to me by honorable members over the last twelve months.
Chapter 3 of the report deals with staff. In spite of very considerable staff recruitment in recent years, the number of students in relation to the number of staff is increasing and the position in Australia compares unfavorably with that in the United Kingdom. The commission estimates that by 1966, which, as honorable members will recall, is the year when it is estimated that we shall have 95,000 students, the number of staff will need to be more than doubled to keep pace with the increased number of students. As to facilities, the commission in chapter 6 points out that if the enrolment demand is to be met in terms of the existing university pattern, the Australian community must create in every two years the equivalent of at least one new university of 8,000 students. I repeat: At least one new university every two years is necessary if the demand is to be met in terms of the existing university pattern. I shall say something about that later.
The commission has pointed out that there will be not only this tremendously increased demand for suitable academic staff but also that we will have to rely largely upon our own resources to meet this demand. I emphasize the importance of that. We cannot just bring staff in easily from other places. We must rely primarily, largely, on our own resources. It will become increasingly difficult to tap resources in overseas countries, since they themselves will be under pressure for reasons very much the same as those affecting the Australian situation. The commission suggests some of the questions which must be considered and says -
The issues raised in these questions are of great concern to Australian universities, faced as they are with staffing problems not likely to be solved unless far-reaching changes in the form of university education and teaching methods can be achieved. 1 turn now to the financial recommendations contained in the report, and to which the bill before the House gives effect. The commission recommends that a total of £103,000,000 should be made available to State universities in the coming three years. This compares with a total expenditure of some £55,000,000 in the last three years. May I repeat those figures because they are tremendously eloquent: In the last three years the expenditure was £55,000,000, and the recommendation for the next three years is £103,000,000 - not all Commonwealth money, of course. The commission is satisfied that financial provision of this order is necessary for the balanced development of Australian universities in this period.
The commission’s report indicates that the sharp increase in expenditure required over the coming triennium is the result of several factors, notably the large increase in the number of students. The report also shows that a great deal of the increased expenditure is due to the establishment of Monash University in Victoria, the extension of the universities in New South Wales and the establishment of colleges at Wollongong and Townsville. By contrast, the Universities Commission proposes that the development of the well-established universities - which are reaching or long since have reached their optimum numbers - should be limited in order to keep their size within reasonable bounds and suggests for them a programme which is, in effect, a normal projection on previous expenditure. Taking into account the increased student population and the need for providing new facilities, it is clear, therefore, that the large upsurge in suggested expenditure is due principally to new university development of a kind which has been foreseen and recognized as inevitable and, I would add, invaluable for some time.
The commission’s proposals rest on the principle that the existing ratio of approximately £1.85 State to £1 Commonwealth for recurrent expenditure should be maintained. Those figures have not been taken at random. They are the result of working out what has been done during the period of our experience. The commission proposed also that the basis of £1 for £1 on capital expenditure should be applied uniformly as between States and as between universities. However, having in mind its obligations for influencing the balanced development of Australian universities, the commission has examined separately the factors which are determining the growth of each university. The University of New South Wales, the University of Queensland and the University of Western Australia are expected to experience a more rapid growth of student population than other universities. The commission’s proposals are therefore adjusted to meet the individual needs of universities in the light of the pressures upon each of them. Another consideration in the commission’s assessment of the future situation is its belief that any university should not exceed a certain size if it is to function effectively.
The commission has drawn particular attention to its proposals to bring the treatment of the University of New South Wales and the University of New England into line with that accorded to other universities. The ways in which its proposals differ from the pattern of previous arrangements are described in the report. I need not take up time by referring to them. The commission also refers at various places in its report to the desirability of a greater flexibility than has previously applied in the distribution of Commonwealth financial assistance for capital projects, including expenditure on capital equipment and on residential colleges and halls of residence. I shall refer in particular to some of these matters later on when I turn to a brief examination of the bill in more detail.
The Universities Commission has shown at various places in its report a full awareness of the problems of university development. In dealing with staff recruitment in chapter 3, the commission has expressed itself as doubtful that any answer could be found in traditional terms, and in chapter 6 it ranges over a number of possible changes that need to be considered by governments and universities. The commission proposes to make a special examination in the period immediately ahead into these matters and has suggested that it may seek to establish an advisory committee to assist it in its inquiries. I attach great importance to this.
The Commonwealth Government has examined the report and is prepared to accept its recommendations in general. The bill now before the House indicates its acceptance of the many financial recommendations for State universities. This is not to say, of course, that the Commonwealth accepts every statement in the report, some of which will no doubt also be discussed inside and outside this Parliament. But by and large the Government feels that the commission’s analysis of the situation and its proposals are receiving a large degree of acceptance in Commonwealth and State government circles, among the universities and by the community in general.
The bill for increased expenditure is, of course, a very large one, and meeting it, having in mind also what lies ahead after this triennium, raises many problems in our minds. But, after carefully studying the report of the commission, the Government has taken the view, which it believes the commission holds also, that unless there is early and substantial modification of the university pattern, away from the traditional nineteenth-century model on which it is now based, it may not - and I say it with reluctance - be practicable for Australian governments to meet all the needs for university education in Australia and at the same time to achieve the best use of resources in the national interest. We think, therefore, that the development of alternative kinds of tertiary education is likely to be of the greatest importance. In view, also, of the difficulties which may be encountered in finding sufficient staff for tertiary educational needs and for developing the facilities in time, the situation may well call for extensive re-organization within the universities.
The commission’s report has referred to some of the possible ways of doing this. As the commission points out, other countries are facing similar problems and are finding that new and unusual methods for solving them are becoming necessary. In the period ahead thought may well have to be given - and indeed I think it will be - to re-arrangement of the university working year, re-arrangements to produce a greater use of existing facilities within the university, to standards of teaching staff and the most effective employment of our university teaching resources. Building programmes of universities will need to be kept under very close scrutiny in order to ensure that they are sufficiently restrained as to economy and directly related to need.
The Government therefore, Sir, welcomes the proposal of the commission to undertake an early examination of these matters, and has informed the commission that it regards this examination as a task of the most vital importance during the next twelve to eighteen months. To assist the commission directly in its task the Government has agreed with the suggestion of the commission that it might establish an advisory committee. No doubt the commission will pursue its investigation in close co-operation with governmental authorities both State and Commonwealth, and with universities, and I have informed the States that the commission will be looking to them - and I am sure it will not look in vain - for cooperation and assistance.
Sir, I have sent copies of the report to the Premiers, and informed them of the Commonwealth views on it. Of course, we fully recognize and respect the prime responsibility which the States have for determining the rate of development of their universities. As we see the role of the Universities Commission, it is a source of advice - and of advice only - to Commonwealth and State governments and to universities. Its authority lies not in coercion but in persuasion. Under the commission’s proposals it is the States who determine what the level of expenditure should be on both capital and recurrent sides. On the capital side the basis proposed is a £1 for £1, and on the recurrent side it is perhaps worth noting - going back to the £1.85 to £1 - that the proposed first level grants are no greater than the level of actual expenditure upon recurrent needs in 1960, and the States should not therefore encounter any difficulty in attracting the maximum first level Commonwealth grant, as they will get it by merely continuing to support universities as they did in 1960. It is, of course, quite open to the States and the universities to hold opinions differing from those of the Universities Commission on the rate of development which is desirable and practicable.
The achievement in university development, especially since the acceptance of the recommendations of the Murray committee, has been spectacular, but the problems which lie ahead are obviously even greater. We feel that they cannot simply be solved by providing money, and that universities must critically examine their procedures and problems in order to ensure that the funds which are provided are used as effectively and as economically as possible. Quite apart from the question of developing alternative institutions there are many matters which lie within the province of universities. I have already mentioned a number of these - building programmes, recruitment of staff and possible forms of internal re-organization. We recognize the great problems which universities face in coping with the large increase in student numbers. Nevertheless, universities must continue to set as their aims the improvement in teaching and student achievement, better training for research workers, significant research contributions in widening fields of study, and intellectual leadership in the community.
The commission’s report points out that the Australian community has always regarded higher education as a right open to all young people of ability, rather than as a privilege of wealth or class. In this connexion the commission raises a very real problem - whether the community of itself realizes the magnitude of its educational responsibilities if this aspiration is to be achieved. It is a regrettable feature of the present times that universities, like many other institutions, must depend most heavily upon the governments for their finances. This, no doubt, is an inevitable trend arising to a great extent from the very high costs of tertiary education to-day. Nevertheless, private benefactions will, I hope, always be a feature of our universities, and in recent years there have been some notable contributions in this direction - but more are needed.
In accepting the recommendations of the commission in general the Government has agreed to some proposals which do not need to be embodied in the bill now before the House. These include the recommendation of the commission on Commonwealth scholarships. I mention that, because there will be nothing in the bill about Commonwealth scholarships. But we have accepted the recommendation that they should be increased to 4,000.
In the case of the Australian National University the financial responsibility, of course, rests entirely upon the Commonwealth. The rate of development of the Australian National University must be related in some degree to the development of Canberra. The Government has accepted in principle the recommendations of the commission as to the Australian National University, but the proposals will need to be the subject of further careful investigation, especially on timing, before they are put into effect. When I say that, 1 do not mean that I am going to have any delay on this matter, because I know the problems of the academic year. Meanwhile, it is pre* posed to take immediate action to begin the construction of the chemistry school building for the School of General Studies at the Australian National University.
In the main, the bill before the House establishes Commonwealth-State financial machinery whereby the recommendations of the commission may be put into effect. The bill contains a number of features not present in its predecessor, the 1958 act. There is, for instance, no provision in this bill for emergency grants, since those in effect have been absorbed into the general grants for recurrent expenditure which the bill makes provision for in a number of schedules.
The bill adds a new concept to the existing definition of university purposes. In order that the commission may be able to provide for the staff at a new university, such as Monash, the bill makes possible payment of recurrent grants to a university which may of necessity appoint its staff for planning purposes, but which is not in effect offering a teaching or research service. That, of course, is obviously a fair thing to do.
The bill goes on to establish machinery provisions, and at clause 6 gives the basis on which the salary element in recurrent grants has been calculated for the purposes of Commonwealth financial assistance. It states that the schedules have been based on a basic professorial salary at the rate of £4,000 per annum, which was the salary applying in a majority of Australian universities on the date the commission reported. The bill goes on to provide that the Minister may, by an instrument under his hand, approve an increased rate of professorial salary for the purpose of Commonwealth assistance. A copy of any such instrument will be sent to the Premier of each State affected by the instrument, and will be laid before this House. The bill provides that if a university pays basic professorial salaries in excess of this level, the Commonwealth shall not be responsible for the increased costs involved. I must stress at this point that the Commonwealth has neither the desire nor an intention to fix professorial salaries. Any State Government is completely free to support whatever salaries it deems appropriate in the universities of that State.
Further, for the purpose of financial assistance, the Commonwealth must work on a recognized basis, and it has taken for this basis for the purpose of the bill, the basic professorial salary applying to most of our universities. I would not want honorable members to misunderstand in any way the clauses of the bill which deal with this matter.
As far as grants for the purposes of capital works within the universities are concerned, the bill in general carries on the arrangements which have proved so successful in the last triennium. There is, however, a departure in clause 8 of the bill which puts into effect the recommendations of the Universities Commission as they relate to special grants for equipment. In summary form, the Commonwealth will make available £250,000 on a £l-for-£l basis with the States for the purchase of special equipment, and is prepared to see this sum disbursed in the proportions given in the third schedule to the bill.
Under this bill, the Commonwealth will make available a further £250,000 on a £1- for-£l basis which will be disbursed on the advice of the commission and, therefore, not necessarily in the same proportions as the first £250,000. The purpose is to allow flexibility so that the commission may, with the co-operation of the States, assist in suitable places, without being bound by a formula, with the purchase of special equipment for research and other purposes.
The bill provides grants, as its predecessors did, to affiliated residential colleges under two headings. It incorporates a formula which will enable assistance to be given to residential colleges for recurrent expenditure, including tutorial assistance, in accordance with the number of students receiving services such as these from the college. It also provides that buildings for residential college purposes may be assisted on a £1 for £1 basis. It is the hope of the commission, and the hope of the Government, that these forms of assistance will give the present residential colleges, and those to come, a greater opportunity for giving a service to the students within the universities. Assistance is also proposed in the bill for halls of residence administered by the universities.
The bill before the House carries on and develops the work which the 1958 act initiated. It is based on the firm belief that the development of our intellectual power and knowledge is vital to our future. We are a small nation of 10,000,000 people, and we cannot escape meeting the rest of the world in competition. In common with other honorable members, I am not willing to sit back and see Australia lag behind by omission. We must match the world in scholarship, in technology and trade. Our efforts are not without great merit. If it were not for the financial backing which we and the States have provided there would not be a Monash University or a University of New South Wales, and other university institutions would be in a deplorable condition. The programme is a large one; indeed, it is enormous. The expenditure involved is largely inescapable. However, it is not merely money involved, but a question of national responsibility. Because of this, the whole situation calls for continuing, sympathetic understanding and special examination by all governments and all universities and by the community in general.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendment):
The First Schedule to the Principal Act ls amended -
Senate’s amendment -
After “ producers,” insert “ carriers,”.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The amendment made in another place has the effect of extending to commercial carriers the exemption of tanks for bulk milk tankers. This exemption was proposed on behalf of persons engaged in the dairy industry. That was when the Government brought in the proposal originally. It was known that some of these tankers would be owned and operated by commercial carriers, but it was not desired to extend to the transport industry a concession which had been sought on behalf of the dairy industry and, indeed, on which representations had reached me in relation to a particular aspect of the carriage of milk in these bulk tankers.
It is true that the amendment does not involve any significant loss of revenue. The best estimate 1 can get is that it might amount to something under £8,000 in the remainder of this financial year. In view of the special case which was strongly argued in the present instance in another place, the Government has decided to accept the amendment. I would say that this must not be taken, however, to indicate a willingness to extend a concession of this kind to other commercial carriers engaged in other types of transport.
– Whilst the Opposition does not oppose this suggestion, I think that there are a number of matters of some significance which are worthy of note at this point. The Government says that no significant loss of revenue is involved in the proposed amendment and has hinted that the loss will be only £8,000 for the rest of the financial year. However, I suggest, that if we are not very careful, a significant loss in the authority of the lower house of the Parliament as the taxing branch of the legislature may be involved in the proposal.
We have before us, in principle, an amendment moved by another place to the Budget proposals announced by the Government here in August. In another week or two we may face another matter involving a most significant loss of revenue. I think that the House of Representatives ought to be very careful of its historic role. In the last few days we have heard a lot about common law, historical privilege and traditions. It is an accepted principle of the British parliamentary system that the levying of taxes and the total amount of the Budget are matters for the lower house of the Parliament to determine.
It is true that, to a degree, the Senate, in our parliamentary system, does not occupy the same role as the House of Lords occupies in the United Kingdom. But it ought to be recognized that this, the lower house of Parliament, elected on a popular franchise and by roughly equal electorates throughout Australia, is the house which ought to determine the level of taxation, the matters which are to be subject to taxation, and the matters which are to be exempt from tax. What the Government has now proposed arises primarily out of a rebellion of a couple of its own supporters in the Senate. After all, nobody can object to the Labour Party’s seeing the merit of the proposal and agreeing with the views of tha two dissident Liberals on this occasion.
This is just a further sign that the Government will give in to any little pressure if it thinks that it can maintain itself in office. If this sort of situation occurred in some other parliament it could be taken as a challenge to the government and the government might go to the people.
– Not by the Senate!
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr, Howson) may have a different conception of the role of the Senate from other people on his side of the chamber. I suppose that, with the little power that the Senate has reserved to it, it regards itself as the custodian of State rights. When the Government planned its sales taxes measures it proposed to make a concession available on tanks for bulk milk tankers used between the dairy and the depot to which the milk and butter fat was taken, but not on tanks for tankers in use between that point and the ultimate consumer.
It is all very well for the Government to say that it has now considered the matter very carefully. The honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) put forward in this chamber the proposal which the Government has now accepted, but the Government would not yield to him on that occasion. I suggest that the only reason that the Government is yielding now is that, as usual, it is bowing to the wind that happens to be blowing. This is about the only sign that the Government recognizes. When the numbers are clearly against it, it is not worried about principles but gives way to expediency. Whilst, in terms of a budget of £1,400,000,000, the sum of £8,000 is not very significant, we should recognize that two dissident individuals from the parties that normally support the Government are forcing-
– No. There was a majority of ten for this proposal.
– That shows that the rebellion is a little more extensive than I thought.
– You are an authority on rebellions on that side of the chamber.
– You are an authority on the need to bow to the winds of expediency. There is a principle of some significance involved. I have always been a good parliament man and my party supports me in this respect. A good parliament man recognizes the superiority, in many measures, of the lower house– in this instance, the House of Representatives. Whether the sum involved be £8,000, £800,000, or £8,000,000, in my view the principle is superior to the amount. 1 ask the committee to consider very carefully what it is doing here. The Government decided to accept the amendment proposed in another place. Sometimes, under the British system of parliamentary government, the lower house receives a humble request from the upper house urging the acceptance of a suggestion and the suggestion is simply referred back by the lower bouse which says, in effect, “ This house pave careful consideration to the measure in the first instance and it is unable to accede to the request”. That is not the case in this instance. If the honorable member for McMillan had not spoken I might have conceded that, in this case, the
Government has had second thoughts. But the honorable member, in this chamber, made the same sort of suggestion as was made in another place and the Government did not agree to it. Apparently he carries no weight in the Liberal Party. He is expendable! Perhaps, realistically, knowing how the winds of change are blowing in McMillan, the Government is not disposed to worry about the honorable member. Apparently it is prepared to preserve itself in office at the expense of principle. Once a government begins to bow to expediency and neglects principles, the canons of good government are being thrown overboard. That is how I would ask the committee to look at this matter. Perhaps we have to bow to the inevitable at the moment because the Government isaccepting the suggestion.
– What would you do?
– The honorable member for Fawkner has asked what we would do. As is usual with Government supporters, he is trying to twist the argument. When challenged about their own sins, Government supporters often ask, “What would you do? “ If this Government had any courage it would say, “ A money bill has been rejected. We regard this as a challenge to our authority, and we will send the measure back to the Senate in the form in which it was first brought down.” But the Government is not doing this. I say to the Minister and his colleagues: You are the Government; you are responsible for the sins of omission and commission.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired!
.- I am very surprised for many reasons which time will not permit me to go into fully that the Government has accepted this amendment. This extension of the sales tax exemption to bulk milk tankers was designed to apply only to a specific type of tanker engaged in performing one specific job in the dairying industry. I refer to the tankers used in the new system which has come to be called bulk milk pick-up. This svstem demanded the construction of a new kind of tanker, fitted up quite differently from the ordinary tankers that are on the road for the purpose of transporting milk from one point to another. Some misunderstanding has arisen because, the English language being what it is, we have called both kinds of vehicles tankers. In correspondence which I conducted in the early days of this new system I tried to have the new tankers called vats. This would have avoided any possibility of misunderstanding.
I submit that only on very rare occasions will a milk depot employ outside carriers to do the specific task performed by the vehicles to which this amendment was originally designed to apply. Now that the Government has indicated its intention to accept the amendment requested by the other place, I think it is only fair that we should be quite clear on what the amendment means. As I understand it, the reason why it was suggested in the other place that bulk milk tankers should be subject to the sales tax concession, whether they are owned by common carriers or by persons using them solely in the dairying industry, was mainly that milk used to be carried in the ordinary milk cans that have been known to the industry for very many years, and on which no tax is payable. The tankers have now taken the place of the milk cans and it has been suggested that they should also be exempt from the sales tax provisions.
The Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill refers to “ tanks for bulk milk tankers for use by producers “ - and now we are to include carriers as well - “ manufacturers or distributors of milk or other dairy produce exclusively for the collection of milk from farms “. The Treasurer in his second-reading speech used similar words. He said -
Assistance is being accorded to the dairying industry by way of exemption of tanks for bulk milk tankers which are used in that industry in picking up bulk milk from farms.
As I understand the suggestion made by the other place, it will no longer be necessary that the vehicle in question be used to pick up milk from farms. The sales tax exemption will now apply to bulk milk tankers transporting milk in any circumstances in which they are used to replace the old milk cans. As many honorable members are aware, a considerable number of factories use flat-top lorries to send their milk to
Melbourne, using milk cans. Other factories send their milk in specially constructed tankers, and in the circumstances that have now arisen it is most necessary that we should make quite clear whether the ordinary tankers that are used for the transport of milk from depots to city distribution centres and other places shall also attract the concession that is being granted.
I take the opportunity of pointing out to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) that the point has been made all along the line that the sales tax exemption was to be granted to people engaged in the industry. This means the manufacturers or the co-operative milk depots that are actually in the industry. A carrier, on the other hand, is not regarded by the Government as being engaged in a specific industry. He is a common carrier and his activities might extend into any field. Acceptance of this amendment means that the concession will also be extended to the common carrier. Whether the bulk milk tanker is bought by a person engaged in the industry or by a common carrier, it will be the subject of the sales tax concession.
In the mining industry a similar position arises. A mining company buys trucks to transport ore from the mining face to the company’s treatment plant, and it is granted a sales tax concession on those trucks. The company also employs contractors, whose vehicles do identical work. The trucks of the company and of the contractors work alongside one another on the job. It is impossible to tell one from the other. Yet the contractors do not receive the benefit of the sales tax exemption. If the amendment before the committee is accepted, then I suggest that contractors in the mining industry should be granted a similar concession.
.- I join with my colleague in pointing out that the acceptance of this amendment runs counter to an attitude which this House has traditionally adopted over a long period of time. We have always had the right to control the national budget. It is true that the Senate has the right to suggest amendments, but in this case, despite the fact that revenue was involved, the Minister and the Government have decided to bow meekly to the
Upper House in amending a financial measure.
Is it not extraordinary that the Government should meekly accept this amendment, which was suggested, apparently, because a few individuals in the other place considered that a further measure of assistance should be given to the dairying industry? This is a Government which eighteen months ago appointed a committee to inquire into the efficiency, or lack of it, of the dairying industry. That committee was presided over by probably one of the most efficient ex-public servants that Australia has ever known. The committee perambulated around Australia for fifteen or sixteen months and presented a report which the chairman himself could have compiled in his office within three or four weeks. Lo and behold, notwithstanding the fact that the Government has had this report on its table for the last month or two, that the report emphasizes the fact that a very large section of the dairying industry is receiving the benefit of a subsidy from public funds amounting to £13,500,000 a year, that this subsidy should be progressively reduced, and that in particular sections of Victoria, such as Gippsland, the dairy farmers are getting too much assistance - a statement with which I do not agree - the Government comes to this Parliament and, under pressure from the Senate, agrees to an amendment which means, in effect, the granting of a further concession to the dairying industry, which we have been told we should screw down on.
This is fantastic conduct. It is unprecedented. The dairying industry is already receiving £13,500,000 a year and now the Government, under pressure, is yielding something further to it. Let us consider the problem of glass-lined tankers used by other sections of the primary industries and see whether this is not, after all, just a case of the Government yielding to pressure, not on a matter of principle, but solely as a result of sheer pressurization by another section of the Parliament. Glass-lined tankers and other types are used in Australia for the transport of a very wide range of liquid products in bulk, in particular chemical products. Many of these chemical products are taken from factory to factory, from processing plant to processing plant, from city to town, and so on. They are used for the transport of all sorts of chemicals which are used by the wool producers, who, I make bold to say, are in a much worse position economically than are the producers of dairy products - or at least many of the producers of such products. But there is not a suggestion from any part of the Parliament that some concession be given to people who use tankers for the transport of chemicals which will be used for making up drenches for sheep, sheep dip, fertilizers and chemical products of all kinds that are used widely in various fields of primary production in this country.
An invidious distinction is to be made under pressure by some rebellious elements in the Senate. Not only is the principle wrong, but also this represents a sectionalization of benefits. They are being given to one section of industry instead of to all industry. If it is right to give a concession to the dairy industry by this means, it is right, likewise, to give a concession to every other primary industry and, for that matter, secondary industry that uses similar tankers. If the dairy industry needs more help - the Government is tacitly saying that it does - this is not the right way to help it. The Government could increase the bounty paid on dairy products, if it likes. It could do as the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry suggests, and increase the extension grants that are already paid - grants which, as a result of action that I took in 1948, amount to £250,000 per annum. These grants were made, first of all, for five years, and have been wisely continued by this Government for a further period. The report of the committee of inquiry suggests that by means of extension grants and scientific research the dairy industry be further helped along the path. At no point does the report suggest that the industry ought to receive concessions of the kind which will be given as a result of this amendment.
– Why did the honorable member’s colleagues vote for the amendment in the other place?
– -The honorable member ought to ask his colleagues why they voted for it in the other place. He and his colleagues have a responsibility in this matter, because they support the Government. They are supporting the weak action on the part of their own Minister who is not prepared to stand up for the rights of this chamber over the other place. That is the question they have to face. The honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) is a mere cipher in this place. He counts for nothing. He has been embarrassed. He has been walked on and pushed into the mud. He raised this issue in the Parliament, but the Government has passed him by, saying: “ He does not count. He is only a cipher “. A few of the Government’s supporters in the other place say: “ We do not like this. We shall embarrass the Government and have an amendment made “. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), acting weakly, then wiped the honorable member for McMillan off and said, “ We shall bow to the gentleman in the other House - the exclusive House - and deny our loyal supporters in the House of Representatives “. What is the honorable member for McMillan to tell his supporters in his electorate, and what will the Government tell the people who use glass-lined tankers, as I have pointed out, for the transport of chemicals used for all sorts of processes?
I join with my colleague in the protest that is being made. The Minister has done an embarrassing and humiliating thing. He has bowed the knee. He has failed to stand up to a rebellion in the Government’s ranks, and he has endorsed a wrong principle with regard to both the making of an exception in favour of a particular industry and the Government’s attitude to the other chamber of the Parliament.
– Mr. Chairman, a similar position arose once before, in 1941, when the late Mr. Chifley, as Treasurer, had to accept an amendment by a hostile Senate in similar circumstances.
– The honorable member knew that I would bring that up if he did not. In fact, I told him about it.
– That is right; the Minister did. He reminded me of it. And fellow-feeling doth make us wondrous kind. That is why I have come to his aid in these rather difficult circumstances. I know his difficult position.
I think that at some time or other this chamber will have to assert its rights to control of the public purse. In that respect, it will have to assert its rights over the Senate. Over the years, and in quite recent times, particularly since proportional representation in Senate elections was introduced, there has grown up a tendency by senators to assert what they regard as the principle of equality of rights. I was responsible for the introduction of proportional representation.
– I bet the honorable member regrets it now.
– At times, when I watch the performances of a mischievous senator from Tasmania, I do have some pangs of regret, because I think that he is making a farce of the parliamentary institution.
I have very great misgivings about a lot of things that are happening with respect to the relationship of the two chambers of the Parliament, and I hope that the Government will at an early stage consider submitting to the people the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee, particularly those concerning the relationship between the two Houses and the proposal for an amendment of the Australian Constitution to provide for a joint sitting to be held in order to try to resolve difficulties before the government even has to consider a double dissolution. Such a procedure would cut some people down to size.
I do not know that, this evening, we can do much more than protest about what has happened in this instance. The Senate has been behaving pretty badly for quite a considerable time. In this instance, some people who pose as the defenders of the primary producers took action in such a way as to suggest that members of the House of Representatives were entirely indifferent to the needs of primary producers. Not only was our right to impose taxes usurped or interfered with, but also an attempt was made to portray us as being unconcerned about the rights of primary producers. What my colleague, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), has said is quite relevant and quite right, and the passage from the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry which was quoted by my colleague, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), was very much to the point. What the report stated is correct, and that view has my support.
I sympathize with the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan), who has been placed in an impossible position. He is made to appear as if he has been trampled on by Strawberry, the cow. That does not present him in a very good situation to the eyes of the electors in McMillan.
The Government has done something which, I suppose, was inevitable in all the circumstances, but I hope that it will find in the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee a solution to these problems of the relationship between the two Houses of the Parliament. If the Government will put those recommendations to the country at a referendum, it will have the wholehearted support of the Opposition. As I have said before, Labour accounts for the votes of about 40 per cent, of the people, even with the existence of the Australian Democratic Labour Party to worry us. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in the days of his declining importance, has only to persuade about 8 per cent, of the people to give their support, and the combined vote in support of these constitutional proposals will total 51 per cent, or 52 per cent. Accordingly, we shall be able to amend the Constitution beneficially and in the interest of this Parliament and of the Australian people.
– I want to comment first on the remarks of my colleague, the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan). Far from the honorable member having been pushed around by the Government in this matter, if any one in this place can claim to have obtained1 the initial concession for the dairying industry, the honorable member for McMillan can do so. He not only made vigorous personal representations to me but he also introduced a deputation to me. It was those discussions which led to the initial amendment. However, for reasons which at the time seemed to us to be valid reasons, the Government did not wish to extend the concession into the field of commercial carriers. What has happened since then? It is true that other members of this place asked us to widen the concession. We did not feel that we should do so for the very reason that has been given expression by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who immediately wanted the concession extended to a whole range of other users of these tanks. So what initially would have been very small reduction in revenue for the Government could, if the wishes of the honorable member for Lalor were granted, result in total in quite a substantial concession going beyond what we would have normally been willing to grant in the Budget for this year.
I would mention just one point which 1 think will correct some misapprehension which the honorable member has. This concession is still limited te those tankers which actually call at the farms. They may be commercial carriers, but only those commercial carriers which actually pick up the milk in bulk from the farms will receive the concession. Therefore, the basis on which the concession was originally made remains - the old-fashioned milk cans did not carry any tax; therefore, the tanker should not carry any tax. This still holds, although we have moved into the field of the commercial carriers.
Now may I turn for a moment or two to what has come from honorable gentlemen opposite? Really, some honorable members sitting with me in this chamber to-night may wonder whether this is the same team of people that we heard addressing us a little earlier in the day. It will be remembered that then I and other members of the Government were accused of being arrogant, drunk with power, treating our supporters as rubber stamps, crushing them into the ground and paying no regard to what they put to us. Now, the Government having found that a substantial body of opinion in its own ranks wishes-
– Two senators!
– No, this proposal was carried in another place with a majority of ten. When the Government studies the implication of the amendment, weighs up the revenue involved and goes very closely into the question of the relations between the two Houses on this matter - I will have a word or two to say on that in a moment - it is accused of being weak-kneed and of bowing to the lightest pressure put upon it. To make the irony farcical in the extreme, we have honorable members opposite telling us that we are making a great sacrifice of principle in this matter. They say that a great principle of the relations between the two Houses is involved here.
But we know that the Australian Labour Party functions on a caucus basis. Opposition members decide by a majority in their caucus what they will do, and every member sticks by the caucus decision on pain of expulsion if he moves outside the range of the decision. Who produced this majority in another place? It was the undivided ranks of the Labour Party joining with a few members from the Government side which produced the decision that we are considering here to-night. If caucus, representing the viewpoint of the Labour Party, feels that the Senate should not send requests of this kind to this chamber for adoption by us, why did these great custodians of principle not see to it that their will was carried out in that place? One has not to seek far for the reason. Indeed, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) gave it away in an unguarded moment. He said that they could see there was some advantage to be gained from this and so they joined in the decision. Having said that, he then attacked us because, he said, we were bowing to expediency. If this is not bowing to expediency on the part of the Labour Party, what is? I leave it to the committee and to the country to decide.
– There is a matter of principle involved.
– I remind the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who hopes to have a long association with some position of authority in the Labour Party, that perhaps one of these days he may find himself so placed that he can genuinely attempt to give expression to one of his party’s platforms, and that is the abolition of the Senate.
Opposition members. - Hear, hear!
– “ Hear, hear!” they say. But this caucus-governed Labour Party joins with others in the Senate to produce a situation in which the will ot the Senate is to be worked upon the lower House. If there is any sincerity in terms of principle in Labour members, they must put on a better show than this!
I return to the issue actually before us, and that is the issue of parliamentary practice which was raised in the first place by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and of which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has sought to make a great deal. I too would claim to be a Parliament man and have some regard for the relations between the two Houses. lt is important that the relations between the two Houses should be kept on the level that the founders of the Constitution intended. The Leader of the Opposition to-night had a little shamefacedly to confess that he had made a botch of the constitutional position between the two Houses when he introduced proportional representation. He put a government of this country in the almost intolerable position of having to be subject, despite an overwhelming majority in this place, to a couple of votes of people who were returned to the Senate by this process of proportional representation. The will of a democratically elected majority can at any time, in the present circumstances, be thwarted as the outcome of his terrible hash in introducing proportional representation.
I took the trouble to look into the constitutional position quite closely, and I should like to put before the committee, for the record, some of the results of my researches. Section 53 of the Constitution provides, amongst other things, that the Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation. Section 55 provides, amongst other things, that laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation and that any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect.
Section 53 also provides that the Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people, but it seems clear from page 671 of the authoritative work of Quick and Garran, and from the practice of the Parliament, that the purpose of this provision is to prevent the Senate amending what is known as a special appropriation bill in such a way as to increase the total expendi ture originated in the House. The SalesTax Bills are proposed laws imposing taxation, but the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bills are not. They merely state the goods exempt from sales tax and classify certain other goods for the purposes of the imposition of sales tax.
A Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill is a bill which the Senate may amend. The Leader of the Opposition has referred to the fact - in fact, I reminded him of it myself when I discussed informally with him this situation that has arisen - that on 20th November, 1941, as reported on pages 236 and 237 of the “ Votes and Proceedings “ of the House of Representatives at that time, the House received a message from the Senate returning the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill 1941 with an amendment of clause 4 relating to the second schedule of the principal act. On the motion of the then Treasurer, the late Mr. Chifley, the amendment was agreed to.
No attempt was made at that time to make a great issue between the two Houses, and, while I shall be as forthcoming as the Leader of the Opposition in sustaining the relationship intended under our Constitution for this House on financial matters with the other place, I say that a very minor amendment of the sales tax law involving a reduction of £8,000 in the revenue for this year under the proposed amendment embodied in the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications Bill) is not, in my judgment, nor in that of the Government, a matter of sufficient consequence either to cause this to be raised as an issue of principle - I suggest, on the historical background I have given, it is not - or to attempt to raise the situation between those two Houses in a larger or more general sense.
It may be that honorable members will have an opportunity shortly to test their sincerity on this matter. They know that the Government has a major proposal relating to sales tax and that that proposal refers to a law imposing sales tax. It will be interesting to see what kind of instruction the caucus gives its representatives in the Senate when that measure comes before the other place. Will it be bowing to expediency when that times comes, or will it be giving expression to this high statement of principle that it has mouthed here to-night in terms which have not conveyed either sincerity or force to those of us on the Government side of the chamber who, earlier to-day, heard a very different expression of sentiment from honorable members opposite?
– I rise to order. I ask you to rule, Mr. Chairman, under Standing Order No. 317, that the document relating to public affairs quoted by the Treasurer be laid on the table.
– Do you require it?
– I so require it.
– Speaking to the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition, I point out that this is a confidential document and that it is not the practice for advice which reaches Ministers officially to be tabled in this way. 1 submit there is no substance in the honorable gentleman’s request.
– Order! There is no substance in the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition.
.-I do not want to canvass the relationship between the House of Representatives and the Senate except to say that on a number of occasions the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has twitted the Labour Party for its platform when he has gone round the country.It is true that the Labour platform provides for the abolition of the Senate. It is also true that the Labour platform provides for the abolition of sales tax, and if the Treasurer would go round the country accusing the Labour Party of intending to abolish sales tax, I, for one, would be very grateful. If the Government is accepting this amendment from the Senate because it is intrinsically a good amendment, I think that is just common sense. The only thing I cannot understand is why we are constantly being treated to the spectacle of the Government saying that the amendment is impossible, or wrong in principle, and ultimately accepting it.
It is perfectly true that the Labour Party and dissidents in the Liberal Party in the Senate did cause this particular amendment to be made. I am grateful for anything that reduces sales tax in any direction, and I imagine that when milk cans were exempted originally from sales tax there was a hygienic reason for it. I should imagine that there was then an intention to encourage handlers to have as many milk cans as possible for, the more they had, the more likely it was that they would be clean. If the principle that the Senate had in mind in exempting bulk carriers of milk from the imposition of sales tax was the hygienic motive to encourage the use of these vehicles, then I think it was very sensible. But I also think that if that is the principle upon which exemption rests then there are many other forms of hygienic transport such as freezer vans for meat and so on that ought equally to be encouraged. Consequently, I think that the amendment which the Government is accepting is being accepted wisely by it. and the constitutional position between the Houses leaves me cold at the moment on an issue like this. It seems to me to be a relatively minor one, but it would be a good thing if these amendments were not brushed aside when they were suggested originally only to be accepted ultimately.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -
That the resolution be adopted.
.- I regard this matter as of some consequence. lt may be that the issue arises because of some gap in the Standing Orders of this Parliament relevant to a section of the Constitution. Section 53 of the Commonwealth Constitution provides that the Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government. I remind the House that, on page 51 of the copy of the Commonwealth Constitution I hold in my hand, section 53 appears under the heading “ Money Bills “ in the index.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! I think the honorable member is aware that on a motion for the adoption of a resolution discussion is confined to the recommendation made by the chairman.
– What I wish to refer to is the basis on which this recommendation is made, and the powers of the two Houses. I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the bible on parliamentary procedure - the sixteenth edition of Sir Erskine May’s “ Parliamentary Practice “, which is to be found on the table of this House. On page 817, under the heading “ Money Bills “, will be found reference to the provisions of the Parliament Act of Great Britain, which contains a definition of a money bill. It reads as follows: -
A money bill means a public bill which in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons contains-
-Order! I think the honorable member is getting wide of the motion before the Chair. He is dealing now with a constitutional question. The only subject before the Chair is the motion adopted by the committee and submitted to the Chair by the Chairman of Committees.
– In the committee there was no opportunity for me to challenge whether this amendment comes properly from the Senate and whether the matter is one on which it is within the province of the Senate to recommend an amendment. [ suggest that you, Sir, as custodian of the privileges of the House, ought to bear with me in this submission. It seems to me that this arises mainly out of the unfortunate circumstance that there is no definition in our Standing Orders, as there is in the law of Great Britain - in the Parliament Act - of a money bill. I merely quote the circumstance that a money bill is one which deals with the imposition, repeal, remission, alteration or regulation of taxation. What happened in the amendment which is the matter of this report is-
– Order! I am afraid I cannot allow the honorable member to continue on that line.
– I hoped that you would appreciate the historical significance of this-
– It is my obligation to see that the procedures of this House are observed and the procedure which I suggest you follow is, in my view, the correct one. I ask you not to canvass the subject-matter you are now quoting.
– Would you suggest, Sir, the stage in the proceedings of this House at which I can ask whether it is proper for the Senate to remove from a bill an item that was the subject of taxation?
– I am not able to make any suggestion at this stage.
– At least I ask, Sir, if you suggest that I am out of order, that you give serious consideration to looking at the gap which seems to exist in the Standing Orders, in that you have no power to define what is a money bill. The Speaker of the House of Commons, on which we model our procedure, has that power. Until that position is met we will continue to get this problem. In committee the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) quoted a document which purported to be an authority on this situation. I do not regard it as an authority or as correct and I suggest that something ought to be done about it. I merely raise a protest at this stage to indicate that something should be done.
– Mr. Speaker, I riseto a point of order. My point of order is that a Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill is a money bill under the Constitution and therefore is a bill which cannot be properly amended or altered in any way by the Senate because an amendment removes from taxation a subject which previously had a tax on it. I ask you, Sir, when you give your ruling, to quote your authority for that ruling. Furthermore, will you ascertain whether the document from which the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) persuaded the House to adopt the resolution, was one that was presented to him by the law officers of the Government, or one that he wrote himself?
– The point raised by the Leader of the Opposition is really not one for a decision by the Chair. There is a precedent; similar procedure has been followed before. The forms of the House are available to the Leader of the Opposition if he wishes to pursue the issue. The question before the Chair is, “That the resolution be adopted “.
– Have I a chance to speak to the matter now?
– Then I give you notice that at some time it will be before you.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 20th October (vide page 2229), on motion by Mr. Opperman -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I hope this latest amendment to the Explosives Act settles the matter of what are Commonwealth explosives and what the Commonwealth can do about them. We passed the original act in 1952 and in it we said that the phrase “ Commonwealth explosives “ means explosives which are the property of, or are in the possession or control of, the Commonwealth and are for use or are capable of being used by the Commonwealth military forces or for the defence of the Commonwealth. Apparently a doubt has now arisen as to precisely what are explosives which are capable of being used by the Commonwealth’s military forces or for the defence of the Commonwealth. Accordingly, we are taking out the whole of that definition and are inserting a new one.
The doubt in this matter was raised by the Permanent Committee of the Australian Port Authorities Association which the Minister, under the 1952 act, is under an obligation to consult before making orders for the berthing of ships, which contain Commonwealth explosives, in Australian ports, all of which, of course, are under the control of State governments or authorities set up by the State governments.
In 1957 we sought to lay at rest another doubt about this legislation, the difference there being that between the words “ mooring “ and “ berthing “. We were not quite sure what they meant and so we took out “ mooring “. After that 1957 act was passed, under its new definition we made regulation 48a of the Explosives Regulations. On the 5th October last the Minister told me, in answer to a question which I put on the notice-paper, that on the 2nd April, 1958, the Australian Port Authorities Association had requested that the new section which had been put into the Explosives Act by the 1957 legislation be further amended by omitting the new definition and that we should not promulgate this new regulation 48a. The Minister told me he refused to repeal the new section but did agree not to promulgate the new regulation. Apparently the 1957 amendment has been a dead letter to this day.
The whole position under this act seems to be somewhat confused. On the date to which I have referred the Minister also told me that on 13th January last year the port authorities had resolved that the Commonwealth Government be requested to amend the Explosives Act to restore the former position. He told me that as the intention of that resolution was not clear and as no formal request for a special amendment had been made, no action was taken. I do not know whether this bill, which he introduced on 20th October, was designed to carry out any request implied as a result of the resolution that he told me about on 5th October.
The control of ports is unsatisfactory. There are more than 30 different port authorities in Australia. The Commonwealth has power under the Constitution to regulate port navigation of ships which are engaged on interstate or overseas voyages, or engaged on defence purposes. In this bill the Commonwealth deals only with defence purposes. The Commonwealth is the only authority in Australia which, under the Constitution, can deal with customs matters that arise in all our ports. In practice, the Commonwealth also is the only authority which regulates the stevedoring industry.
The regulation of our ports is a matter of exotic confusion. The Commonwealth’s customs, migration, stevedoring, navigation and quarantine authorities all deal with some aspects of ports which are, in other aspects, dealt with by 30 different State authorities. New South Wales and South Australia are the only States in which one authority controls all the ports of any significance. In the other States there are different authorities to control each port. This bill at least makes it plain that where the Commonwealth is engaged in defence purposes in the ports, the Commonwealth’s will shall prevail. I very deeply regret that the Commonwealth does not show a little more boldness by co-ordinating all the functions of the ports which come within its powers, that is, interstate or overseas shipping amounting to well over 90 per cent, of the shipping in every port.
We support the bill as far as it goes. We hope that this third amendment of the act at least will make plain what Commonwealth explosives are, and will make plain that the port authorities of Australia cannot shilly-shally and stall on this matter any longer.
There is another matter to which I must refer. The act will now apply to explosives owned or controlled by the government or forces of another country which are in the Commonwealth or a Territory with the approval and for the defence of the Commonwealth. That also seems to be a reasonable and appropriate amendment, and we give it our support.
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 from 9th November (vide page 2650), on motion by Mr. Opperman -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill also relates to the Commonwealth’s powers in respect of interstate and overseas shipping. Under the Seamen’s Compensation Act the Commonwealth provides a scheme of workers’ compensation to cover seamen who are engaged on interstate voyages. The bill extends the provisions of the act to cover seamen who are engaged on delivery voyages to or from Australian ports. These voyages are becoming increasingly frequent. I regret that with the approval of the Australian Government a number of ships are still being imported by Australian companies. There is no excuse for that because Australian shipyards can build every kind of ship that is used in our overseas, interstate or intra-state trade.
– At a price.
– At no greater price to the companies, and more promptly than they can secure ships anywhere else. The honorable member for Wentworth should know that the only reason why Australian companies order ships overseas is so that executives of those companies can have an overseas trip. I repeat that Australian shipyards can build any ship that is required in our overseas, interstate or intra-state trade. Furthermore, Australian shipyards could build ships for other countries like New Zealand which economically are closely tied to us or for the migrant traffic. They could build ships also for our use in the Antarctic. At present we are under a large but unrevealed expense each year for the hiring of Danish ships for the Antarctic. Australia is one of the largest trading countries in the world. We build thoroughly satisfactory ships, yet we still import a very great number of ships.
The immediate incident which gave rise to this legislation was the loss of the “Ian Crouch “. This vessel was intended to be one of a fleet of ships operating between South Australian ports and South Australian and Tasmanian ports. The ships which the firm operates could all have been built in Australia, but the “ Ian Crouch “ was built in Hong Kong and was lost on its delivery voyage. Tt was not a second-hand ship; it was a new ship. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that it is largely due to your own unremitting efforts that this legislation has been introduced. It provides that should an unhappy event such as the loss of the “ Ian Crouch “ again occur, the bereaved or injured parties will have the same compensation cover as now applies under the act to persons employed on interstate voyages.
While we may expect some diminution of delivery voyages to Australia, for a time there will be quite a number of delivery voyages from Australia. A very large number of Australian coastal ships which become over-age - one-half of Australian shippins is over-age and uneconomic - are sold overseas. In many cases, though not always, they are manned by Australian crews on their delivery voyages. This act will extend the particular form of workers compensation to those crews similarly.
If honorable gentlemen seek to challenge anything I have said hitherto about the age of the Australian coastal shipping fleet, which is gradually being disposed of overseas, or about the capacity of Australian shipyards to build all the ships which are required by Australia in overseas, interstate or intra-state trade, or in Antarctic exploration and the delivery of supplies to Australian teams in the Antarctic, or about our capacity to repair New Zealand ships and to supply the New Zealand shipping market, I invite them to read two reports which have been presented by the Tariff Board in the last four years, and which have been largely ignored by this Government.
The Opposition supports this legislation. We also believe that the Government did the right thing in voluntarily applying the provisions of the Seamen’s Compensation Act to the relatives of those who lost thenlives in the “ Ian Crouch “. I understand that that is what the Minister said, and that the relatives did, in fact, receive compensation. If I may say so, that was a laudable decision.
– That was paid by the company, not by the Government.
– The owners themselves did it?
– Then they did right, and we acknowledge it.
I want to make a few remarks about the general position of workers compensation in Australia. Until the Commonwealth has the powers over industrial matters which, at the 1946 referendum, a majority of the Australian people - but not a majority of the people in a majority of the States - showed that they thought it should have, and which uV all-party committee of this Parliament recommended two years ago that it should have, it is impossible for this Parliament itself to enact a unified workers compensation code for Australia. It would be possible to have such a code, T suppose, if unions were to make a united application to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for the making of awards which would cover most forms of workers compensation in Australia.
Workers compensation in Australia is an extraordinarily involved, expensive and inadequate procedure, and the Commonwealth should take some part in modernizing and co-ordinating that procedure. Consider the position in regard to seamen, for instance. Seamen engaged on a voyage between two ports in the same State are covered by the provisions of the workers’ compensation legislation of that State. Seamen engaged on a voyage between a port in one State and a port in another State are covered by the provisions of a Commonwealth act - the Seamen’s Compensation Act. Seamen employed on any of the ships of the Australian National Line, owned by the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, are covered by another Commonwealth act - the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. We already have two acts dealing with the matter, passed by this Parliament.
There are other compensation acts which this Parliament could pass. We provide different codes in each of the Territories. The Australian Capital Territory has one and the Northern Territory has another. Papua and New Guinea has yet another, with variations for the natives and for the immigrants. We can, and we should, provide a code of workers compensation for employees in interstate air and road transport. I suggested before the last Premiers’ Conference that this matter of co-ordinating Australian workers compensation codes should be raised at the conference. A month ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) gave me an answer to a question that I had put on notice asking him whether he had adopted my suggestion. The answer was in the following terms: -
The co-ordination of workers’ compensation acts was not discussed by the Premiers’ Conference in June, 1960. Provision of compensation for the large majority of employees in Australia is governed by State legislation, and the question of co-ordination is primarily a matter for the States.
It is true that the large majority of the employees in Australia are covered, as to workers compensation, by State acts; but surely it is begging the question to say that co-ordination in this respect is primarily a matter for the States. Wherever there has been co-ordination of legislation in Australia it has been at the instance of the Commonwealth. I cannot recollect any legislation which the States have coordinated by their own efforts. The States in Australia have egregiously failed to follow the lead given by the American States for many years. Whether it is in the field of industrial legislation, health legislation, traffic legislation or company legislation - to take instances in recent years - in every case co-ordination has been at the instance of the Commonwealth.
It is unsatisfactory that there should he more than a score of workers compensation codes in Australia. The liabilities of employers as well as the rights of employees and their relatives vary according to the side of a State border or a Territory border on which one is injured or bereaved. This position constantly occurs along the border between New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. There are a great number of people who work in Canberra and live in Queanbeyan. If such people are killed on the way to or from work the rights of their relatives depend on the side of the border on which the fatality occurred. The same thing arises in regard to people who live in Wodonga and work in Albury, and in regard to people who live in Tweed Heads and work on the Gold Coast. The amount of compensation and the right to compensation, the method of proving a case to the tribunals before which the applicant appears, vary between State and State, between State and Territory, and between Territory and Territory.
Furthermore, there is no way of coordinating the law in these matters. A year ago the Opposition instigated a great number of amendments - with very little fruit, I confess - to the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act and the Seamen’s Compensation Act when they were before this House. Those amendments were prompted by the four or so decisions in this field given by the High Court over a period of twelve months before that. But we now find that the eligibility of employees and their relatives for compensation varies more to-day than for some years past. Legislation in the States concerning heart cases, as they are generally referred to, differs greatly between one State and another.
There is also one other matter that we should d’o something about - the coordination of our procedures. If one is dissatisfied with the initial determination under the Seamen’s Compensation Act or under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, one appeals to a State court of district or local court status. The position arises, therefore, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria, that appeals on workers compensation go to tribunals which do not otherwise ever determine matters of workers compensation. In New South Wales and Victoria at least, and maybe in the other
States - I do not know - there are tribunals which specialize in the determination of workers compensation matters under the State acts. It would be appropriate to provide in the Commonwealth acts that where there is dissatisfaction with a determination under the two Commonwealth acts the appeal should be made, not to a court which no longer hears such matters, but to a court which specializes in them. I think one could say, with respect, that the Workers Compensation Commission in New South Wales and the corresponding tribunal in Victoria comprise judges who are more expert in medical matters and the other matters which arise under workers compensation laws than are any other judges in the Commonwealth. Yet they cannot hear these matters which arise under the Commonwealth compensation acts. The position of appeals under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act is thoroughly unsatisfactory. Opposition members have frequently asked questions on this subject and so also have Government supporters. It is impossible to defeat the delays in the Treasury. There may be many bureaucratic delays in the Commonwealth Public Service about which we d’o not know, but there are a great many of our fellow citizens who are constantly reminded of, and suffer from, delays in the Commonwealth Treasury because of these procedures in the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. I have known many cases where delays in making a decision have extended up to twelve months or more.
– Or longer than that.
– I know of many cases that have tak.-.n twelve months, and 1 know some that have taken twice as long. The difficulty in this procedure is that delegates of the Commissioner for Employees’ Compensation - and I think, speaking from memory, there are about 200 - can ask for one lot of information after another. There is no time limit with which they have to comply. They do not have to give reasons and there is no procedure by which an applicant can be heard by them. These faceless tribunals can take their time about making decisions and there is no way of speeding them up except by approaching a member of Parliament.
I hope that the Minister who is new to his portfolio and is taking a great interest in the various matters that come into his portfolio - and I should like to encourage him to bring more and more matters into it - will do something when the act is next amended in a greater number of ways to see that the determination of matters under this act is brought either to a State court which specializes in these matters or to the Commonwealth Industrial Court. The latter would be an appropriate solution.
The Commonwealth Industrial Court now comprises - and I make no secret of my view on this matter - gentlemen who have had a very considerable experience in industrial matters I believe the present members of the Commonwealth Industrial Court would spend their time more fruitfully and more happily in determining matters of real industrial significance, such as workers’ compensation appeals, than some of the matters we have given to them. It is frequently said about this court that it is a court cf pains and penalties. That is not the court’s fault; it is this Parliament’s fault because we have given the court that job to perform. But we should .give the judges some other work for which their talents admirably equip .them, .and from which a great many people .engaged in interstate trade or Commonwealth employment would get more satisfaction and more speedy justice and be more satisfied they were receiving justice than is possible under the present procedures.
– I join with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and honorable members who sit on the back benches on the -Government side in a plea for the streamlining of the methods of workers’ compensation. .1 know that when we speak of Commonwealth jurisdiction, we are moving into a big field covering all States; but in debating a measure such as this, we have an opportunity to put points of view that normally does not .come our way.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) referred to the case of the crew -of the “ Ian Crouch “, which was lost. I cannot accept for a moment the statement , that when the crew was taken on by the company, the normal procedure of covering the employees for workers’ compensation was not followed. A weakness has emerged from this sad incident disclosing a lack of coverage under the legislation since 1911. That is why I join the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in asking, as forcibly as I can, for a complete review of the methods we have been following, and for the streamlining of Commonwealth workers’ compensation.
The incident to which I have referred throws up the realities of workers’ compensation. No matter how you try to cover workers in industry, you find something happening which has not been covered by compensation. Every dme we use the word “ compensation “ we should think of what it means. It means that an injury, or something worse, has happened to a worker somewhere in Australian industry. The last thing the shipping company anticipated was the loss of the “ Ian Crouch Similarly, in every walk of industry we find things happening which were not expected to happen. They occur despite .all safety measures.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has asked for compensation provisions to be streamlined as far as possible. In that connexion, it is pertinent to say to the Government and to the Minister for Shipping and Transport that it is -time we streamlined the Seamen’s Compensation Act. Although this act has been amended four times since 1949, the measure has never been consolidated, and I suggest that the Minister give attention to that matter as soon as possible. The consolidation of a measure such as the Seamen’s Compensation Act is important and in the case of this .act, it is long .overdue. In his secondreading speech, the Minister said that the loss of .the “ Ian Crouch “ - . . brought to light for the first time the fact .that in some circumstances, Australian seamen serving in ships engaged on delivery voyages to or from Australia were not covered by the Seamen’s Compensation Act.
My .first .thought in that connexion is that there have been a great number of delivery voyages around the Australian coast from various countries, but this peculiar incident is the first since 1911. that has revealed a weakness in the act. The method of curing this weakness obviously caused the draftsmen a great deal of concern. An analysis of the method that has been adopted indicates that seamen have been covered to the maximum extent possible on delivery voyages from the time of engagement until their return, irrespective of whether they bring a ship back or take a ship away and return. It is important to keep in mind the 1953 amendment which reveals the importance of consolidating the act. We want to bring the relevant provisions into one act immediately so that they can be clearly followed. Any accident to an individual that might have occurred on the return voyage of the “ Ian Crouch “ would not have been fully covered unless the new section and the old section of the act are read conjointly. That underlines the importance of the consolidation of this act at the earliest possible moment.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition drew attention to the need for the consolidation of Commonwealth compensation legislation. In the last amendment to the Seamen’s Compensation Act we brought the schedule rates into line with those in the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. It may well be that the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, whilst not as liberal in some respects as some State acts, could well form the basis for a uniform act.
The Seamen’s Compensation Act itself underlines the possibility of uniformity. It matters not, under this act, whether a seaman is engaged in Sydney to go to Hong Kong or in Adelaide to go to Hobart; the one act covers his compensation wherever he goes. After all, he is working under a federal award. If we can have a compensation act which covers all seamen who are working under federal awards - we all agree that they are entitled to the maximum coverage because of their occupation - surely, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said, it would not be an insurmountable task to achieve uniformity with respect to all employees working under federal awards throughout Australia. The example has been set in this act and the amendments proposed to it.
Finally, although I know that this is a matter which finally will have to be considered, possibly, by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), I put it to the Minister for Shipping and Transport that even if it takes him twelve months, he should devote himself to the streamlining of compensation procedure in order to eliminate long waiting periods. A person who would give reliable evidence concerning an accident which happened a week or two ago might be at a loss to recall the details of an accident - even a fatal accident - that occurred in September, 1959. Procedures should be streamlined for two reasons: First, they should be streamlined to facilitate a better evaluation of evidence. Secondly, they should be streamlined in order to satisfy as early as possible the claims of the dependants of somebody who has been injured or killed. These two factors are so important that if the Minister found the answer to the problem of shortening procedures he would be rendering a humane service to those who seek compensation. Indeed, he would be rendering a service for which he would be long remembered.
– There is no doubt that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) brought up a very important point when they said that it was high time that the Government streamlined workmen’s compensation procedures in all the fields in which the Commonwealth has jurisdiction, so that one act would cover all workers in the Commonwealth and its Territories who can be brought under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. There are four main purposes of workers’ compensation - compensation for temporary incapacity, compensation for permanent and partial incapacity, compensation for permanent and total incapacity, and compensation in respect of the death of a breadwinner.
I cannot see any justification for a Commonwealth Government fixing different rates of compensation for a person employed by the Commonwealth in South Australia, for a person employed by the Commonwealth in New Guinea, for a person employed by a private employer in New Guinea, for a person employed by a private employer in the Australian Capital Territory, for seamen, and for people under Commonwealth jurisdiction on Norfolk Island, Cocos Island, Nauru and various other Territories under the control of the Commonwealth. I should like the Government to codify the laws, including the common law, on workers’ compensation and to provide one compensation scale which would be applicable to everybody, whether governmentemployed or privately employed, who could be brought under the jurisdiction of the laws passed by this Parliament. That is to say, every employee of the Commonwealth Government and its instrumentalities and every employee of every employer in any of the Commonwealth Territories should be governed by the same law. This would mean a uniform law which would apply equally to New Guinea natives and to Australian citizens living in Territories over which the Commonwealth has control.
I think such a code should provide that, in the event of temporary incapacity, a worker should get his full weekly wage as compensation. It is archaic and is quite wrong and unjustifiable for a government to expect a man who is temporarily incapacitated to meet his obligations and maintain his family for less than the weekly wage that he receives when he is well. In 99 cases out of a 100, the person concerned finds it hard enough to meet his obligations on the wage he receives when he is able to work. He should not have to try to meet those obligations with threequarters or two-thirds of his normal wage, according to the compensation law that applies to him. When a person loses a limb and is partially incapacitated for life he should have the right to choose between receiving a lump sum of money, fixed by the act, or a weekly payment for life, which has some regard to the extent to which his partial incapacity affects his earning capacity.
– What about 100 per cent.?
– In the case of 100 per cent, incapacity-
– No, I mean 100 per cent, wages while the injured man is off at any time.
– I covered that point before my friend came into the House, and I agreed that the worker should be paid the full rate. In the case of total incapacity the worker should have the right to elect to claim either a lump sum, to be an amount equal to not less than the amount he would receive in ordinary wages for five years, or a weekly payment for life equal to his full weekly earnings at the time of his being incapacitated. Should he predecease his dependants, they should be entitled to continue to receive such a weekly amount. If he dies leaving a wife with no dependent children, she should get no less than 75 per cent, of such weekly amount. If a worker is killed in the course of employment the same conditions should apply. His widow should receive, while she has dependent children, a weekly amount equal to the amount the breadwinner was earning at the time of his death. When she has no dependent children she should be given 75 per cent, of such weekly amount.
These are the principles that were agreed to by the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party following the receipt of a report and recommendations by the industrial committee of that party some three or four years ago. They are sound principles, and if they were adopted there would be no need for the Deparmtent of Social Services to be required to meet claims for widows’ pensions by widows whose husbands ha<J been killed during or in the course of their employment. That brings me to another point. Even here we see the need for uniformity. The phrase “ during or in the course of employment “ is preferable to “ during and in the course of employment “ which is still retained in the law in some parts of the Commonwealth.
I therefore say, in conclusion, that the matter of workers’ compensation should be seriously considered by this Government. The Government, in its present frame of mind, seems bent on bringing about uniformity. It has passed a law to achieve uniformity in divorce procedures. It has presented a uniform marriage bill. It has even foreshadowed uniform company law, although not very much progress seems to have been made in that direction. No doubt certain pressure close to the hip pocket nerve of the Liberal Party’s campaign fund is preventing progress being made in the formulation of uniform company law. But at least the Government should enter the field of workers’ compensation. It should follow up the fine example that has been set with uniform divorce and marriage laws and prepare uniform laws on workers’ compensation. If that were done, and if the law finally prepared were a good one, it would be one thing for which the Government would get some credit.
– in reply - It is fairly obvious that many honorable members have taken the opportunity offered them by the presentation of the Seamen’s Compensation Bill to debate various matters connected with Commonwealth compensation generally. I do not intend to cover all the details that have been gone into by the various speakers. I merely say that we have to remember that in the payment of compensation it is the taxpayers’ money which is involved, and that certain formalities must be observed before such, payments are made. However, I do not think anybody would quibble with the suggestion that the rninimum of time should pass before claims are met.
I have appreciated the remarks that have been made by the various speakers, although not necessarily swayed by them. They will be given due consideration. The bill has been accepted by the Opposition, which has pointed out that in this case justice is being done to seamen who have suffered mishaps on these delivery voyages. It is unfortunate that the need for a measure of this kind had to be revealed by a tragedy like the “ Ian Crouch “ disaster. Be that as it may, however, this bill has now been prepared, and, despite the difficulties involved in adequate classification, the matter has been brought to a successful conclusion.
I should comment on another matter that was mentioned by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). He referred to the Australian shipbuilding industry and implied that the Government had not as much interest in that industry as it might have. I say to this House that the Australian shipbuilding industry is- an outstanding one. No ships have been imported into Australia since 1956 except those needed for urgent replacement of vessels lost through shipwreck or accident. I do not think any one would: object to the importation of ships in those circumstances. A subsidy of up to 33i per cent, is paid on shipbuilding in Australia for ships over 500 tons, and duty of 47i per cent, is imposed on ships under 500 tons. Every possible protection is given to an industry to which I pay tribute as being an outstanding one, and in which one finds a high standard of workmanship.
Mention has been made recently in this House of various vessels. There is the “ Troubridge “, which is being built in Brisbane by Evans Deakin and Company Limited’. There is the Ampol tanker of 33,000 tons which is being built at Whyalla. Most notable, of course, is the “Princess of Tasmania “, which was built in the yards of the New South Wales Government Engineering and Shipbuilding Undertaking at Newcastle. From those yards will also be launched on 3rd December the very fine “ Bass Trader “ which will mean so much to trade and commerce and to the provision of fast and efficient transport between the mainland and Tasmania. There is also contemplated, of course, a further vessel to follow the “ Princess of Tasmania “ and which will ply between Sydney and Tasmania. I say “ between Sydney and Tasmania “ advisedly because I know that in the island there is a great amount of controversy, or perhaps 1 should say discussion, as to the Tasmanian port that will be decided upon as the destination of this vessel.
Overall, the shipbuilding industry this year will reap the benefit of about £3,000,000 in subsidy. The Australian Shipbuilding Board gives valuable advice to the industry, and I contend that the shipbuilding industry is being amply catered for in this country. We are proud of it and the Government intends to support it to the limit.
– How much is the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited getting out of it?
– That company has a very efficient shipbuilding yard. It has built some splendid ships for the Australian trade. If it builds ships of over 500 tons it is entitled to a subsidy of up to 33i per cent., just as other shipbuilding yards are.
I appreciate the fact that the Opposition is supporting the bill, and I commend it to the House.
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.
– As chairman,I present the fifth report of the Printing Committee.
Report read by the Clerk.
Motion (by Mr. Lucock) - by leave - proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I wish to ask the chairman of the Printing Committee whether the committee considered the printing of a report of the Australian Labour Party Mining Committee. The honorable gentleman will remember that a committee of the Liberal Party of Australia reported to the House on transport. Its report was printed by order of the House and the printing was in due course approved by the Printing Committee. After the House had given its approval for the printing of the Australian Labour Party Mining Committee’s report, the Printing Comittee decided that it would not have this report printed. I believe that this decision was made at the instance of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who felt that the Labour Party committee had in some way reflected on his administration.
I should like the chairman of the Printing Committee to investigate the position further, because Opposition members feel that differential treatment has been meted out to a committee of the Labour Party. Opposition members will be prepared, if necessary, to confer with members of the Printing Committee in order that justice may be done to the Labour Party’s committee. The report which it prepared is a very comprehensive document, which was compiled only after a good deal of study and much investigation of the mining fields of Australia by competent members of this Parliament - senators and members of this House who represent mining areas. That report is worthy of preservation as a record and it should be available to people in various parts of Australia who want to know all that they can learn about the mining industry - now in a parlous and precarious position - and about its future, which is causing a great deal of concern throughout the community.
.- in replyMr. Deputy Speaker, may I say, first, with all due respect to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), that the matter which he has raised was not before the Printing Committee at the meeting to which this report now before the House relates. This is a report of a meeting of the committee held to-day.
– The matter has been before the Printing Committee before.
– The matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition has been before the Printing Committee on a previous occasion, but was not before it at the meeting to which this report relates.
Again, with all due respect to the honorable gentleman, I suggest that he is not quite correct when he says that differentiation has occurred. In the case mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition there were two reports presented by two separate committees, one a Government committee and one an Opposition committee. Both reports were printed. The report which the Leader of the Opposition now suggests should be printed is outside the scope of the report of the Printing Committee which I have just presented, and therefore I make no comment on it.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker-
– Order! The honorable member for Lyne closed the debate by speaking in reply. I may say that I allowed the Leader of the Opposition latitude to discuss a matter outside the scope of the report of the Printing Committee which is now before the House, as was the honorable gentleman’s due, but any other discussion of that matter would be out of order.
– I do not want to discuss it. I ask for leave to ask the chairman of the Printing Committee a question.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro has sought leave to ask a question of the honorable member for Lyne, as chairman of the Printing Committee. Isleave granted?
Leave not granted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 9th November (vide page 2649), on motion by Mr. Davidson -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, this small bill now before us which has attracted the attention of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) is a miserable little measure. The unanimous decision of members of the Australian Labour Party in this Parliament is that the Government’s proposal to take away from servicemen in camps in Australia a concession which will be continued for Australian servicemen on service overseas is a poor one. It does not seem to have any warrant on the score of economy or any basic reason behind it. I suppose that the amount involved would not be more than £10,000. The Minister proudly announced that the Post Office made a profit of £20,000,000 last financial year. On 8th November, approval for the granting of licences for thirteen new commercial television stations rolled off the register, and those licences will result in considerable profits accruing to the Postmaster-General’s Department. Yet the Minister brings in a bill to repeal the Post and Telegraph Rates (Defence Forces) Act, which was originally enacted in 1939, in the early days of World War II., in order to give to servicemen paid only Id. on the letters that they wrote home. Concessions on telegrams and certain other concessions in respect of parcels and other things, also, were promeasure, under the terms of which servicemen paid only Id. on the letters that they wrote home. Concessions on telegrams and certain other concessions in respect of parcels and other things, also, were provided for.
I think the general public have happily accepted those concessions over the years and that we all want to see them remain. But some finch of Pecksniffian reformers in the Department of Defence have recom mended to the Postmaster-General, who himself is a reasonable man, that these concessions be just wiped out. Probably only about £8,000 or £10,000 is involved, but the result will be a lot of frustration, anxiety and concern, and the effect on recruiting will not be good by any means.
I know that the Army is being reduced, and that the pentropic forces and the other rather whimsically named sections of the new Army will be much smaller than their counterparts previously were. Furthermore, despite our protests, the Government has at long last succeeded in discarding compulsory military training as a failure. One of the gruesome things that the Government has to do as a result of this re-organization is to get rid of its warrant officers, its training staff and others. But, in doing this - in tightening up the Army establishment - it need not be so miserable as to say to the young professional soldier in camp at Puckapunyal, Darwin, Caloundra or elsewhere about the country: “ We shall swoop on you because the stringency has been so terrific. You may have heard what the Treasurer has said about tightening our belts. We are going to take away your penny postage, the concession we have given you for your telephones and your concession in regard to parcels.” This may appear to be a small thing, and even the serviceman may think it is a small thing. But why the difference? Why, after all this nonsense advertising for recruits for the service, suddenly take away this concession?
I thought 1 would look at some of the propaganda that is churned out week after week and month after month to attract recruits. Extravagant claims are made, such as: “ You can go around the world if you are in the Army “: “ Everybody loves you, if you are a sailor “; “ Do you want to play the drums? “; “ loin the Army and learn a musical career “; “ Excellent opportunities for men who are good enough “; “ How many ranks are there? “; and so on. Let me make some reference to the small Army pamphlet which uses this extravagant language. It does not speak about the abandonment of penny postage and the stealing of the parcel concession; it does not say that when the serviceman goes to the telephone to ring up his girl or his family, he must pay the full rates unless he is a member of the expeditionary force, employed by Seato or some one else. This makes clear that the home forces are not on the same footing as the forces allotted to serve overseas in countries involved in the cold war. In this Army pamphlet we find some of this mm flam about the soldier. It says -
Basic training is sweat - so are manoeuvres in mountains, jungle, or on dusty plains. It weeds out weaklings at the right time - early.
It suggests that the soldier is the No. 1 man and feeds him this “ Superman “ stuff. But after we have given him this “ Superman “ stuff, we pinch his penny postage. After we say that he is the best of soldiers and that training has toughened him, and after the sergeant-majors have moulded him into the very image of a modern soldier, we tell him that he is a credit to the country, that he is part of a small, compact army, and that we are indeed very proud of him. And as a reward we now take from him the concession of penny postage that has been enjoyed since 1939. This is not the Postmaster-General’s idea; it was the idea of some defence planning committee. Some one thought it was a good idea to d’o something to the serving soldier, and his penny postage was taken away. This action is not necessary. Even if these postal concessions cost £8,000,000 or £10,000,000, we should still leave them alone.
I see that to-morrow we will vote £6,000,000 for the Indus waters scheme, and I will support that proposal, as will my party. We are voting £103,000,000 over the next three years for university education. But the very core, the very centre, of our safety is this little, tough basic force of servicemen in this country and abroad; yet their concessions are to be removed. Listen to some more of the propaganda which would mislead some of these people into believing that they would at least be considered in the Army. The pamphlet about the Army says -
A soldier can save easily, travel Australia, increase his education and trade skill, have a two-year overseas tour, and enjoy doing it - if he uses his head.
He will have to use his head in the future if he wants to send as many letters as before, because, although his letters once cost only Id. they will now cost 5d. I do not want to labour this too much. The Postmaster-
General must see what a miserable little thing it is, and I am sure that he in his generosity would be ashamed to handle it. We put out these glossy brochures which give details of pay and allowances for the soldier and which say, “ Why soldiers look smarter “, “ Leave is liberal - on full pay “, “ Medical care is first class “. They even suggest that if the recruit needs dental care, they will fix his teeth for him without charge. This expensive propaganda is poured out all over the country in these brochures and in full page advertisements saying what will be done for the recruit. Then, out of the blue and for no reason, these concessions are taken away. In his second-reading speech, the PostmasterGeneral said -
The Government has decided, on the recommendation of the Defence Committee, that concessions of this nature will be retained only for service personnel serving in defined areas overseas. At the present juncture, these areas comprise Malaya and Singapore and Royal Australian Navy ships of the Strategic Reserve outside Australian waters. The concession rates which the Government intends to apply arc, broadly speaking, 50 per cent, of the normal civil rates to the areas concerned.
What a tremendous piece of planning. This is done with the pinch-penny and niggardly attitude of the corner grocer. The PostmasterGeneral also said -
The concessions have not been modified since they were introduced and consequently have, in the main, become greater.
It is pointed out that when first introduced the concessions were about 50 per cent, of the civil rates, but now the civil rate is 4d. more than the concessional rate. Surely we ought to grow up in relation to our services and the facilities we provide for our servicemen. Concessions, new pay rates, new superannuation rates and gratuities for service personnel are costing real money, as they should; and we are able to look the world in the face and say that our servicemen are not only smart and well-trained but are also well paid and enjoy first class facilities. But then we come down with this silly idea. Many people other than Opposition members will be irritated by this pinch-penny attitude.
I will say no more about it, because the Postmaster-General must see that it is a miserable little thing to do. It seems to have no warrant, measured against the sums of money that flow through this
House. As I said before, millions of pounds are provided for this and for that, and we hear about our abounding prosperity, with here and there a temporary check to our careering inflation. But the best we can do for the men in our services, here and abroad, is to take away this concession - a poor thing but important to them. They enjoyed a concession previously in regard to their letters home, their telegrams and their parcels. The PostmasterGeneral is a man of military experience and I would say to him that this has a lot of sentiment attached’ to it. I dare say that when he was a young man in the services, probably at night he took out his notebook, placed it on his kit bag and wrote a letter saying, “I am a lonely soldier, nearly 6 feet tall and a Queenslander. I would like to correspond with you. Write to me at my unit.” Such a letter would have cost him Id. But any romantically minded serviceman in the future will find that it will cost 5d. for letters to the lovelorn.
Without making it sound too ridiculous, I think we ought to get out of this by rescinding this measure. We should remember the profit of £20,000,000 earned by the Postmaster-General’s own instrumentality, the £26>,000,000 literally murdered on St. Mary’s - I do not know whether we are making any munitions there - and the amount provided under the Colombo Plan and in international aid, all of which is no doubt good and useful. But that should be measured against the contemptible little job that has been done in this niggling way. Little privileges are being taken from the servicemen, and the most miserable of all is in this action when we say, “ Your letter rate will be increased because the concession was a war-time measure and the war has been over for a long time “. There is a warning in that. The serviceman is told that he must get back practically on to a civilian basis. This is not worth arguing about. The PostmasterGeneral should say that he is ashamed of this silly little thing and that he will recommend that the idea be abandoned. We make that suggestion to him. and we leave it to hi<: good sense.
.- I had not intended to speak on this measure, but the honorable member for Parkes (Mr.
Haylen) has provoked me into doing so by putting forward on behalf of the Opposition what I felt to be, in view of the Opposition’s previous general attitude to defence, an astonishing approach to this measure. One of the things that the Government is trying to do, and is always trying to do, is to get the best possible value for the money which in any year it is able to spend on defence. We are being constantly criticized by the Opposition on two grounds. First, the Opposition has consistently said that we have spent too much on defence-
– 1 rise to order. Is defence policy involved in this measure?
– Order! The honorable member for Barker is quite in order.
– I am dealing with the point made by the honorable member for Parkes. The Government believes that we should get the maximum value for the money that we are able to spend on defence. We are being constantly criticized by the Opposition not only in relation to the total amount of money we spend on defence but also in relation to the value we get for that money. The Government has a different approach from that of the Opposition to the total amount that we should spend on defence. I do not propose to canvass that subject to-night, but the Government has set approximately £200-,000;000’ as the most that we can spend on defence each year, having regard to the need for national development and so on. Having fixed that limit at. £200,000,000, it is essential that we get the best possible value for the money spent. I suggest that that is the spirit in which this measure is brought before the House.
If the honorable member for Parkes felt strongly on this matter, I should think that at least he would have informed himself as to precisely what this concession costs the defence vote. He could have discovered that from a perusal of the Budget papers. This concession costs the defence vote slightly over £300,000 a year. If we are trying to decide how to get the best value for the money spent on defence, £300,000 is a very significant sum indeed. Surely the Opposition will admit that we must ask ourselves whether the £300,000 now spent on these postal concessions would be better spent on other things, such as equipment for the members of the Australian forces so that they could be more effective in defending the country. The Government, in its constant vigilance to see that the money allocated for defence is spent in the best possible way, has looked at the matter in that light.
What are the circumstances which have led the Government to say that the £300,000 would be better spent in other ways? If we were at war, the Government perhaps would have retained the concession because of its value in keeping up the morale of our forces. But circumstances to-day are entirely different from those during the war period, when morale had to be considered. During the war period, most servicemen were away from their families for long periods. That does not apply to the majority of the members of the Australian forces to-day. So successful has the Government been in providing housing for servicemen that there is hardly a married serviceman in Australia who is unable to live in married quarters with his family on the station to which he is posted. That being so, the reason for this concession which existed during wartime no longer applies.
Another direction in which there has been a change of circumstances is in the rates of pay of servicemen. When this concession was first introduced, the Australian serviceman received virtually nothing. His rate of pay was 5s. or 6s. a day. To-day, judged by any standards, the Australian serviceman is very well paid and is therefore quite as capable of meeting postal charges as any other member of the community.
The next point I wish to make is one mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes. We no longer have national service training. If we still had national service training, I would say that there would be a very strong case for the retention of this concession, even if only for national service trainees. Under a national service training scheme we forcibly take young men away from their homes and families, and it is a good thing- to make it as easy as possible for them to communicate with their families. But, because of the change in the strategic situation, national service training is no longer necessary and therefore the only possible argument which could be put forward for the retention of this concession no longer obtains. 1 suggest that, in the light of the overall defence situation, the £300,000 which this concession is costing the defence vote would be far better spent on providing better equipment for the Australian forces. 1 repeat that it was only after deciding that better value could be had for the money by spending it in other directions that the Government decided to bring down this bill.
.- While I acknowledge that the intention of the government of the day, when introducing postal concessions for the defence forces in 1939, was, in the words of the then PostmasterGeneral, to withdraw the facilities at a suitable date after the termination of the war, I ask the Government: Why 1961? Why not two years ago, five years ago, or ten years ago? Have conditions of service in the armed forces changed substantially in recent months, or even in the last ten years? By virtue of the fact that our servicemen volunteer for service, they still’ may be required to serve overseas. They still may be required to serve in what are termed little wars. They are still required to serve anywhere in this country, whether near to or far from their homes and families. Even while in Australia, the possibilities of overseas service are a reality. We must acknowledge, too, that our armed forces would naturally bear the brunt of any attack made on our country, regardless of how unlikely invasion may seem at this moment. These are the conditions of service. Every serviceman recognizes his responsibility and I submit that in this uneasy peace, referred to so freely as “the cold war “, a fair comparison between civilian life and that of the forces could not place them on the same level.
I have no doubt that in years gone by the Government considered those responsibilities and disadvantages when stating the conditions of service under which servicemen signed their agreement to serve. At that time those conditions included postal, telephone and telegraphic concessions and I suggest that the Government is committing a breach of contract in withdrawing those concessions to the servicemen.
The facilities granted under the Post and Telegraph Rates (Defence Forces) Act provided an essential opportunity to maintain family contacts when servicemen were forced to leave their homes. Young men - in some cases apprentices of very tender years - are separated from their families by long distances and the withdrawal of the concession on telephone charges will make them feel even more isolated from their families. Family men, too, are often posted to places where married quarters - despite what the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) said - are impossible to obtain. In the recent re-organization of the Army this has happened on countless occasions. In view of the inconvenience already caused to these married servicemen I think the concession rates could still help them to maintain their family ties by keeping them in contact with their families.
Because of the great number of transfers connected with the Army reorganization other disadvantages of Army life have become painfully apparent. Servicemen who thought they were permanently settled in one place have outlaid their savings in the purchase of homes and in many cases have found that they cannot sell them without considerable financial loss. Such a case was recently brought to my notice in Bendigo. A married serviceman has been transferred from Bendigo to Melbourne because of the Army reorganization. An Army veteran, he took the opportunity, when he came to Bendigo years ago, to enlist the help of the War Service Homes Division and he now faces the problem of obtaining a home for his family in overcrowded and outgrown Melbourne, with his one opportunity of war service homes finance used up and his chance of obtaining war service homes finance again very doubtful indeed.
A survey unit is stationed in Bendigo. Periodically its members travel far and wide in surveying and mapping outback areas. They may be away from home for months on end. Surely they should be given some concessions for keeping regular contact with their loved ones at home. Again, I submit that even in peace-time the responsibilities and possibilities of life in the armed forces are well outside the civil sphere and the Government should recognize this by maintaining the concession postal, telegraphic and telephonic rates.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. F. C. Chaney.)
Majority . . 24
Question so 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.
Australian Ex-serviceman in Northern Ireland - War Service Homes - Papua and New Guinea - Dairying: Report of Committee of Inquiry - Bank Advances for Primary Production. Motion (by Mr. Adermann) proposed - That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to bring before the House and eventually, I hope, before the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in his capacity as Minister for External Affairs, a matter which is of great concern to a constituent of mine. It is the case of an ex-serviceman who left this country three or four months ago. Prior to leaving Australia he visited the Australian Capital Territory and received a letter from the Prime Minister of Australia. I think everybody who receives that type of letter believes that he will at least receive fair treatment when he goes overseas.
I think the best way to put this matter before the House is to read a quotation from the “ Irish Weekly and Ulster Examiner “, which is published in Belfast. The article, under the heading “ Priest taken to Police Barracks “, reads -
Mr. Cahir Healy (Nat.) asked the Minister for Home Affairs in the Stormont Commons if he could state the reason for the arrest recently, in Armagh, of Monsignor William Fahy, a distinguished ex-serviceman, while on a visit from Australia, and what redress it was proposed to offer to this distinguished prelate.
Incidentally, I hope that nobody will confuse this matter with the many requests I have made in respect of Australia’s diplomatic representation in the Republic of Ireland. This incident relates to Northern Ireland which is classed as a British possession. The article continues -
The Minister, Mr. Faulkner, said the gentleman referred to had been observed taking photographs of the external security measures at a police station and was asked to explain his reasons for so doing. On the conclusion of the interview he expressed himself as being in no way perturbed by the incident, recognising as he did, having served with the armed forces, that the police had a duty to perform.
Mr. Healy asked if the incident did not confirm the idea that this was a Police State? Did the Minister know of any other place where a gentleman in clerical garb, taking a picture of what must have been to him a strange sight, would have been placed under arrest? Did the Minister not consider that the police act was a very bad advertisement for the tourist traffic in this country? Would it not give a very unfavourable impression of the friendly, hospitable Ulster people?
The Minister said he was satisfied that the way the question and the supplementaries had been put, they were asked for political purposes. He did not believe that the gentleman concerned had any desire to make publicity out of the incident Mr. E. Richardson (Nationalist) asked the Minister if he could state the exact nature of the offence committed by a person seeking to take a photograph of public buildings in Northern Ireland, and the authority for so stating? Would the Minister have prepared and issued to the general public a detailed list of all buildings, public or otherwise, the photographing of which was prohibited by his officials or was made the occasion of a summary arrest and detention of persons taking such photographs?
The Minister stated that as in the ordinary way no offence arose from the taking of a photograph of a public building in Northern Ireland the various points raised in Mr. Richardson’s question did not arise.
Mr. Diamond said while on a recent visit, a cross-channel press photographer was dissuaded from taking photographs of the Alcatraz on the Crumlin-road. Mr. Healy asked did the Minister not realize that the taking of a photograph in time of peace was no danger to the State at all. Every one in Ireland and England knew that the Police Barracks were barricaded. Only strangers arriving here would be interested in the matter at all.
The part of the article which I want to emphasize is as follows: -
In a statement this week, Monsignor Fahy, who is a former Australian Army Chaplain and a native of Ballindooley, County Galway, at present on holidays in Ireland, said, “ I was wondering what official face-saving explanation would come from officialdom in the Six Counties. My reference to my ex-serviceman’s interest in the sand bags and barricades was conveniently misinterpreted. The crux of the situation was evaded, namely, what justification was there in the discourteous, trigger-happy manner in which I was ordered to the police station. “ The remarks attributed to a Unionist member of the House that the police were quite right only serves to make more clear that Gestapo police methods have approval within the Six County Government. The Minister of Home Affairs is right in saying that I do not wish to make publicity of it, but I am equally determined that such blatant interference with the freedom to which Commonwealth visitors are entitled does not go unchallenged or without satisfactory explanation. “ So far I am unable to say whether or not the film in my camera was interfered with. This matter is now in the hands of the Australian Ambassador in London.”
I ask the Prime Minister, in his capacity as Minister for External Affairs, to have inquiries made, not at the Embassy in Ireland, which does not exist, but in London. If the Prime Minister of this country can go abroad to settle the Suez Canal trouble, the Congo trouble and troubles all over the world, surely he should be able to settle this trouble. The Prime Minister’s good lady was over in Northern Ireland recently. Surely the Prime Minister has some influence, and I assure him that this matter reflects not on a foreign country but on a country that is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Something should be done about it.
Two years ago I had the same sort of experience when crossing from Dublin to Northern Ireland. 1 had been in South America and many other countries but that was the only occasion on which my bag was examined. The officers found only some clothes that had not been sent to the laundry, and they were very disappointed. This is supposed to be British justice. AH jokes aside, I hope that the Prime Minister will have something to say about this matter. He has made trips abroad trying to settle the troubles of the world but he has failed up to date.
.- I am sorry to occupy the time of the House at this hour, but in the circumstances I feel it is necessary for me to do so. About two or three weeks ago in the course of the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House I referred to the fact that in less than twelve months paint had peeled off the exterior walls of a score or more war service homes in West Pymble in my electorate. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) replied to me in a letter denying responsibility for the bad painting of these homes and setting out his reasons. I quoted his letter at some length and replied to the arguments that he had adduced. In speaking to him since I have gathered that he felt that in justice to him I should have quoted the final part of his letter. I do so now and I shall make some comments upon it. It is in these terms -
If there is any applicant who is dissatisfied with the home provided for him, I would be prepared to release him from the obligations under his contract and grant him a second loan.
In this case, the applicant would have his deposit refunded to him subject to an adjustment being made to cover reasonable rentals during the period of his occupation and the compensation would be paid to cover the fair value of any improvements which have been made to the property.
Of course, the offer of a second loan would not be available where the applicant disposes of his home by selling the property.
Alternatively, if there is any applicant who is unable to finance the cost of any re-painting which he considers to be necessary, it may be possible for the Division to grant him a further loan for this purpose. In these circumstances, the applicant should get in touch with the Deputy Director, War Service Homes Division, Sydney, who will be glad to discuss the matter with him.
In the time allotted to me when I spoke on this matter previously I was not able to quote the whole of the letter. I did not omit the last part deliberately but simply because, first, I did not have the time to quote it, and secondly, because I did not take it very seriously. I did not take it seriously because if a loan were sought from the War Service Homes Division to repaint these homes that had been improperly painted this would be an admission that there was no liability on the part of the War Service Homes Division. This, of course, was entirely unacceptable to me as it was to my constituents.
The second proposition that the Minister put up was that the deposit could be refunded subject to an allowance for rental that had been paid over a period of something like eighteen months or more during which these people had been in possession of their homes. On the assumption that they had paid a deposit of, say, £1,000, this would mean that they would receive a refund of £1,000 less something like £300 representing rental. They then would have to save this amount again before putting down another deposit on another home. Furthermore, they had been in these homes for eighteen months or more; they had formed their gardens, no doubt with much labour and a good deal of loving care; they had sent their children to local schools; they had settled in this particular locality because they liked it and perhaps because it was close to their work. I did not regard the Minister’s proposition as being fair and reasonable. Because I did not take these proposals seriously I did not quote them when I spoke on the last occasion. I did, of course, communicate them both to the local press and to the constituents who had written to me.
I do not want to go into the matter any further. I think that the facts speak for themselves. When the paint peels off a house within less than twelve months, there is something wrong with the paint. I am merely seeking justice for my constituents, lt may be true, as the Minister has said, that a builder who was unscrupulous would not be prepared to accept liability. It may be true also that if he were sued he would have to accept liability. But I submit that a government instrumentality should have a rather higher standard of morality in these matters than an unscrupulous contractor would have. So, in justice to the Minister, I have quoted the rest of his letter and have stated the reasons why I think his answer is unacceptable. 1 ask that he reconsider the question as a matter of simple justice. That is all that concerns me. I regret having to occupy the time of the House with this matter. 1 should have thought that the facts would have spoken for themselves and that redress would have been given.
– I wish to deal with a matter that is of great concern to me and ought to be of great concern to the people of Australia. I refer to the action of the Administration in New Guinea in refusing to allow representatives of the press to attend a meeting of leaders of the native people of Papua and New Guinea that is now being held near Rabaul, lt seems to be extraordinary that action should be taken to prevent the press from being present at a meeting of this kind - the first ever held - at which leaders of the native people have assembled to discuss their problems with each other and with the officers of the Administration. One is entitled to assume that the Administration is afraid to allow the press - which means the public - to hear what the native people think of the Administration in New Guinea. Indeed, one of the officers of the Administration has stated that the reason why the press had been prohibited from attending this conference, which is expected to last a fortnight, was that the Administration was afraid that some of the native leaders might say things-
– The honorable member calls it bunkum. T am reciting to the House the text of an official reply to a question. The official reply is to the effect that the Administration was afraid that the native leaders might say something that would be, as the officer put it, misinterpreted. I am very concerned that this Government should be so fearful of what the native people are thinking of the Administration that it has decided to place a black-out on news emanating from this conference. If we have nothing to hide in New Guinea, why are we preventing the press from attending the conference? No one can doubt that a bad press is better than a press without freedom. With all the faults of the press - no one could be more conscious of its faults than I am - at least-
– Where is the conference being held?
– In Rabaul. One thing must be said: If it were not for the press of this country this Government, arrogant though it is already, would be even more so because, as a result of the campaigns that have been waged by the newspapers, whenever they are aware of things which they believe to be wrong, the Government has been forced to toe the line. It was the press campaign against the vicious features of the Crimes Bill that forced the Government to accept some of the amendments that the Opposition proposed. Only by allowing the press to hear what the native people have to say will we, as a people, ever discover how well or how poorly the Government is doing its job. 1 am very suspicious of some of the things that the Government is doing in New Guinea. I am wondering whether the press was prohibited from attending the conference to cover up some of the misleading and evasive answers that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has given to the Parliament, these answers no doubt having been supplied by the officers of the Administration. I am beginning to wonder whether some of the Administration officers, whom I have credited with doing an excellent job and with being dedicated men, are perhaps not so dedicated to their job as I at first thought. When I asked the Minister to tell me whether it was true that the Administration was using unpaid forced native labour to maintain certain roads in
New Guinea, the answer was “No”. I then asked this question on notice -
Are native villagers responsible for repair and maintenance work on the Minj -Goroka road in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea free to refuse to perform this work?
The answer was -
Yes, except for obligation as the occupier of land adjoining a trunk road to clear drains and cut grass and secondary growth on the length of the road adjoining his land, under Section 9 of the Roads Maintenance Ordinance.
The Minister did not answer, but evaded, my question, which was whether the natives were free to refuse to do this work. The plain fact is that they are not free to refuse. The District Commissioner told me that every native on these locations in New Guinea-
– And every European, too.
– I am talking about natives doing work for nothing and being obliged to maintain the roads that go through their villages.
– We have to do that.
– Yes, but you get paid for it. If I catch any persons not being paid for doing road work in Australia, I shall report them to the unions concerned and see that they get paid. There is no union in New Guinea to whom one can report such people. I also asked the Minister -
Are these natives required to carry river stones and gravel by hand from river beds to the job on which they are working?
The Minister’s answer was -
See answer to 1.
That answer was, “ No “. 1 knew that that answer was not correct, so I asked the question again. The question was -
Do they now carry this material by hand?
To-day, I received the following reply: -
Road-making material must be carried by hand from the river bed to the point of loading for a motor vehicle. This varies mainly from 10 to 50 yards and the estimated longest haul, which is exceptional, is about500 yards.
That is just not true, because there was no sign of a motor truck anywhere on the road that I travelled with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I also asked the Minister whether the natives had requested that a motor truck be made avail able to assist in carrying the material along the road, and the Minister’s answer, on 8th November, was “ No “. He said that no such request was made. I have the authority of no less a person than the Leader of the Opposition to refute that. No one will accuse him of being anti-planter or anti-Administration. He will verify the statement that I now make that in his presence and in the presence of Senator Dittmer the District Commissioner was requested by a native working on the road to provide a motor truck and that the District Commissioner said, “ What do you want this for? ls this only to save yourself some work, so that you will not have to work so many days a month or that you will not have to do so much work? “ That was beside the point. It did not matter whether it was to save work. Of course it was to save work. They ought to be saved work. Fancy, in this day and age, human beings being compelled to go into the river bed and carry metal on a piece of bark from the bed of the river, up the bank of the river, and along the road - not for 50 yards, 100 yards, or 500 yards, but for at least a mile from the river, because the nearest river bed from the point of disposal was a mile away. What an archaic state of affairs! Is it because the Minister is afraid that at this conference of native leaders that is now being held the press might hear some objections by the native leaders, or that the native leaders might ask that a small grader be provided, and that a motor truck be provided in order-
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I am glad that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) is present, because I refer to an aspect of the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry on which I think some statement from him is required to-night. The recommendations of the committee have, of course, caused consternation in dairying districts. The fear is held that their implementing might cause ruin to many thousands of small farmers and establish one of the greatest land monopolies ever known in Australia. It is thus a matter of firstclass importance to obtain as quickly as possible an answer to the question whether or not the Government intends to implement the report. When I have questioned the Minister for Primary Industry repeatedly in this House on this point his answers have been inconclusive. He has said that the industry must be given time to study the issues involved in the report, and he has given an assurance that the Government can be relied on to protect the interests of the dairy farmers. If the uncertainty which exists over the terms of that reply can be removed-
– You are raising the uncertainty, and you alone.
– The honorable member for Corangamite says that I, and I alone, am raising the uncertainty. If the honorable member will listen to me for a minute, he will see that he is doing me an injustice. The uncertainty comes from members of his own party.
– A tragic circumstance.
– Just wait and see. If the uncertainty can be removed it will be in the interests of the security and the future of this industry, which last year contributed almost £30,000,000 to Australia’s export income. Accordingly, I raise with the Minister the question whether the Government can in fact implement this report even if it decides to do so. My point is based on a statement made outside this chamber by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate). He has declared that he and a group of his backbench colleagues in the Liberal Party and the Country Party, representing rural electorates, will prevent the Government from implementing the report in many of its features. This is, of course, a statement of utmost importance to the dairying industry.
– Where did he make that statement?
– The statement was made in the “ Bega District News “ of Friday, 11th November, I960. In mentioning that newspaper, I might add that for the seventh successive year it has obtained the highest award of the provincial press in New South Wales for accuracy and general excellence of production.
– What are the words in the newspaper?
– 1 will read them. They are -
The report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry, if fully implemented, would result in the ruin of thousands of small dairy farmers.
I am reading the report of what I said myself. 1 do not think the honorable gentleman would be interested in hearing what I had to say. This is what the honorable member for Macarthur said-
– Read what you said and then what he said.
– I shall do that We are interested in the statement of the honorable member for Macarthur. The report reads -
There was little likelihood of the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry being implemented by the present Government.
Mr. Jeff Bate, M.H.R. for Macarthur, told a meeting of the board of directors of the Producers Co-operative Distributing Society Ltd. that Liberal and Country Party members from rural constituencies would prevent the Government from adopting the report in many of its features.
– Who said that?
– The Liberal member for Macarthur. This is a statement of utmost importance to the dairying industry. I suggest that it demands a statement in this House immediately, both on behalf of the group of members for whom the honorable member for Macarthur claimed to speak, and by the Minister for Primary Industry, against whom this ultimatum, if it is in truth an ultimatum, has been directed.
Is it in fact an ultimatum? Has the honorable member for Macarthur conveyed to the Minister the decision of this alleged group of Government back-benchers to refuse him permission or authority to implement the report of the committee? Who are the members - it is important that the House should know - of this group of Liberal and Country Party members from rural electorates, for whom the honorable member for Macarthur made himself the spokesman? We know, of course, that one of them is the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), because he has equally - not in this House, of course - publicly declared himself in violent opposition to any move to abolish the dairy industry subsidy. That appears in the “Sydney Morning Herald” of 21st November, in reference to an interview with the honorable member for Richmond in “Canberra Report “ on ATN Channel 7.
– What is your policy?
– I am absolutely and completely opposed to these recommendations, which would indeed mean the ruination of many thousands of small farmers and would bring about an unprecedented land monopoly in Australia.
– Why not leave it to the States which can produce more economically?
– I am very interested in the words of the honorable member, who clearly is supporting the recommendations of the committee. If rural members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party have joined in this decision to thwart the Government and protect the dairy farmers, why have they remained silent on this issue inside the House while making statements of this kind to the dairy farmers outside? Why has not the honorable member for Macarthur declared himself in this House? Assuredly, it is the proper place for him to do so. I do not suggest that the honorable member for Macarthur and the honorable member for Richmond have one face for the dairy farmers and another face for the Ministers in this place, but I do suggest that to avoid that impression being given to other minds, they must no longer remain silent on the issue in this chamber if their convictions are such as they are expressing outside the Parliament.
Secondly, to give some definite information, which is so eagerly required by the dairying industry, I suggest that in view of the statements that the implementing of this report will be refused by a group of Liberal Party and Country Party members, an obligation is on the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) to inform the House whether he is aware of the existence of this rebel group in the Government ranks, and whether he will bow to its orders and abandon the recommendations in the report. In fact, what must foe made known is whether this organized rebellion is something which the honorable member for Macarthur has merely dreamed up or whether it actually exists in the Govern ment ranks. This is, of course, of the utmost importance to the dairying industry..
In the few minutes that remain to me, since honorable members have expressed keen interest in my own views on this subject, I shall proceed to quote my views. The report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry, if fully implemented, will result in the ruin of thousands of small dairy farmers. The proposals of the committee are quite ruthless and extremely farreaching in effect and at least 3,000 small dairy farmers will be forced out of the industry.
The abolition of the £13,000,000 subsidy to the industry over a period of ten years, and its replacement by a loans proposal, would mean that such loans would have to operate with mathematical precision, and they would have to be applied without discrimination to be really effective. Needy farmers would be strangled by red tape, maddened by questions and frustrated by delays in a proposal that is full of danger and fuel for bureaucracy. I believe that if the report is adopted it will accelerate the monopolizing of land, strike a further blow at the existence of the small man and, by encouraging take-overs of 3,000 farms by neighbours, will put land in the hands of fewer and fewer people by a back-door method. It is no wonder the Government held over this cold-blooded report until after the Calare by-election. Finally, might 1 add that the “Bega District News”, representing one of the most conservative dairying areas in New South Wales, fully endorsed those opinions in its leading article in the same issue which published my opinion.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) raised two questions relating to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I shall deal with the second of those questions - that relating to road-making - first. During recent weeks, the honorable member for Hindmarsh has placed a series of questions on the noticepaper, and I have replied to them with courtesy and in good faith. Apparently, the honorable member for Hindmarsh does not believe what I say. That is a situation for which I am not responsible. I have answered in good faith. I believe that every word of every answer I have given has been true, whether based on my own personal knowledge or on the reports 1 have received from officers of the Administration. So far as his challenge to the truth of the answers given in concerned, I .leave that matter in your custody, Mr. Speaker, and in the custody of the House.
I -do want, however, to say something about the general question of road-making in the Territory. Road-making in the Territory ,is carried on at very many different levels. There are some roads that are built by engineers and by contractors. They are built in much the same way as any other engineering work is undertaken. They are the major roads and, as I say, they are built in much the same way as roads are built in Australia.
In the more remote parts of the Territory and -some of the places where roads do not carry heavy traffic, roads are perhaps built by the Administration, but an obligation is laid by law on both the native residents and the European residents, whose properties might adjoin the roads, to clear secondary growth and weeds from the bits of road that adjoin those properties and to maintain them. This is an obligation that is placed on them by ordinance, not in all parts of the Territory but in some parts. It applies to people who have land adjoining what is called a trunk road.
In addition to that, in newly opened areas, for administrative purposes we have embarked in recent years on a most dramatic and rather romantic programme of roadbuilding with the co-operation of the native people. This has resulted in the building of perhaps anything up to 500 miles of new road over previously trackless country in the course of a year, and has added as much as 5,000 miles of such earth roads to the communications of the Territory.
The procedure is something like this: A district officer a district commissioner or a patrol officer goes out and talks with the native villagers in a newly opened area - usually an area in which there are no Europeans. The officers point out to them the advantages from their point of view of having a road. They tell them that a road will mean that medical services can be brought to them. If they have any journeys to make, either with produce for market or to bring their reports to the district office, a road will make travelling easier. In the case of ordinary social gatherings, this communication will also be of value to them. -In a discussion of that sort, the native people realize the value of a road, and they will enter voluntarily -into an arrangement regarding the -building of the road.
The arrangement made varies from place to place, according to the nature of the topography, the size of the population and the distance of the road; but it is a voluntary arrangement made ‘between the native village people and the Administration. In some cases, it may be as simple as this: The patrol officer will say, “ I will bring along shovels, spades, crowbars and barrows and we will work together and make this road “. In other cases, it is more complicated. He might say, “ We will provide trucks and the money with which we will pay you for the hours you spend on the road “. It is an arrangement made for mutual advantage. There is no case that I know of in which the native people have not co-operated very freely and willingly, and with a sense of real achievement on their own part, in helping to put a road through previously trackless country to serve their own villages. Once such a road is established, it definitely becomes the obligation of the Administration to see to its maintenance, and at that stage trucks are provided. If I had time, and if I had had notice of this question, I could give the House and the honorable member for Hindmarsh a very detailed account of the number of vehicles and the amount expended on those roads.
I want to leave that matter and turn to the question of the conference that is being held at Rabaul. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has tried to suggest that the exclusion of the press - if there has been exclusion, and I have no knowledge of that - has had some sinister purpose. The point I should like to make very clear, Mr. Speaker, is that this conference is, in very large part, a .training exercise in our efforts to promote the political advancement of the people. As honorable members know, during recent years we have put an intensive effort into promoting native local government councils. That effort has been rewarded by some quite remarkable results. and a number of local councils has been formed.
In order that the people who are engaged in the local government councils will be able to lift their eyes beyond their village and take in a wider region, on two occasions - this is the second occasion - the Administration has organized a conference of delegates from various councils. The delegates come together and talk about their particular problems which, customarily, they deal with only in their local government areas. They elect their own chairman and they find their way through an agenda, perhaps in a halting way and perhaps also with a certain amount of guidance, but gaining from the experience some familiarity with the process of conference. There is an opportunity to discourse over a larger field about things which they customarily deal with within the limits of a village.
This conference is certainly not what the honorable member for Hindmarsh misrepresents it to be.
– Why are you afraid of the press?
– If the honorable member pretends that this is a conference which is discussing broad matters of policy over the whole national field, I tell hrm that it is nothing of the sort. He suggests that we are trying to keep out the press for fear that the natives will criticize the Administration. That is a complete bogy, because that situation does not arise. It is not that kind of conference, and rt is not the kind of conference at which a discussion of that sort would take place.
As I have said, I have no knowledge of whether or not the press is admitted to this conference. If it is not admitted, that may be the result of a decision by the Administration because it feels that what I have called a training exercise would proceed more smoothly if it were conducted in private. It may be because the native people themselves do not wish to have the press present. I have been present at gatherings where I have put to the native people the question, “ Do you want the press here? “ It is a regrettable fact that although we are trying to teach them democracy, the behaviour of the press has led a majority of the native people in the Territory to distrust the press.
– I would not blame them for distrusting the “ Pacific Post “.
– I do not want to differentiate between one newspaper and another; but I have been at gatherings where a native has said, obviously with the approval of all around him, “ Man nius igottim brain bilong dog “. When I have spoken to him and asked him to elaborate, it has appeared that he believed that a newspaper man was just like a dog because he ran about from place to place and was never satisfied until he had something to snap up into his jaws. That is a regrettable fact. I do not mention it to embarrass the press or to express an opinion of my own. But at a time when we are trying to lead the native people in democracy and to present to them the advantages of a free press, it is regrettable that so many of them distrust the press.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- As the Government is rushing the Parliament into recess, ordinary members will have very few more opportunities to refer to matters which have not yet been satisfactorily resolved. There are two matters which I have previously mentioned in the House, and if time permits, I propose to deal with each of them to-night. The first matter that I wish to mention is the action of the Commonwealth Development Bank in foreclosing on agricultural equipment that was used by Mr. Lance Davis, a farmer of Bendemeer, New South Wales. When I first raised this matter in the House, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who was then Acting Treasurer, said that he woud have some investigations made. Before he had completed the investigations the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) returned to Australia and, I assume, took up his normal duties. I received a letter from the Treasurer dated 14th November last, in which he stated -
It would not be proper for me as Treasurer to seek to intrude in the relations between a bank and its customer.
What I wanted the Treasurer to do was to see that an unfortunate farmer who was endeavouring to keep in production was assisted to do so. After all, this bank is supposed to help the man on the land, particularly the man who is not able to get financial accommodation elsewhere. I believe that it was the duty of the Treasurer to see that this man obtained justice. The Treasurer went on to say in his letter that action was taken by the bank only after it had made strenuous efforts over a protracted period, to resolve the position. He also said -
It also appears that all the circumstances surrounding this case have not been brought to your notice.
But the Treasurer has not told me the nature of these circumstances, of which I am supposed to be ignorant.
Let me tell the Treasurer that since I last raised the matter 1 have received some very interesting information, not only from the farmer concerned, but also from an organization of which he is a member, the Australian Primary Producers Union. Let me tell the House the exact position, as reported in the “ Australian Producer “ newspaper and also from information given to me at first hand. Mr. Lance Davis was a former client of Elder Smith and Company Limited, wool brokers. The managing director of that company is Mr. H. Norman Giles. Besides being the managing director of that company, of which Mr. Davis had formerly been a customer, Mr. Giles is also the deputy chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, which controls the Development Bank. This farmer, last year, had a violent clash with Mr. Giles in his capacity of managing director of Elder Smith and Company Limited. I do not know the circumstances under which the company was delaying payment, but evidently the small wool producers in that district were having difficulty in getting their money from Elder Smith and Company Limited for the produce which it had handled on their behalf. Mr. Davis had to consult his solicitors before he was able to force Elder Smith and Company Limited to make payment of the money which was due to him.
Being a public-spirited man, Mr. Davis apparently had taken up the case on behalf of other small producers who had also been denied their money. It is interesting to note that the clash that he had with Mr.
Norman Giles in his capacity as managing director of Elder Smith & Company Limited took place in February, and it was in February of this year that he began to experience difficulties with the Development Bank - the very same month.
– That is suspicious.
– It is very suspicious. I should like to know the particular circumstances to which the Treasurer has referred and which he has not revealed to me or, as far as I know, to anybody else.
This farmer has told me, to indicate the kind of treatment that farmers are getting from the Development Bank, that an applicant for a loan from the bank has to lodge a fee of £10, but if a loan is not granted the £10 is not returned to him. This gentleman has pointed out that the Minister revealed in this chamber that although 2,300 applications had been received, only 600 had been approved, leaving 1,700 cases in which applicants had been unsuccessful in obtaining loans from the bank. According to Mr. Davis, the bank collected a fee of £10 from each of those 1,700 applicants. It appears to me that if this is the position, the Development Bank is being run very strangely. I think that the members of the Australian Country Party ought to be doing something about this matter. However, they apparently are not interested in the small producer. Let me tell you that he is obviously a man worthy of assistance. That may be seen if only by examining his returns for the last twelve months operations.
There was very little pasture on the property when this ex-serviceman and his wife and three dependent children first went onto it. He has been on the property only for about sis years. During the previous twelve months he had produced 143 bales of wool which were sold for £9,246, 364 cattle which were sold for £8,573 and 500 sheep which were sold for £1,126, yielding a total income for that year of £18,945. An honorable member asks by way of interjection, “What has become of it? “ This chap was unfortunate enough to be in an area which subsequently suffered severe drought. Primary producers who periodically are faced with drought and bush fire can be in a very prosperous condition one year and almost down to bedrock the next. Is the Development Bank intended to act in the manner that I have described? Why has it not given this man assistance? He wanted his payments on agricultural machinery which he was buying on hire purchase to be deferred for a mere twelve months. It involved a sum of less than £150.
Let us examine the situation. Daily we are told in this House that primary producers ought to be producing more because we need export income. Yet this unfortunate ex-serviceman farmer’s seeder was taken away and he had to do his seeding by hand in order to try to keep in production. The bank foreclosed on hisseeder. Judged on the information which the Treasurer has furnished to me there was no justification for this action. In this Parliament, repeatedly, we hear members of the Labour Party being chided with the statement that we represent only industrial areas and that we have no consideration for the farmers. Here we are taking up the case of an unfortunate farmer who evidently cannot get a member of the Australian Country Party to speak for him. Whether it be a small farmer, whether it be a worker, or whether it be a small businessman, if he wants justice he has to come to the Labour Party because the Government represents only big monopolistic interests. Unfortunately, the so-called Country Party principally comprises stock and station agents, auctioneers and local solicitors, not the practical man on the land. These members tag along at the tail end of the Government and are not prepared to raise their voices in the interests of the small producer. I want the Government to provide me with a more satisfactory reply on this subject than I have received up to date.
Time will not permit me to deal fully with another matter on which I had wished to speak. Before this session ends I want the opportunity to return to this matter which has been shrouded in a great deal of mystery. On this subject I have asked questions to which I have not yet received a satisfactory reply. I refer to the alleged conduct of a senior diplomat in the service of this Government.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 35
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.10 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Charges at Canberra Community Hospital.
ser asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Commissioner, Western Highlands, left the party, a native person spoke to the honorable member for Hindmarsh about a truck.
m asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
What has been the (a) capital and (b) published profit of each of the shipping companies in the Australia-United Kingdom/Continent Shipping Conference in each of the last ten years?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
I have established that to obtain such information would involve the Department of Trade in extensive and protracted investigation of nongovernmental material, which is equally accessible to any one interested in these matters. Even if the balance-sheets were obtained fox the ten-year period for each of the twenty-two shipping companies of the Australian-United Kingdom/Continent Shipping Conference, considerable work would still be required to present the information requested in a form which would be meaningful. This is particularly true of the manner in which variations in capital were made by individual companies. In the circumstances I am unable to undertake to furnish the information which the honorable member seeks.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 November 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19601123_reps_23_hor29/>.