24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. REYNOLDS presented a petition from certain electors of New South Wales praying that the Government take urgent and immediate action to -
– I address a question without notice to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it not a fact that deregistration, with its consequent ending of the right of free approach to Commonwealth industrial tribunals, has for years been considered a severe penalty to be imposed on recalcitrant unions only in extreme cases? Have professional engineers done anything to merit a blocking of their right to approach a tribunal?
– As honorable members well know, there is before the House a bill dealing with access by certain State government servants to Commonwealth tribunals. I have also stated to the House that the Association of Professional Engineers, Australia, has approached me and asked me to listen to a reasoned case in which it will suggest some alterations to the bill before the legislation is proceeded with. I think the prudent and common sense approach to this matter is to wait until I have heard1 submissions from the Association of Professional Engineers before anything more is said. Consequently I feel that it would be imprudent to make any comment on this matter until I have had an opportunity to listen to the views of the engineers and to present those views to the Cabinet.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman will have in mind that my South Australian colleagues and I have from time to time made representations concerning standardization of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill railway gauge. I know that various aspects of this matter have been under discussion with the South Australian Government. Is the Prime Minister in a position to state what progress, if any, has been made in this matter?
– The honorable member rightly states that this matter has been the subject of discussion many times between my South Australian colleagues, myself and other Ministers. We have had several proposals before us at various times. The first proposal related to the conversion of locomotives to diesel operation. That proposal was agreed to. There was then a proposal about regrading the line. These proposals were steps towards standardization. We have had the second proposal under consideration for a month or two and we have decided now that instead of proceeding step by step in that fashion we will be willing to proceed with the standardization completely. Of course, many details will have to be worked out as was the case in Western Australia and Victoria. Unfortunately honorable members opposite who are interjecting are not interested in this. The negotiations, which will commence forthwith, will all relate to matters of detail. We have agreed to the matter of principle - the main proposition. In fact, this morning I informed the Premier of South Australia to that effect.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the fact that the site for the new Parliament House has been prepared, is the right honorable gentleman able to inform the House when the Government is likely to commence its construction?
- Sir, I am not
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by referring to advertisements which appeared in January this year in which the Treasury invited applications from very highly qualified persons for posts in what I understand to be a new section of the Treasury designated as the Economic and Financial Survey Division. Can the right honorable gentleman say whether this is designed to assist in the promotion of coherent economic policies, in providing more up-to-date assessments of economic trends than hitherto have been practicable and in bringing about closer liaison between the Government and private enterprise? If not, in what way is this division intended to be of service?
– I hope that the new division will serve in all the directions which the honorable gentleman has indicated’. It will have the task of extending beyond the current financial year or the one immediately ahead the more important estimates and analyses of economic and financial trends which now are carried out by the General Financial and Economic Policy Branch of the Treasury. The decision to create this new division was taken in the light of current thought here and abroad relating to the importance of forward looks at the economy.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation inform the House whether it is the intention of the Repatriation Department to review the second schedule pension which is paid to ex-servicemen and women for six months following discharge from hospital after treatment for tuberculosis? Is the purpose of this review to reduce the present period of six months for which payment is made to a period of three months? If this is so, will the Minister state the reason for the proposed reduction? l In addition, will he notify officially the various ex-service organizations of the department’s intentions in this matter so that they may prepare submissions in objection to any such change?
– At this time of the year all repatriation benefits are reviewed. At the present time we are making a full review of all such benefits, including those paid to persons who are in receipt of tuberculosis pensions. As honorable members know, there is a very generous arrangement for tuberculosis sufferers whereby they may receive a 100 per cent, rate pension for the rest of their lives after the disease has been diagnosed. In addition, they have the benefit of hospital facilities. The arrangement goes so far as to provide that a person who is classified as having tuberculosis but later is found not to have it shall receive a 100 per cent, rate pension for the rest of his life. It will be agreed that that is a very generous provision. In addition, benefits are paid for a period after a person comes out of hospital and until he is able to obtain employment. As I said earlier, these and other repatriation benefits are under review at the present time. The result will be announced during the Budget session.
– I address to the Treasurer a question about the averaging system of assessing income tax, which I raised in the House last year. Before introducing the next Budget, will the Treasurer consider, first, allowing persons who at one time elected1 to withdraw from this system to revert to it, even under a penalty of, say, four or five years, and secondly, raising the limit of £4,000 to a sum which is more in keeping with to-day’s financial standards?
– The honorable member will appreciate that the matters he has raised are matters of policy, but I can assure him that they will be considered by the Government in conjunction with other matters when the next Budget is being prepared.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise: Has import duty been paid on 10-inch steel pipes that have been imported from Japan for the Moonie to Brisbane pipeline? Those pipes arrived in Brisbane on or about 15th April. If the answer is in the affirmative, will the Minister say what amount was paid and what percentage of duty this represented?
Will a rebate be given at a later date either in part or in full, and for what reason?
– The honorable gentleman could hardly expect me, as representing another Minister, to have that information in my mind. I shall make inquiries and ascertain whether the details can be made available to him.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. What amount of Australia’s overseas reserves is at present held in the form of sterling? What guarantees, if any, have been received by the Australian Government against loss in the real value of these reserves, which could run into many tens of millions of pounds if sterling were to be devalued? If, in fact, no such guarantees can be obtained, will the Treasurer take steps to hold such part of these sterling reserves as can be readily moved in some other form which will protect their real value?
– The amount held in sterling reserves is in excess of £400,000,000. I am not able to give the precise figure to the honorable gentleman. Of course, it is not practicable for one country, acting unilaterally, to safeguard itself entirely against the possibility of the devaluation of any currency. Indeed, a transfer from one currency to another for the purpose of protecting the interests of the owner of those reserves might lead to a situation in which devaluation occurred in the country to which the reserves were transferred. So we cannot eliminate all risks. The only way in which a country could protect itself would be to hold all reserves in gold. That would be impracticable and in any case would deprive Australia of substantial interest earnings overseas on its reserves. The United Kingdom Government has always very firmly maintained the view that it should hold the present exchange value of sterling, one of the great reserve currencies of the world. I am certain that the efforts of the present Administration in the United Kingdom are directed towards maintaining sterling as a strong currency at its present value. The other safeguard, which I think is a very real one these days, is that all the major economies of the world are linked in the International Monetary Fund and are subject to the Articles of Agreement of the fund in making any variation of their exchange rate. The fund has made it clear that it will assist in every possible way to sustain the strength of sterling and, for that matter, of the dollar, as the two great reserve currencies of the world.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for the Army, relates to the provision that successful entrants to the Royal Military College, Duntroon, should be British subjects of substantially European descent. I ask the Minister whether that provision ever nas operated to the detriment of aboriginal candidates for entry into the Royal Military College and whether consideration will be given to making clear that persons of the Australian aboriginal race are not excluded under the provision.
– I think that a question in similar terms appears on the noticepaper. This matter has not arisen so far. There is no instruction along the lines mentioned by the honorable member. The qualifications for entry to the Royal Military College are laid down specifically. They are based on the educational standard, the physical condition and the character of the applicants. Those are the only matters that are mentioned in the conditions of entry.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral made arrangements with the United States or the United Kingdom to share in the costs of orbital relay stations which will make possible the full-time transmission of all types of communication throughout the world? Is it a fact that the number of overseas telephone calls has increased from 1,000,000 in 1950 to 4,000,000 in 1960, and that it is expected that 100,000,000 calls will be made per annum by 1980? Will Australia fail to become a participant in orbital relay transmissions unless it takes an immediate and active part in the formation of an international telephony organization?
– It is true that there has been a very great increase in the number of overseas telephone calls during the last few years. The Government has not entered into any financial commitments with either the United States of America or Great Britain concerning the development of satellite communications. Naturally, however, we are keeping in touch with developments, even though there is no commit al.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport will remember that on Wednesday of last week, in a written reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Stirling, he stated that any decision to proceed with the standardization of the railway between Broken Hill and Port Pirie, in accordance with the 1949 agreement, would depend upon confirmation that the tangible benefits obtainable were commensurate with related expenditure. In view of the reply which the Prime Minister gave to the question asked by the honorable member for Wakefield a few minutes ago, I now ask the Minister whether confirmation of the tangible benefits was received last week or this week.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will recollect that the Prime Minister gave a very comprehensive outline of the events leading to the decision. Those events were discussed very thoroughly by the Cabinet and the question of results being commensurate with expenditure was considered very fully. I assure the honorable member that any decision on rail standardization has been based on the very principle that he has mentioned.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. How many seasonal workers in Queensland are employed in the sugar and meat industries? What is the average period of employment each year? What would be the average weekly earnings over that average period? Is there a wage loading for these workers to carry them over the off season when the sugar mills and meat works are closed down?
Are these workers eligible to register as unemployed and to receive unemployment benefit without a means test?
– It is difficult to tell just how many seasonal workers are employed in both the meat and the sugar industries. Before I answer the specific questions asked by the honorable gentleman I should say that we all welcome the fact that there are large numbers of seasonal workers who move into the sugar and meat industries. Those are highly important industries and they could not carry on if the flow of seasonal workers were cut off.
As to the specific questions I think that there are about 15,000 to 16,000 seasonal workers who move into both the sugar and the meat industries. To estimate the average number of weeks of employment and the average weekly wages we have to divide these workers into various classes, and, of course, the pay and period of work vary. In the meat industry the average period of employment for butchers, for example, is about 25 to 30 weeks a year. The average for cane-cutting is about 25 to 28 weeks a year and the average for unskilled and semi-skilled hands in the sugar mills is about 32 to 37 weeks a year.
The honorable gentleman’s third question related to average weekly earnings. For semi-skilled and unskilled hands in the sugar mills, the average pay is about £20 to £22 a week. According to Mr. Commissioner Austin the average pay of, say, boners and cutters in the northern meat works is between £40 and £50 a week. This might rise to as much as £80 a week for contract labour. A cane-cutter might receive an average of £40 to £50 a week and some gun cutters earn up to £1,700 a year. These payments to seasonal workers carry a loading because of the seasonal nature of the employment.
Lastly, the honorable member for Maranoa asked whether these seasonal workers are entitled to receive unemployment benefit without a means test. An income test is applied but that, of course, applies to income earned after registration for employment. These workers are perfectly entitled to register after they have completed their seasonal employment. H they comply with the conditions of what I may describe as the work test, they can obtain unemployment benefit. If you look at the statistics relating to seasonal employment - this is important to the honorable gentleman, who happens to have to live with the problem - you will probably find that during February about 6,000 seasonal workers were registered for employment. Those were additional to the normal number of persons registered.
I think that I have answered all the questions asked by the honorable gentleman. I shall consider them further in detail and if I can add anything to what I have said I shall do so.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether it is correct to say that there has been no increase in the rates of child endowment since June, 1950. Also, is it correct to say that the rates would now need to be increased to at least 9s. for the first child and 18s. for children other than the first, to bring the payments to somewhere near the same relationship to the current basic wage as the payments of 5s. and 10s. had to the basic wage of 1950? If that is the position, does it mean also that mothers to-day are receiving by way of endowment an amount which, in actual purchasing power, has only about half the value of the amount mothers received in 1950? If so, has the Government any good reason for allowing such an unreasonable state of affairs to continue? If the Government has not a good reason, will the Minister treat the matter as urgent and arrange for the payments to be appropriately increased in the next Budget?
– It is true that, except for the introduction of endowment for the first child, there has been no variation in the rates of child endowment since 1950, but the question has been examined from time to time and the Government has felt it necessary to make any variation in social service benefits apply to other sections of the community. I direct the attention of honorable members to a statement reported to have been made by the New South Wales Minister of Justice on 17th April last, when addressing the annual conference of the public service association. Referring to increased costs, he said -
It is not the Government which has to find the money, but the people of New South Wales.
That, Sir, is common to all forms of government expenditure and it is particularly applicable to social service benefits.
– Can the Minister for the Interior inform me whether the survey of the army land to be released at George’s Heights, Mosman, has been completed? If the survey has been completed, can the Minister state the acreage of theland involved and when the release of the land to the New South Wales Government will be effected? Can a covenant be placed on the release to ensure that the land is preserved for posterity as a natural reserve and recreation area for the general public?
– No detailed survey has been undertaken by my department. Speaking from memory, I would say that the area was approximately 40 acres, but I could not be precise on that point. The land has been offered to the New South Wales Government and we are awaiting a reply from it.
Mr.GALVIN. - I direct to the Minister for Repatriation a question concerning the Repatriation General Hospital at Springbank, South Australia. Is the Minister able to indicate when the recently-constructed psychiatric ward will be opened and patients transferred from the old ward to the new section, which contains the most modern equipment and amenities and reflects great credit on all who have been associated with it? When the changeover takes place, will it be possible to use the old psychiatric ward for general purposes and thus relieve the acute shortage of accommodation in the general section until the planned additional wards for general purposes are constructed?
– The honorable member obviously keeps closely in touch with the situation at the Repatriation General Hospital, Springbank, because the work on the new psychiatric ward was completed only in the last few days. Work has now commenced on equipping the new ward, which is of modern brick construction and, I think, one of the most up-to-date of its type in the world to-day. The transfer of patients from the old wards will probably commence in two or three weeks, as soon as equipping is completed. The new ward is designed to hold 39 patients and also has out-patient facilities. I expect that the opening will take place on 4th June; and when I perform the opening ceremony I hope to see the honorable member there. As to using the present wards to relieve pressure on the accommodation, that certainly will be done. As I told the honorable member previously, we hope in the next financial year to construct two additional new wards at the Springbank hospital to relieve pressure on bed accommodation that exists at the moment. In the meantime the accommodation that will become vacant when the patients are transferred to the new ward can be made available for ordinary patients, to relieve the position that exists at the moment.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. I refer to the statement of Mr. Vines of the International Wool Secretariat that if more wool is to be sold on world markets at payable prices, very much more money must be made available for promotion. Will the Treasurer consider establishing a partnership between the Government and the wool industry, which is a most vital Australian industry, by helping wool-growers to meet the cost of additional promotion?
– What the honorable member proposes would represent a significant departure from current policy. It has not been the practice of the Government to make a direct contribution towards promotion, because it believes that this is the responsibility of the particular industries concerned. What we have done in appropriate cases has been to make substantial contributions towards research in various fields. In the case of the wool industry our research contribution is currently about £1,000,000 a year. However, I shall undertake to give some study to what the honorable member has put to us, as a matter of policy.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National
Service. I preface it by referring to the latest figures released by the Commonwealth Statistician, showing that the number of males employed in private industry in November, 1960, was 1,579,000, whilst in January, 1963, it was 1,568,400, showing a decline of 10,600. The figures show, further, that the number of males in government employment in November, 1960, was 629,700, whilst in January, 1963, it was 661,000, so that the number had increased by 31,300. Does the decline in male employment in private industry reflect a lack of confidence in this Government’s economic policy? Do the figures show also that the unemployed are being absorbed on government relief works only? Has the male work force increased in the last two years by approximately 80,000? If so, having in mind the fact that the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures disclose an increase of only 20,700 in the male work force, how does the Minister account for the disappearance from the work force of about 60,000 male workers?
– The honorable member must have an extraordinarily complicated and mathematical mind.
– The honorable member asks why. I ask him to repeat the figures. As I say, the honorable member for Newcastle must have an extraordinarily complicated and mathematical mind. I found it impossible to follow his figures. But I can answer in a general way the various questions which he has asked. His first statement - a rather foolish one, I thought, in view of what was said yesterday by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission - related to confidence in the economy and, naturally enough, Sir, in this Government. If the honorable member wants a statement by a semi-judicial authority to the effect that confidence has been restored and that the economy is sound, then I recommend that he read the decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in full.
As to the second part of his question, let me state categorically that the increase in the occupied work force last year was 100,000. I am primarily interested in the increase in the work force. It has been a valuable increase and a large one in comparison with the increases in other years. In the last few months - this is of great importance - the number of registrants for employment has substantially declined. Large numbers of those previously registered are going into private industry. From my point of view, we must have a balance in the economy between public enterprise and private industry. I think the balance is a fairly good one. I hope for the sake of those now unemployed that there will be a significant increase of employment in the private sector.
I would direct the attention of the honorable gentleman and of all honorable members on the other side of the House to one other point. If they look at the industrial survey in the last part of the Minister’s report, they will see that last month there was a significant increase in employment in private industry. We usually find that if an improvement is shown by our figures, which cover only one sector, there is subsequently a substantial improvement in the number of wage and salary earners shown in the wage and salary statistics published by the Commonwealth Statistician.
As the honorable gentleman introduced a political note, I say this to him: Others have said that confidence has b:en fully restored and that prospects are good’. I endorse that statement with all my heart, because I know it to be correct. There is no reason to be despondent. The only people who want to introduce a note of despondency are those sitting on the other side of the House. They want to make mischief out of the misfortunes of some.
– In the forthcoming Budget discussions, will the Treasurer consider increasing the capital of the Commonwealth Development Bank so as to assist that section of the farming community which finds difficulty in obtaining finance for necessary development?
– From time to time, the Commonwealth Government examines the resources available to the Commonwealth Development Bank. Honorable members will be aware that last year a substantial addition was made to the capital of the bank. I have periodic discussions with the chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, Mr. Warren McDonald. I had such a discussion as recently as yesterday, when we spoke about the present capital position of the Commonwealth Development Bank and the resources available to it. It seems clear that, without any further addition, the bank has adequate resources to enable it to continue lending at current rates for at least another twelve months.
When the bank was established, we contemplated that it would supplement the capital funds made available to it from the Commonwealth Budget with loan raisings principally from the Commonwealth Savings Bank. We envisage that in future the bank will have resources available to it not only from capital funds voted by the Parliament but also from its loan raisings. However, I assure the honorable gentleman that we are very conscious of the importance of the operations of the bank not only to rural industries but also to the general development of Australia. We are determined to see that it will have resources adequate for the task the Commonwealth had in mind for it.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service by reminding him of his reply to my recent inquiry about the effects of mechanization, electronic devices and automation as contributing factors to a chronically high level of unemployment amongst Australian wage-earners. On that occasion the Minister waltzed away from the point at issue. I now ask him to outline what action, if any, is being taken by the Government to offer a course of training to unemployed unskilled workers and thereby afford such workers, male and female, an opportunity to gain skills to enable them to fill vacancies existing in various industries and occupations for semi-skilled and skilled employees. If the Government has no existing scheme to achieve this purpose, will the Minister seek to inaugurate, in conjunction with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and to implement urgently, a scheme to render thousands of our present 84,912 registered unemployed eligible to fill the vacancies that are offering?
– First, I should say that I think the words “chronically high level of unemployment” are totally out of place because the House well knows that the number of unemployed is steadily diminishing. In reply to the question about the re-training of people who might be displaced in one industry to enable them to go into another industry, I say that this matter has received detailed consideration by the Department of Labour and National Service. As the honorable gentleman knows, to attend to the re-training of people is primarily a State responsibility. Nonetheless, we have been greatly interested in it. On the statistics that have been published so far we have not been able to prove to our satisfaction that the opportunities for re-training are great. In other words, we cannot find that the prospect of re-training a person for another job offers great opportunities. At the moment what we are doing is consulting the Australian Council of Trade Unions on how to train people for greater skill in the building trades. That is one problem that we must solve in the future. Subsequent to that, I hope to hold further discussions within the department on what can be done in the training and re-training of semi-skilled people to fit them for other jobs. I assure the honorable gentleman that what we have to do is take this action in stages, but it is a subject that has preoccupied our attention and will do so in the future.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade. Will the House be given an opportunity to debate the recent Tariff Board report on precision ball bearings, which exposes a vicious restrictive trade practice? Can the Minister tell me why that report, although signed in April, 1962, was not presented to the Parliament until last week, twelve months later? Will the present protection in the form of quantitative restrictions, which has now continued for twelve months after the board’s report was signed, be continued until the board’s next report is presented, so allowing the distributing companies to continue to extract excessive profits at the expense of the consumers?
– As the honorable member has stated, the report of the Tariff Board on the ball bearing industry was tabled in this House recently. But he is aware that the Government on this occasion did not accept the recommendation of the Tariff Board and has referred the matter back to the board for a further investigation. The Government has also extended the terms of reference to cover the points to which the honorable member referred in rather an emphatic way. I should like to point out, Mr. Speaker, in relation to the so-called delay in the submission of the report to the Parliament, that this was a most complex and involved subject and that the Government, which places great reliance upon the standing of the Australian Tariff Board, decided after very lengthy and careful consideration not to accept the report as it was, but to refer the matter back to the board, with extended terms of reference, for a further investigation. I think the matter can be debated when the further report is received from the Tariff Board. In the meantime the same import licensing conditions will continue.
– Has the Prime Minister received a request from the Premiers of Queensland and Western Australia for the setting up of a northern development authority on the lines of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, as advocated for some years by the Australian Labour Party? Will favorable consideration be given to this request, or is the Government’s policy that which was recently conveyed to the representatives of the People the North Committee by the honorable member for Macarthur?
– I know, Mr. Speaker that this matter has been, as you might say, in the air, but I cannot answer by the book as to whether I have received any communication from the two Premiers. I will find out and advise the honorable member in the course of the next few days.
Motion (by Mr. Davidson) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 30th April, at 2.30 p.m.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Processed Milk Products Bounty Act 1962.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Adermann and Mr. Downer do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Last May, Parliament passed the Processed Milk Products Bounty Act 1962, which provides for the payment of bounty on exports in 1962-63 of processed milk products, which consist of sweetened and unsweetened condensed milk, full cream milk powder, infants’ and invalids’ foods, malted milk, &c. Until the implementation of this measure, Australian milk processors had been operating at a severe competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis their counterparts in overseas countries where substantial government subsidy programmes had enabled the undercutting of Australian suppliers on export markets. Australian processors not only received no subsidy, but were forced to compete for their milk supplies with the butter and cheese factories which were enabled to pass on the bounty to producers. Bounty had amounted to £13,500,000 for each of the previous six years.
The Processed Milk Products Bounty Act 1962 was designed to cushion the disad vantage suffered by Australian processors when purchasing milk for their export activities in competition with butter and cheese factories and thus to help them to compete with overseas processors in the export field. The act was successful in its purpose of encouraging the export of butter fat in the form of processed milk products and so in diverting the butter fat away from butter and cheese production. That the act achieved its purpose is evidenced by the export figures for the first seven months of the 1962-63 season. During this period exports of butter fat in processed milk products totalled 3,642 tons compared with 2,798 tons and 2,579 tons in the same periods for each of the two previous seasons. On present estimates, exports of processed milk products for the whole of the current season could represent approximately 6,000 tons of butter fat, compared with an initial estimate of 5,000 tons made by the processors, and actual exports of 4,200 tons in 1960-61 and 3,700 tons in 1961-62.
It was expected that the final rate of export bounty on a butter-fat basis would be about the same as the final bounty rate on butter production. However, because the increase in exports was greater than anticipated, the upper limit of £350,000 will not be sufficient to enable payment of an export bounty rate equivalent to that payable to butter producers. In fact it may be only about 80 per cent. of that figure.
To improve the position for the processors, the Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1963 provides for the continuation of the export bounty on processed milk products for a further twelve months after the end of June, 1963, and for an increase in the maximum amount of bounty from the £350,000 provided for the current season to £500,000 for 1963-64.
The Government expects that the additional assistance for 1963-64 will enable the processors to be paid a bounty rate more closely approaching that payable to butter and cheese producers thus bringing about a more equitable distribution of the bounty over all butter-fat products manufactured by the industry.
Because of the world surplus of butter and the quota limitations imposed on its import into the United Kingdom - virtually the only export outlet for large quantities - it is obviously desirable to divert as much butter fat as possible away from butter. Cheese is in somewhat the same position.
The Government considers that it can assist all sections of the industry by encouraging this diversion through increased exports of processed milk products. This is the main purpose of the bill. The industry organizations have expressed their satisfaction at the success of the scheme in the current season and have sought a continuance of the bounty for a further twelve months. I commend the bill to honorable rc embers.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 28th March (vide page 161), on motion by Sir Garfield Barwick -
That the bill bc now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, this bill is not the comprehensive Copyright Bill which honorable members have been awaiting for some years. It will be remembered that in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech opening the Parliament on 4th August, 1954, after the general election, a promise was made that a committee would be appointed to consider what alterations were desirable to the copyright law of tha Commonwealth. On 15th September, 1958, the Copyright Law Review Committee was appointed. On 22nd December, 1959, the committee made its report. On 18th April, 1961, the report was circulated to honorable members and any members of the public who were interested. At the same time the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) made a statement in the House about the report.
I note that on 5th April last year, in answer to a question that I directed to him on notice concerning this matter, the Attorney-General expressed the hope that he would introduce legislation regarding copyright during the autumn session of 1963. The legislation on which the committee reported over three years ago and about which the Attorney-General expressed that hope twelve months ago is not the legislation now before us.
It is urgent and desirable that the Parliament should pass new copyright laws because there are now three international conventions concerning copyright which Australia has not yet ratified or to which it has not acceded. Australians used the world’s most widespread language. It is the language which the greatest number of nations recognize as their official language and which the greatest number of other nations use as their second language. The written and recorded word in English is, above all others, the natural subject of copyright.
The first of the conventions to which I refer is the International Convention for the Protection of Literary, Scientific and Artistic Works, signed at Brussels on 26th June, 1948. Australia signed the convention and has not yet ratified it. The second convention is the Universal Copyright Convention and three protocols annexed to it, signed at Geneva on 6th September, 1952. Australia signed the convention and has not yet ratified it. The third convention is the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations, concluded at Rome on 26th October, 1961. Australia attended the conference at which the convention was drawn up but Australia did not sign the convention and Australia has not acceded to it.
The first two conventions mentioned were the subjects of recommendations by the Copyright Law Review Committee. The amendments which would be required in the principal act to permit Australia to ratify the conventions are set out by the committee in paragraphs 38 and 39 of its report. The benefits that will come to Australia if we adopt the 1948 convention are set out by the committee in paragraph 50 of its report, as follows: -
We also mention that literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works of Australian origin are growing and receiving increasing recognition abroad. The United Kingdom will, we think, remain one of the main users of Australian copyright material and we are of the view that our authors should in that country be entitled to the same copyright protection as British authors. This can only be ensured by granting in Australia reciprocal benefits to British authors.
In order that Australian authors may have those reciprocal benefits in Britain the committee recommended that we should ratify the 1948 convention.
In paragraph 52 of its report the committee puts the following arguments in favour of adopting the second convention: -
The benefits to be derived from accession to the Universal Copyright Convention are obvious, particularly in that it enables Australian copyright owners to receive copyright protection in the United States for published works with a minimum of formality. At present published Australian works do not receive full protection in the United Slates unless they are manufactured in that country. Adherence to the Universal Copyright Convention would free Australian authors from that requirement as well as other American provisions regarding registration and notice.
The committee had made its report two years before the third convention was drawn up at a diplomatic conference in Rome in 1961. There has been doubt whether Parliament is restricted to legislating on copyrights as copyrights were understood at the time the British Parliament enacted the Australian Constitution at the beginning of the century. The committee refers to these doubts in paragraph 234 of its report. It is not inappropriate to assert, however, that copyrights are essentially the subject matter of treaties, and therefore one could prudently assume that this Parliament could pass laws on copyrights under its powers with respect to external affairs under paragraph xxix of section 51 of the Constitution. The benefit in this Parliament amending the Copyright Act to permit Australia to ratify the 1961 convention would be that many Australians then would be able to copyright a greater range of works in J tain and America and other English-speaking countries which can be expected to accede to or ratify the convention. Australian writers, dramatists, television producers and designers then would have the benefit of copyright in respect of the additional matters about which this convention makes arrangements and about which previous conventions have not. The additional matters are sufficiently indicated in the title of the convention which is expressed to be for the protection of performers, producers of phonograms and broadcasting organizations.
Australia could be expected to make increasing contributions in these fields. Already we have heard with pride that the
Australian Broadcasting Commission programme “ Four Corners “ is being televised in the United States of America. It can be hoped that the commission’s participation in Intertel will result in further demand for Australian productions in other Englishspeaking countries including Britain, Canada and America whose television organizations participate in Intertel. When I make these comments I am not to be taken to lavish undue praise on Australia’s first contribution to Intertel, a pretty insipid production about Tahiti. The next scheduled production is about Antarctica. Nevertheless, there is no reason to think that Australia should not produce - it certainly could produce, if it were allowed to do so - programmes under Intertel as meritorious as “ Four Corners “. The point I want to emphasize now is that when the Copyright Act is amended to permit Australia to accede to this third convention there will be still wider copyright advantages to Australian creative artists, not only in literature and drama on the stage but also in taped and recorded dramatic works on radio and television.
This bill deals with the much narrower matter of disputes arising about the public performance of literary, dramatic, musical or other works or of recordings of such works. It amends the section of the principal act which states that when a dispute arises between the prospective performers and the copyright owners or their representatives - in Australia it is practically always the Australasian Performing Right Association Limited - there can be a voluntary arbitration. It appears that these provisions in fact have never been used. To judge from an amendment which the Minister has circulated, an application now has been received, under the provisions of this section, for the Attorney-General to appoint an arbitrator as the parties themselves have been unable to select one.
The bill also provides a code for appeals from an arbitrator. Hitherto in this Parliament we have not provided that code. We have allowed any appeals from the arbitrator whom the parties select or the Attorney-General appoints to be determined under the laws of the various States and Territories. There are considerable differences in such methods of appeal. Very properly, therefore, the Attorney-General has ensured that the Commonwealth shall exercise its rights under the Constitution - one might even say its obligations under the Constitution - to see that appeals from arbitrators are dealt with under a uniform national code. We applaud this initiative and, therefore, support the bill.
.- No doubt it is true, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has pointed out, that we still have to face the question of Australia’s ratification of the three international conventions to which he referred and which deal with copyright. But, as he pointed out in the latter part of his speech, the bill now before the House does not deal with the wider aspects of copyright. These will be dealt with later when the legislation foreshadowed by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is presented and debated. The present bill is designed to deal only with an immediate and urgent problem which has arisen.
I shall not occupy the time of the House by recounting the various provisions of section 13a of the act because by now these must be very well known to honorable members, having been mentioned by the Attorney-General and by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Any party to a dispute may apply in writing to the AttorneyGeneral for determination by voluntary arbitration by an arbitrator mutually selected or, failing such selection, appointed by the Governor-General. Succeeding sub-sections of section 13a make detailed provisions relating to procedure in voluntary arbitrations, examination of costs, prescribing of regulations and so on. For the reasons already stated by the Attorney-General, this bill merely seeks to insert in lieu thereof fresh provisions.
It would be illogical and, I believe, against the spirit and tenor of the Australian Constitution for a law governing a particular arbitration under this act, which is intended to operate on a Commonwealthwide basis, to depend on where the arbitration takes place, for example, whether it be in Queensland or New South Wales. Section 13a as amended will remedy this defect and will ensure that under Commonwealth law there will be no unnecessary complication or no conflict with other arbitration laws and procedures. It is unfortunate that the vesting of the necessary judicial powers will mean some added work for the High Court of Australia, which of course is already fully occupied in dealing with appeals from the supreme courts of the various States and Territories as well as with matters that arise in its original jurisdiction. But I think that the High Court is the appropriate court to deal with this matter. If, for example, the Commonwealth Industrial Court were to be nominated as the court of appeal, the act would immediately be placed out of line with existing provisions.
When he introduced the bill, the Attorney-General indicated that he was hopeful of being able to bring down in the current sessional period the wider legislation which has been referred to this morning by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I am sure that if it is possible to introduce that legislation during this period, the Attorney-General will do so. If it is not introduced, probably it will be because circumstances beyond his control have prevented him from doing so. In the light of the various copyright cases that have come before the courts over the years, the introduction of this legislation is an eminently desirable move. I am sure that the House will commend the AttorneyGeneral for his initiative in appointing a committee to review the law of copyright in Australia and that honorable members look forward to the time when he will be able to introduce the more comprehensive legislation about which he has spoken. I support the bill.
.- Sir, I should like to make a few brief comments about this bill, which is really an emergency measure in relation to arbitration, and to refer to what the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) said about the larger bill which will be introduced later. The complex copyright legislation deals with the simple matter of protecting writers, musicians, artists and those who follow similar callings. We are very grateful to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) for having, with his legal knowledge, made the pitfalls clear to us and for having brought to light the fact that although we in Australia are inclined to think that in regard to matters emanating from the International Labour Organization and international conventions we are a sort of avant garde - that we are out in front - that is not really so. We have lagged behind in regard to many ordinary industrial conventions, but more so in relation to conventions which deal with the protection of books, music and other works of art. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed out, we have not ratified important conventions. The Brussels convention of 1948, which has an important general application, has been ratified by twelve countries and acceded to by twenty-two, but Australia’s name does not appear in the list. It would seem that we have been quite careless about the subject of copyright.
In the new world in which we live, broadcasting and television rights have assumed some importance. There is a great market for much of the written word and written music, but we are allowing a large proportion of this material to get into the hands of racketeers who are battening on the artistic industries and who, indeed, have done so from time immemorial. At Geneva an attempt was made to formulate a universal copyright law. But an Australian writer has no real security or protection in the United States of America and other English-speaking countries unless his publisher, who is not an Australian, takes out the copyright in his own name and attends to the whole matter. However, in doing that, the publisher has the right to sell the book for a certain royalty and some of the essential protection for the author is taken away. The Rome convention, also, was another step forward in an attempt to consolidate the copyright law.
The writing game, as it may roughly be described, as distinct from the production of works of art, constitutes a very big industry. I have in mind people who sell stories, music, pictures or films in various forms, or patterns which are printed and therefore become subject to copyright rather than to patent law. All these works would be protected under the new conventions, which we have not accepted. It is high time that we did something about it. Syndication and first, second and third rights to novels and so forth are completely disregarded in this country. Many people who write for the overseas market, and also for the home market, have been mulcted of large sums of money because the entrepreneur has got in ahead of them. A fellow who lives in a garret, who writes his Australian novel slowly and puts it on an unhealthy and unhappy market, could make a lot more money if he were more business-like. I pay a tribute to not only the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for his fight in regard to the legal aspects of this matter, which for the most part are beyond the comprehension of the writer, but also the Attorney-General for desiring to codify the copyright law in the rather powerful document which I have read and which we shall discuss later.
Let us not forget that a tremendous export market is being established - perhaps tortuously and slowly - for the Australian product, whether it is a book, a film, a painting, some other form of the graphic arts, or just some commercial writing. We must protect those people who may be able to hit the jackpot but who are mulcted by the multitude of people who batten on the writing game. In our copyright law, as in our Constitution, there are gaps through which you could drive a coach and four. We are debating a rather tight little bill which covers a lot of academic and legal arguments, but it is important for us as Australians to realize that in our copyright law there are tremendous gaps which would lead not only to Australian producers of works of art becoming frustrated and losing their money but also to the message which they wish to export losing its value. Works which are designed to sell the Australian way of life could be extremely important from the cultural viewpoint and extremely profitable from the viewpoint of any royalties that would accrue.
I think it is well worth while at this moment to refer again to what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said about these conventions. The Brussels, Geneva and Rome conventions should be ratified forthwith. The bill now before us, in relation to which an amendment will be moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and another by the Government, will doubtless be passed by the House. With diffusion by television, broadcast by radio, condensation by magazines, and definite stealings from books and other works having become almost a calling, nobody seems to have known what one’s rights really have been. Associations have been formed which have purported to look after the author, the musician or the painter for a certain rakeoff; but it has been found that that association has been making tremendous profits and a very small amount of money has been accruing to the original producer. The provisions governing that situation are now being tightened up, but then we have the marginal problem about where ownership resides. In some cases copyright may be given to a publisher and in others there may be no copyright in existence. In some cases it is an open slather for the entrepreneur who wants to make something out of selling a work of art, a record or a piece of taped literature. The producers of all those works must be protected, but to ensure protection is a very difficult and exhausting task. The new provision governing the submission of these matters to arbitration is a step forward. There ought to be some final appeal so that a distressed writer could have a matter in dispute dealt with at the legal level and adjudicated upon. Therefore, this bill is an important step forward in tightening up our copyright laws.
Nobody would ever dream of losing onesixteenth of a centimetre of the benefit from our production of wool, wheat or any other primary product, but we lose in the aggregate a tremendous amount of revenue because anybody may adopt a slap-happy attitude to Australian copyright and do what he likes with our books. A long time ago I wrote a book - I hope no one will think that I am being personal in mentioning it - called “ The Brierley Rose “, which dealt with the life of my family here in Canberra. It was printed in America as “The Carolina Belle”. Needless to say, no Carolina belle has ever sent me a quid for what was a shocking piece of plagiarism. I know that the honorable member opposite who is trying to interject is a fan of mine. Copies of both books are in the library and he can get them if he wishes to do so. That was a genuine case of the kind of thing I mean, and it happens in so many instances. Nowadays, with the new production methods, such as rotogravure, before an
Australian writer or painter knows where he is his work is out of his hands and gone. I read the Attorney-General’s report on copyright two or three times and it already has my approval.
This small measure to provide for arbitration is a step in the right direction. I believe that the amendment foreshadowed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) is appropriate and I hope that it will be supported in a non-contentious way. The job of arbitrating should be given to a body which will arbitrate, so that matters in dispute may be dealt with more expeditiously. It should not be thought, Mr Deputy Speaker, that because disputes have not been taken to a tribunal so far there will not be any in the future. The fact is that there has been no defined place where a person could argue that he had copyright, or that he was being robbed. There are many producers of artistic works who would like to be able to take their case to a tribunal and argue it out. Once we have established a legal right to protect something that is produced by an individual we have moved well along the road to protecting our own copyright. Therefore, although this is a small bill, it is an important one. We give it our support, and I hope that the amendment proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will be agreed to.
.- I support the bill. It is very refreshing to be able to stand in the House and say that there is good fellowship and friendship between the people on that side of the House and those on this side. The comments of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and also those of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) were constructive and of value, with the exception of the reference to the proposed amendment by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, but no doubt that matter will be dealt with at the committee stage.
I wish to refer to the statement in the second-reading speech of the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) on the question of where appeals should lie. I remind the House that the AttorneyGeneral stated -
The bill now before the House therefore seeks to set out in the act itself the law governing an arbitration under the section so that recourse to State arbitration law will no longer be required. Not without some reluctance, because the Government has under consideration proposals for relieving the High Court of minor work, I have included in the bill provisions for vesting in the High Court such of the functions normally vested in a supreme court under the State laws as are necessary to the conduct of such an arbitration.
The issue that arises here is the oftexpressed view of the Attorney-General - the most recent expression of it that I recall was at the legal convention in Hobart in January of this year - and of a wide range of people in the community, especially lawyers, that because of growing federal responsibilities and increasing federal areas of legislation and litigation, the High Court ought to be relieved of a great deal of the work which it in fact does. We in Australia are most fortunate to have a High Court which is composed of judicial officers who are held in extremely high regard throughout the world. Many of their judgments on a wide range of law and on appeal matters are referred to elswhere in the English-speaking world. In the area of appeal consideration, our High Court is the admiration of other countries.
There is a necessity to set out the law clearly and precisely by way of appeal judgments, not only in the field of general law but also in the constitutional field. After 62 years of federation, I believe that we are still in the elementary or infant stages in terms of the limitation or delimitation, or of definition, of the areas of the powers inter se of the Commonwealth and the States. There is no doubt that there is really only one power in section 51 of the Constitution which has blossomed out at all, and that is the industrial arbitration power. If we look at the industrial arbitration power alongside the trade and commerce power, we see that a quite incredible difference of construction has been given to the arbitration power compared with the commerce power. I am a federalist and believe that we should maintain the federal system. I believe in federalism very strongly, and my belief in it carries me to the view that the powers which devolve upon the Commonwealth ought to be exercised - not immediately, of course, but over a period - to the full extent. That is one of the reasons why I am in favour of this Copyright Bill. There is a clear constitutional power, in section 51, in relation to copyright.
Because of the situation which has arisen, I feel that we should have a federal supreme court, so that the High Court could be left to its constitutional and appeal duties in terms of the general law. In fact, it seems that the High Court is already very sorely tried in handling the legal matters which come before it. My colleagues at the Bar in Melbourne have told me that there is often a considerable delay before a matter of original jurisdiction can be handled, and that is probably true of the Sydney registry to an equal extent. There is difficulty in finding a single judge in the jurisdiction required. Of course, in cases of appeal matters one expects a long time to pass before the actual decision is given, because so often the decision involves a review of the whole of the relevant law. Such decisions are valuable to the community as a whole and to lawyers especially.
It appears to me that the present intentions are that the federal supreme court will grow from the bench which is called the Commonwealth Industrial Court. As we know, that court is composed of Mr. Justice Spicer, who is the Chief Judge, Mr. Justice Dunphy, Mr. Justice Joske and Mr. Justice Eggleston. This bench was formulated originally to deal with industrial matters. At the time that it was formulated there was a judge of the Australian Capital Territory who, I think, was Mr. Justice Simpson. Now, the Australian Capital Territory supreme court business is handled by one of the judges of the Industrial Court. The volume of business in the Australian Capital Territory has increased so much that virtually it is necessary to have one of the Industrial Court judges constantly engaged on Australian Capital Territory work, which leaves only three of the Industrial Court judges available. Of the three that remain, Mr. Justice Spicer has been very busily engaged in a whole host of other judicial duties. For instance, he has acted as chairman of boards of inquiry into two aeroplane crashes. He has also presided over courts of inquiry into a number of marine collisions. I do not know exactly how many. He is the arbitrator under section 13a of the principal act, to which this bill relates, and he is involved in a number of other matters. This leaves virtually only two judges to do the occasional work that crops up - for instance, to relieve in the Northern Territory or perhaps to visit the external Territories of the Commonwealth. This court is being severely tried in terms of work.
After those preliminary remarks I come now to the point that the time has arrived when another judge ought to be appointed to the Commonwealth Industrial Court. Just recently, there was a great deal of trouble on the waterfront in Sydney. The court made an order under section 109 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act directing the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia to comply with the award. The federation went on strike, and the next step in the procedure was for a person to inform the registrar of the court that there had been an offence, and a summons was then to issue. When this procedure is taken, one has to go to a judge of the court to get him to fix a date for the hearing of the complaint about the alleged offence. The information was made on 29th March and a summons was issued in Melbourne by His Honour Mr. Justice Eggleston, but he could not fix a return date for the hearing of the information before 9th April. This meant that a very long period would elapse. This period seemed particularly long as there were current stoppages and also threatening stoppages on the waterfront. But the difficulty was that no judges were available to constitute a court before 9th April. For all these reasons I believe, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the time has arrived for the appointment of another judge to the Commonwealth Industrial Court.
The final thing that I wish to say is that in considering the proposals for the creation of a federal supreme court, we ought not to subjugate the role of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. There remains for that court a very real function to fulfil. The court ought to be able to fulfil that function, which should not be submerged by the need for judges of that bench to discharge a wide range of other duties.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Section thirteen A of the Principal Act is amended - (a)…..
Section proposed to be amended - 13a. - (1.) Where any dispute has arisen between any person -
.- I move -
In proposed sub-section (17.), omit “ High Court “, insert “ Commonwealth Industrial Court “.
The consequence of adopting my proposed amendment would be that the court to which appeals from an arbitrator selected by the parties or appointed by the AttorneyGeneral would lie would be the Commonwealth Industrial Court instead of the High Court of Australia. As my learned friend, the honorable member for Bruce (Mr, Snedden), quoted a few moments ago, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), in his second-reading speech, stated -
Not without some reluctance, because the Government has under consideration proposals for relieving the High Court of minor work, I have included in the bill provisions for vesting in the High Court such of the functions normally vested in a supreme court under the State laws as are necessary to the conduct of such an arbitration.
It might have been happier had the Attorney-General used words such as “ original work “ rather than “ minor work “. Nevertheless, it is plain from what the Attorney-General said that he had some reluctance in burdening the High Court with this further function.
I propose this amendment very largely for the reasons already stated by the honorable member for Bruce. Putting it very simply, an appeal from an arbitrator to the Commonwealth Industrial Court would be much quicker and cheaper than an appeal to the High Court. For some years now, I have expressed the view that there should be a new federal appeal court. I did so during the consideration of the Estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department in this chamber in August, 1938, and I had done so earlier at the legal convention held in Perth in July, 1957. Later, I expressed the same view during the consideration of the Patents Bills in December, 1960, and November last.
At the legal convention held in Hobart last January, a paper entitled “ The Necessity for a New Federal Court (A Survey of the Federal Court System in Australia) “ was delivered by Mr. Byers and Mr. Toose of Queen’s Counsel in New South Wales. In the subsequent discussion, the Solicitor-General, speaking, he said, on behalf of the Attorney-General, stated - lt may not be known that the Attorney-General has Cabinet authority to design a new federal Court with a view to consideration by Cabinet for approval for legislative action.
Proposed sub-section (17.) of section 13a of the principal act, which I seek to amend, arises from the fact that if a federal judge were appointed by the Attorney-General or selected by the parties to act as arbitrator, an appeal from him would at present lie to State or Territory Supreme Courts. It may be a little invidious that there should be an appeal from a Federal judge to a State judge. I say without disrespect that State courts frequently, and it may be, usually, take the attitude that they are not primarily concerned with Federal matters, and their own lists are so congested with State matters - and familiar matters - that they are inclined to defer Federal ones. The Attorney-General has, very properly, I think, provided therefore that there shall be an appeal within the federal system. I hoped that he would have provided for appeal to the Commonwealth Industrial Court instead of to the High Court.
The Commonwealth Industrial Court is composed of members who are eminently fitted to deal with appeals in matters of industrial property. The Chief Judge, Mr. Justice Spicer, when he was AttorneyGeneral, probably did more than any other holder of that office has done to investigate and to set about modernizing the laws on industrial property, trade marks, copyrights, designs and patents. Other members of that court also have considerable experience in these matters. I think it can be said without disrespect that there is in the Commonwealth Industrial Court a greater degree of expertise in this field than would be found in all the State Supreme Courts combined. It is therefore a court which, with its present membership, is eminently well fitted to entertain appeals like this.
A somewhat similar situation arose, Sir, under the Navigation Act a couple of years ago. In 1960 and 1961, Mr. Justice Spicer was appointed to sit as a Court of Marine Inquiry under the Navigation Act in all the principal ports of Australia. As the Navigation Act stood before 1961, appeals could be taken from him to State or Territory Supreme Courts. To overcome this anomaly, the act was amended in 1961 to provide that there should be an appeal from the Court of Marine Inquiry to the Commonwealth Industrial Court, that is, an appeal from Mr. Justice Spicer to two or more of his colleagues on the Industrial Court. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), in his second-reading of the Navigation Bill 1961, gave these reasons -
If my amendment is carried, exactly the same procedure will apply in appeals from an arbitrator - and the only arbitrator so far appointed has been Mr. Justice Spicer - to his colleagues on the Commonwealth Industrial Court. That is the same procedure as was brought into the Navigation Act nearly two years ago at the instance of the Attorney-General.
There is one other case of an appeal to the Commonwealth Industrial Court. Section 29 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1960 inserted section 87a in the principal act, to provide for appeals to the Commonwealth Industrial Court against revocations of licences. Section 31 of the 1960 act inserted section 105a to permit appeals from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to the Commonwealth Industrial Court against orders to share television programmes. So the Commonwealth Industrial Court can deal with a further type of appeal other than on matters arising in the interpretation or implementation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. There are two such cases of appeals provided to the Commonwealth Industrial Court on matters which would not ordinarily be regarded as industrial matters.
I would submit that it is in accordance with the Cabinet authority given to the Attorney-General, with the AttorneyGeneral’s own views expressed in the second-reading speech, with his views upon which the Minister for Shipping and Transport acted in 1961, and with the practice followed by this Parliament with respect to the Broadcasting and Television Act 1960 that the amendment I have moved should be carried.
– I think it was the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) who expressed the hope that the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) would be carried in a non-contentious spirit. May I say, Sir, that I hope the rejection of it will be accepted in a non-contentious spirit. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) made quite clear, I think, in his secondreading speech that it was with some reluctance that he provided for an appeal to the High Court of Australia in this case. Quite clearly, he must have weighed in his mind the relative values of providing for an appeal to the Commonwealth Industrial Court, as happened in the cases cited by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and of preserving uniformity with the other provisions of the act which is being amended, relating to appeal from a judge of the Supreme Court to the High Court. In the circumstances, he elected that it was desirable to preserve uniformity in the existing act, so that throughout the Copyright Act there will be an appeal to the High Court.
This, I am sure, is with the view that when a new federal court is designed the whole act can be amended to confer appropriate jurisdiction on the new federal court. Therefore, I do not regard this as a highly contentious matter. I think that we are in agreement that this is an appropriate matter for the kind of new federal court which has been foreshadowed by the Attorney-General.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Proposed new clause.
.- I move-
That the following new clause be added to the bill:- “ 5. The Principal Act, as amended by this Act, extends to and in relation to an arbitration pending at the commencement of the Act.”.
When the bill was prepared it was thought that the amendments to be made by it would apply to an arbitration under section 13a which is at present proceeding. Doubt as to whether this would be the case has been expressed, and since it is the intention that the new provisions should apply to the current arbitration proceedings, it has been thought desirable to make the matter certain by inserting a provision specifically applying the amendments to the pending proceedings. This is the purpose of the new clause that I now propose.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave- read a third time.
Debate resumed from 28th March (vide page 164), on motion by Sir Garfield Barwick -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Mr.WHITLAM (Werriwa) [12.25].- This bill makes a desirable amendment to the principal act. At the present time, if a person is fined in one State but living in another State, he has to be extradited to the State in which he has been fined, in order that the fine can be extracted from him or that he can resist the payment of it. This bill provides that if a man is fined in one State but lives in another State he can be hailed before the courts of the State in which he is living, and the fine can be exacted from him there or he can resist the payment of the fine there. This is a procedure which will cost State governments less in collecting fines. It is a procedure which will cost persons who have been fined less in paying those fines or in resisting the payment of fines.
The situation has become rapidly more crucial through the development of interstate road transport. Great numbers of persons are now engaged in commerce by road over State borders. Increasing numbers of people are going to various holiday resorts by road across State borders. Interstate travellers are no less prone to conviction for road offences than those who confine their commercial or recreational activities to their own States.
This Parliament probably should pass laws now to deal with the very great deal of commerce which is conducted across State borders. Under the interstate trade and commerce power this Parliament could, in fact, pass laws regulating the industrial conditions, safety practices and so on, of those engaged in interstate activities. This bill, of course, deals with the very much narrower question of the traffic penalties imposed and how those penalties should be collected or resisted. The procedure is a desirable simplification. It has been sought by all the States. The idea of it is supported by the Opposition. In committee I shall move some amendments, which I circulated a couple of days ago, on the key clause of the bill. However, the second reading is supported by the Opposition.
.- This piece of legislation comes up in what might be described as an unusual way. There is a standing committee of Attorneys-General of the States and of the Commonwealth which, as I understand it, was given some form of regularity by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). Previously the committee had conducted ad hoc meetings somewhat irregularly. The purpose of that committee has been to achieve uniformity of State legislation on a variety of matters on which the Commonwealth itself could not act, or thought it could not act. An instance of such a matter was the uniform companies legislation. Whether or not the Commonwealth could have legislated for a uniform companies act will now remain one of the mysteries of our constitutional power. In any event, the committee of Attorneys-General got together and framed a piece of legislation which was agreed to by all of them. They went away and had that legislation enacted in the several States, and it is now described as the uniform companies act.
Similar developments have taken place in other fields, such as that of hire purchase. But this piece of legislation shows the operation of the committee in reverse. In the past the Commonwealth has gone to the committee and said, “We would like you all, in your various States, to legislate on this matter in the same form so that we can have uniformity; the Commonwealth cannot provide uniformity by legislation because it does not possess the necessary power “. In this matter, the State Attorneys, being together and experiencing a similar problem, were able to turn to the Commonwealth and say: “ We want a bit of quid pro quo now. We have been asked by you to legislate on matters on which you cannot legislate. Now will you please legislate on a matter on which we cannot legislate, and that is the Service and Execution of Process Act.” In my view, the States clearly could not have legislated in the form in which this bill is drawn. So the Commonwealth is now passing this piece of legislation specifically at the request of the States in order to facilitate the collection of fines by the States.
The fines which follow traffic offences are a very important adjunct to the State Treasuries and the States were quite annoyed at the prospect of failing to collect the fines in many instances unless they used the very broad sworded method of sending a policeman to arrest the offender in another State. Another method was adopted by the Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, who sent an officer of one of his departments on a tour of Victoria and New South Wales. I do not think the officer was a policeman. I think he was an officer of the transport authority or the Department of Justice or some other department. He may have been a policeman, but I think not. The officer was armed with a little leather bag. The idea was that he would knock on an offender’s door and say, “ Please pay “. On receiving payment, he issued a receipt, put the money in the bag and at the end of each day paid the money collected into the nearest branch of the bank used by South Australia. This proved quite successful, but it was not successful enough. So the AttorneysGeneral, being called together as a committee for purposes quite unrelated to this, used the opportunity to find among themselves a common complaint and to ask the Commonwealth Government to legislate.
This brings us to the point as to whether it is reasonable and proper to legislate to provide a simplified method for the collection of interstate fines. I believe this is a proper piece of legislation. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has referred to growing interstate traffic. We have much knowledge of the increased flow of traffic. If we had not been closely linked together by the Constitution as an indissoluble federal association, we might have had civil war between South Australia and Victoria because of the magistrate, now retired, named Biggins, I think. He had a magisterial area just inside Victoria. The South Australians regarded him as being particularly anti-South Australia and as having the single purpose in life of imposing very heavy fines on South Australians who ventured into Victoria.
– A golden mile.
– Yes. Of course, entering Victoria is a great privilege for every Australian.
The whole purpose of this legislation is to protect the revenue which the States now obtain from fines imposed on interstate travellers who commit traffic offences. In Victoria, when a person is convicted of a traffic offence, the custom is to fine him a given amount. The formula is, “Fined £5, in default distress”. A bailiff or some other officer goes to the offender’s house and asks for the £5. If it is not forthcoming, he sells the kitchen table. Under this bill, before a warrant for apprehension can issue, there must be a situation in which the person can be committed to prison for failure to pay the fine. In Victoria, with its custom of a fine or distress, the situation does not arise in which a person can go to gaol for not paying the fine, without further order of the court. I hope that this legislation when passed will not change the practice of the magistracy in Victoria in relation to traffic offences of making distress the alternative to paying a fine. I am sure that that is not intended, but it may be an accidental result. It is no bad thing, I suppose, that a second approach may have to be made to a court to substitute imprisonment for distress if Victoria were unable to collect a fine in New South Wales.
Another matter that comes to my attention when looking at this bill relates to section 16 of the act. The marginal note to sub-section (1) of section 16 reads -
Subpoena or summons to witness may be served in another State by leave of the judge.
Then sub-section (2) provides a procedure to apprehend a person who has received such a subpoena or summons to witness but has failed to respond to it. Under section 16, a judge may order that a person in New South Wales be called to Victoria by subpoena to give evidence in a proceeding. If the person fails to respond to the subpoena, the court may issue a warrant to apprehend him and bring him to Victoria. This is a different procedure from that which applies to persons resident in Victoria. If the witness were not in New South Wales but were in Victoria, the situation would be this: The subpoena would be issued against the person in Victoria.
If he failed to respond, the court would be entitled to fine him. However, if he is in New South Wales and does not obey a subpoena served on him, the only penalty that can be imposed by the court is to issue a warrant of apprehension and to send a policeman with the warrant to New South Wales to bring him back. Of course, a person treated in this way could hardly be expected to be a very friendly witness for the party to litigation who followed this procedure.
I think that the opportunity should have been taken in this amending bill to amend section 16 so that an interstate witness who did not respond to a subpoena could be fined instead of a warrant of apprehension having to issue. The main substance of the bill now before us provides the machinery to enforce the collection of such a fine. Fining a recalcitrant witness would1 be simpler than the very drastic step of sending a policeman armed with a warrant of apprehension to arrest him and bring him to the court. He might not be a very happy witness if he were fined, but at least he would be a happier witness than he would be if he found on his door-step a policeman who carried him off forthwith to an interstate venue. I hasten to point out that what I have just outlined is, in my view, a desirable amendment or addition to the Service and Execution of Process Act. It is not a vital matter, or anything of that kind. It may well be that an opportunity will be found in the near future - perhaps in another place - to add to section 16 a sub-section (3.) relating to fines in those circumstances.
Another matter that comes to my attention, Mr. Speaker, on looking at this bill ought to be considered more closely at the committee stage. I have been informed by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), who is the Minister assisting the AttorneyGeneral, that amendments will be moved to certain clauses. May I ask the Minister whether those amendments have been circulated?
– Yes, they have.
– In those circumstances I can speak about them. On looking at this bill I was very concerned to see proposed new section 26F. sub-section (1.) which, as the bill stands at present, reads -
Where a person is brought, or appears, before a Court in accordance with the last preceding section -
if the Court is satisfied that the person before the Court is the person for whose apprehension the warrant was issued . . .
The Minister proposes that that proposed new section be altered by substituting the words “on whom the fine was imposed” for the words “ for whose apprehension the warrant was issued “. I am sure that that goes 100 per cent, along the path that I was anxious to ensure would be followed; but I think it would be helpful if the problem that has emerged were discussed. As 1 have said the words in the proposed new sub-section are -
Let us consider the case of a person who is driving through Bendigo and is pulled up by a policeman for speeding. Having been pulled up, he gives the name John Jones and his address as 25 Brown-street, Sydney, and the policeman accepts that. A summons is issued, to be served in Sydney. In respect of a person apparently over the age of sixteen years, it is good and sufficient service of that summons if it is left at the person’s last known place of abode. The person named John Jones may not, in fact, ever hear about it. That is one possible situation. Another possible situation is that the person says that his name is John Jones, but in fact his name is something entirely different. He may give a real name and a real address which are not his own.
This is the issue: When a person is arrested interstate, what is it that a magistrate has to be concerned with? When the person is brought before the magistrate, he may say: “ Look, 1 am not the person. It could not have been me. I have never been in Bendigo in my life.” Alternatively, he might say: “ It could not have been me. It is five years since I was in Bendigo.” This man might be in Newcastle, New South Wales, or somewhere just over the Victoria-New South Wales border. He could be anywhere.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Mr. Speaker, before the suspension of the sitting I was speaking about the issue involved when a person is apprehended in a State other than the State in which he is alleged to have committed an offence for which he has been fined. Under the terms of the bill a policeman equipped with a warrant of apprehension apprehends the person and is required to take him before a magistrate. When he gets before a magistrate the issue arises as to what the magistrate should do in the exercise of the powers he has under the bill. The important thing we have to concern ourselves with is what powers a magistrate would have if the person who has been arrested says, “ 1 am not the person concerned “. The name on the warrant may be wrong for either of two reasons. It may be wrong because an error is made in the name put on the warrant or because the person who committed the offence gives a wrong name at the time of the offence.
If we assume that a wrong name - say the name Bill Jones - is given, Bill Jones should receive a summons; but the method of service on a person over the age of sixteen is to leave the summons at the lastknown place of abode. So Bill Jones may never receive the summons.
– Did you say Bill or George Jones?
– The honorable member for Watson has been in this Parliament long enough to show some sense of responsibility. The interjection he has just made shows that he has no regard for the personal liberty of Australian subjects. We are dealing here with the personal liberty of Australian subjects who may be apprehended without any prior knowledge on their part, taken before a magistrate and put in gaol. If the honorable member for Watson wants to regard that as a joke he is welcome to do so, but I suggest that he go outside this chamber to treat this matter in joking fashion, because it is a matter of great consequence.
When a person comes before a magistrate he may say: “I am not the person concerned. I cannot be, because I was never at that place on that day “. But in the bill as it now stands, without the benefit of the amendments circulated by the
Minister for the Interior and the Minister assisting the Attorney-General (Mr. Freeth), the question which a magistrate would have to determine was whether the person appearing before him was the person for whose apprehension the warrant was issued. If a man named Bill Jones was fined, and the warrant was for the apprehension of Bill Jones, one would have found that a magistrate was powerless to receive from the person appearing any testimony that he was not the person concerned. The relevant words are proposed to be changed to read “ on whom the fine was imposed”. This covers the situation, because the fine is imposed upon the actual offender, by whatever name he may be designated or identified. If the actual offender gave a wrong name the person who is wrongly named is not the person on whom the fine is imposed.
When I read the bill I had some concern, because it provided for no means of appeal; but even if it had, the magistrate would not consider an appeal. I found then, by looking at the principal act, of which this bill is an amendment, that there is another form of warrant of apprehension. A warrant of apprehension may issue in the case of a person served with a subpoena in a State who does not answer that subpoena. A warrant of apprehension may issue and he may be arrested by a policeman, who takes him before a magistrate. Section 18 (6.) of the act provides that the magistrate has wide powers under which he may refuse on any of three grounds to return the person appearing before him. These are -
We come now to the suggestion that there could be no form of appeal before a magistrate when a warrant of apprehension is executed and a person is brought into the custody of a policeman. I suggest that a magistrate, by being entitled to consider whether the person in fact appearing is the person on whom a fine was imposed, is not thereby engaging in a re-hearing, a review, an appeal or anything of that kind in relation to the offence in another State. A magistrate is determining then whether or not he will facilitate the execution of the penalty which was awarded in the other State. No question of appeal or anything of that nature arises. If it were an appeal, I could not support it. I do not think there would be constitutional power to impose any condition for an appeal. Further, it would be highly undesirable to clothe a magistrate in another State with the power to re-hear the decision of the magistrate who conducted the original hearing. This situation does not emerge.
I am going into this matter in some detail because, although the situation may not arise on many occasions, it is a matter of great importance to a person who is suddenly apprehended by a policeman, taken before a magistrate and told that he has to go to gaol until a fine is paid, when that person can truthfully say: “ I was not the person who was fined. I was never there.” So the crux of this situation is: How will the magistrate interpret the words, “ on whom the fine was imposed “, which are substituted for the words “ for whose apprehension the warrant was issued “? I have no doubt in my mind that the magistrate will interpret those words widely enough for him to say, “ What I am concerned with is the appearance of the actual offender, because it was the actual offender upon whom the fine was imposed “. The strength of those words is added to by the fact that in the proposed section 26e (2.) remain the words, in relation to the constable who receives the warrant -
Where a constable who is authorized to execute a warrant of apprehension in a State or Territory finds in that State or Territory the person for whose apprehension the warrant is issued . . .
The fact that the words remain in that proposed sub-section but that completely different words are substituted in section 26f strengthens the interpretation I have suggested. It is most important on the odd occasion where it occurs that a man is not to be committed to gaol for a fine which he says was never imposed on him. The alternative is for a magistrate to say, “I will place you on bail until you go to Victoria and there proceed through the appeal provisions “. If that is not adequate protection for individuals, the purpose of the bill being to facilitate the collection of fines by States, then the individual must be protected.
Finally, I find from the bill that a person upon being apprehended must be taken before a magistrate who must then conduct a hearing; but under the terms of the bill no costs can be awarded in any circumstances. If a man was taken before a magistrate, and satisfied the magistrate that he was not the person on whom the fine is imposed - and he would no doubt have legal representation - he would have to bear the whole of the costs of the proceedings. He would not be able to obtain a refund of costs or an order for costs. The incredible feature is that in the amendment circulated by the Minister assisting the AttorneyGeneral in relation to an appeal to a judge provision is made for the awarding of costs on the hearing before the judge, but no provision is made for the awarding of costs on the mandatory exercise of a hearing before the magistrate.
In my opinion, this runs contrary to the whole concept of our legal proceedings. In our legal proceedings the basic rule is that the person who succeeds is entitled to costs unless there are very exceptional circumstances. I see no exceptional circumstances in this case that would suggest that the legislation should not provide for an order for costs. However, I do not regard this matter as of such great importance that I should vote against the measure, or do anything of that kind. I would be very grateful to the Minister if he would give consideration to putting into the bill a provision for costs.
.- Mr. Speaker, so far in this debate you have been addressed by members of the legal profession and I think that it would be almost appropriate for me to begin my speech with the words, “If it please your Honour “, but I do not wish to offend you. As a layman I want to depart from the technicalities that have been introduced by some honorable members who have spoken, and say a few words about certain aspects of this bill which I consider to be desirable. I should say - I think that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has mentioned the point - that the bill does improve the position in regard to many things that have been occurring and which have been unjust to the persons concerned, be they guilty or not. This bill does remove certain injustices.
On occasions in this Parliament the question of arresting people in other parts of the Commonwealth and bringing them before the court in Canberra has received considerable prominence. Such action has been taken under certain sections of the act under discussion, and in much more extraordinary and serious cases, the freedom of the individual has been involved. I know that the Minister assisting the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Freeth) stated that certain legislation might be introduced to stop this sort of thing, but I propose to show how desirable are the changes that are being made by this legislation. The changes are long overdue, and it is good to know that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) and the Government at long last have seen fit to make these changes. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) and other honorable members have directed attention to what has been occurring. Organizations have been obtaining judgment in the Australian Capital Territory and subsequently extraditing people from other States. In some cases, people have been found guilty of offences without having the opportunity to appear in court to defend themselves.
These matters have arisen under the Service and Execution of Process Act, and the position certainly requires a remedy. I propose to quote to the Parliament some cases which the Government could keep in mind in considering further amendments to this aspect of the law. I refer chiefly to a firm known as Goodwins (Sydney) Proprietary Limited1, of King-street, Newtown, Sydney. Its finance house is the Television and General Finance Company (Australia) Limited, 16 Barker-street, Griffith, Australian Capital Territory. Immediately Goodwins of Newtown sells an electrical appliance, it transfers the contract to the company in Canberra, and to all intents and purposes the person who purchases the item from Goodwins of Newtown, then becomes liable, in respect of payments and all dues, to the finance company situated and registered here in Canberra. When action is taken for any purpose by this company it is taken in the court in Canberra. The judgment is obtained in Canberra, and a person, if he desires to defend the action, must come to this Territory in order to put his point of view or defence. Subsequently all the processes of the law are carried out here in Canberra and as has been stated quite rightly by the Attorney-General in this Parliament, people are being prosecuted under the Service and Execution of Process Act in Canberra without an opportunity to defend themselves. There have been so many cases of this kind that they are too numerous for me to mention now, but the fact remains that companies such as Television and General Finance Company Limited, which is the finance house of Goodwins Limited, Sydney, are undoubtedly exploiting sections of the act. It is good to see that the Government - certainly in a minor way in this case - is making provision to prevent this sort of thing.
Let us have a look at what can occur under this act and why there is need for reforms of this nature. I have before me a contract entered into with Television and General Finance Company Limited for a total amount of ?71, ?5 deposit and payments to be made at given times. The person concerned is a pensioner aged 78 years. She is in bad health. She purchased a television set and immediately afterwards she took ill and was put into hospital. She asked a very well known citizen of the district in which I reside to write to the company, tell it that she could not pay the instalments and ask it to take back the set. The gentleman wrote to Goodwins shortly afterwards, and informed me about it in these terms -
One of our members . . .
Mrs. So.and.So purchased a TV set from Goodwins of Newtown. After paying the deposit she took ill and was taken to hospital. She spent six weeks in the hospital.
The gentleman wrote to Goodwins promptly and told the company that the woman could not pay. Goodwins (Sydney) Proprietary Limited wrote the following letter dated 9th November, 1962 -
Dear Mrs. So-an-so,
Re: Hire Purchase A/c-
We have been advised that you wish to return the goods the subject of the above account.
Should you wish us to convey this request to the Finance Company it would be necessary to call and see the writer within the next ten days to avoid the summons being issued against you for arrears as it has been noted that no payments have been made since the goods were delivered to you approximately five months ago.
Prior to that the gentleman who had written into the company - one of the best-known men in the district - received from Goodwins in Sydney a letter signed by a man named Goodwin. It reads as follows -
We do not accept instructions from unknowns about our clients, and request that you advise Mrs. - to call upon the writer personally.
This was when the lady concerned was ill in hospital. The letter continued -
At the same time she may pay the arrears on the account, as the television receiver was installed more than four months ago and there has not been one penny paid on the account. The arrears as at to-day’s date total ?12.0.0
A tremendous amount, of course!
If the ?12.0.0 was paid the account could be cancelled without further charges.
The point I make is that the company was notified immediately the woman could not pay, and was asked to call and collect the set. Subsequently the lady received a letter from the Television and General Finance Company Limited in Canberra. Just listen to this letter which, I submit, shows an exploitation of the Service and Execution of Process Act! It is dated 22nd November, 1962, and reads -
Re: Your Account No.-
Your Account has been referred to the writer for action. To date you are ?12.0.0 in arrears.
A number of previous notices have been ignored and we now have no alternative than to issue a Summons for all arrears plus court costs and legal expenses. This summons will be taken out at Canberra Court and served on you in due course unless your Account is up to date by then, or a satisfactory offer of payment is received.
Your fares to and from Canberra to appear at Court would have to be at your own expense. Our expenses will be added to your Account in accordance with your Hire Purchase Agreement. Therefore it is imperative that you give this matter your immediate attention.
What a delightful letter for a 78 years old woman to get from a company that had sold her a television set! She had notified the company that she was ill.
– What is the name of this firm?
– Goodwins Limited. Its finance company is Television and General Finance Company Limited which is situated in the Australian Capital Territory. The matter did not stop there. On 29th January, the company wrote again -
Re: Your Account–
Summons,– was issued against you at Canberra Court last week. £5.5.0 additional costs have been added to your Account in accordance with your contract.
This Summons will be served upon you within the course of the next twenty-one (21) days by a legal officer or Court bailiff.
Your fares to and from Canberra to appear at Court would have to be at your own expense. Our expenses will be added to your Account in accordance with your Hire Purchase Agreement. Therefore it is imperative that you give this matter your immediate attention.
You will notice that the amount is going up -
The full amount of arrears, £18.0.0 plus costs must be paid four (4) full days before Case is listed for hearing or satisfactory offer of settlement received to obviate the necessity of appearing in Court and incurring further legal costs.
Only the writer can be contacted with reference to your Account.
It is signed by some follow who calls himself the legal officer. I cannot read his signature, but that does not matter. But Goodwins were not satisfied with that. I have in my hand a summons issued by the Canberra Courtin 1963 against this 78yearold lady who resides in New South Wales. It gives the complainant’s address for service as c/o Davies, Bailey and Cater, Solicitors, Melbourne Buildings, London Circuit, Canberra City, Australian Capital Territory, to which all notices may be posted. They took out a summons against this woman in Canberra without giving her an opportunity to defend herself, and they did that for a number of reasons. Then a letter, dated 15th February, was sent to this lady from Goodwins (Sydney) Proprietary Limited, 591 King-street, Newtown. It read -
We have been advised by the Finance Company that a summons has been lodged for arrears on the above-mentioned hire-purchase account.
This summons will be served upon you by a Court Bailiff within the next 28 days, and it will be necessary for you to appear in court in answer to the plaint.–
This woman who is 78 years old and lives 200 miles away is expected to come to Can berra at the behest of these people. The letter goes on -
As we sold you the goods and recommended to the Finance Company that they accept your account you will appreciate our concern. If there is anything that we can do to assist you in this matter we would appreciate your advising us.
Should you wish to convey an offer of settlement we would be prepared to do so on your behalf, provided that we have your assurance that the Promise to Pay would be maintained. This offer would have to be made to the signatory personally at 591 King-street, Newtown, and an appointment made by phoning 51-9951.
In view of the serious state of your account, we urge that you contact us within the next seven days.
That is not too bad, but the firm went one better than that - and do not forget that the set was worth £70. On 4th February, the following letter was sent by Television and General Finance Company Limited asking for payment in connexion with certain items: -
Now that the goods you hired have been repossessed you will be entitled to get them back -
The owner’s estimate of the amount you must pay to reinstate the agreement is -
That is what this woman must pay if she asks that the set be returned to her. The letter continued -
The owner’s estimate of the amount required to finalise the agreement is -
If you do not reinstate or finalise the agreement you will be liable for the owner’s loss unless the value of the goods repossessed is sufficient to cover your liability. If the value of the goods is more than sufficient to cover your liability you will be entitled to a refund. The owner’s estimate of the value of the goods repossessed is £20. On the basis of this estimate you are liable to pay the owner £47 10s.
Even though the owner got the goods back. The letter continued -
You may give a written notice to the owner requiring the owner to sell the goods to any cash buyer you can introduce who is willing to pay the owner’s estimate of the value, i.e. £20.
This contract has been carried into effect in the Australian Capital Territory. She is required to come here to protect herself if she can, and all costs associated with the proceedings, including those of the company, are added to the debt said to be owing by this woman. Those conditions would apply to all other persons in the same category. The summons is for £18. Without going into the matter again, I point out that on 6th April she received another letter from Television and Genera] Finance Company Limited demanding payment of £47 10s. forthwith; which indicates that that company is completely exploiting the particular provision te which I have referred.
To get back to the point we were discussing with relation to arrest or apprehension of people, the company I have mentioned has done all these things I have described to a 78-year-old woman. As the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) has said, under the law as it stands this woman is liable in certain circumstances to be arrested and taken to gaol if she breaches certain clauses of the contract she has signed.
– I am quite certain she would not be.
– There is nothing silly about it.
– I said that I am quite certain she would not be arrested; I did not say what you implied I said.
– I have a pile of correspondence a foot high containing the names and addresses of persons who were put into gaol by this company on charges signed in the Australian Capital Territory. I am not criticizing the Minister in particular. I am merely pointing out what happens.
He knows this is happening, and he is going to remedy it. The point I make is that these things are occurring.
– I rise to order. The honorable member is referring to other legislation. What he is talking about now has nothing to do with this bill. This bill deals with offences and does not refer to civil actions in any way. The honorable member has mentioned certain other legislation which he says is pending. We have actually remedied the situation in the Australian Capital Territory about which he complains. We did that by ordinance some few weeks ago.
– Order! The honorable member has departed from the bill. He has been allowed considerable latitude. I ask him to come back to the measure before the Chair.
– I respect your ruling, Mr. Speaker. However, I was dealing with the provisions relating to the execution of warrants and writs of attachment. They are covered extensively in the principal act and to a lesser degree in this bill. I submit that I am wall within the scope of this measure because everything I have said relates to the provisions covering service and execution of process.
– Order! I ask the honorable member not to canvass the ruling of the Chair.
– Then I shall conclude on the point which I have already made, that there is urgent need for reform. As to the point of order raised by the Minister, I have yet to see the ordinance to which ha referred. I would like to see it produced.
– Honorable members may have noticed that some judges have realized that there is need to take action with respect to the matters mentioned in this bill. Not so long ago, in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, Mr. Justice Dunphy refused to order the arrest of persons who were alleged to have breached certain agreements. The fact that the Government is belatedly taking action now is a clear indication that not only members of this Parliament but also members of trie judiciary and other people realize that the kind of conduct to which I have directed attention is cropping up in many spheres of the law and that action should be taken to remedy the practice. I withdraw my kindly reference previously to the Minister. Evidently I am now getting under his skin. However, I know at least that at long last safeguards are being provided as a result of our impressing upon the Attorney-General and the Government the great need for reform. I conclude on that note. I have mentioned these matters to the Parliament because I believe that Television and General Finance Company Limited and Goodwins deserve to be told through this Parliament that their conduct is unethical and warrants action being taken against them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 10 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
After Part IV. of the Principal Act the following part is inserted: - “ Part IVa. - Enforcement of Fines Imposed by Courts of Summary Jurisdiction. “26a. - (1.) In this Part, unless the contrary intention appears - “26f. - (1.) Where a person is brought, or appears, before a Court in accordance with the last preceding section -
” (2.) For the purposes of this section, the Court may presume that the person before the Court is the person for whose apprehension the warrant was issued if the person before the Court does not give evidence that he is not the person on whom the fine referred to in the warrant was imposed.
– I move -
In proposed section 26f (1.), omit “for whose apprehension the warrant was issued”, insert “ on whom the fine was imposed “.
I do not propose at this stage to embark on a long argument with the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) as to the exact effect of those words. He directed attention to a possible interpretation which a magistrate might place upon them. I agree with him that there is room for some argument before a magistrate, but I suggest that it would be better to leave the matter aside until such a case is argued, if ever such a case should arise. I believe with him that this will remove some doubt that might have existed and will identify with certainty the person who is sought to be affected by the order for committal.
.- Mr. Chairman, I wish to take this opportunity to convey to the Minister my appreciation of his action in considering the bill again in order to decide whether it should be amended. That action, I think, is a great credit to him. I say that with some embarrassment, but with respect to him.
.- The Opposition welcomes the amendment which the Minister assisting the Attorney-General has proposed. One of the Opposition’s reasons for proposing an amendment to sub-section (2.) of proposed section 26f is the different wording used in sub-section (1.) and sub-section (2.). Sub-section (1.) refers to a person for whose apprehension the warrant was issued, and sub-section (2.) states that a court may presume that the person before the court is the person for whose apprehension the warrant was issued if the person before the court does not give evidence that he is not the person on whom the fine referred to in the warrant was imposed. We had in mind that there might be a difference between the person named in the warrant and the person on whom the fine’ was imposed, because of an error in drawing up the warrant or because of wrong information given by the person sought to be apprehended or fined. The amendment that the Minister has proposed now, and the further amendment that he has circulated in respect of sub-section (2.) make it plain that the evidence that one has to give must touch on the relevant matter before the court. The same words will be used in all places. This amendment, therefore, removes one of our objections to sub-section (2.) We welcome the insertion of these words in sub-section (1.)
Amendment agreed to.
.- 1 move -
In paragraph (a) of proposed section 26f (1.), omit “ is not satisfied that the liability of the person to pay the fine has “, insert “ that the liability of the person to pay the line has not “.
If the amendment is accepted by the committee, sub-section (1.) will read -
Where a person is brought, or appears, before a Court in accordance with the last preceding section -
We believe that the amendment would ensure that the onus would be on the Crown, not only to prove that the person before the court was the person on whom the fine was imposed, but also to prove that the fine had not been fully discharged. As the bill stands, the onus is on the person before the court to prove that the fine has been fully discharged. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) in his second-reading speech, stated the intention of the act in these words -
If the court is satisfied that the person before the court is the offender for whose arrest the warrant was issued and that the fine remains unpaid, the court shall commit the offender to gaol.
The amendment that I move, therefore, would effectuate the intention of the bill as expressed by the Attorney-General in his second-reading speech. We think that that intention is in accordance with the usual principle and practice in criminal matters - that the Crown should prove all stages.
– This amendment would have the effect of reversing the onus of proof. To prove that a fine had not been paid in another State it would be necessary for the law enforcement authorities in that other State to send some one to the State where it was sought to enforce the warrant. It should be pointed out that this is not a question of trying an original offence; it is a question of enforcing a fine imposed in respect of an offence that has been proved. If a fine has in fact been paid, the easiest way to establish that is for the person who has been fined to produce a receipt or a cheque butt, or some other evidence that the fine has been paid. It is a well-accepted practice that the onus of proof should fall on the person who has available the easiest or best means of discharging that onus. Furthermore, if a fine is sought to be enforced in the State where it was imposed, there is no onus of proof to be discharged in relation to nonpayment. If the person concerned has not moved across the border into another State and it is sought to commit him for nonpayment of a fine, he is called upon by the police. He must then produce a receipt to show that he has paid the fine. Otherwise, he is likely to be taken off to gaol. This is exactly the same situation, except that it has moved across the border of a State. The offender is given the additional protection of going before a magistrate before he can be taken off to gaol.
In the circumstances, having amended the proposed section to provide that a court shall be satisfied that the person before the court is the person who has been fined, we feel that it would be unreasonable, and would add unduly to the expense of enforcing a decision of a court, to impose on the person seeking to enforce the penalty the onus of proving that it has not in fact been fully discharged. We regret that we cannot accept the proposed amendment.
.- We will press our amendment, for these reasons. Whilst we appreciate that proof should be facilitated in these matters, we think that proof has been facilitated too much in this case. In sub-section 6 of proposed new section 26f. it will be seen that in proceedings under this section a warrant of apprehension is evidence of facts stated in the warrant. Form 1 in the Fourth Schedule to the bill, the form of warrant of apprehension, refers to identity and unpaid amounts and so on. As the section stands, all that the prosecutor would have to do would be to tender a warrant of apprehension and, thereafter, if no evidence were given by or on behalf of the person before the court, then the case would be proved. I appreciate that it is expensive and timeconsuming to bring oral evidence and evidence in the other usual ways. We would not object if, say, there were a procedure for verifying the warrant on affidavit. We feel that it is not a wholesome procedure for the document initiating some process, itself to supply all the evidence to justify that process. I think it happens in many cases in the States that where a warrant is issued or is tendered there is also an affidavit verifying it. There is then the additional safeguard that written evidence is before the court. The originating process is not itself evidence of what it asserts. So, Sir, we think that as this is a departure from principle we ought to press the amendment that I have moved.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P.E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
Omit sub-section (2.) of proposed section twenty-six f, insert the following sub-section: - “ (2.) For the purposes of this section, the Court may presume that the person before the Court is the person on whom the fine was imposed if the person before the Court does not adduce evidence that he is not the person on whom the fine was imposed.”.
I invite attention to the fact that the amendment that I have moved contains the word “ adduce “ in lieu of the word “ give “ in the circulated amendment. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), and I have conferred and agreed that the word “ adduce “ has a better effect.
This amendment brings the proposed new sub-section into line with the wording in other parts of the bill. That is to say, it substitutes for the words “person for whose apprehension the warrant was issued “ the words “ the person on whom the fine was imposed “. It still leaves on the person before the court the onus to bring some evidence to support his claim that he is not the person on whom the fine was imposed, but it removes the necessity for that person himself to give evidence. Therefore, we believe that this amendment does give him a certain greater area of freedom in this respect. I commend the amendment to the committee.
.- A couple of days ago I circulated a note advising that the Opposition would oppose this proposed sub-section. The Minister’s amendment differs in two phrases from the sub-section originally proposed. This- meets the objections that we had to the sub-section. We therefore will not oppose it as amended, and we thank the Minister for the amendment he has moved.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
After proposed section twenty-six f, insert the following section: - “ ‘ 26fa. - (1.) A person against whom an order of committal is made under the last preceding section may apply to a Judge of the Supreme Court of the State or Territory in which the person was apprehended, sitting in chambers, for a review of the order, and the Judge may review the order. “ ‘ (2.) A Judge to whom an application is made for the review of an order may -
order the release on bail of the appre hended person on such terms and conditions as the Judge thinks fit; or
direct that the apprehended person be kept in such custody as the Judge directs in the State or Territory of the Commonwealth in which the person was apprehended until the order has been reviewed. “ ‘ (3.) The review of the order shall be by way of rehearing, and evidence in addition to, or in substitution for, the evidence given on the making of the order may be given on or in connexion with the review. “ ‘ (4.) For the purposes of a review under this section, a copy of a public document or of a document filed in a Department or office of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth, certified to be a true copy of the document by the person purporting by the certificate to have charge of the document, shall be received as evidence of the facts stated in the copy. “ ‘ (5.) Upon the review of an order, the Judge may confirm or vary the order, or quash the order and order the discharge of the person, and may make such other order (including an order as to the costs of the review) as the Judge thinks proper. “ 1 (6.) An order as confirmed or varied shall have effect according to its tenor as an order of the Court before which the person apprehended was brought or appeared in accordance with section twenty-six e of this Act. “ ‘ (7.) A warrant of commitment issued in pursuance of an order as confirmed or varied under this section shall make appropriate reference to the review under this section and to the confirmation or variation, as the case may be”.
I bad the benefit of considering the proposed amendment circulated by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). We are grateful to him for directing our attention to what we believe is a sound principle - that there should be a right of appeal in this instance as exists under other parts of the act in respect of similar process. Unfortunately there were some matters of drafting in the deputy leader’s amendment that were not quite acceptable to us. We have therefore accepted in principle what he proposed, but redrafted it and circulated it as an amendment. I hope that this will be acceptable to him.
Our amendment prevents an appeal by the police against an order for the discharge of a person from custody, which was implicit in the proposal of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. It therefore restricts the right of appeal to the person who is to be committed. I should also mention a point raised by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden). We do attach power to award costs to an appeal, but not to the original process. In 99 cases out of 100 a right to award costs in proceedings before a magistrate would inflict hardship on the defendant. So we decided that in fairness it would be better for the prosecuting State to bear the costs of pursuing a defendant into another State. However, since the only person who may appeal against a decision of a magistrate is in fact the defendant, it is felt to be right that if he loses his appeal he should bear his own costs. If he succeeds in his appeal the Crown should bear the costs.
.- I thank the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) for his remarks and for his amendment. His amendment incorporates the proposed amendment which was circulated in my name a couple of days ago. The alterations which the Minister’s amendment makes in the proposed amendment that I had circulated are, I readily concede, improvements on my amendment. I want to take the opportunity to say that my amendment was circulated after I had conferred with the honorable member for
Evans (Mr. Monaghan), Senator McKenna, Senator Murphy and Senator Cohen. I am sure that those gentlemen and my other colleagues would like me to express the Opposition’s gratification for the Minister’s amendment and our thanks to him for his remarks.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 12 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Freeth) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Freeth) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.13 p.m. until Tuesday, 30th April, at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Telegraph service beween Onslow and Perth is provided by means of a conventional overland telegraph line which, under normal conditions, provides satisfactory and reliable communication. In the event of a fault occurring on the landline, standby radio equipment is brought into operation and maintains contact with adjacent centres or with Perth. As an emergency means of communication this equipment performs satisfactorily.
On 7th February, however, a severe cyclone with record wind velocity struck Onslow causing serious damage to the landline and destroying the aerial system of the emergency radio installation. Winddriven rains also damaged the radio equipment itself. Replacement parts were flown into Onslow on one of the first planes able to land at the airport and communication with Perth was reestablished on 9th February. Normal telegraph service over the landline was restored on 5th April.
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
With the foreseeable growth in the use of the radio spectum in the next decade, has the Government considered the possible use of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board as the impartial body empowered to control absolutely the allocation of frequencies to the various services instead of having to periodically set up a frequency allocation committee?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The control of frequency allocations has been considered by the Government on previous occasions. It is considered that the interests of Australian users of the radio spectrum are best served by the present arrangements in which frequency assignments are made through the Post Office and under which the Australian Broadcasting Control Board determines the individual frequencies to be used for broadcasting and television services in accordance with the frequency bands available for those particular services under the Australian Table of Frequencies. The committee system provides a desirable avenue for obtaining advice and for the rationalization of frequently diverging interests of the various users, when consideration of special problems arises.
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In view of the growth of radio, television, communications and all other radio frequency services, could the organization of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board be improved by being less diversified and by being organized in a manner similar to the Federal Communications Commission in the United States of America?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The control of frequency allocations is considered to be much more complicated and diversified in the United States of America than in Australia. The Federal Communications Commission in the United States of America has many functions; as they affect frequency allocation matters, that commission has only limited control and jurisdiction because it does not have authority over all radio communication services.
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 ..nd 2. No. Commercial television stations must comply with the Television Programme Standards of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, but if the standards are adhered to the board does not intrude into the subject-matter and arrangement of programmes. Programmes of the national stations are the responsibility of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. From time to time all stations present a coverage of the same event. The stations consider this justified in respect of events which are of such wide-spread public interest as to command practically the whole of the viewing audience. In some instances the coverage of an important event is made possible only by the co-operation of all stations in making their mobile cameras and equipment available for common use.
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What is the cost of installation of industrial television in the Hobart Mail Exchange Branch?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The cost of the existing industrial television equipment in the Hobart Mail Exchange Branch is £5,630.
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. With one exception, all the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s activities are associated with providing or publicizing radio and television programmes. The exception is the training facilities provided by the A.B.C. for broadcasters from less developed countries in Asia, Africa and the Pacific.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 to 3. Petrov received £5,000 when he defected. Mrs. Petrov was paid expenses from the time of her defection until June, 1957. In answer to a question from the honorable member on 24th October, 1956 (“Hansard”, page 1795), I explained the arrangements under which the Petrovs were accommodated and maintained by the Commonwealth during that period. No other payments were made to the Petrovs at that time.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. In such cases it is usual for a Premier to seek Commonwealth financial assistance only in the relief of personal hardship and distress. I have received no such application from the Premier of Queensland in this case.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. I have received no such application from the Premier of Western Australia.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 April 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19630419_reps_24_hor38/>.