24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay’ took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I remind him, first, of the answer I received from him in reply to a question relating to the setting up of an authority to inquire into automation, its impact and its effects. I put it to him now that a major trend in modern technological advances and automatic processes, which have profit-making as the basis of production, is towards the consolidation of production lines, and that this development, in turn, provides a. bleak outlook for Australian towns and cities other than Sydney and Melbourne. Will he, when he is able, give special consideration to this matter as it is now affecting and will in the future affect the pattern of Australian development and, in particular, the development of country towns?
– I think we are all conscious of this problem and from time to time consider it. I will certainly continue to do so.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. Is he aware that 120 waterside workers walked off the “ Canberra Star “ in Sydney this week, alleging that the cargo for discharge had been loaded in Durban by forced prison labour, that the federal council of the Waterside Workers Federation congratulated the men on their protest against racial discrimination in South Africa, and that the support of the Australian Council of Trade Unions is being sought for an Australia-wide ban against the handling of cargo from South Africa allegedly loaded by political prisoners? Does he recognize this stand by the Waterside Workers Federation as being contrary to the spirit of the recently completed peace agreement entered into with the union and an attempt to have the Government’s authority in determining international relationships and policies flouted?
– On the contrary, I would imagine that the course of events would justify the action taken by the Government in seeking a conference for peace on the waterfront. Naturally, when I heard of the stoppage, it was disturbing to mc and I immediately made contact with the relevant officials to find out what had happened. There was a withdrawal of labour from the “ Canberra Star “ and immediately the Waterside Workers Federation ordered its Sydney branch to provide labour at every subsequent roster for the manning of this vessel. At the same time, the federation gave instructions to the Sydney officials that anything connected with South Africa and the loading of cargoes of the kind and under the conditions mentioned by the honorable gentleman had to be referred to the federation and determined in accordance with federation policy, and that if the federation considered it necessary it would refer disputes of that kind to the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The ship was manned again early in the morning on the next roster as it was manned on subsequent rosters. So I repeat that this is evidence that the federation is trying to keep up with the agreement it has made with the Government and with me.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. In view of the importance which Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines attach to the United Nations and its decisions, and in view of the fact that the United Nations recently carried out a survey in Sarawak and Sabah at the request of Malaya, Indonesia and the Philippines, will the Government take urgent action through the Minister for External Affairs to bring before the United Nations the threat to peace in our area arising from reactions to the formation of Malaysia?
– All I am prepared to say is that I will take this matter into consideration. I see some objections to it quite quickly, but I would prefer to give a considered reply.
– I address a question to the Minister for Social Services as the representative in this House of the Minister responsible for war service home’s. In view of the fact that the figures published yesterday by the Commonwealth Statistician show that the amount deposited in the savings banks of Australia is an all-time record, and in view of the fact that, by law, the bulk of these deposits must be invested in Commonwealth securities, will the Minister confer with the Minister responsible for war service homes and suggest that the time has arrived for all waiting time and all restrictions to be removed so that those returned servicemen who wish to purchase what the War Service Homes Division calls old homes, and those who desire to pay off mortgages carrying high rates of interest, may have an opportunity to do so?
– I shall be very pleased to refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister for National Development, in another place, who is the Minister responsible for the administration of the War Service. Homes Division. I appreciate the value of the suggestion made by the honorable member for Sturt, and I can assure him that I shall do whatever lies within my power to advance his cause.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he is acquainted with the statement made on Tuesday by Mr. Moss, Deputy Leader of the Country Party in the Victorian Parliament, indicating that the Country Party is dissatisfied with the lack of information supplied by the Australian Wool Board with regard to its desired increase in the wool promotion levy. Is the Minister aware that Mr. Moss was concerned at the justification of the additional expenditure without, to use his own words, “ a sound marketing system being first designed “? Finally, as this Parliament will be required to impose any increased levy, will the Minister also seek for honorable members additional detailed information relating to the proposed wool promotion expenditure, and is he, with the Labour Party and his Victorian Country Party colleagues, also anxious to see a sound marketing system implemented before such additional expenditure is made?
– I did read something of what Mr. Moss said. If he is dissatisfied with the information that is available, no doubt he will communicate with the Australian Wool Board, which is responsible for wool promotion expenditure, and with the Wool Industry Conference, which has in mind disseminating information on this very important matter amongst the growers. The honorable member will recall the suggestion made to me last week by the honorable member for Barker, and which I passed on to the chairman of the Australian Wool Board, that further information might be distributed by way of circular. The chairman of the board said that this was a very good suggestion and that he would adopt it.
– In addressing a question to the Minister for Trade, I refer to the conference of Commonwealth Finance Ministers being held in London. Can the right honorable gentleman say whether the conference has before it any proposal aimed at getting a new initiative in the development of Commonwealth trading and financial resources? If there is no such proposal before the conference, can the Minister say whether the British Government has, since the break-down of the Common Market talks, made any move at all to develop the tremendous trading opportunities offered by the conference?
– I do not carry in my mind details of the agenda of the conference of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers, but, from memory, I think it has been the practice for these conferences to have a general discussion of trade opportunities, trade experiences and trade prospects. I know that at present the United Kingdom Government is quite vigorously trying to discover ways of expanding trade in every direction, not exclusively with the Commonwealth. Its activities with the European Free Trade Association are well known. However, in total terms developments in the field of trade opportunities will depend largely upon the result of the so-called Kennedy round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations, in which Britain is participating with great enthusiasm.
– I address my question to you, Mr. Speaker. I preface it by reminding you that on 17th September the Sydney “Sun” published a statement in which it claimed that members of the Parliament are entitled to obtain a three-course meal for 5s. and, by innuendo at least, suggested that this included oysters. On 19th September, the Sydney “Sun” reiterated its earlier statement that members of the Parliament can obtain a three-course meal for 5s., but this time added the proviso that such a meal would be limited to soup, an entree and a choice of sweets. I have checked the official price list and have found that the price of a meal consisting of soup, an entree and a sweet, assuming that members are entitled to a cup of tea, would be 6s. 9d. I now ask: In view of the facts that the Sydney “ Sun “ falsely alleged on 17th September that members of the Parliament can obtain a three-course meal for 5s., that it repeated the story on 19th September and that nothing has been done to correct the false statement, will you take action that will result in the proprietors of the newspaper concerned correcting the statement?
– If the honorable member places me in possession of the facts he has now stated to the House, I will see that appropriate action is taken.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Trade. Has he read a report, attributed to a Sydney flour miller, that Australia could have sold more flour to Russia but for the serious decline in milling capacity? As this industry has had difficulty in recent months, or even years, in securing sufficient markets and economical prices, will the Minister, in conjunction with the Minister for Primary Industry, call for a report on the prospects for flour sales on overseas markets, with a view to securing some form of continuity?
– I would be glad to have discussions with my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, on this matter. I am aware of the statement to which the honorable member refers. 1 think the background facts are that Australia’s opportunities to sell flour, which were greatly developed during the war and in the immediate post-war years, declined as other countries, such as the Philippines, reestablished their flour milling industries. Some countries which had been traditional buyers of Australian flour arranged for their own gristing. This led to some internal rationalization of the Australian flour milling industry, and a number of flour mills were closed. The industry was brought on to a more stable basis to meet the reduced but existing markets. I doubt whether this tremendous opportunity to sell flour to Russia, which, for all we know, may be a once-and-once-only opportunity, would warrant the establishment of additional flour milling capacity for that special and exclusive purpose. However, I would be glad to accept the suggestion of the honorable member to have discussions with my colleague, and then, either alone or with him, consult the flour milling industry.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Recently, the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner stated that the standardization of the narrow-gauge railway from Broken Hill to Port Pirie and the standardization project in Western Australia would be completed about a year earlier than had originally been planned. I ask the Minister whether that matter has been considered by him and the Government and whether funds are to be provided for completion of these projects earlier than had been planned. Was the commissioner justified in making such a definite statement?
– From time to time, suggestions have been made that these railway projects be completed earlier than had been planned. At this juncture, nothing definite has been decided. However, the Western Australian Minister for Railways, Mr. Court, has asked whether, at the present rate of progress, the Western Australian project could be completed a year earlier than had been planned. Of course, financial adjustments would have to be made. At present, one cannot say with any certainty that earlier completion can bo arranged, but I can tell the honorable member that it is being considered and that, if possible, the work will be completed twelve months ahead of schedule.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. He will recall that, some time ago, I asked him what steps the Department of Labour and National Service was taking to re-train unemployed persons. Will the Minister tell me what developments have occurred in this field and what co-operation he is receiving from other bodies?
– On several occasions, the honorable gentleman has raised with me the question of re-training unemployed persons, of training men for skilled occupations and of training unemployed workers for better occupations th.m they had before. We have looked at the three problems and have come to the conclusion that at present it is better for us to concentrate on training for skilled occupations by bringing apprentices into skilled trades and enabling them to become technicians.
As the honorable gentleman well knows, the Government some months ago announced changes in awards and in the assistance that it was prepared to give to training for skilled trades and to technical training. We in the department think that what the Government has done has mct with a reasonable measure of success. I shall let the honorable gentleman know our findings and I shall ascertain for him what has been done about the re-training of unemployed persons. I think I should say that in some instances we find a marked degree of co-operation by the trade unions and the employers with the department, but, in other instances, we find it very difficult to get the required co-operation.
– I address my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I ask: Has his attention been directed to the very sharp increase in the number of shipwrecks along the Australian coast in the last couple of months? Is .this due to some laxity in the enforcement, of regulations or must we look further for a more significant cause?
– I assume that the honorable member refers particularly to the shipwrecks that have occurred on Corsair Reef in Port Phillip Bay.
– And elsewhere.
– Corsair Reef is in enclosed waters and our inquiries of the Victorian Marine Board have revealed that it is considered that the buoys and lighting are adequate and that the waters are quite safe. I do not think that I should pursue that matter too far. Inquiries into the handling of the wrecked ships by the masters are being held at present and any comment that could influence those inquiries would not be proper. The Commonwealth has no jurisdiction over enclosed waters. That is a matter for the Victorian Marine Board. I assure the honorable member that matters that are the Commonwealth’s responsibility, such as lighting, charting and the issue of notices to mariners, are handled with a degree of efficiency as high as it ever was.
– I ask the Minister for Territories a question. Is it a fact that native elected members of the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea have received from the Communist Party letters and cuttings from the Communist newspaper “ Tribune “ outlining the party’s policy regarding the future of Papua and New Guinea? Is it a fact also that the native members of the council have strongly voiced their resentment at the intrusion of the Communists into Papua and New Guinea? If these are facts, is there other evidence in Papua and New Guinea of the Communist Party becoming increasingly active and an influence with the native people there, especially having regard to the fact that next year the number of native members elected to the Legislative Council will be increased?
– I have no personal knowledge of the matters referred to by the honorable member but I have seen a press report about them. As is well known, the Communist Party always takes a. very close and political interest in any situation in a dependent territory and sets out to worsen race relations and to keep racial tension alive. It sets out to destroy the trust that is so necessary for the successful advancement of a dependent people. We take careful note of these things. The only observation I would make at this stage is that I think most, if not all, of the advanced and articulate leaders of the native people of Papua and New Guinea have a sturdy and practical common sense that enables them to evaluate the dangers of communism with a great deal more exactness than perhaps some of the more highly educated people in Australia can do. In matters concerning their own interest the people of Papua and New Guinea, being a fairly hard-headed and practical people, close to the earth, are well able to make a judgment of all the faults and the shallowness of the Communist doctrine and, as I have said, they probably do it better than some of the more highly educated people in Australia. I have less concern about the success of communism in Papua and New Guinea than I have about its success in certain quarters in Australia.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Some time ago I asked the Treasurer for information of the value of agricultural land and real estate owned in Australia by people overseas. Briefly, the answer was that the Treasurer did not have the slightest idea. Does the Prime Minister believe that the information I sought would be very valuable to the Government and to the Parliament generally? Will he instruct the Bureau of Census and Statistics to collate the information for general use?
– This is a very interesting matter, but I think the honorable member somewhat underestimates the practical difficulties of the task that he would have performed. Offhand I would not like to say how one would go about ascertaining these facts and classifying them, or doing whatever had to be done about their publication. I do not recall the original question. I will look into it and get the Treasury to put me in the picture in relation’ to it. ;
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. As there seems to be a lack of collated information available on the beef and cattle industries with regard to problems such as bloat and infertility in the high-rainfall areas in the southern part of Australia such as Gippsland, will the Minister consider recommending that a greater proportion of the Cattle and Beef Research Trust Account be spent in those areas?
– The Beef and Cattle Research Committee is comprised in the main of representatives of producers and I should think that those representatives would know what to recommend to me. I do not make recommendations in this matter. The reverse is the position. The committee makes recommendations to me as the Minister and I approve of them or otherwise. Generally the committee does not recomend that certain amounts be spent in specified areas. It looks at the overall picture. Its task is to ensure not only that research work is carried out but also that the results of that work are made known to all producers.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. During the course of negotiations and discussions concerning Malaysia did any Malaysian leader express regret that Australian forces had been and are stationed on Malaysian territory? Has any Malaysian leader said that the presence of Australian forces on Malaysian territory in the absence of a meticulously spelt out treaty arrangement has caused any embarrassment?
– I have not heard of any one who would fall into the categories described by the honorable member. We have every reason to believe that the present arrangements are eminently satisfactory to the people of Malaysia. As to my statement yesterday, I have been advised already that the head of the Government in Malaysia, the Tunku, was completely delighted with it.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Postmaster-General.
As unemployment is still high in many country districts, will the Minister take immediate action to relieve the situation by having official residences built for postmasters in towns where none exists or where those that do exist are sub-standard? I point out that in the important town of Young, which is one of the largest in the Hume electorate, no such official residence is provided.
– I shall arrange for the honorable member’s question to be studied and I shall let him have a written reply.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware of the grave concern in Western Australia over the apparent lack of adequate measures for the defence of that State and, consequently, of Australia? In view of that concern and of the criticism which has been made, will the Minister arrange for a demonstration of fire power to be given in Western Australia, similar to the demonstration that we witnessed in Canberra recently, so that the residents of that State will have some ease of mind, knowing that we are developing our defences along modern lines?
– T appreciate very much the honorable member’s interest in the recent display. I can well imagine that it would be of great interest to the people of Western Australia. The honorable member’s suggestion presents some difficulties in relation to distance and the transport of the various pieces of equipment. But I shall certainly give it every consideration and see what sort of a display we could mount in Western Australia in the interests of the people of that Slate.
– I ask the Minister for Trade a question. Is it a fact that in Australia over recent years many statements, including some by himself and the Department of Trade, have been made about the extent of franchises, agreements and other restrictive practices entered into by Australian companies and their overseas principals or companies from which they have patents which restrict exports from Australia by those Australian com panies? Also, is it a fact that those restrictions interfere very significantly with Australian exports? Will the Minister endeavour to compile information which gives a clear picture of what is involved in this matter and make it available to the House as soon as possible?
– Yes, I have made such statements. The general philosophy of the Government is that we would prefer this problem and others to be resolved by negotiations and agreement. If the issue is serious enough and it cannot be resolved satisfactorily, we are prepared to look at other means. At this point we do not think that the stage has been reached. I can assure the honorable member that there are many, many instances in which restrictive franchises have been modified, I believe out of the expressed desire of the Government that there should be a modification. Undoubtedly there are many other instances in which restrictive franchises have not been modified. I say now, quite frankly, that we are completely dissatisfied with that state of affairs. I gave the honorable member for Phillip an undertaking that I would endeavour to assemble all the information that the Department of Trade possesses on this matter and make it available to him and all other honorable members. I will do that as soon as it can be managed.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Tndustry. By way of preface, 1 say that yesterday an honorable member suggested that valuations in connexion with war service land settlement should be based on market values. As it is well known that man’y circumstances influence sales in a way that makes them a very doubtful basis for value, will the Minister disregard that suggestion and make sure that valuations are based on the productive value of the soil?
– So many factors can enter into the circumstances affecting a sale that sales would not be a correct basis on which to make a determination. I think the Department of Primary Industry will continue to make determinations on the productivity of the land available.
– Has the Prime Minister seen a suggestion by the Premier of Queensland and the Administrator of the Northern Territory that Asian migrants be admitted to Australia to help to develop the north? What is the policy of the Government on this matter?
– I read something in the press about these proposals. I do not know how accurately these gentlemen were reported. As for the proposition, the answer is against it.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade been directed to a statement made recently by one of the leading Australian publishing companies, if not the leading Australian publishing company, to the effect that an agreement that was made by British book publishers with their American counterparts in the days when Australia was known as part of the British Empire is being invoked to prevent Australia from having free access to publishers in the American market and that apparently there is a threat of reprisals against American publishers if they transgress? In view of the importance of ensuring that Australians have easy and economical access to supplies of the best books in the world, will the right honorable gentleman instruct his officers to look into this matter, with a view to eradicating the existing archaic and anachronistic practices?
– I say at once that I am not familiar with the circumstances referred to by the honorable member. Nor is it clear to me whether it would be competent for us to take action within Australia to deal with such a situation. I am not saying that it would not be; I just say that I do not know whether it would be. But now that the matter has been raised by the honorable member, I assure him that I will make it my business to study the situation and see whether appropriate action, within the competence of the Australian authorities, can be taken.
– I wish to ask the Acting Minister for External Affairs a question concerning financial support for peacekeeping operations in the Congo and the Middle East. What are the reasons given by defaulting nations for withholding their contributions towards this financial support? Is there any known reason why France and Belgium aline themselves with the Communist bloc in this matter?
– It might be convenient if I had a statement prepared of the reasons that have been given in connexion with this matter which, as the honorable member knows, has passed through various stages, including a reference to the International Court of Justice. It may take a few days to have this statement prepared, but I will see that it is done.
– I ask a question of the Prime Minister supplementary to the question that he has just answered. While preparing the information which he has undertaken to collate, will the right honorable gentleman also have a look at Article 19 of the Charter of the United Nations and its relation to the question whether a nation which is in arrears with its payments is entitled to a vote in the General Assembly?
– Yes, I will do that.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. In view of the fact that a statement has been made in another place that a means test should be applied in connexion with child endowment payments, will the Minister say whether that statement reflects the future policy of this Government with regard to child endowment payments?
– I can assure the honorable member that any change in policy will be announced by the Government in the traditional way. So far as I am in a position to judge, there is no sign of any change of policy covering the matter that the honorable member has mentioned.
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration. Is it a fact that a group of officials from the Argentine and Chile will visit Australia shortly to inspect our immigration procedures? Does this indicate that Australia’s absorption rate and overall success with immigration have caught the attention of countries also interested in attracting new settlers?
– As the honorable gentleman may know, the Argentine is a country that regards immigration as an important feature of its national policy, in the same way as Australia does. It is perfectly true that quite soon a delegation of officials from the Argentine will come here to study our methods. On their present programme they should arrive here at the end of October or the first week in November. They will have plenty of opportunities to confer with officers of my department. They will visit Bonegilla and other centres in the various States. They will be given what I hope will be a very good introduction to the practical operation of the Australian economy, and at the same time they will see how we fulfil our immigration commitments, and how immigrants are integrated wherever they go.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Is it a fact that the Government now favours the setting up of a northern development authority? If so, does this mean that although the Government ridiculed a similar proposition put forward by Labour more than two years ago, it now agrees that Labour’s proposition represented the correct attitude to adopt to the development of the north? Further, will the Prime Minister, before making a final decision on how the authority will operate, confer with the Leader of the Opposition to obtain his views, and so ensure that the authority will be set up and operated in the correct manner?
– The honorable member is certainly ahead of me. I will have r. look at the terms of his question. Of course, it plainly relates to a matter of policy. He appears to have assumed that some statements of policy have been made. I am bound to say that they do not ring a bell in my- mind.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. In answer to a question recently he stated that the correct abbreviation of the title of a member of this Parliament is M.P., not M.H.R. Can the right honorable gentleman inform the House of what abbreviations members of the State parliaments can and should use to distinguish one parliament from another?
– I have been here, man and boy, for quite a while. Members of this House have always been referred to as “ So-And-So, M.P.” A member of the corresponding House of the Victorian State Parliament is an M.L.A. In the case of South Australia, I think he is an M.H.A. I think we will find that each State has its own practice in this matter and that there is very little difficulty in distinguishing members of one parliament from members of another. The accepted way of describing a member of this House is as an M.P. That has been so since the very beginning of the Parliament. In the case of the Senate, a member is entitled to the rank and style of senator.
– I refer the Minister for Primary Industry to the present inquiry into the sugar industry, and I ask: What effect, if any, will an increase in mill peaks have on the domestic price of sugar in Australia under the Commonwealth and State sugar agreement?
– If the honorable member will curb his impatience, he will be able to see a fairly comprehensive report from the committee of inquiry, under the chairmanship of Judge Gibbs, that has been set up by the Queensland Government. The aspect referred to by the honorable member will doubtless be covered by the committee in its report to the State Government.
– Does the Minister for Primary Industry recall that, at the end of a foreword which he wrote to the fifth edition of the booklet entitled “ Income Tax for Farmers and Graziers “, he said that he trusted that the booklet would serve as a handy guide to primary producers and that it would act as an incentive to greater production? The booklet was keenly sought and was widely appreciated. Does the Minister know that the copies of the booklet now available are dated March, 1959? As he issued the booklet in conjunction with the Treasurer, will he confer with his colleague with a view to an up-to-date edition being issued?
– I shall have pleasure in acceding to the honorable member’s request. This Government has generously given more taxation concessions to help the primary producers since that valuable booklet was first published, and I think those concessions should be mentioned in it.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Does he recall that approximately two years ago an organization known as the Brandy and Wine Producers Association of New South Wales succeeded in persuading hotels in Canberra to discontinue the sale of South Australian wine which was being offered to the public here at a price considerably below that of the product of the association? Has he been informed that the Brandy and Wine Producers Association has now delivered an ultimatum to licensed grocers in the Australian Capital Territory to the effect that if they continue to offer the South Australian product, which is a quality product, and below the price of other wines, it will discontinue the supply to them of the products controlled by the association? Will the Minister either as the Minister for the Interior or as Acting Attorney-General, see whether any action can be taken to end this type of dictation from outside the Australian Capital Territory and to protect the traders and people of the Territory?
– I do not recall the matters which the honorable member alleges, and I have not heard of the latest approach, but if the position is as he suggests it seems to me that this is an illustration of a kind of restrictive trade practice which might well be taken into account by the Government.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 8th October, at 2.30 p.m.
– I move -
The first paragraph of the motion is the operative paragraph. The remainder of the motion simply relates to the appointment of the committee which, it is proposed, should consist of the mover and six honorable members, three to be appointed by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and three to be appointed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell).
The House will notice that this is a strictly limited motion. It relates only to this side of the parliament building, because we should not in any way trespass on the prerogatives of the Senate. Therefore, in this motion, I have said nothing about such services as “ Hansard “ or the press, where the Senate in part might be concerned. The motion is for the appointment of a select committee and I would not prejudge the result of its deliberations. The reason for the. motion as one which is not, perhaps, evident on the surface but which, 1 think, should nevertheless be obvious.
In this House and elsewhere, in other parliaments - because what I am saying is not in any way peculiar to our parliament - there has been some erosion of parliamentary authority going on continuously. One of the causes of this - and not the only one - in our case, has been the accident of the accommodation position. This building was, from the start, a temporary Parliament House. It was built for a smaller number of members than at present occupy this chamber. During the war it became necessary for Ministers to conduct more and more executive functions in and near this chamber. Ministers with places in this House, as we know, must be near the chamber, because their votes may be needed individually and we know that the functions of executive government are heavy, onerous and growing.
But it is still undesirable, from the constitutional point of view, that the executive offices should be so intimately associated with our Parliament House. Many Ministers - this happens through causes which are well known and entirely understandable - find that even when the House is not sitting it is convenient to them to have their executive offices in this House of Parliament. The image of us as a parliament which is being presented to the public is to a great extent conditioned by the fact that we occupy a building which is used largely for executive purposes. This may seem to be unimportant, but I do not think it is. I think it is of the greatest significance that the constitutional position of Parliament should be preserved.
We have responsible government and the Executive is part of Parliament. Ours facilities for approach to the executive as private members from both sides of the House are very valued facilities. One wishes to keep the thing in balance all the time but, owing to the accident of accommodation - and it has been an accident - there has been some inevitable disturbance of the balances between’ parliamentary and executive functions with some prejudicing of the constitutional position.
One knows that the facilities offered in this House are not adequate either for Ministers or for honorable members.
Ministers may feel diffident about speaking in their own cause, so let me put the position as I see it. It must be inconvenient for them when their offices are scattered up and down the corridors instead of being in some coherent place. It is indeed dangerous that, because of this and because their offices are off corridors which are open to the public and to visitors, there is a lack of security in respect of documents on their tables. How often have honorable members gone into the room of a Minister’s secretary - where there are confidential documents on the table - late at night and found nobody there? It is inevitable that this should happen under the present circumstances of accommodation, but there is a danger of lack of security.
Ministers have to receive deputations - sometimes large deputations - and many Ministers occupy rooms which are so cramped that they cannot do so with facility and the business of government is held up. 1 say this on behalf of Ministers who may be a little diffident in putting these things forward on their own behalf.
The situation as it affects private members also is not satisfactory. In the first place, there is an inadequate number of committee rooms available to us. With the increase in committee activity on both sides of the House, one very often finds that there is not a suitable room available. Sometimes, the only room available is very small and inadequate to hold all the members of the committee and all the people who may be coming to see them. This applies to both sides of the House. Perhaps even more serious than that is the fact that members lack the facility of a room in which they can interview in privacy those of their constituents who may come to see them on private business. This may not have been so serious in the past when Canberra was a more isolated place, but to-day, with increased air and other travel facilities, numbers of constituents come to see their members on business which, to them, is of the most private nature. There is no place in this Parliament House available to a private member where he can take his constituents and discuss their affairs with them in the privacy which they think should be accorded to them. This represents quite a big gap in the facilities which are available to this Parliament and to those members of the public who may have business with the private members of the Parliament. If we are to carry out our duties satisfactorily, if we are to be able to give this kind of service to our constituents, then I think we should have available to us interview rooms to which we can take our constituents and discuss with them in privacy problems which in their eyes are private to them. 1 do not want to prejudge the issue, but it seems to me, prima facie, that there is great room for improvement, that there is a need for something to be done.
What can be done? Again I do not want to prejudge, or in any way to prejudice the work which I hope will lie before the committee, but I would say that, in general, three alternative solutions are available to us. The first is the building of a complete new Parliament House; secondly, a rearrangement of the rooms inside this Parliament House; and thirdly the erection of modest additions to this temporary Parliament House. Let me deal with each of those three alternatives briefly. We all know that a new Parliament House is justified, and we hope that it will come. But it will not come quickly. The new Parliament House should be what is known as a monumental house, a house of significance, a house of which all Australians may bc proud. But such a building cannot bc erected overnight. In the first place, it has not yet been finally decided where the new Parliament House is to be located. There arc still protagonists of a site on Capital Hill, and there are still protagonists of a site on the foreshore of the lake but, until a final decision as to’ site is made, we shall have a long delay. Even when the decision has been finally made, it will still be another ten years or so - and I quote on this a well-informed authority - before the new building can be ready for occupation. So it would seem that even on the most favorable reckoning it could bc tcn or twelve years before we can have a new Parliament House, and that is a long time.
Furthermore, I would say that we should not undertake the building of a monumental Parliament House in Canberra until we have the housing position under control. I would feel that the satisfying of the housing needs in Canberra should be given a higher priority. So I would say that until we have available the building resources to do both these things we should not commit ourselves to heavy expenditure to put the construction of a new Parliament House under way. As I say, this would mean a minimum delay of from tcn to twelve years to completion and occupation of the new building, and that is too long to wait. The prejudice to the constitutional position has already gone on too long. It may be that with the increasing population of Australia the size of the House of Representatives will be increased, and that time, would cause additional pressure to be applied. So 1 would say that we cannot wait for the first solution - the building of a complete new Parliament House.
I come now to the second alternative, the re-arrangement of the rooms in this Parliament House. It may be that something can be achieved in this direction. This is something for the committee to examine - 1 would not like to have a fin.il opinion on it at this stage - but I should think that the scope for improvement on these lines is strictly limited, lt may be that some improvement can be made, but I do not think an examination will disclose that adequate improvements can be effected by this means alone.
That leads us to the third -alternative - the possibility of a small addition to this present temporary building correlated with a re-arrangement of the rooms inside the present temporary building. Such an addition would not be a waste of money because, if and when this building is vacated by the Parliament, it will be used for some other purpose. Office space in Canberra will not be wasted. It may be an addition to a building which is for temporary use as a Parliament House, but the expenditure would not be in any sense wasteful or made on something that will be used for only a little time. A new wing on this Parliament House correlated with some re-arrangement of the Executive accommodation so as to avoid the kind of disability experienced by both Mi,isters and members and of which I spoke, would probably be the best solution of this problem. When 1 say “probably” I do not want to trespass on what should be the work of the committee which I hope will be set up. I shall not labour the point further. I simply submit the motion standing in my name.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I formally second the motion and reserve the right to speak at a later hour.
– The Opposition will support the motion proposed by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). We do so because, like him and other members of the Parliament, we recognize the urgent need for something to be done to meet the accommodation difficulties that now obtain in this Parliament House. I do not criticize Ministers for the fact that they have, between them, almost monopolized, one might say, the available space in this building. After all, they have much greater responsibilities than have private members, and they must have staffs available to them. No one will deny them the right to have staffs available to them, but I do agree with the honorable member for Mackellar that the position of having Ministers with offices scattered all along the public corridors, with all kinds of people having access to ministerial rooms - one could not call them suites - must end.
I can recall the time not so long ago when I and other honorable members, both Labour and Liberal, used to take short cuts out’ of Parliament House when the side door was locked. I do not know whether or not this practice is still followed. How did we get out? We got out through a Minister’s suite. Again, on occasions, I have left the building by taking a short cut through the suite of either the Treasurer or the Minister for Labour and National Service. I cannot recall which. No one can say that that sort of practice is fair to Ministers. It is certainly not fair to members of the Parliament because, if anything should be missing from a Minister’s suite, every single member of the Parliament who avails himself of the opportunity to leave Parliament House via a ministerial suite would be suspect. This sort of practice cannot continued ‘ ‘ “ ‘
I want to say a word for the public also. I believe the members of the public are entitled to be considered.
– That is what the place is here for.
– 1 agree with the honorable member. After all, that is what the place is here for. Members of the public are entitled to come here and see how their representatives conduct the business of the nation. They are entitled to interview members here, and I would like honorable members to try to understand some of the problems that are faced by members of the public when they come to Canberra. Many come here out of curiosity, and they are entitled to do so. All members of the public ought to come here, if they can afford to do so, to see the National Parliament. But what a shock they must get when they come into the building that houses the National Parliament. What hapens if they want to go to the public gallery in this House? No lifts are provided. It is necessary to climb up little winding stairways to get to the public gallery, where members of the public have to sit on hard board seats. If I remember rightly, the seating in the centre gallery consists only of hard board slabs. This is not fair to members of the public. They are entitled to have decent seating accommodation once they reach the public gallery.
I believe that some amplification of speeches should be provided to the public gallery. I have been there with friends and have found that the voices of honorable members who have their backs to the public gallery cannot be heard. Interjectors cannot be heard, and, after all, the’y are the life of the party, as it were. We should make some provision to enable people in the public gallery to hear the speeches.
No conveniences are available in ‘ the public gallery. If a member of the public, after sitting in the gallery for a long time, wants to use a convenience, what should he do? The quickest way to. find a public convenience is to ring for a taxi and go across to Civic Centre. The ordinary members of the public would not know where to find a convenience in this building: ‘There is none in the public gallery area and they would not know where to find one anywhere else in the building. This is entirely wrong. We have accepted this position for too long. We as members of the Parliament know our way about the building, although when I first came here it took me some days to find my way around the winding passageways. But because we know our way about, we should not think that the members of the public know their way about the building. 1 want to refer now to King’s Hall. It is not nearly large enough for the purpose it should be serving. Proper seating accommodation should be provided in there. Only about three hard wood seats are available, and they are the most peculiar shaped seats that I have ever seen. A person would need to be made back to front to bs able to sit in them. No readily accessible or noticeable conveniences are available in King’s Hall. I join with the honorable member for Mackellar in complaining that there is no interviewing room in King’s Hall to which honorable members may take constituents. We have to stand in the middle of King’s Hall, in full public view.
– This is scandalous.
– I agree that it is scandalous. We have to interview our constituents in full public view. There is an alternative, and that is to traipse right through the private corridors - they are no longer private but they should be kept private for honorable members - to our rooms. This means that I must climb up a whole flight of stairs. Other honorable members, of course, climb down and then climb up on the way back. After walking along little pokey corridors, we go into our room and introduce our friends to the other three members sitting there, and then we proceed to conduct our private business. If the other members are decent enough, as my colleagues are, they finish their telephone conversations, put away their papers and leave the room until we have finished our private business.
– They arc not like that on this side.
– I accept what the honorable member says. Having made a good survey of honorable, members. on the other side. I believe that his assertion is possibly true. The procedure I have mentioned is not fair to us, and it is not fair to the public either.
Some of the rooms accommodate three members and others accommodate four. Honorable members share the telephones. I think that each honorable member is entitled to his own telephone. I give full credit to you, Mr. Speaker, for arranging a few months ago to have the telephone disinfected to prevent the spread of influenza and the other complaints that seem to sweep through the building periodically. I knew that this was being done, because I could notice the disinfectant on my telephone, and while it was being done the incidence of influenza dropped most noticeably. However, I would ask you, Sir, to make inquiries to find out whether the disinfecting has been done for the last three or four weeks, because I have not noticed the smell of disinfectant in this period, if it has not been done, it is no coincidence that in this week influenza has spread throughout the building. I have it and other honorable members have it. It would be a tragedy if this precaution of disinfecting the telephones each day is not being taken. The fact that influenza has broken out again in the building supports my contention that the disinfecting of the telephones should have been continued.
I hope that this motion will not be talked out. It is now 11.45 a.m. I hope a vote will be taken before 12.30 p.m. and that other honorable members who want to support the proposition will realize that they can support it best by remaining seated and allowing a vote to be taken. If a vote is not taken, the Government, which always resents a private member from either side of the House taking the initiative in these matters, will probably put this proposition at the bottom of the notice-paper and it will never be discussed again. For that reason, I believe that it would be good for a vote to be taken. I am taking my full time only because I am leading for the Opposition and I want to refer to several other points before I sit down.
I ask honorable members to look at the lifts in the building. One of the lifts on this side is small and pokey. It has an iron grille, which makes it look more like a cage in a zoo than a lift. We have another little lift on this side of the building and two other little, pokey lifts on the other side. When they are working, and they have been working fairly well for the last nine or ten days, they provide almost the only means of getting up or down from the main floor.
A great deal of criticism is levelled against pressmen because they often roam around the corridors. I ask honorable members to tell me, if they can, how pressmen can get from the press gallery to King’s Hall without going through the corridors unless they go right down to the basement and through the catacombs until they come to the entrance. The only convenient way of getting to King’s Hall is through the corridors. It is of no use condemning pressmen for invading the privacy of the corridors if there is no other convenient way for them to go from one part of the building to another.
– Pressmen in the press gallery have nowhere to put their rubbish except on top of the Speaker’s chair.
– The honorable member for Fremantle has drawn attention to another disability suffered by the press.
I would like to see more done about ladies’ conveniences. If we had a lady member of the Parliament, this matter would have been raised years ago. I think if honorable members look around Parliament House they will find that there is a lack of ladies’ conveniences. A big staff of typists is employed here p.nd they are entitled to more consideration than they are receiving now. I believe that male and female staff lounges should be provided so that, during suspensions of the sittings for meals, members of the staff may retire to these lounges and either rest or read, or at least get out of the environment of the workshop in which they remain all day long.
I think that ministerial suites ought to be improved a lot. Some of the suites that ministers have to put up with in this building are absolutely disgraceful. A minister, after all, is a very important public figure who occupies a very high position. When people come to see a minister, they do not expect to be ushered into some little room 10 feet by 10 feet. I have taken the trouble to measure, in the presence of the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall), the room in this building occupied by him. For a while, that room was occupied by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick). I found that it measures 10 feet by 10 feet. This is not a proper size for a room occupied by a Minister of the Crown wherever it is situated, and much less in Parliament House.
– The room occupied by the Minister for the Interior would not be even as large as that.
– I thank the honorable gentleman for that interjection. Can anybody truthfully say that the business of the Parliament can be properly carried on by Ministers in offices so small as these? The Prime Minister’s suite is not fitting for its occupant, and the Leader of the Opposition’s suite certainly is not fitting for its occupant. The suite now occupied by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) consists of two staff rooms and an office that he himself occupies. If he wants ta interview representatives of the press or any one else, he has to take them into the office in which he works. Surely no one will tell me that this sort of thing ought to be tolerated or that the public want their parliamentary representatives to live and work under these conditions.
I agree with the honorable member for Mackellar that there is a strong case for a new Parliament House. I know that there is a shortage of houses in Canberra and I believe that this must be made good. But, after all, a Parliament House is not a house in the ordinary sense of the word. It is something that belongs to the nation. It is a symbol of the maturing of the whole nation. Surely there is no Australian who would not feel a sense of pride at coming here and seeing a Parliament House in keeping with the status of the nation of which he is a citizen. A new Parliament House has to be provided. Probably, it will not be completed until ten years after the plans are prepared. I do not think that the honorable member for Mackellar was exaggerating at all when he said that the preparation of plans and proper working drawings for such a building would take two years. Before very long - probably, by the end of this century - there ought to be, and perhaps will have to bc, something like 400 members in this Parliament if we are to continue to give the same representation per capita as is given by the House of Commons, for instance, or as we give in this Parliament at present. That does not mean that there will have to bc 200 senators. God forbid that that should ever happen. The Constitution ought to be altered in a way that will enable us to increase the number of members in the House of Representatives in conformity with the size of the population to be represented here, without having continually to increase the membership of the place known as the Senate. All this will require a lot of planning.
Something has been said about the siting of the proposed new Parliament House, and perhaps 1 may digress for a moment to discuss what has been said. I understand that the Government has agreed that the new building be built on the edge of the lake. Perhaps I may be pardoned for expressing a private opinion, which, of course, does not represent the view of the party to which I belong. My personal view is that the proper site for the new Parliament House is the top of Capital Hill, where the permanent building was originally intended to be. In that position, Parliament House could dominate the surrounding area on which the city’s activities centre. Everybody could see Parliament House situated on that high hill, from whatever part of the city one looked for it.
– That is where the honorable member is wrong. If he walks about Canberra and looks for himself, he will find that the top of Capital Hill cannot be seen from every point in the city.
– Perhaps not. One would not see it, for instance, from the golf links. With all due respect to the Minister I submit that there would bc more chance of the building being seen if it were on top of Capital Hill than if it were beside the lake. I understand that the Minister or somebody else has an idea that the Governor-General ought to travel from Government House in a gold-plated gondola and land at steps on the shore of the lake in front of the proposed new building whenever he is to open the Parliament. I believe that crazy ideas such as this ought to be forgotten. Speaking for myself, I say that the new building ought to be sited on top of Capital Hill. Indeed, in more enlightened countries, the authorities would perhaps spend a lot of money to construct an artificial hill as a site for such a building if a natural eminence were not already available, and they would certainly be glad to use a natural hill.
I support the remarks made by the honorable member for Mackellar about the need for committee rooms. This Parliament is undertaking more and more committee work.
– Do not talk out the time available to debate the motion.
– I shall not do so. I want to say only that sometimes a committee finds difficulty in getting a room in which to meet. There are only three or four committee rooms in this building, and the Serjeant-at-Arms has to allocate them as best he can. . He does his best, but frequently a committee has no room available. I believe that committee rooms ought to be properly equipped and furnished and that everything possible ought to be done to encourage committee work.
The Opposition supports the motion proposed by the honorable member for Mackellar. We hope that a vote on it will be taken before the sitting is suspended for lunch, Mr. Speaker, and that the proposed committee can be appointed immediately to get on with the inquiry envisaged.
– Mr. Speaker, the important thing that was said by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) was that this Parliament is a place of the people. The very reason for members of the Parliament being here is to represent the people. We are here to serve, not the Parliament, the purposes of administration, the Executive or anything else, but the people of Australia and to help them and the millions who have come and will come here seeking freedom to retain freedom and liberty. So I support the motion, which, begins as follows: -
The Government has facilitated debate on this motion and the Opposition supports the proposal, which is an important one.
Members of this Parliament ought to pause for a moment and think about the way in which the members of this House represent the people and try to uphold liberty, freedom and the Australian people’s pursuit of happiness and contentment. I believe that Ministers must have office accommodation in Parliament House. There must be ready access to them by members of the Parliament and to the chambers of the Parliament by them. I think that neither of the previous speakers in this debate mentioned the fact that the representatives of the people must have ready access to Ministers if the people are to be assured of. full enjoyment of freedom and liberty and the other features of democracy. It is not good enough for Ministers to be available somewhere beyond the precincts of Parliament House. They have to be available in the building. That is an important respect in which our system of government is superior to that of the United States of America, where the executive is chosen independently of the Congress and is kept quite apart from the representatives of the people and, indeed, is largely unknown to the members of Congress and the American people. So Ministers must be available at Parliament House. When Commonwealth Ministers visit the State capital cities, their presence is not known to the people and they are for all practical purposes almost inaccessible. In Canberra, they are available at Parliament House, where Ministers must be provided with adequate accommodation. However, I believe that they ought to resist the inclination to build up for themselves large staffs accommodated in the parliamentary building.
There has been a tremendous revolution since Canberra was planned and the present Parliament House was designed and built. Let us consider some of the changes that have taken place. First, in the 50 years since the foundation stone, as it were, of Canberra was laid and the city was named, the population of Australia has increased from about 4,500,000 to more than 10,000,000 and there has been a tremendous growth of government activities, combined with an extensive transfer of activities from the States to the Commonwealth. Govern ments have taken on much more responsibility in the 50 years since Lord Denman, who was then Governor-General, and Andrew Fisher and King O’Malley took part in the ceremony at which Canberra was named. Those who attended that ceremony came here in buggies and sulkies. Methods of transport have changed tremendously since. People can now travel to Canberra in very fast turbo-propellor aircraft and within a very short time will be able to come by pure jet planes. As a result, this city has become much more accessible to the people. These days hundreds of people come to Canberra to see the national capital and to attend the sittings of the Parliament, but back in the days when this place was designed Canberra was little more than a remote sheep station. That is an indication of the changes that have taken place. In the first House of Representatives there were about 75 members. To-day there are 122, and that number is not sufficient to represent the country. Another change that has taken place has been the inevitable encroachment of the Executive on the ordinary freedom of members - freedom which members must have to represent their constituents properly. This encroachment has been referred to by Peter Richards who has written a book about the changes that have taken place over the past 100 years in the House of Commons. He wrote -
The growth of the activities of the State, the authority of the Cabinet and of party discipline have together steadily increased Government dominance of the parliamentary timetable. Backbenchers now determine the character of business on but twenty Fridays during the session: these Fridays are known as “ private members’ time “. At the commencement of the nineteenth century one day a week was reserved for the Government, in 1837 the Government took a second day, and in 1852 a third day. Further restrictions on the initiative of back-benchers came in 1902 when it was agreed that Government business should have precedence at all sittings, except on some Fridays and on half of certain Tuesdays and Wednesdays. A further rearrangement in 1927 gave private members precedence on about eight Wednesdays and thirteen Fridays. Even this slim ration could be abolished in any session if the Cabinet, backed by the Whips, demanded the whole time of the House, as in 1928-29, 1931-32 and 1934-35. In the 1914-18 war virtually no time was found for private members and in 1939-45 there was none at all.
That is the historic trend of the importance of the Executive compared with the private member. This trend has been increased by party discipline. If any proof of this is wanted one needs only look at the Opposition, where party discipline takes precedence over everything. Nothing is permitted to a private member of the Opposition.
– Why don’t you sit down?
– We know your record in this matter. It is true that tremendous changes have occurred in the Parliament. Parliament was created to guard the rights and privileges of the ordinary people. This is probably the last bastion of real freedom. To maintain that freedom private members must have access to Ministers or to public servants in order to raise matters on behalf of their constituents. Members of Parliament are constantly seeking information on behalf of their constituents about matters such as social services and repatriation. All honorable members have had requests from ex-servicemen seeking assistance in obtaining repatriation benefits. Honorable members are well aware of the difficulties that they have in handling these matters for their constituents. Constantly honorable members are required to seek information about matters such as health, security, defence, primary industry, trade and national development. We need access to Ministers and to obtain that access we must have decent accommodation.
I have been told this morning that from 1927 until 1933 the Cabinet met in the building known as West Block. To-day Cabinet occupies a large room in this building. That is right, because we want Cabinet here. We want Ministers in this place. I do not expect to be a member of the select committee if it is formed - I am certain I will not bc a member - but I say to those who will be members of the proposed committee that I would like to see Ministers restrain their propensity to increase their staffs. When this place was designed there were to be about eight Ministers accommodated in one section of the building and two or three in another section, but to-day there are 22 Ministers accommodated in various parts of the building. The private member is driven back into Siberia - to the top floor - and he has to go on a route march or a long training run in order to reach the chamber to take part in a division. This is wrong. If Ministers are to carry out their duties and functions properly and be available to members of Parliament they must be accommodated close to the House of Representatives. If Ministers want large staffs, let them have them when the House is not sitting. After all, this House does not sit throughout the year. If Ministers must have public relations officers, secretaries and typists, those employees should be accommodated in places remote from this chamber. lt should not be private members who are accommodated in remote places. Surely a Minister should be able to perforin his duties during the sittings of the Parliament with the assistance of one private secretary. This is the practice in the House of Commons.
I understand that in the United Kingdom during the sittings of the Parliament the work of the ministries is carried out at No. 10 and No. 11 Downing-street. In the House of Commons members, some of whom are only a block away from their electorates, have the services of no fewer than 150 secretaries. That is the situation in the House of Commons - the Mother of Parliaments - where the rights of private members have almost disappeared because of the encroachment of the Executive. Let us in this place persevere with the idea that the private member preserves- and guards the rights, privileges and liberty of the individual. After all, it is this idea that has been so attractive to so many immigrants to this country. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Let us maintain eternal vigilance in this place. In his classic statement at the declaration of the poll in Bristol in 1774 Edmund Burke set out the rights of the people as follows: -
Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion high respect; their business unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own.
How can that be done in the situation that was described by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron)? King’s Hall is the place where most of us see constituents. It is there that we interview constituents who wish to raise serious matters with us. I particularly have this experience because my electorate is close to Canberra. People come here almost to seek sanctuary from wrongful arrest. This has been happening in the last few days. An honorable member could not possibly get the facts from an emotional constituent while interviewing him in King’s Hall. You could not interview a constituent in an office with telephones ringing madly and other people using the office. You cannot always expect other occupants of the office to leave when you want to interview a constituent. It is impossible adequately to represent people in this place. Honorable members who now think that when in Canberra they are remote from their electorates will find that the time will come when their constituents will come here to see them. This must come to pass as standards of living improve and as the speed at which aircraft fly increases. Perhaps people wanting to appeal to their member or to the government should have their fares to Canberra paid by the government. After all, this is the place where they can see Ministers. When a Minister visits Sydney or Brisbane nobody knows that he is there. The only notification that a Minister is visiting a certain place is that contained in the list that is distributed in the federal members’ rooms.
If full effect is to be given to the meaning of Parliament let the people come here. Let us have interview rooms immediately. Accommodation in this place should be rearranged, giving private members and Ministers highest priority to offices close to the chamber. Then our constituents could come here and have ready access to us. If this is not possible Parliament has no meaning. We in this place must be the guardians of the liberty of the people because that is the only thing that has everlasting value.
.- I did not hear the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), during the course of his very impassioned speech, mention once the need for a new Parliament House. I cannot see any real solution being found for the problems that were mentioned by him, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) until we have a new Parliament House. The Government would take a major step toward solving those problems if it commenced planning now for a new Parliament House, instead of procrastinating and aggravating the present difficulties.
The honorable member for Mackellar is to be commended for bringing this matter to our notice. We live with it all the time. We know that everything that he and the honorable member for Hindmarsh said is true, and that most of what the honorable member for Macarthur said is true. The addition of a new wing to the present building would not solve the problems. It would only upset the symmetry of the present structure. I could not imagine a new wing on the south side of the building being in harmony with the rest of the building. It would destroy the present symmetrical appearance. I would much prefer another story .to be added, but I have been told that the foundations are not strong enough for this to be done.
– Do not do the select committee’s job. Leave something for the committee to do.
– I am merely explaining my reaction to the suggestion that a new wing be added to the present building. The appointment of a select committee to investigate the accommodation available in this building is long overdue. I hope that it will be appointed soon and that its recommendations - I think I know what they will be - will be heeded by the Government. If this Parliament is to function as it is meant to function, we must have more space. We need places where we can interview our constituents and rooms for the various party committees. At present those facilities are meagre indeed. Honorable members who came to this Parliament prior to 1949 have luxurious accomodation compared with what we had in 1946, when I first came here. The Labour Party was in office then, and all Labour members, except the Ministers, were crowded into the party room. The party room was our office.
– It is still mine. It is the only office I have.
– That should not be so. We were crowded together in the party room. The situation was ridiculous and hopeless. One member would be speaking on the telephone while another would be sitting beside him, trying to do his parliamentary work, or both would be speaking on telephones within hearing of each other. In 1948 the Labour Government of the day decided to extend the building to cope with the proposed increased membership of the Parliament. We were allotted offices then for the first time, and we thought we were working in luxury. We each had a desk, a chair and a telephone of our own, even though there might be three of us in one room. At last we had some of the privacy which we needed desperately. Since then there has been a slight increase in the size of the Parliament but the present building has not kept pace with that or with the increased importance of the Parliament.
The present building was completed in 1927, so it has been used for 36 years. It has outlived its usefulness. I make no apology for saying that. If the electors of Australia could spend, say, a few weeks here with us to see the difficulties under which we are operating, I am sure that they would agree that the present building has outlived its usefulness. It would not be a waste of money to build a new Parliament House. It would take probably five years to build, so even if it cost £20,000,000 the expenditure would be only £4,000,000 a year spread over that period. The existing building would not be wasted. It could be used for many purposes. I can envisage the High Court of Australia moving to Canberra and using the Senate chamber for its activities. I can envisage the House of Representatives chamber being used for international and interstate conferences. It would be ideal for that purpose. This building could be used for many splendid purposes after we had vacated it, and the offices in it would be a welcome addition to the present inadequate office space in Canberra.
As the Opposition Whip, I know how difficult it was to fit our new members into this place. We had fifteen new members after the last election.
– Too many!
– We needed only seventeen to become the Government. At present we have two, three and sometimes four members in one room. Any member is very lucky to have a room of his own. He must have a contagious disease, otherwise he would not be left on his own.
– You have an office of your own.
– I know that, but I also have a secretary.
– What disease have you?
– I have the Whip’s disease. Some Labour members are in offices in the far western coiner of the Senate section.
– Upstairs, too.
– Yes, they are upstairs. As the honorable member for Macarthur said, they are in Siberia. They have to keep in constant training because they would never reach this chamber before the division bells stopped ringing if they were not in good physical condition. When the bells commence to ring, they have to make a mad dash of many hundreds of yards. It is not right that they should be compelled to live in that kind of isolation. That is another of the difficulties members are experiencing.
Committee work was mentioned by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. This is a feature which has come into prominence within the last five or six years. The Government parties have seven or nine committees and the Opposition has ten committees. They are operating constantly, so meeting places are required constantly. My own office is often used twice and occasionally three times a day for committee meetings. This means that my work is interrupted. If I am not a member of the committees which are to meet, I am put out of my office several times in a week, but I leave gladly because I know the difficulties facing our committees. They must hold their meetings somewhere. The members of the committee are not very happy about turning the Whip out of his office when he is trying to work, but that is the only way in which they can have a place to meet. We have far too few committee rooms. In fact, the number available is hopelessly inadequate. These committees do very important work. Many on our side suggest Labour Party policy.
Visitors to the Parliament are put to great inconvenience when trying to enter the galleries. On occasions we have seen queues extending even outside the building. Never have 1 seen so many visitors to Canberra waiting to enter the galleries to hear the debates. Every year 500,000 people visit Canberra, and I suppose at least onehalf of them come to Parliament House while the Parliament is in session. They should have better facilities for listening to the debates than they have now. Only a few dozen people can be seated at the one time in the two galleries in this chamber, and the unlucky ones must wait for up to an hour before being admitted. Many groups of school children from all over Australia now visit Canberra. That is very good for them. They come with their teachers, often at very great expense to their parents. They deserve every consideration, but sometimes they are allowed to remain in the galleries for only ten or fifteen minutes. They must leave then to allow other school children to enter who have been waiting in King’s Hall.
We will never solve our problems merely by adding a wing to the present Parliament House. The growth of Canberra has been so great and so fast that everywhere I go in my electorate people are talking about Canberra - and not disparagingly. People want to come here. We should encourage them to come here. Canberra is becoming truly the National Capital. I am proud of it. I think all of us ought to be proud of it. When I was first elected to this House in 1946 Canberra had 14,000 people. Today it has 71,000. The whole skyline has changed in those seventeen years, and it will change still further in the next seventeen years. To-day more people are airminded; more people are nationally-minded; more people are parliamentarily-minded; and more people are politically-minded. So we will have more and more visitors to Canberra and Parliament House. We should cater for them in the best possible way. This building is just hopeless in regard to catering for the 500,000 people who each year come to see Canberra and Parliament House and to listen to the debates.
The cost of keeping this building in any degree of order, including the cost of keeping the water out of it, is enormous. Recently - I think it was last year - a new roof was put on this building at a cost of about £48,000, because it was leaking everywhere. It is still not satisfactory, as the maintenance men will tell you. Why should we go on spending good money year after year on patching up a building that has had it? Why should we not start to plan for a new Parliament House? We on this side of the chamber believe that that is the only real solution to the problems with which we are faced - the over-crowding and the lack of facilities. We are trying to operate a 1963 parliament with 1943 facilities. In my opinion, that is the position in a nutshell.
I hope that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), when he follows me in this debate, will give us some encouragement. I hope that this select committee of seven members will be formed and will be charged with a great and very necessary national responsibility. I hope that it will have the courage to say what it wants done. If it wants a new Parliament House, I hope it will say so clearly. Then the Government will be able to start planning the new Parliament House. Even the planning on the architectural side will take twelve months. Then money will have to be allocated for the foundations of the building. If £4,000,000 was spent each year for five years, we would have a new Parliament House.
– The Government could run a lottery to raise the money for it!
– No, I definitely would not agree to that! I am sorry that the Deputy Whip and I disagree on that point. I believe that the new site selected is excellent. I disagree with my colleague, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), if he referred to the Camp Hill site. I do not think it is suitable at all. It might have been suitable 40 years ago, when a permanent Parliament House was first envisaged. But the site on the edge of the lake is really ideal. Westminster is on the banks of the Thames. Washington is on the banks of the Potomac River. The site on the edge of the lake is ideal from every point of view.
This is a very serious and difficult problem. The provision of a new wing on this building is not the answer. Therefore, I suggest that this select committee should start working on the proposition of a new
Parliament House from the very beginning. It should not mess around with any pimples on the left wing, the south wing, the east wing or any other part of this building.
– The question that the House is considering is the appointment of a select committee to consider the adequacy or inadequacy of the accommodation available for members and Ministers and their staffs on the House of Representatives side of this building. During this very interesting discussion, honorable members have ranged over an enormously wide field. Perhaps I should bring the debate back to the subject for a moment, before I myself range over a wide field. The Government welcomes the idea of the appointment of this select committee and believes that it could well serve a very useful purpose on the subject in respect of which it is to be appointed.
Mention has been made of the need for a new Parliament House. I have no doubt that- as a result of the select committee’s consideration of the problems with which we in this House are faced it will make some comment on that possibility. It should be remembered that the present building is a provisional or temporary Parliament House. I have been interested to read the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works Committee in 1923, which considered the problem of a Parliament House in the Australian Capital Territory before there was any building at all on this site. One of the choices that that committee had was to build on Camp Hill the nucleus of a permanent Parliament House to which additions could be made later. By way of interpolation, I remind the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) that Capital Hill was never selected as the site for Parliament House. Camp Hill was the site in the Griffin proposal.
The other possibility was the erection of a provisional building on the site below Camp Hill - that is the site occupied by this building. One of the interesting consequences of the adoption of the second alternative - I do not think this was foreseen at the time - was that the occupation of this site rather puts the Camp Hill site out- of court because this building would interfere with the visibility and, to a lesser degree, would interfere with the use of Capital Hill as a site for a Parliament House. I believe that this building will be here for many, many years, even after it is no longer used as Parliament House.
I return to the question of accommodation. Another interesting feature of the report of the Public Works Committee in 1923 was that no private office space for members was recommended. I should like to remind the House of the recommendations of that committee. I think this will highlight the fact that by modern standards this building is no longer really adequate. One of the recommendations was that the chambers be made of a size sufficient to seat 112 members in the House of Representatives and 56 in the Senate. We have exceeded those numbers on both counts. Another recommendation was that room be provided in each chamber for throe officials on a bench at the back of Ministers. I mention that recommendation because some comment has been made about the intrusion of the Executive into Parliament House. I am not quite sure in my own mind exactly what is meant by those comments, because it has always been acknowledged that the Executive has a part and a place in the functioning of the Parliament.
The Public Works Committee recommended that accommodation be provided on the House of Representatives side for a librarian, a ministerial party room of approximately 1,125 square feet, an Opposition room of approximately 800 square feet and a third party room of approximately 720 square feet. Those rooms were for the private members. The committee recommended that one large room be provided on each side of the House for select committees: that three large rooms be provided for party typists, with cubicles for dictation purposes; and that one large room be provided for the use of heads of departments. Again I stress the fact that provision clearly was made for the Executive - if you like to use that term - to be associated with the functioning of the Parliament. Then the committee went on to recommend that the Public Works Committee be provided with a committee room, a secretary’s room and an ante-room, and that similar accommodation be provided for the Joint Committee of Public Accounts.
Then there was an important recommendation, that provision be included for three strangers’ rooms on each side of the main entrance, and for twelve small rooms to accommodate four persons each, and one large common room to be provided for the press.
This report indicates that the sense of proportion as between Ministers and members and the public was relatively very much the same in 1923 as it is to-day. The growth of the Parliament, the growth of Canberra and the pressure of government business have changed the picture considerably, and what was considered adequate in those days for the number of members then is clearly inadequate to-day. But this is not a sinister move by the bureaucrats or the Executive. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) said that private members had been taken over by the Executive, and that they had only limited time, and he quoted some text-books to this effect. But if this is so it is a self-inflicted wound. Parliament is paramount. Members of Parliament bind themselves in party discipline and to the time which Parliament allows for government business. This is necessary because the affairs of the nation require it. The affairs of the nation and the interests of the electors whom members represent require the presence of Ministers and an adequate ministerial staff in this House. If a member brings a matter to a Minister and says, “ Will you please give me a letter that I can take back to my constituent to-day or to-morrow “, is the Minister to send for a typist working in an administrative building half a mile away, or is he to dictate it in his office? As far as I am aware, although the number of Ministers has increased there is no tendency to increase ministerial staffs. They are kept to a minimum in this building and they work in very cramped quarters.
I do not want to take up the time of the House, because I think it would be well to bring this debate to a conclusion. I thought I should comment on some of these matters. There is one final comment I would like to make. It has been suggested that Parliament House is for the convenience of the public. That is an odd suggestion. We have a repre sentative democracy. As members of Parliament we have a job to do, and Parliament House is the place where we must do that job. In some cases the job involves contact with the public, in other cases it involves privacy, away from the public. Members must be protected in that way if they are to carry out their duties properly. Parliament House is not for the convenience of the public. The public is entitled to see Parliament at work, to have access to the various members, and so on. But let us face the fact: Parliament House, if it is to serve the nation properly, must be designed for members of Parliament, and it must be designed for their convenience above all.
I conclude on that note. There are many other threads that I could have gathered up, but as time is moving on I do not propose to canvass the whole field.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Order! I think the honorable member for Chisholm will find that this matter has been cared for, and that at the appropriate time a motion will be proposed for the continuation of the debate.
.- This is a rather amusing position. If debate on this motion does not come on, then my other motion will be debated. However, I move -
That in view of the increasing pressure of Communist infiltration, subversion and guerilla aggression in South-East Asia, this House is of the opinion that, in order to strengthen the security of Australia, and South-East Asian countries who may desire assistance -
Australia should confer wilh South-East Asian nations on the advisability of establishing a planning headquarters to guarantee the security of South-East Asia,
Seato should be reorganized on a wider basis such as South-East Asia and Western Pacific Treaty Organization, and
in co-operation with South-East Asian nations an economic planning headquarters should be established to coordinate and speed up economic developmental projects such as the Mekong River Plan, and also to assist the association of South-East Asian nations in their marketing problems.
– Order! As it is now two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, under the provisions of Standing Order No. 109 the debate on the motion Ls interrupted.
Debate resumed from 12th September (vide page 942), on motion by Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes -
That in view of the increasing pressure of Communist infiltration, subversion and guerilla aggression in South-East Asia, this House is of the opinion that, in order to strengthen the security of Australia, and South-East Asian countries who may desire assistance -
national service training should be intro duced on the basis of a minimum of twelve months’ continuous service, and
if it is considered advisable to establish such national service training on a selective basis, then rehabilitation benefits should be granted on similar, but not necessarily the same, lines as in the United States of America.
.- When this debate was interrupted on 12th September I had said that it was necessary, before making a decision on the resumption of national service training, to review the strategic situation and the assessments of it that have been made. Let mc just go back to the motion of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). It was -
That in view of the increasing pressure of Communist infiltration, subversion and guerilla aggression in South-East Asia, this House is of the opinion that, in order to strengthen the security of Australia, and South-East Asian countries who may desire assistance -
National Service Training should be introduced on the basis of a minimum of twelve months’ continuous service, and
if it is considered advisable to establish such national service training on a selective basis, then rehabilitation benefits should be granted on similar, but not necessarily the same, lines as in the United States of America.
It is interesting to digress at this stage and to note that a gallup poll was taken a week or two ago, in which a greatly increased proportion of the people interviewed were in favour of the re-introduction of national service training for a period of two years. However, I believe the principal thing to be considered is whether the position to-day is markedly different from the position in 1959 when national service training was abolished. This is a matter on which the House should make a determination. On 26th November, 1959, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) gave a defence review in this House. He said -
We have seen no reason to vary the broad strategic principles on which our defence policy has been based since the previous review of 1957. Events since then, including the top-level EastWest talks that have been held this year, which now seem likely to culminate in a summit conference, have served to confirm our previous views. These principles are briefly as follows: -
Global, or full-scale, war remains not impossible, but unlikely, as a deliberate act of policy. However, limited wars could break out in various unstable areas.
The primary aim of our defence effort should therefore be the continual improvement of our ability to react promptly and effectively with our allies to meet limited war situations. The forces maintained for this purpose also enable us to fulfil a worth-while role in the cold war, e.g., the stationing of forces in the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve in Malaya. At this point I might mention that the Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya, during his recent visit to Australia, welcomed the presence of our troops in his country. He said they gave a feeling of security to the Malayan people and helped them to plan for peace and prosperity.
Finally, Australia is a small nation, with limited resources. The most effective way of ensuring our safety is through association with allies in the collective defence arrangements which have been developed in our area of strategic interest. We therefore continue to attach the highest importance in our defence policy and planning to participation in British Commonwealth defence co-operation, Seato and Anzus. It goes without saying that membership of these arrangements, which give us the benefit of defence in depth from possible aggression, carries complementary responsibilities. We must maintain an effective capability to honour our treaty obligations in the future as we have in the past. We all hope that the United Nations will become more and more significant in the prevention of war and the settlement of international disputes.
The Minister, as reported on page 3185 of “ Hansard “, gave the reasons why the Government was cutting out national service training. He said -
The experience of the past two and one-half years has confirmed the soundness of the Government’s policy, and has pointed to the strong desirability of proceeding further with the reorganization of the Army. The aim is two-fold; first, to improve the capability of the regular forces to respond swiftly and effectively to the demands which might be placed upon them, and secondly, with the regular forces more readily available, the next logical step is to make the reserve forces more readily available. This matter has been under close examination by the Army authorities and the Government for some time, but it became apparent that further progress in the desired direction was frustrated by the heavy maintenance, training and administrative burdens imposed on the Army by its present tasks and form of organization. One of the major problems for the Army has been the increasing proportion of the vote required for maintenance-
– I rise to a point of order. Is it proper, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for an honorable member to make a speech by reading extracts from old “ Hansards “?
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– I was surprised to hear a member of the Opposition take that point of order. Unless one goes back to the reason why national service training was cut out, it is fairly difficult to show why it should be re-introduced.
– We would like to vote on it.
– I have no doubt that you would. I intend to quote later from “ Hansard “ some of the statements made by honorable members opposite when national service training was cut out. The quotation from page 3185 continues -
Maintenance expenditure now absorbs 80 per cent. of the total Army vote. This has meant a corresponding reduction in the amount of the vote available for capital equipment, at a time when equipment has become more costly than ever before.
I have read what the responsible Minister said in 1959. At that stage, the defence policy assessment was that we needed a regular force which could be ready to move at short notice to assist the Seato nations or our other friends should there be Com munist aggression against them. This reasoning must, of necessity, still apply. If you look at Thailand or other nations of South-East Asia against which there is a Communist threat at the moment, you will realize that what they require is a force that can come to their assistance in time to save them. They are not concerned with the formation of strong armies in one year or two years’ time. They want to know that the nations of Seato and other powers which they hope will come to their aid could put in forces immediately. The Australian defence authorities decided upon that as a requirement. There is also a requirement for Australia to be able effectively to play its part with its allies. In other words, if the necessity arises we must be able to put a force into the field immediately. It will not be good enough that we can move in to help later, because later may be too late.’
The concept in Australia has been that any enemy who attacked the Australian mainland would suffer the disadvantage that his sea forces and air forces would have-
Motion (by Mr. Beazley) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The time allotted for the precedence of general business has expired. The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The debate will be made an order of the day for the next day of general business.
Sitting suspended from 12.47 to 2.15 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr. Opperman, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Australia is a party to four international conventions which were adopted at a conference on law of the sea held in Geneva in 1958 and which represent a significant advance in the codification and development of international law in the maritime field. One of those conventions, entitled “ Convention on the High Seas “, deals in certain respects with such subjects as the registration and nationality of ships, the flying of flags by ships, safety at “sea, piracy, pollu tion of the sea and the laying and protection of submarine cables and pipelines. The bill now before us relates, as its title indicates, to the last-mentioned subject - the protection of cables and pipelines laid beneath the high seas. Under article 1 of the convention, the term “ high seas “ means all parts of the sea that are not included in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of a State.
Articles 27 and 28 of the convention require a State to take legislative measures for the punishment of persons under its jurisdiction who damage submarine telegraphic or power cables, or pipelines, beneath the ‘ high seas. Article 29 provides for the indemnification of owners of ships who sacrifice gear in order to prevent damage to such cables or pipelines.
So far as submarine telegraphic cables are concerned, the position appears to be already covered to some extent by an old imperial act of the United Kingdom Parliament known as the Submarine Telegraph Act, 1885. However, there is no corresponding legislation with regard to damage to submarine pipelines and power cables, and this bill, which has been drafted in consultation with the Department of National Development, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, the Department of Territories and the Overseas Telecommunications Commission, is to remedy the legal deficiencies. Clause 7 of the bill provides in effect that a person subject to the law of the Commonwealth shall not break or injure, or cause a ship registered in Australia to break or injure, a submarine pipeline or cable beneath the high seas under a penalty, for a person who acted wilfully, of £1,000 or imprisonment for one year, and in any other case a penalty of £500 or imprisonment for three months. An exception is made in circumstances where the breakage or injury was caused by persons acting with the sole object of saving their lives or their ships.
Under clause 8 a person who, in the course of laying or repairing a submarine cable or pipeline, causes a break or injury to another cable or pipeline, is liable to bear the cost of repairing the damage. Clause 9 provides for the indemnification of the owner of a ship from which an anchor, net or any other fishing gear is lost in avoiding injury to a submarine cable and pipeline. I referred earlier to the application of the Submarine Telegraph Act, 1885, to submarine telegraphic cables. Clause 3 provides for the continued application of that act insofar as it is still a part of the law of the Commonwealth. That act gave effect to the Submarine Telegraphs Convention of 1 884 and it is desired to ensure retention of certain rights and privileges which it is considered Australia may have under it. In clauses 4 and 6 the act is expressed to apply to all the Territories of the Commonwealth and to bind the Crown in the right of the Commonwealth or of a State. The bill represents a small piece of legislation necessitated by the ratification by Australia of the Convention on the High Seas. Its purposes are logical and desirable andI am sure that it will be accorded full support by all honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. E. James Harrison) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 24th September (vide page 1322), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Whitlam had moved by way of amendment -
That all words after “ That “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ whilst not in any way opposing the passage of the bill, the House expresses the view that the Government should give effect to the recommendation of the conference of State housing ministers in Melbourne on the 19th March, 1963, that a committee of enquiry be established consisting of representatives of the Commonwealth Government and the Slate governments to enquire into the anticipated increased housing requirements arising during the next five years “.
.- I rise to support the amendment so ably introduced by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) to the motion for the second reading of the bill. The measure placed before the House by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) provides for an amount of £49,850,000 to be divided among the States. In the previous Budget the Government provided £45,900,000 for housing. It had to have another look at that amount a few months later when, due to pressure brought to bear on it by the Opposition, additional finance was made available, raising the sum allocated for 1962-63 to £48,611,000. That was not enough; it was less than the amount provided in the previous year. The amount to be provided by this measure is not enough adequately to house all the people in Australia who urgently need homes. The allocation this year is £1,239,000 more than the amount last year, but is £550,000 less than the sum provided in 1961-62.
The Australian Labour Party’s view is that every family should be able to secure accommodation in accordance with its needs, but over the years this Government has made it more and more difficult for people to get homes. People who want to rent homes have to pay rentals out of all proportion to their means. People who want to purchase homes have to secure an excessively high deposit before they can hope to purchase dwellings and then they have to pay excessively high instalments. People who have been paying off their homes for years find that in order to meet the increased interest rates they have to pay higher instalments now than they did formerly or have to arrange for their payments to be extended over a greater number of years.
For years this Government has hindered rather than helped people who require homes. The records show that in 1951-52, in 1955-56 and again in 1960-61 this Government restricted bank loans for housing and at the same time increased interest rates. Those restrictions impeded the housing programme and made it more difficult for people needing homes to get them. The Government’s policy was responsible for banks and life assurance companies lending less money for housing. Under recent measures the savings banks are now allowed to lend more of their deposits for housing, but why does the restriction still apply to life assurance companies, for instance? Why has not the restriction on them been lifted also, to enable them to place more of their heavy deposits in the field of housing? Over the. years, the Government has also restricted the activities of the State housing commissions by diverting 30 per cent. of the funds that were previously available to them to building societies. This has meant that the building societies received only what they were getting formerly while the State housing commissions received less than they did formerly. The result was that the State housing commissions had an inadequate amount of finance with which to build the houses they needed to build. Increased costs have meant that fewer houses could be built with the inadequate funds that were being made available by this Government. Although in recent years the Government has increased the maximum loan for war service homes, the total amount provided for under the provisions of the War Service Homes Act has been reduced by £2,500,000; so that fewer homes are being built under the provisions of that act. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) suggested the other day some means by which more homes could be built for returned servicemen. Amongst other things, he suggested that the scheme should be opened up to British ex-servicemen. I heartily agree with that suggestion.
Under this Government, interest rates have also sky-rocketed. In 1949, when the Chifley Government was in office, one could obtain finance for home building at 3i per cent. This Government increased the interest rate to 41 per cent, in 1952, and to 5 per cent, in 1956. It made a further increase in the year 1960-61, and a person is very lucky to-day if he can obtain finance for home building at 6 per cent. During this debate we have heard of many cases in which the interest charged on finance for home building has been 7 per cent., 8 per cent, and even higher. Again, weekly payments on State housing commission homes are higher now than they were formerly, particularly when a Labour government was in office. In some cases these weekly payments have increased by from 15s. to £1 a week, purely as a result of increased interest rates.
A person who borrows £3,000 to be repaid over 45 years to purchase a housing commission home finds that the price of such a home has increased by more than £1,000 as a direct result of the high interest policy of this Government. If bank interest rates were still the same as they were under the Chifley Government, a man who borrowed £2,500 from the Commonwealth Bank, repayable over 30 years, would pay approximately £750 less for his house than he has to pay under present conditions, ls there any justification for that? If there is, I cannot see it. Interest rates generally are too high in a developing country such as Australia and, in order to help our present slow rate of recovery from the 1960-61 credit squeeze, overdraft rates should be reduced still further. This would create a greater private demand for finance, would invigorate economic activity, and at the same time help to reduce unemployment, which is still exceedingly high. Lower interest rates for home building would stimulate the economy. In my opinion, and in the opinion of all honorable members on this side of the House, the Government stands condemned for failing to realize that the provision of adequate housing for our people is a social problem and should be treated as such.
During the debate on housing that took place last March, speakers on both sides of the House called for a survey of housing requirements. In some very good speeches from both sides, the need for this survey was made apparent. Unfortunately, the Government has not yet seen fit to organize this very necessary survey. A conference of State housing ministers unanimously urged the Commonwealth Government to appoint a committee to inquire into housing needs and suggested that the com mi lee should consist of five members, three to be appointed by the Commonwealth and two by the States. It should be pointed out that this seems to be a reasonable request from a very responsible body, especially when we remember that a thorough Commonwealth inquiry has not been held for approximately twenty years.
There have been surveys of housing requirements in the past. The last was undertaken in 1957, and it was then estimated that by 1970 there would be an annual demand for 79,000 dwellings. That estimate was based on the 1954 census. Dr. A. R. Hall, of the Australian National University has clearly shown that the estimate made following the 1957 survey was an under-estimation. He estimated that by 1970 the demand for houses would reach 107,000. That estimate was made before the recent census figures were available, and, in the light of the recent census figures, he now estimates that the demand will be between 124,000 and 131,000.
Immigration is a factor that must be taken into account when dealing with housing. In the recent Budget the Government announced that its immigration target for 1963-64 will be 135,000, an increase of 10,000 on the target for last year. In his Budget speech the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) stated that, taking departures into account, the Government expects to secure 100,000 new settlers this year, yet, at the same time, the Government has allocated less for housing than was allocated in 1961-62. To me, that does not seem to make sense.
Mr. Warren McDonald, chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, has also called for this Commonwealth inquiry. In the “ West Australian “ of 1 1th March, 1963, he is quoted as having said -
An impartial and authoritative survey should be made to establish an accurate picture of Australia’s real housing position.
When opening the annual convention of the Federation of Co-operative Housing Societies of Victoria, he pointed out that estimates varied but the general feeling in the industry and the community was that building in Australia was getting further behind housing demand. That is an important statement coming from the chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, and it should be taken notice of by a responsible government - if we had one. There are many other authorities with similar views. For instance, the Australian Industries Development Association in its report No. 126, had this to say about the estimates made by Dr. Hall, to which I have referred -
These estimates of Dr. Hall are based on a net migrant intake of 80,000 a year. At 50,000 net migration his estimates are: 1965, 101,000; 1970, 124,000. These are too low.
I think they are clearly too low when we remember that our migrant intake this year is estimated to be in the vicinity of 100,000. Further on in its report, the association says -
However, the primary need to stimulate housing construction is finance. At present, considerable sums are provided for housing by “ fringe “ financial institutions, at high rates of interest, in order to bridge the gap between personal savings and the maximum housing loans available through the normal financial institutions. This problem of the “ deposit gap “ is a major one in retarding the translation of needs into effective demand foi houses.
That is a very important statement by a most responsible body which does not hesitate to say what should be done by this Government in connexion with housing. This Government has done nothing to solve the problem of the deposit gap. Young couples are being driven to seek second mortgages at high interest rates ranging from 7 per cent, to 11 per cent., in many cases non-reducible, which means that, overall, the rate is very much higher. Builders are being forced to pay finance companies 2 per cent, a month or 24 per cent, a year to bridge the gap between the home buyers’ deposit and the cost of land and the necessary services that must be provided before they start to build. Of course, this charge is passed on to the buyer of the house, which means that he has an initial interest rate of 24 per cent. That is a terrific burden to place on young couples who have just married. They are anxious to get their homes together and they undertake these commitments possibly without giving as much thought to them as they should. Consequently, they are in difficulties for many years.
I would like to draw attention to an important statement in the report of the Australian Industries Development Association, No. 129. It is -
While recent measures to make housing loans easier have all been in the right direction they only meet part of the problem. The “ deposit gap “ - the difference between the cost of a house and land, and the maximum amount available from lending institutions - is still high despite substantial increases in the maximum advance. The latter is now generally £3,500 … but its application is severely limited by the condition with most lenders that the advance cannot exceed 60% of valuation. To buy a property of £5,000 one would need to have £2,000 or to borrow elsewhere (generally at excessive rates and terms).
I appeal to the Government to give more consideration to this aspect of the problem, which is very serious.
I come back now to the general theme of this debate. I have already mentioned the number of migrants that are expected to come here this year. In addition to the increase in the number of migrants, which was provided for in the Budget, we now have a bulge in our requirements because of the sharp increase in the birth rate after the depression years of the thirties. The babies born after the depression years are now grown up and they want to set up house. The Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics advises that the number of marriages in recent years was as follows: -
The number of marriages has increased over these years because of the sharp increase of the birth rate after the depression years. However, less finance is being made available for houses now than was made available previously.
The backlog in State housing is very high. It is mentioned in the report of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia of July, 1963. At page 30 of its report, the committee said -
The social problems incurred by the inadequately housed component of the population are sufficiently serious to warrant an immediate analysis of the economic implications of changes in policy. One obvious way of reducing the backlog of 72,000 applications for government houses is to increase the allocation of Commonwealth loans to the States and, if possible, for the States to earmark a larger proportion of these allocations for housing. The recent supplementary grants by the Commonwealth were nowhere near sufficient to reduce the backlog; indeed, these were essentially short-term, pump-priming measures designed to stimulate economic activity and, in particular, to reduce unemployment. They were no substitute for a long-term policy to clear the backlog of applications, to prepare the housing market for the increase in young Australian couples during the next few years and to reduce the level of unemployment to pre-1961 levels.
That is a very important statement and it supports the views taken by the Opposition.
The number of new houses and flats completed to June, 1963, was 87,594, compared with 94,794 in 1960, which was before the credit squeeze. If we are going to provide for the additional marriages and the additional requirements arising from increased migration, the 1960 figure of 94,794 houses and flats completed must be well and truly passed. It is clear from the estimates of housing requirements given by Dr. Hall and the other authorities I have mentioned that the Government is not providing enough finance for housing. The housing lag is not being overtaken. Despite the fact that many thousands of people are waiting for houses, we find that for this financial year the Government is providing less than it provided in 1961-62. The allocations for 1961-62 and for this financial year are shown in the following table: -
Although the housing problem is now greater than it was, the amount being made available in this financial year is £550,000 less than the amount made available in 1961-62.
The fall in the housing allocation for Western Australia is as follows: -
The allocation for this year is £70,000 less than the allocation for 1962-63 and £306,000 less than the allocation for 1961-62.
The Treasurer said in his second-reading speech that the amounts allocated for housing were the amounts nominated by each State Premier. If that is so, the Premier of Western Australia let his State down if he asked for less in this year than he sought in 1962-63 and in 1961-62. The number of outstanding applications with the State Housing Commission of Western Australia is 5,800. The housing position is worsening in that State. Before the Liberal Government took office, the waiting period for a house was twelve months; it is now more than 30 months. It is true that 500 more homes have been built during the last twelve months, but the outstanding applications total 5,800, as compared with 3,519 at the 30th June, 1961, when the allocation for houses was £3,706,000, or £306,000 more than the allocation for this year. This shows that the State Government has not pushed sufficiently hard for funds for housing in Western Australia.
The Western Australian Government is responsible to a large extent for the deterioration in the housing position in that State, although more homes were built during the past twelve months. A Government mission known as the Lonnie mission was sent to the United Kingdom to attract skilled men to Western Australia. Houses were promised and some migrants obtained them within 48 hours of arriving in Australia. I agree that once a promise has been made to attract people to this country that promise must be kept. But,in some instances, the promise was not kept. Some of the migrants are still in hostels, but most of those who came as a result of the Lonnie mission obtained houses very quickly. To illustrate the promises that were made by that mission, I refer the House to a report in an issue of the Glasgow “ Daily Express “, which was headed, “ Come Down Under “. Referring to housmg the report stated -
The Australians are offering a three-fold “ magnet “ scheme to attract men:
Guaranteed housing nearthe construction area.
Guaranteed jobs . . .
Better money . . .
In this debate, of course, we must confine our remarks to housing. As I have said, once housing was guaranteed, the migrants were entitled to get it when they arrived here. However, we must take into account the effect that this would have on people in Australia already waiting for houses. These promises should not have been made to migrants. Because housing was promised to migrants, people who had been classified as emergency cases by the committee handling housing applications had to wait months as the Western Australian Government provided insufficient houses to make good its undertaking to the migrants. Other applicants who had been on the housing list for twelve months and who expected to get a house by now have still to wait a further six months or longer because housing was promised to migrants in this way. I repeat that, a promise having been made to migrants, it should be kept. Nobody objects to that. The point is that the promise should have been made when, obviously, it would have such detrimental effects on those who were already on the housing list which, at present, contains the names of 5,800 applicants.
Getting back to the general theme of this debate, Mr. Speaker, I say that if we are to resolve the acute housing problem, this Government must not only provide more funds for housing at lower rates of interest but also ensure that there is a considerable reduction in the deposits required of people seeking to buy houses. We must look at this problem from the stand-point of the interests of the people as a whole. We must give due heed to the various reports on the Australian housing problem that I have already mentioned. I believe that the Government should agree to appoint a committee to survey the position, as has been suggested by a Premiers’ Conference and by other eminent authorities, and as is proposed by the Opposition in its amendment.
.- Mr. Speaker, I should like to correct the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) on one point. I understood him to say, referring to the funds provided for housing by the savings banks that those banks had not increased their allocations for housing until the recent change in policy under which they have been permitted to advance 35 per cent. of their deposits for housing, compared with 30 per cent. previously.
– I said that since the change there had been no increase to the present time.
– I thank the honorable member for that observation. I should like to direct his attention as well as that of the House to an answer given by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to a question on notice by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), which appeared in “Hansard” of this House dated 24th September. The question was -
By what amounts did -
savings banks . . . increase their housing loans in the last financial year?
The answer contained this statement - the Reserve Bank’s Statistical Bulletin for August, 1963, shows that new loans approved by savings banks for housing purposes amounted to £108,800,000 during 1962-63. In the previous year new loan approvals for housing totalled £58,600,000.
So it is quite apparent that in the year ended 30th June, 1963, the savings banks made available for housing an additional £50,000,000 approximately.
The main purpose of the bill, Mr. Speaker, is to authorize the borrowing of £49,850,000 for advances to the States in accordance with the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. I think that this is the nineteenth year in which an appropriation of this kind has been authorized. Over the previous eighteen years, almost £514,000,000 has been provided in this way. These sums have been made available on one very wise condition. To enable us to get away from a situation in which gross State landlords own many tenanted dwellings, provision is made that not less than 30 per cent, of the funds provided under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement is to be channelled to private home building principally through building societies. This is something that we must consider in assessing the situation. One reason why 1 agree with the honorable member for Stirling that, as 1 have said before in this House, a survey should be made is that the statistics purporting to show the demand for housing do not adequately distinguish between those people who require rented accommodation and those who want to buy houses. So it is very difficult for us to know exactly how many are in each category. The number varies considerably from State to State.
Notwithstanding the funds that will be made available in the current financial year under the housing agreement, the fact that no less than 30 per cent, of those funds is to be channelled into private home-building through the building societies, and also the additional funds that we expect to be made available for housing as a consequence of the increased proportion of savings bank deposits that may now be allocated to housing, a large unsatisfied demand for housing will remain. This demand has built up over the years because people who wished to buy homes either could not save money or found that, as they saved, increasing costs kept the purchase of a home completely out of reach. There is quite apparently a need for a scheme that will satisfy not only the demand that has accumulated over the years but also the new demand created by young couples who marry and require housing within a reasonable time. They should not have to wait many years like those people represented by the demand that has accumulated over the years.
A number of factors have to be considered. Although we may not be constructing as many houses annually as we were building before 1960, the number under construction is increasing. We must to some extent control the building industry, and the Government, I know, has been watching this aspect of the subject carefully. It is all very well, on the one hand, to have a demand and perhaps the funds to build enough houses to meet that demand. But we must judge the capacity of the building industry and control it. Otherwise, it will expand to meet a heavy demand and then slump when the demand tapers off. I agree that a survey would assist in the exercise of control over the industry. There is a definite danger of alternating expansion and slumps which would undoubtedly do untold damage not only to the industry but to the national economy as a whole.
As I have mentioned, assessment of the unsatisfied demand is quite difficult without a more complete survey than has been made up to the present. Even though funds have been available and will continue to be available from the savings banks, I am a little concerned about their ability to lend up to the maximum limit of 35 per cent, of their deposits, or up to the maximum limit, up to this level, set by each particular bank in accordance with its own policy. Regarding the 35 per cent, which need not be invested in government or semi-government securities, there is no stipulation that it must be used solely for housing. However, in the main it is used for housing. I was rather concerned lest these funds be not as readily available for housing as the Government intended when it changed the formula. We know there is a demand for housing finance. This demand is evidenced in Victoria by the way in which the Home Finance Trust has been inundated with applications from people seeking to borrow money on second mortgage. Each case is dealt wilh on its merits. Amounts borrowed on second mortgage range from £100 to about £900. The State authorities have been inundated with applications to borrow money on second mortgage at an interest rate of 6i per cent, notwithstanding the fact that approvals are subject to two strong limiting factors. The home which is to be the security for the loan shall not have been erected for more than two years and the total valuation on the property shall not exceed £5,000. Despite those limitations, applications for second mortgage assistance at the low interest rate of 6i per cent, are pouring in, which proves that in Victoria there is still a large unsatisfied demand for housing finance over and above the normal finance available. In other word’s, the deposit gap is still with us. It is still the great barrier confronting people who desire to purchase a home.
The funds lent for housing by the savings banks are not all lent directly to individual borrowers. A good deal of the funds is channelled to building societies. An interesting point arises when we consider the availability of housing funds from building societies. Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia have for some years indemnified building societies for the amount at risk which they lend over a certain margin. Where the building society lends more than 80 per cent, of the valuation if is indemnified in respect of the amount at risk. The amount at risk is determined having regard to funds which the shareholder may have in the society. The system works in two ways. First, where the amount at risk does not exceed 90 per cent, of the valuation, the amount indemnified is limited to £3,300 plus an amount equivalent to the shareholder’s funds in the society, plus such amounts as may be necessary to discharge any liabilities for road or street making and sewerage or drainage charges. On the other hand, where the building society lends in excess of 90 per cent, and up to 95 per cent, of valuation the amount indemnified is limited to £3,000 plus the amount of the shareholder’s funds in the society and any additional amounts necessary to discharge the liabilities that I have referred to. I understand that soon there will be only one system of indemnification in Victoria. The limit of the loan will be 95 per cent, of valuation and the ceiling on the valuation will be £3,300 in addition to the other items that I have mentioned. The scheme may seem to be a way of enabling people with small deposits to obtain a reasonable advance with which to purchase a home, but this is not proving to be the case in the three States in which the scheme operates. Under the Victorian Home Finance Act of 1962 the State Treasurer may lend money for housing to any individual or institution which lends money for housing, and indemnify that individual or institution against such portion of the loan which exceeds 60 per cent, of a sworn valuation, but because all loans must be applied for, vetted and approved individually, not a great deal of use has been made of this facility. It is somewhat unwieldy in administration.
I think all honorable members will agree that there is a strong demand for housing finance. We must give the young people of our community an incentive to save for a home. Young people to-day are fighting a losing battle in their efforts to save for a home. The forces of commerce are arrayed against them fairly solidly. Every time you pick up a newspaper or a magazine and every time you switch on the radio or television you are bombarded with advertisements about motor cars for sale on low deposits and hire-purchase terms. The young fellow with a few hundred pounds in his pockets knows that he has to save about £1,500 before he can think of buying a house. He may think that the time when he can put a deposit on a house is too far off and he succumbs to the car salesman’s blandishments and buys a car. Having committed himself to pay for the car he is faced with several years of repayments, making it impossible for him to save any money. Wc know that any young fellow with a car has his hands continually in his pockets. He is always in debt. These are the young men who at some time in the future will want to get married and will face the problem of providing a home for their wives. Even the traditional lending authorities - the savings banks - do not always encourage young people to save for really worth-while purposes. All honorable members have seen television commercials showing the young man with a savings-bank book, saving for a special purpose. And what is that special purpose? It is to buy a car or to have a holiday. That is all very fine, but we do not see any determined drive to encourage young people to put their money into a savings account in order to purchase a home.
– You can get a car on £50 deposit.
– That is true. It is like Kathleen Mavourneen, it goes on forever. I believe that savings banks should open special accounts - deposits in which perhaps would attract a slightly higher rate of interest than deposits in normal savings accounts - into which young people could make deposits with a view specifically to purchasing a home later. The guarantee given by the banks would be that when the money in the account reached a certain amount, or when the young people were ready to talk business, they would be able to obtain a loan to purchase a home. Young people cannot do very well under the present arrangements because the savings banks normally lend only 75 per cent, of the sworn valuation of a home.
Another scheme by which the deposit gap could be bridged could be implemented by private institutions or individuals. Having lent the amount covered by the percentage of the sworn valuation, they would lend an additional amount, at risk, for which they would charge a higher rate of interest. The lending institution would then insure the risk for the additional amount. As an example, let us take the case of a bank or another lending institution which normally will lend £3,500 against a valuation of £4,500. Under the scheme that I have proposed, if a purchaser puts up £500 deposit the lending authority will advance £3,500 and an additional £500, at risk, charging i per cent, additional interest on the £500 to cover the cost of insuring that amount against loss. But even that scheme is patchy, and to me it is not the complete answer. 1 have considered a number of schemes, as have many of my colleagues and no doubt many Opposition members. After examining the federal housing scheme that is in operation in the United States of America one thing that emerges is the difference between the type of lending for housing in America and that in Australia, particularly in the aspect of government participation. A table which was checked and issued through the Treasury indicates that in the United States government finance, both direct and indirect, represented only 3 per cent, of total advances, whereas in Australia it was 17 per cent. Undoubtedly this low rate of government participation in the United States is due to the fact that the veterans housing scheme - the equivalent of our war service homes scheme - is implemented by private enterprise under the Federal Housing Administration plan, whereas the Australian scheme is government sponsored and assisted. The tendency in Australia has been towards government rather than private participation, and the main avenues for government finance for housing have been the State housing commissions and the building societies.
Most of the moneys made available by savings banks in the past have come from the Commonwealth Savings Bank and the respective State savings banks. The establishment of private savings banks, as honorable members know, is of recent origin. Some of the private banks differ on the methods adopted in lending for housing, and some may have no difficulty in lending all the money available to them for that purpose. The general manager of a large private savings bank has been making inquiries from State Government authorities as to what assistance could be given to enable him to lend larger amounts to people who want to purchase homes on low deposits. Another leading banker has stated that his savings bank has no difficulty in lending the funds which are available to it.
Looking at the matter fairly and squarely, there seems to be only one way out. I believe that the Government would do well to investigate the scheme which I shall now propound. I suggest that the Commonwealth Government should take over the role of guarantor for advances made by the savings banks over and above the limits that they now observe. This system of a government guarantee has been afforded to building societies in three States. It is not new in concept. Let the Commonwealth Government take over this role on a national basis. All that it needs to do is to indemnify the savings banks against loss for any amount that is lent over and above the 75 per cent., which is the norm, up to a limit of 90 per cent, of the sworn valuation. This system could apply to the
Commonwealth Savings Bank and private savings banks, but not State savings banks, which bear a direct responsibility to the State governments under respective State acts.
In essence this is a proposal for the application of the guarantee aspects of the Federal Housing Administration scheme in the United States, but instead of private individuals and organizations making the advances, I propose that this should be done by the savings banks which have been and should be the traditional lenders for housing, and which, under the altered formula, have a great interest in this subject. As we would lend only 90 per cent, of the sworn valuation, and not 95 per cent., as is permissible under the Victorian legislation, or 97 per cent, under the F.H.A. scheme in America, in my opinion there would be no need to charge an additional interest rate to obtain the insurance safeguards of the American scheme. Interest rates, therefore, would be kept to the minimum.
The knowledge that a home could be purchased on a 10 per cent deposit by people in regular employment would give a great incentive to potential home buyers and would go a long way towards enabling us to meet the demand for houses. It would be unfair to try to push this on to the building societies because by so doing we would be increasing the contingent liabilities of the governments of Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia, which indemnify building societies. This scheme should be kept on a national basis. It should be administered through the savings banks and not through the building societies because, through the Reserve Bank of Australia, we have certain control over the funds and liquidity of the savings banks. We have not this control over building societies. These loans should be up to 90 per cent, of the sworn valuation. The maximum loan should be as high as possible, even up to £10,000. The amount which a person would borrow would be gauged by his ability to repay the loan within the period laid down. That should be the yard-stick, not just a figure - whether it is £3,500 or £3,750- -which is set as the maximum loan.
If my suggestion were adopted, it would be a major step towards meeting the hard core of demand which undoubtedly exists where people have low deposits and require long terms in which to repay loans. I believe that that Scheme, in conjunction with the scheme to assist saving by savings banks paying a slightly higher rate of interest on a deposit for the specific purpose of housing and lending money when the deposit reaches 10 per cent, of the intended cost of the property, would give people a great incentive to save. In my opinion it would certainly do much to stabilize some of the things in the economy which have got a little out of hand. They got out of hand in 1960, and they are starting to get out of hand again. If we get the building industry going on a regular and well-judged basis, we will be able to do justice to people who require homes. They will be much better off living in their own homes than living in tha great multi-storied, governmentowned tenements in our capital cities. I commend the bill.
.- I believe it can be said that the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) normally speaks with a certain amount of authority on measures such as this, which come before this House annually. In his speech he made one or two points that should be considered very seriously by the Government of which he is a supporter. At the commencement of his speech he indicated that he personally believes that there is a need for a review of the housing situation in Australia. That point has been made by honorable members on this side of the House; indeed, on this occasion it is the subject of an amendment. Therefore, if the honorable member for Maribyrnong subscribes to that point of view, as he obviously does, at the end of this debate he will have the opportunity to support the amendment that has been proposed by the Opposition, under which a committee would be set up with sufficient power to conduct the type of survey that he has in mind. At this stage I have no desire to pursue that line. I hope to return to the question of the appointment of a committee later in my speech.
The honorable member for Maribyrnong went on to say that there is a large unsatisfied demand for accommodation in Australia. Again I find myself - as I know most honorable members on this side of the
House do - in complete agreement with the sentiment expressed by him. There is undoubtedly a large unsatisfied demand for accommodation, whether it be a home or a flat, or even accommodation to rent. Any honorable member who keeps in close contact with the people in his electorate must have some knowledge of that large unsatisfied demand. I could provide immediately a large file which would indicate that just in my electorate, which represents only a very small part of the Commonwealth, there is a very large unsatisfied demand for accommodation. Where does the demand originate? It originates from people who are not able to provide the margin of security that is demanded to-day by building societies, private banks and other approved lending institutions. Every statistic which is available to-day and which has been compiled by individuals, organizations and institutions interested in this matter points to the fact that there is a large unsatisfied demand for accommodation. I find myself in complete agreement with those two points made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong.
The third point he made - in my opinion, this is an important one - was that there is little incentive for the younger members of the community to save in order to have the margin of security that will be required when they wish to purchase or build a home. There is a reason for that lack of incentive. I can appreciate the difficult situation in which these people find themselves. Finding that margin of security is an almost insurmountable difficulty. Many young people realize that. even if they were able to save half of their yearly income that would not be sufficient to provide that margin of security or deposit that is required. I say to the honorable member for Maribyrnong that if this Government appreciates the significance of the deposit that is now required and the difficulties experienced by the young people to whom he referred in securing that deposit, and is prepared to provide an amount of money which is more realistic and which will give those people an opportunity to reach a reasonable deposit, that in itself will provide the necessary incentive.
I say quite sincerely - this is my experience in this matter - that there is a Jack of incentive for people to save in order to accumulate the necessary deposit because they know that they are not likely to be able to accumulate the deposit by the time when they will need to purchase or build a home. The honorable member for Maribyrnong dealt with various schemes that operate in some overseas countries. He made some suggestions which, in my opinion, are worthy of consideration by this Government. A positive scheme which would overcome some of the problems to which I have referred would be a means of providing the housing opportunities that are not available in Australia to-day.
I pass now to the measure that we are debating. Each year this Parliament, by means of a Loan (Housing) Bill, allocates money to the States for housing. Of the total amount allocated, 65 per cent, is provided for the State housing authorities, 30 per cent, is made available to approved building societies, and the remaining 5 per cent, is for serving members of the forces. In past years the second-reading speech of the Treasurer of the day on the Loan (Housing) Bill, which is one of the most important measures that come before this House, has been one of the shortest on record. But this year - and last year, too - the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in his second-reading speech, has endeavoured to provide some details and to make restricted statistics available.
On this occasion particularly the Minister has endeavoured to show by statistics that there is, for his part - and I assume he speaks for honorable members who sit behind him - some cause for self-satisfaction in connexion with the Government’s housing record and programme. But the statistical evidence available from other sources does not support the Minister’s suggestion that the housing position is satisfactory. On the contrary, as the Opposition has frequently pointed out, there is always a conspicuous absence of such evidence. Even the honorable member for Maribyrnong pointed out this fact in his speech. There has always been a shortage of detailed information concerning the number of people looking for homes and the number of homes available. The Government has shown a complete lack of interest in the compilation of figures giving this information. The only such information we have had from the Government was contained in the report presented in 1957 by the responsible Minister in another place. With the exception of that report, the Government has relied upon the statistical information gained from the census of 1954 and again from the census of 1961.
We all remember that when the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) presented his report in 1957 he predicted that if 77,000 homes a year could be built during the following five years the housing shortage would be overcome. But despite the fact that we have exceeded the target set in 1957, and in some years have considerably exceeded it, we have not been able to satisfy the demand for accommodation. The Minister went on to say in his report that 65,000 homes annually would be required by 1965, and that by 1970 we would require 79,000 homes a year.
That was the Minister’s report in 1957. Other estimates have been made available to us since that time, and they have been compiled by people whom I regard as most authoritative and in a position to offer a fair assessment of Australia’s housing requirements. Dr. Hall of the Australian National University has made a number of very interesting reports. He based his estimates of housing needs on an annual increase of 80,000 from immigration. He said that by 1965 we would require not 65,000 houses annually, as the Minister had said in 1957, but in fact we would need 106,000 a year, and that by 1970 the annual requirement would not be 79,000 but that it would be closer to 131,000. This shows that if the Treasurer is using the 1957 report, he is not in a position to determine accurately the housing requirements for the next five years.
The Treasurer made no real effort to analyse the situation, but he did make three points in his second-reading speech. First, he said that the £49,850,000 that would be allocated to the States under this legislation, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, was the amount that had been requested by the State Ministers for Housing. 1 dispute this. Those honorable mem bers on this side of the House who have some knowledge of Loan Council and other meetings at which financial assistance to the States for one purpose or another is discussed are well aware that the normal practice is for a figure to be announced by this Government, which the States can take or leave. In these circumstances one should consider what we have been told were the amounts requested by the State Ministers for Housing against the background of outstanding applications to the State housing authorities. When one does this one finds it difficult to accept the suggestion that the State Ministers requested a certain amount and were prepared to accept the amount mentioned by the Treasurer in his secondreading speech.
In New South Wales, for example, there were 36,322 outstanding applications at 30th June, 1962, while at the end of June, 1963, the number of outstanding applications was 37,797, showing an increase of 1,475. In Victoria a very slight improvement has been affected. At the end of June, 1962, there were 13,147 outstanding applications, and twelve months later the number was 13,013, showing a decrease of 134. In South Australia the figure was 12,000 at the end of June, 1962, and it was still 12,000 at the end of June in the following year. This shows that the State housing authorities have not succeeded in reducing the number of outstanding applications. This being so, it is difficult to understand why the Treasurer suggests that the amount to be made available to the States in this financial year should be less than the previous appropriation.
The second point made by the Treasurer related to the rate of home commencements. The Treasurer spoke of a rate of about 90,000 annually. Here the Minister is wrong on two counts. The 1957 report suggested that the requirement would be only 60,000 homes annually, and the Minister has accepted that figure as being the normal requirement in any one year. But Dr. Hall has shown that the annual requirement is far in excess of 60,000. If the Minister believes that 90,000 homes are being built annually in this country he is again wrong, because the number is not 90,000. It is true that in some years the Government’s target has been exceeded.
Let me refer again to the statistics that arc available. In 1960, which we acknowledge was a boom year, the Government achieved the commencement of 97,100 homes. In 1961 the number was 79,800, or 10,200 below the number of annual commencements suggested by the Treasurer. In 1960, the number of commencements was 97,100; in 1961, it was 79,800; and in 1962, it was 86,100, or 3,900 below the number of annual commencements suggested by the Treasurer. In the March quarter of this year, 21,200 homes were commenced. In the June quarter, 22,600 homes were commenced. On these figures, it can reasonably be expected that for 1963 90,000 homes will be commenced. The fact remains that, despite the Treasurer’s assurances to this House that the Government will build homes in excess of an annual rate of 90,000, his own figures show that in two of the last four years considerably fewer than 90,000 homes have been commenced.
The third point made by the Treasurer related to the standards of Australian homes. The Treasurer made a very valid statement. Those who can speak with authority on the subject of building will concede that a considerable improvement has been effected in Australia in the standards of homes. The Treasurer referred to the increase in the proportion of five-room homes in Australia from 68 per cent., according to the 1954 census, to 72 per cent, in 1961. Therefore we believe that the Treasurer made a valid point, but it should be noted that, according to the figures made available in the 1954 census and again in the 1961 census, large numbers of people are still living in garages, huts, tin sheds and other kinds of improvised accommodation. If the Minister sitting at the table disputes those figures, they are available to him to study.
The Government is not sure of the number of homes that will be required in this country to meet the housing back log and to meet the requirements of the increased population which can be expected in the next five or six years. We submit that the amendment proposed by the Opposition should be accepted by the Government. A competent committee of inquiry has not been set up to examine our housing needs since 1957, six years ago. It is obvious that a committee of inquiry, properly con stituted - a committee such as that requested by the various State Housing Ministers - would have a task to perform in connexion with our housing requirements and associated matters. The proposed amendment should be carried by this House. Practically every problem associated with the building industry has been solved, but a real attempt has never been made by this Government to organize the skills and the knowledge that have accumulated over the years in the building industry here. It is maintained by the Government that housing is a matter for the States. There is no doubt that under the constitution that is correct. But it should be pointed out that ever since the introduction of uniform taxation the States have not been the masters of their own financial houses. In housing matters, as in many other matters, the Commonwealth Government must accept a greater degree of responsibility.
I pass now to another matter that has been referred to a great deal by speakers from both sides of the House in this debate. I refer to the deposit gap. The deposit required is still in the region of 30 per cent, to 40 per cent, of the capital cost of a home in most States of the Commonwealth. A study of the report of the Director of the War Service Homes Division indicates that a tremendous increase has occurred in the costs of housing and land. The average cost of a home, plus land, according to the director, is £4,918. I accept the figure. The maximum advance available from the private banks and the majority of co-operative building societies is £3,500. The deposit gap on an average home is thus £1,418. We say that it is impossible for the young people of the community to secure a deposit of £1,418. It is beyond their resources. In these circumstances, there is a great demand for an advance representing a greater proportion of the purchase price of a home. A simple mathematical calculation shows that unless the Government is prepared to face up to the problem of the deposit gap a certain section of the community will always be looking for homes and will always be unable to secure them because of its inability to provide the amount of security required by private banks and other approved lending institutions.
I turn now to a field of housing that is this Government’s responsibility - war service homes. I have quoted to the House some statistics that have been made available by the War Service Homes Division. It expended £37,500,000 during 1961-62 in assisting applicants under the War Service Homes Act. The act is quite explicit. It clearly lays down that, providing certain conditions are complied with, ex-servicemen generally have a right to assistance under the act. Therefore it is difficult to understand why, twenty years after the end of the last war, there is a waiting period of twenty months for financial assistance under the act in respect of certain types of accommodation. That attitude is completely wrong. It is not in accordance with the act or with the generous principles laid down under the act. The Government ought to move immediately to abolish this waiting period. Owing to the waiting period people who are purchasing homes that have already been erected are obliged, through no fault of their own, to secure probably both a first and second mortgage at an interest rate varying between 7 per cent, and 10 per cent., compared with the generous interest rate of 3 J per cent, that is payable on a loan made by the War Service Homes Division.
There is obvious need for the inquiry suggested by the Opposition, with sufficient power to investigate Australia’s housing requirements and to evaluate and report on the deposit gap which has been referred to by so many honorable members during the debate. The committee should also make recommendations in relation to the interest rate. The real test in this country is whether sufficient homes are available to meet the demand that so obviously exists to-day and whether it is possible for the younger members of the community to be enabled to secure the finance, to which we believe they are entitled, so that they may secure the type of homes they wish to purchase or build. We say that finance is not available at present and that therefore an inquiry is necessary.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Opposition has asked for an inquiry into housing. I would like to change the scope of the proposed inquiry slightly so that it would not be held in States such as South Australia, where the housing situation is so good. The Playford Government in South Australia has led the rest of Australia at least since 1939 in regard to housing. I think the inquiry should be directed to a slightly parochial situation on the Illawarra coast of New South Wales. That area is of great importance to Australia because it is the seat of the fast expanding steel industry and without steel no country can expand at the correct rate.
We must have a certain amount of steel per head of population before wc can really be in the race at all in the kind of world in which we live. The steel industry must go ahead. It provides jobs and because of that - there are jobs available in the steel industry now - there is a greater demand for housing than can be satisfied. If the Opposition is genuine in its request for an inquiry into housing - there is no reason to doubt that - the inquiry should start in the Illawarra and Wollongong-Kiama area of New South Wales. In the last day or so an honorable member from South Australia has told us of that State’s housing record, which is well known to be good. There has been great success at Elizabeth, for instance. The honorable member for Kingston is interjecting, but I cannot hear what he is saying.
The honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) said there is no waiting time for houses in South Australia. For years homes have been cheaper in that State than they have been in New South Wales. It is no use honorable members opposite becoming hostile about this, because these matters are proven. I have here some figures which the coal and steel unions and Labour members representing the Illawarra should look at, if they have not already done so. If they do not look at the figures we will make them known in that district and Labour members concerned can cogitate about them while thinking about their selection ballots in the next few days, because some reputations will be at stake in that area.
The secretary of one building society in the Illawarra district told me that in Kiama and the area a little to the north, running into the municipality of Shellharbour, there are applications at present for £400,000 worth of homes. He said he has been promised by one bank a credit of £100,000.
This was the result of a survey which he and I made of financial institutions in Sydney. Within two weeks of the availability of that finance being announced the whole of it will be sought by new applicants. This man already has £400,000 worth of applications on his books from people who are waiting for homes and the result will be that he will then have a greater backlog of applications than before the announcement of this credit was made.
Building societies in Wollongong have advanced about £960,000 for homes but the waiting list there is still tremendously heavy. Let us see where State authorities come into the matter when a developer goes into an area. Numbers of people have purchased farm properties for housing development in this district. The properties are purchased subject to the town planner. He gives his approval to a subdivision, provided that water, electricity, roads, kerbing and guttering are made available. The matter next goes to the water board. It tells a developer that it will approve the subdivision providing he pays for the reticulation of water. In the case of one property in the Shell Harbour and Lake Illawarra South area there was a charge of £180,000 to pay for the amplifying main. As the result of all this administration and red tape one developer attempted to return the land to the farmer concerned. A developer - I will be corrected by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) if I am wrong - has to find a great deal of money to begin a subdivision. He has to put in roads and make provision for water and electricity services or guarantee the return in the first two years of 40 per cent, of the costs incurred by, say, the electricity authority. He must also be certain that he can pay for the bitumen roads and the kerbs and gutters. In other words, he has to find £750 per block before he can sell it and, in any subdivision of economic size, that represents a great deal of money.
Forty blocks at £750 each represent about £30,000. To finance his business the developer must be able to sell completed houses. The water board, the electricity authority, the county council and the local council are involved, so that the developer cannot possibly meet his commitments in time to get the money with which to build the houses. He has to be able to sell completed houses and get the money in so that he can pay for the development. The water board is based on the Sydney city area and it has, as its constituent bodies, many Labour-controlled councils. There is nothing wrong with that-
– They are not all Labourcontrolled councils.
– The honorable member might be kind enough to listen to what I am saying. The water board is based on metropolitan constituencies which contain both Labour supporters and people of independent ideas. How can we get proper development in Wollongong-Kiama area if we have to wait for a political decision by a body based in some other area? This position is wrong. There ought to be a local authority to handle the matter. The water board gets permission from the Australian Loan Council to go on the loan market and borrow money, but it can then divert the money into city electorates and Wollongong is starved for funds.
If the water board wanted to develop this area it could allocate more funds for the amplification of mains and for the reticulation of water there. The water is available, but the board says that the money cannot be made available. The board has the money. It has the power to borrow, and it borrows millions of pounds. If it really wanted housing to develop in the Wollongong, Port Kembla, Unanderra, Dapto and Shellharbour areas it could divert funds for use there. Instead, it places an impossible barrier in front of the developers who are really trying to provide homes. Because of the water board’s attitude, we do not get the requisite number of homes from the activities of organizations interested in the development of subdivisions.
This is all due to the fact that authority to control such things as electricity, water, roads and so on is in the hands of ad hoc bodies. When these bodies place a £750 barrier on the development of each building block, it becomes impossible for development to take place and impossible to attract investment to the area.
The second source from which to obtain funds is the savings banks, and here it is interesting to note that the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) has stated that there is very little waiting time for loans from the savings banks of South Australia. He named some banks in South Australia which also have branches and lend money in the Wollongong area. I should like to know whether it is a fact that when the savings banks allocate their funds they do so on a pro rata basis according to the number of customers and the amount of money banked in each area. If they do, then the prospects of development in the Wollongong and Shellharbour areas are hopeless, and the demand for homes there is very heavy. At Port Kembla there is a huge and expanding steel works which is manufacturing steel not only for this country but also for export, as we have been told here in the last few days. Those steel works must have men, and the men must have houses. If there is any shortage of accommodation for the men, whether in hostels or houses, there is a consequent hold up in employment. In fact, the lack of housing in this area causes unemployment because men living in other districts who would be willing to take jobs in the Wollongong area cannot accept them because they cannot find homes in the area for their families.
I suggest that there should be a special allocation of funds for this area, whether it be through the savings banks, the housing commission, the building societies or the insurance companies. A special allocation is essential because there is a higher demand for housing in the area than in others, and the housing shortage is causing a bottleneck in our national production. Men are needed in the great steel industry there. There is a shortage of local labour and, if we are to attract men from outside areas, special arrangements must be made to provide housing for them.
The stock answer to this problem, which has whiskers on it, though I expect we shall hear it from the speaker who follows me, is that the Commonwealth will not provide enough money.
– That is right.
– The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith repeats it. I was hoping that he would do so. I remind him that the Commonwealth Government is providing £49,000,000 for housing under the Loan (Housing) Bill and this money is to be allocated to the housing commissions. I remind him also that the New South Wales Housing Commission has a very good record in the Wollongong area in the expenditure of money provided by the Commonwealth. It is spending the money provided by the Commonwealth, and I understand that this year it will build approximately 700 homes in the Wollongong area. But money is not being provided from other sources and development is being retarded.
It is no defence to the charges I make to say that as the New South Wales Housing Commission is doing its job the New South Wales Labour Government must be discharging its responsibilities. If the position I have described obtained in the Cessnock or Kurri areas there would be a rush to put it right immediately because a continual stream of money is flowing to that part of the State. If those members of the State Parliament who represent the area about which I am concerned did their jobs, they would have a close look at the activities of three bodies that come under the jurisdiction of the State Government. First they would examine the operations of the water board in the area. Secondly, they would look closely at whether the authority responsible for electricity has sufficient funds for extending its services, and, thirdly, they would ascertain whether the local authority is given permission to borrow sufficient funds to carry out its activities effectively. After all, it must be remembered that it is a State Minister who fixes the borrowing programmes of local authorities. He decides what the local authorities at Wollongong and Shellharbour may borrow. This year I think the amount which will be available to the Wollongong council is £300,000. In my view, that is far too little to provide for expenditure on such essential services as roads, kerbing and guttering if the inordinate demand for housing in the area is to be met. Men who have travelled round Australia and overseas all say that development in this area is being stifled, that it is being frustrated, and that it is impossible to attract new investment there because of the barriers I have mentioned. It is quite wrong and detrimental to the development of the nation that the provision of housing should be retarded in an area where jobs are available. If the New South Wales Government were genuine about wanting to cure the evil of unemployment, it would act. This year, the State Government will be receiving £20,000,000 more than it has ever received before, but it will probably follow its usual practice of retaining the funds until the last three months of the financial year and then embarking upon a spending spree. It should make the money available sooner than that. It should have a look at the situation with relation to the water board. It should1 realize that there ought to be a separate water authority for this area, that there should be a decentralized authority, because it must be obvious to every honorable member of this House that a board which administers water problems for Sydney is not a suitable authority for dealing with the water problems of the Wollongong area.
It must be admitted that the employees in the steel industry at Wollongong, of whom 70 per cent, are new Australians, are doing a splendid job. The value of steel products manufactured by them last year was £89,000,000 compared with £68,000,000 for the Newcastle works, and the production is increasing rapidly. Our friends, the new Australians, are making a very great contribution to our national effort at Wollongong. At the moment, there are 1,166 people accommodated at the hostel at Balgownie, 356 at Berkley and 297 at Unanderra, making a total of 1,819 persons accommodated in hostels, and the turnover of hostels is the smallest in Australia. It is only about 2 per cent. The average stay of each person is one year.
One reason why men cannot accumulate savings in that district is that there are not many jobs for women there. This means that those who wish to save the deposit on a home cannot do so because the wives cannot get jobs and so augment the family income to help buy a home. It is imperative that not only the savings banks and the housing commission but also the State Government give special attention to the situation prevailing in the Wollongong area. At no time have I seen any statement by any member of the State Government that the Government is conscious of the position that obtains there. It has cer tainly made no sound approach to the problem. The intelligent approach would be to inquire why real estate developers are not going into the area and spending their money there and why they are taking advantage of the provision in their contracts under which they have the right to cancel their contracts to buy subdividable land. In many instances, development that is taking place stops dead. The building industry there is stagnant. The consequent shortage of houses militates against employment because prospective employees cannot take their families to the area. This area is producing steel which is important to a developing nation.
Australia is, I think, the fourth largest consumer of steel in the world. It should be the largest consumer, because steel produced here is cheap, we have the opportunities to use it and a country such as Australia with vast distances to cover needs steel for railways, bridges and other development projects.
We look with great envy at the housing position in South Australia. Even before the 1939-45 war, South Australia was leading the other States in this field. People in that State could buy a house for £700 before the war and it now would probably be worth £3,000 or £4,000 if it had been well cared for. We in New South Wales would like to have the co-ordination of work that must be evident in South Australia where there is no waiting time or a very short waiting time for a house. The New South Wales Government should look at the situation in South Australia where houses are so plentiful and the well-being of the State has been fostered. The Premier of South Australia claims that he has taken the industrial leadership from New South Wales, despite its great gifts and all the resources it has.
If the State Labour members for the Wollongong district - Mr. Connor, Mr. Fowles and Mr. Jackson - allow the present situation to continue, they are recreant to their trust. They must know about the situation. Perhaps they have lived with it for so long that they have become accustomed to it. Perhaps they have become dumb about it and will not take action. The situation in Wollongong ought to be corrected. Of course, it is not an Australiawide situation. An inquiry would show that South Australia is well served and that the situation in New South Wales is deplorable.
– You did not build one housing commission home when you were in government in New South Wales.
– The honorable member for Hume is now awake and has given us the parrot cry that he learned so long ago.
The situation in Wollongong is deplorable. The area is stagnating. The Labour members in the district have big majorities and do not bother about the people. The trade unions are arrogant and have formed a dictatorship there. They do nothing for the people and do not try to encourage the building of homes. Money is put into big trade union buildings, but there is no real, genuine cry for better housing for the people in the area. The Labour members need to satisfy only a very small selection committee, which consists of a couple of trade union leaders who are probably buddies of the local member anyway. The local member can do as he likes. He does not have to look after the people who aic crying out for houses, so they are left entirely in the lurch. People are unable to get houses because of the activities of the socialist dictatorship that has been created in the area. [Quorum formed.] I was referring to the bad housing record of the New South Wales Government. Honorable members from other States have noticed the bad situation in New South Wales. However, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) could not take it. He became upset when the shortcomings of the Labour Government in New South Wales were revealed and had to draw attention to the state of the House to cover up for the New South Wales Government.
In the Wollongong area, the plans for hundreds of houses have been passed by the local councils. However, people are not able to get finance and immediately begin to build a temporary dwelling. Prosecutions are launched against them because they cannot complete the home they had planned in the way that was approved by the council. This is a deplorable situation. We are told that in South Australia anybody who wants money to buy a home can get it The honorable member for Sturt said -
We have been saying without fear of contradiction that for anybody who desires money to buy a home in South Australia there is the avenue of the Commonwealth Savings Bank, which has a waiting period not exceeding three months.
I will defy anybody to have plans passed by a council and arrange all the other details associated with the construction of a house within three months. This usually takes about six months. So, if the banks in South Australia are making money available within three months, the people there are in a splendid position. Of course, there is no Landlord and Tenant Act inhibiting the building of homes in South Australia. The act in New South Wales makes the housing situation there much more difficult than it should be. tn the Wollongong area, tenants are paying £7 7s. to £10 10s. a week. Some time ago a prosecution was launched against a man who was renting rooms in the one ordinary house to 42 people. This is in the Wollongong area where, as I mentioned before, Labour and the trade unions have a dictatorship.
The Labour members in the Wollongong district do not have to worry about their constituents. They are able to hold their seats with the help of selection committees that consist of their mates. They do not look into the problems created by a shortage of houses and the services needed for houses. They are not concerned about the lack of water on some blocks. The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), who is interjecting, knows that many properties bought for the purpose of building homes have been returned to buyers because the water board, which is based on his constituency in the Cronulla area, refused to provide the funds needed to bring water to the blocks. As a result, the sub-dividers had to stop their operations. There is stagnation in Wollongong because Labour is in control.
– The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), as every one knows, is a big property owner in the Wollongong district. He is most anxious to have a huge development programme start there.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The honorable member has made a remark that is offensive to me. I ask him to withdraw it because it is untrue. I am not a property owner in the Wollongong district.
– I will withdraw “Wollongong district “ and say “ adjacent districts”. He is a huge property owner and one of the wealthiest men in the district. His family is one of the wealthiest in New South Wales. He is most anxious to exploit the housing shortage still further, but his efforts have been fruitless because the water board has refused to carry out his wishes. That is the plain fact. I will not waste any further time on him.
I do not intend to ask honorable members to listen to any more theory. We have heard a lot of baloney here this afternoon about theoretical ways of curing the housing shortage. 1 want to know what the Government intends to do to overcome the housing shortage. What does the Government intend to do to encourage home building? One of the biggest cancers in our society is the shortage of homes. This Government’s policy on housing is influenced to no mean extent by the sharp practices of influential members of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party who masquerade in commercial life as estate agents. They describe themselves, of course, as land developers, but they are really shady real estate agents, and that is saying a mouthful.
Those people are reinforced by money supplied from overseas. I remind honorable members of the comings and goings of the rich land developers in Sydney and in New South Wales generally who go to Hong Kong and other places to obtain money from foreign financiers. On their return, they are given an open go by this Government. They are to be seen everywhere feverishly at work using all sorts of tactics to plunder all and sundry in the field of home-building. Shady methods are adopted, especially in the valuation of property, with the result that prices for home sites have reached record heights and the ordinary worker finds it quite impossible to save even the amount necessary for a deposit on a block of building land close to a capital city. Something must be done to put a stop to this. or all our working-class population will be living miles from the centres of industrial activity. Something must be done, and done quickly.
This Government must increase the sums allocated to the States for housing. That is the only way to solve the problem. Let us resort to socialism in the housing field. This will give the States greater scope for their attack on this problem. I suggest that a start be made by taking the responsibility for housing from the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner), because he is incapable of administering housing affairs on behalf of the Commonwealth. Being a big shot in the Liberal Party, he cannot help but rub shoulders with the various racketeers - the so-called land developers. We know that the Minister is very favorably disposed towards private enterprise. In a recent statement on housing, he said that his experts believed that too many houses were being built. Did ever an honorable member hear such rot in all his life! Fancy saying that too many houses were being built! The experts associated with the Minister reckoned that the need for houses was between 75,000 and 82,000 a year. When the rate of completions reached 89,000 a year, the Minister said this was well above the level recommended by statisticians and claimed that too many dwellings were being built. We know what these experts are like. A Minister who tolerates experts of that kind on his staff should be relieved of his portfolio, and the experts should be sent about their business. Is it any wonder that Australia is going back instead of forward? Is it any wonder that hundreds of building tradesmen are unemployed and that thousands of families are waiting to be housed?
Even the merest novice in the community knows that at least 100,000 houses should be built annually. And this is only a conservative estimate, when we realize that 175,000 families have their names on government housing lists in all the States and that new applications are coming in at the rate of 3,000 a week. These figures clearly demonstrate that the housing problem is a nightmare to many thousands of people who are forced to live in shacks, caravans, tents, shakedowns, vermin-infested hovels, huts and sheds of all sorts, single rooms, shared rooms and slum dwellings. The Minister for National Development knows that while he repeats, parrot-like, that there are enough homes for all he is sheltering the vicious rack-rent landlords who are members of the Liberal Party and are exploiting the situation to the full.
Let us take a look at the history of housing. Let us look back over the years to the time when this Government and the land developers developed a very special friendship. Let me take the minds of honorable members back to the time when what is now the Hotel Ainslie Rex was simply the Hotel Ainslie and was sold by L. J. Hooker Limited to a man named George at a phoney auction. This chap just dropped into town, nodded his head and the hotel changed hands for £85,000! Honorable members and visitors in the galleries ought to know this. The hotel was knocked down to this man who had just dropped into town and who, when the transaction had been completed, turned out to be a big-shot in the Rex Investments Proprietary Limited - a direct subsidiary of L. J. Hooker Limited. The gentleman whom we all know now as Sir Philip McBride was then Minister for the Interior. The AttorneyGeneral in the Government at that time was the gentleman whom we now know as Sir Neil O’sullivan, and the Treasurer of the day was Sir Arthur Fadden. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) interjects, but I have not finished yet. Sir Arthur Fadden and Sir Neil O’sullivan, strange to relate, are now members of boards of Hooker companies. Honorable members can work things out for themselves. I would not dare to suggest anything. One of these gentlemen receives £10,000 a year for sitting on the board of a Hooker company and the other receives £20,000 a year as a financial adviser and board member of one of the Hooker companies.
– There ought to be a royal commission.
– Well, let us figure out for ourselves, Mr. Deputy Speaker, knowing what we do about the sale of the Hotel Ainslie. That hotel was sold for £85,000 and we learned later that it was valued at the time at £130,000. That represents a pretty good start for the Hooker interests which this Government has befriended.
– That is an exaggeration.
– We find that there is so little confidence in this Government that it has to resort to the redistribution of electoral boundaries before it is game to face an election.
– Order! Redistribution of electoral boundaries is not the subject before the House now.
– This Government resorts to that before facing another election.
-Order! The honorable member must contine his remarks to housing, which is the subject of the bill now before- the House.
– I make those remarks only in passing, Sir. As an Australian, I resent the activities of these crooks in the housing field, because I know that not hundreds but thousands of people, including some of my own kith and kin, are looking for accommodation. Let any honorable member ask any one in his electorate how difficult it is to get a house, and he will find that it is very difficult indeed. Why does not the Government, if it is genuine, remove the limitation on the Commonwealth Bank, which is allowed to lend only a certain sum for housing annually? We know that the bank could lend tens of millions of pounds more for housing. But the Government does not want to interfere with the Hooker interests, with George or with the companies controlled by Dusseldorp. Those interests do not want money to be lent for home building.
No sound argument can be advanced against lending for housing. The money that is available is the people’s money. Yet this Government keeps the clamps on the Commonwealth Bank and will not allow the funds at its disposal to be used for housing. Why does the Government adopt that policy? It does so because it wants to give the private banks and the land developers an open go in the housing field so that they may exploit the artificial shortage by charging hire-purchase interest rates of 12 or 14 per cent, on housing loans. We must remember that the private banks shovel money into Liberal Party and Country Party election funds. Let us look at the economics of the housing position as it affects the young couple just married or about to be married. I have received from a young married man a letter in which he writes -
How ever can I afford a house on a salary of £21 a week? My flat costs me £8 a week. It is not very modern but at least my wife and I are on our own. This is such a drain on my salary that we cannot sec our way clear to save enough money to get a house.
I have details of another sad instance of a young couple with a baby girl in arms. In order to secure shelter they had to take a flat on lease for six months. This is another shady trick of the so-called land developers. The crafty estate agents exploit the situation to the full. They like to keep couples on the move. They will let a house on lease for six months. They will not let it on a weekly tenancy because in New South Wales they are subject to the law. This young couple was asked to pay £12 a week in rent. The husband is earning £21 a week. They had to agree to pay £12 a week because they had nowhere else to go. When they went into possession of the flat they found that the back door was broken off at its hinges. The agent said that the door would be repaired in due course, but the weeks went by without anything being done. When the six months was up and the lease had expired the agent asked the couple for £40 as payment for the damage to the door. There is no limit to what these people will do. They are exploiting the situation to the full. Fortunately the young man had a bit of stomach and he said he was not prepared to pay the £40 because the door was damaged before he took up the tenancy. The husband has been pestered at his place of employment by the agent, who is trying to intimidate him to pay the £40. But this young man has plenty inside him and he refuses to take any notice of the threats of action made by the agent.
Those are only two examples of the things we hear about in a tour of our electorates. These young people have to buy furniture and other things in addition to paying rent. When they have to pay £12 a week to an agent or a land developer how can they save enough for a deposit on a home. The young man has told me that reliable people have informed him that he will need more than £500 for a deposit on a home. How can he save £500? He is paying £12 a week out of a weekly wage of £21. How hypocritical it is for Government supporters to suggest that the housing situation is not as bad as Labour supporters make out! This young man says that his wife is to have a baby, which will mean more expense. He asks must he take his wife and new baby into rooms and put up with that accommodation until he can save enough for a deposit on a house, or should he stay in the flat and live virtually a handtomouth existence because of the high rent. He states that he does not want sympathy. He merely asks for some light to be thrown on a problem that at times leaves his young wife in tears through worrying about the situation in which she is living.
– This all stems from the New South Wales Landlord and Tenant Act.
– That is the only reason why this Government is keeping a clamp on money for housing. That is why the Government will not resort to the socialistic principle of building houses on a national basis so that young people may get a home at a reasonable price. Nobody asks the Government to provide anything at other than a reasonable price. The examples that I have quoted are commonplace to young men on about £20 a week, but what a frightening situation faces the man on the basic wage of £15 a week. Statistics show that in 1946 a young man earning the average wage and saving 20 per cent, of his income could save enough for a deposit on a home in 21 months. To day it would take him between six and eight years to save the deposit. What do honorable members opposite say about that situation?
A home is by far the most expensive item that the average person expects to buy in his lifetime. A working man in a secure position should be able to buy a home valued at about two and one-half times his annual income. He could do so before the last war, but he cannot do it to-day because on an average a house now costs six to eight times his annual income. Commenting on this situation in its annual report for 1961-62 the New South Wales Housing Commission states that apart from the aged the most significant variation over the last three years has been the increase in the proportion of families requiring three or more bedroom accommodation compared to all other categories. The report states that this is a further indication that applicants with larger families are finding it harder to raise finance for home building or purchase or to secure rented premises on reasonable terms from other sources. The report states that as at 30th June, 1962, applicants in the Sydney metropolitan area were being offered homes for rental and sale as long as six years after their applications has been lodged. Two-bedroom cottages were being offered to applicants who had lodged their applications in September, 1958 - a waiting period of four years. Two-bedroom flats were being offered to applicants who had lodged applications in March, 1958 - a waiting period of four years. Three-bedroom cottages were being offered to applicants who had lodged applications in September, 1956 - a waiting time of almost six years. Three-bedroom flats were being offered to applicants who had lodged applications in September, 1957 - a delay of almost five years. Fourbedroom cottages were being offered to applicants who had lodged applications in December, 1956 - another delay of six years. This gives the lie direct to the irresponsible statements issued by the Minister for National Development that more homes than necessary are being built. Did you ever hear such hypocritical statements from a responsible Minister? He must be living in the past. Homes and more homes should be built quickly.
As I have stated earlier, this Government refuses to grant increased sums to the States for housing because to do so would cut across the interests of its supporters. There can be no doubt about that. That is why the Government clamps down on the Commonwealth Bank and refuses to allow it to lend more money for housing. The Commonwealth Bank has assets of £790,000,000 and it is prepared to lend some of that money. The directors of the bank are prepared to lend more money for housing but this Government, under the leadership of the Right Honorable Sir Robert Menzies, refuses to allow the people of Australia to take advantage of their own savings and to borrow money for housing cheaply. I hope that the people listening to me this afternoon will carefully consider these facts.
Let us compare a rental of £12 a week with the rental charged by the New South Wales Housing Commission. For a twobedroom timber house the commission charges between £4 2s. and £4 17s. a week. For two-bedroom brick flats it charges between £4 10s. and £5 6s. a week. For three-bedroom brick flats it charges between £4 14s. and £5 15s. a week. For threebedroom timber flats it charges between £4 6s. and £4 19s. a week. For a fourbedroom timber cottage the commission charges between £4 9s. and £5 4s. a week. What a difference there is between those charges and the rent of £12 a week paid by the young couple to whom I earlier referred. The rents charged by the commission are far more reasonable than those charged by the much-vaunted private enterprise concerns, which are sucking the blood from our young married people upon whom we rely to populate this country in the future. By withholding increased grants to the State housing commissions the Minister does a good job for the Liberal Party and for the racketeering land developers who operate on much the same scale as did the much-despised ‘ Rachman in London recently. He adopted a certain technique in the letting of houses in London and other places. If the Government were sincere in its efforts to look after the Australian people generally, if the Government were statesmanlike in its actions and if the members of the Government thought of Australians as fellow men, it would tackle the housing problem.
– And if the Government were humane.
– That is right. If the Government were humane and sincere it would tackle the housing problem. The wealthy members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party live in comfort. They are all right, but what about their fellow Australians to whom I am referring? The Government should regard the housing shortage as a national emergency and should use the services of all of the various State housing commissions so that we can start building immediately on a huge national scale. Call in the trade unions. Call in the men who know something about organization. Call in the building trades, and let them submit a programme to meet the emergency. Let the Government supply the finance to meet the cost of the programme that the great trade unions would submit.
– Including the Corns, in the trade unions?
– Here is another narrowminded person whom, according to the forms of the House, I must refer to as an honorable member. I do not suppose that he would object to his stately home being built by the Communists as long as he was comfortable in it. The average young couple looking for a home now in which to raise a family would not care much who built it as long as it was built properly and was comfortable. I believe the honorable member for Higinbotham is in the real estate field.
– I am not in real estate.
– I was searching my mind to learn your previous occupation. If the Government adopted my suggestion it would show real statesmanship, but real statesmanship is right out of court with this Government. Our fellow Australians want homes. Every mother and every father would love to see sons or daughters happily married and living in comfortable homes of their own - homes in which they could keep their children warm in the winter and bring them up in conditions similar to those in which they themselves were brought up. Money should also be made available to all the State governments for building homes for age pensioners, thousands of whom are living in rooms and in all kinds of shelters. Their sufferings during the long winter which has just passed must have been intense. I appeal to honorable members opposite to think of their own mothers and fathers living as thousands of our age pensioners live. If they did so, they would compel the Government to make money available for homes for the poor old people who are trying to exist on the miserly pittance of £5 5s. a week. We should do something to allow them to spend the remaining days of their lives in comfort and warmth.
The young fellows opposite have everything in front of them. Their homes are warm and comfortable. They are getting plenty to eat and everything is going along smoothly for them. But what about the people for whom things are not going along smoothly - the older members of our community? Nobody wants the cider people after they have reared their families. When they reach pensionable age, the older people are expected to maintain thmselves on the paltry pittance called the pension. They cannot afford to pay the excessive rents demanded to-day by racketeering landlords. It is urgent that they be given some further consideration, but the Government turns a deaf ear to the pleas put forward for additional finance to meet the ever-growing demand for more accommodation for pensioners. If there were rumours of war or an immediate threat of war the Government would find millions of pounds for war purposes, but when it comes to feeding and housing the older people, who have been responsible for most of the population in our nation to-day, the Government turns a deaf ear.
The New South Wales Government does its best to meet the demand for housing but lack of finance prevents it accelerating this urgent work until the lag has been taken up. The one-bedroom flat provided by the New South Wales Government is very popular because it meets the needs of the old people. It does not call for any undue physical effort. The flats are on the ground floor level, which obviates any unnecessary climbing of steps or stairs. I see no reason why this Government cannot make provision for the old people by granting the necessary funds to the States to enable them to continue with their humanitarian work and ensure that all the people in our community have security and comfort in their old age. But all that this Government does is shed salty tears for the old people. It will do nothing to assist the States to house them. It will do nothing practical to help.
At least one-half of the surplus which the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) claims that he has achieved should be divided amongst the
States to enable them to build urgently needed homes for our old people. The Treasurer was proud of the fact that there was to be a surplus. What would be wrong with spending one-half of that surplus on building homes not only for old people but for young people as well? I make no apology for advancing that suggestion. After long years of hard labour in industry the old people are forgotten when they need us most - when they are unable to help themselves. In years gone by they helped to produce all the things which kept this country moving and they did their share towards building up our population, but now in their old age, in the declining years of their life, this Government and honorable members opposite, to their shame, have forgotten them.
.- The debate on the Loan (Housing) Bill has proceeded for almost two days. During that time spokesmen for the Government have said that it has a wonderful record in housing. The Opposition claims that the Government has not a good record - in fact, that it has a very bad record. Government supporters have said that during its years of office the Government has supplied the stimulus for the building of more than enough homes. The Opposition can prove that the Government not only has not built enough homes but has allowed the lag in housing to proceed apace, without producing any plan to solve a very important national problem. I shall prove that conclusively. The Government has not been prepared to accept what is a national responsibility.
The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) participated in this debate. For fear that there may be some people in Australia foolish enough to accept his statements and his obviously political attacks on and tirades against the New South Wales Government, I shall spend two or three minutes in replying to his ridiculous, absurd and completely malicious accusations. The Minister stated that because of the Landlord and Tenant Act in New South Wales private investors will not build homes in that State.
– That is right.
– The honorable member for Warringah, who comes from New South Wales, says that is right. If there is one thing about which he knows nothing, it is housing. I do not suppose he knows much about anything. I am about to prove to the honorable member, the Minister for the Army and the people of Australia that any residence built in New South Wales since 1955 has not been the subject of any landlord and tenant regulations. Do they realize that the rent for any home or residence built in that State since 1955 is not pegged and that the landlord is able to charge any rent at all that a tenant will pay? The result is that anybody who wanted to invest money in building residences in New South Wales since that year could have done so. In fact, many people did, and they were not subject to any landlord and tenant restrictions.
Between 1956-57 and 1962-63 private investors built more than 200,000 residences in New South Wales. Unfortunately, they have been able to let them at very high rentals. As the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) said so rightly, many people have to pay rentals far beyond their means for units and flats. The Minister for the Army would have one think that the landlord and tenant regulations were so imposed upon the people of New South Wales that they frightened building away. He did not say that 200,000 homes had been built by private investors. He did not tell us that when part of the landlord and tenant regulations expired and they went before the anti-Labour-controlled Upper House in New South Wales amendments which gave some protection to tenants were defeated. The Legislative Council opposed the regulations which provided that any landlord who wanted to obtain possession of a home had to provide alternative accommodation for his tenant, and that a landlord had to own a home for two years before he could take out an eviction notice against the tenant. The result of the defeat of those amendments has been an upsurge of Rachmanism and an outspreading of the type of speculator who will buy a home so that he can get the present tenant out of it, spend a little money on it and get a ridiculous return because he is then outside the landlord and tenant regulations.
The result has been that in my electorate in the last three months speculators have bought cottages and then gone to the court. Because of the action of the parties that oppose Labour in the Legislative Council of New South Wales, new landlords have been able to buy homes, take out notices to quit, go to the court and get eviction orders, and then proceed to get worthy tenants out of homes of which they have been tenants for many years. Those tenants go to their State or Federal members of Parliament and cry: “ Where will we live? What will we do? “ That is all the result of anti-Labour attitudes. The Minister for the Army did not say anything about that matter. I am glad that I have been able to educate the honorable member for Warringah, who has never heard of all these things that I am telling him.
This bill deals with the provision of finance to New South Wales for housing. This year the allocation is a little more than it was last year. That is true, but the Government still is not facing up to the realities of the situation. The facts are clear. In most States applications are coming in as fast as they were a year ago; in some States they are coming in at a faster rate. The figures show that the number of outstanding applications in New South Wales at 30th June, 1961, was 35,230; at 30th June, 1962, it was 36,322 and at 30th June, 1963, it was 37,797.
In Victoria, at 30th June, 1961, the figure was 14,024; at 30th June, 1963, it was 13,013. In Queensland, at 30th June, 1961, it was 5,564; and at 30th June, 1963, it was 4,194. In South Australia, at 30th June, 1961, it was 11,000; and at 30th June, 1963, it was 12,000. Those are the figures for the famous State that the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) talked about. He said that there were no outstanding applications in South Australia, yet the South Australian Housing Trust, in its report, says that the number of outstanding applications at 30th June 1962, was 12,000, and at 30th June, 1963, the number was still 12,000. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), and other honorable members opposite who want to pull the wool over the eyes of the community, say that in South Australia there is no bousing problem.
In Western Australia, the number of outstanding applications at 30th June, 1961, was 3,519; and at 30th June, 1963, the figure was 5,800. In Tasmania, at 30th June, 1961, the figure was 2,016; and at 30th June, 1963, it was 1,588. In the Australian Capital Territory - which, whatever anybody says, is clearly the prerogative and the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government - there are between 4,000 and 5,000 outstanding applications. In a moment I will give the result of a survey which points out clearly that a person has to wait more than three years to obtain a house or residence in the Australian Capital Territory. In fact, the Australian Capital Territory Trades and Labour Council said recently that a worKing man has to wait for between five and seven years to obtain a house from the Commonwealth Government in the Territory.
When we talk in millions about the provision of £49,850,000 for housing, that sounds an awful lot of money. However, if we work out how many homes can be build with that amount and relate that figure to the lag and the applications that are coming in, we find that it is not a very great amount at all. New South Wales is to receive £16,500,000. The State Government must give 30 per cent, of that amount to co-operative societies which also build homes, and the balance of 70 per cent, goes to the Housing Commission in order to build homes.
– There is 5 per cent, for service personnel.
– That is so. At the rate of £3,500 per home, which is a most conservative amount, New South Wales will be able to build 4,714 homes with its allocation. Defence personnel and the cooperative building societies will be able to build 1,414 homes and the Housing Commission of New South Wales, which has a lag of 37,000 applications, will receive sufficient money to build 3,300 homes. Last year the Housing Commission in that State received more than 16,000 applications. What difference will 3,300 homes make to the lag? Next year, if the Housing Commission receives 16,000 more applications, the total lag will increase by 13,000 in New South Wales. What will be the end of this? Is there not a plan? That is why, in our amendment, we have suggested the setting up of a committee to survey the needs of the community. Yet we hear the honorable member for Macarthur say: “Let us have an inquiry only in relation to the Illawarra district in New South
Wales. I am sure the housing position is all right everywhere else.” That is what the honorable member says in his parochial fashion. But we of the Labour Party are prepared to accept national responsibilities. When we are in government we will demonstrate the manner in which we are prepared to accept them.
Under this bill Victoria will receive £13,250,000. It will be able to build another 3,785 homes. The Victorian Housing Commission will be able to build 2,650 homes. Queensland will receive £4,300,000. It will be able to build 1,228 homes. The Queensland Housing Commission will be able to finance the building of 860 homes. South Australia will receive £9,400,000. It will be able to build 2,685 homes. The South Australian Housing Trust will receive sufficient money to finance the erection of 1,880 homes. Western Australia will receive £3,400,000 and will be able to build 971 homes. The Western Australia Housing Trust will be able to build 680 homes. Tasmania will receive £3,000,000. It will be able to build 857 homes, and the Tasmanian Housing Trust will be able to finance the erection of 600 homes.
All in all, the housing authorities of Australia, with a total of more than 74,000 outstanding applications, will be able to finance the erection of 9,970 homes. Does it not become ridiculous when one believes that a government, after being in office for fourteen years, should be planning for a diminution in the number of applications and for the satisfaction of people who are living in sub-standard housing or who, for one reason or another, need accommodation?
Let us have a look at what the true position is. There has been no coordination of investigations of housing requirements. There has been no Australia-wide survey of the housing shortage. There has been no real answer to the request of the State housing ministers who, since March, 1963, have been asking for the setting up of a committee to survey the housing needs of Australia. Two of the State housing ministers are members of Labour governments and all the rest of them, as well as the Commonwealth Minister responsible for housing, are members of anti-Labour governments. The State housing ministers were unanimous in asking for this survey.
They have been backed up by many authorities. Mr. Warren McDonald, the chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, when speaking to the Federation of Co-operative Housing Societies in Victoria in March, 1963, pleaded for an immediate housing survey by the Commonwealth. He said -
The results of such a study would be of great benefit to hundreds of people directly and indirectly concerned with the building industry. They would then have accurate statistics and estimates upon which to work and to plan for the future.
The 1961 census revealed that 170,000 families were living in huts or sheds or were sharing accommodation. A further 100,000 %vere living in sub-standard accommodation. Yet the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) will not agree to have a survey made. I cited in my Budget speech - and I will repeat it - what the Minister said in a “ Four Corners “ television programme on 8th June, 1963. He was asked by the questioner -
I’m not sure of this, but have you rejected the request by the State governments for a committee to look into housing needs?
The Minister replied -
We haven’t actually rejected it. This position of housing needs - every State government has got its own organization, every savings bank has its own organization, every insurance company has got ils own organization. We all make our computations of housing needs. I think there’s a bit of politics in it, you know. I think the State governments are trying to put an unwanted baby into the lap of the Federal Government.
The Minister was talking about housing, and housing is one of his responsibilities in this Government. Yet he said he did not want the unwanted baby of housing. He was telling the people of Australia that he did not want anything to do with housing. He was confessing that the Commonwealth Government had done a very poor job in the housing field. He simply demonstrated that the Government cannot carry out its national task in this field, just as it cannot carry out many other national tasks.
We know that there are between 60,000 and 80,000 marriages in Australia every year. The prognostication of this year, based on what has happened in the first six months of the year, is that there will be 80,000 marriages. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) proudly told us the other day that he hopes to introduce into Australia in the next twelve months 135,000 immigrants.
– Every vacant house in New South Wales-
– I do not think you know where New South Wales is. As I have said, there will be 80,000 marriages this year and we will have 135,000 immigrants. if we take an average of four immigrants to a family, these new people will need at least 30,000 homes. This gives us a total requirement of 110,000 for the year. Then there are people who will be affected by slum clearances and will require new accommodation. There are people sharing accommodation and who want to move into homes of their own, and there are many people who are living in huts and sheds and other sub-standard accommodation. It is quite obvious that Australia’s needs are very great.
The number of dwellings erected in the twelve months ended 30th June, 1963, was just under 90,000. The number of approvals was about 90,000. But everybody who looks at this sorry housing mess will realize that the requirement is well over 100,000. Dr. A. R. Hall of the Australian National University has been quoted quite often in our housing debates, and there is good reason why he has been quoted so often. The Government will not undertake to have a survey conducted, so one has to go to somebody who is willing to conduct a survey. He is the best authority available, and he is very moderate in his estimates. Basing his figures on an immigration target of 80,000, he said that in 1970 we will need 131,000 houses or flats annually. But we are looking forward to bringing in 135,000 immigrants, not 30,000, so it is reasonable to suggest that Dr. Hall’s figure of 131,000 should be about 140,000. Our present need is well over 100,000 a year and we are building fewer than 90,000 - and this takes no notice of the lag, amounting to 74,000 urgently required new homes.
That is one aspect of the situation. Homes can be built and they are not being built. The building industry is working at about 80 per cent, capacity. The electrical industry is working at about 70 per cent, capacity in the production of washing machines, stoves and other items necessary
in homes. Tile manufacturers are working at 60 per cent, capacity and firms making urns and the like at 50 per cent, capacity. Having in mind all this unused capacity, it must be agreed that we can build the homes. But building the homes is not the only requirement. As the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) pointed out earlier this afternoon, we must do something to bridge the vicious deposit gap. How does a young couple or a working man with a family find the necessary deposit to purchase a house? Newlyweds who need to live close to the city because they work there have to pay £8, £10 or £12 a week for a house or flat, if they can get one. How do they save for a deposit? Husband and wife both work, and the wife’s wage pays the rent of the flat and that is about all. Her wage would cover her fares, lunches and the rent of their home, and there would be nothing left. Then they live on the husband’s wage and find it impossible to save.
I know a young couple living in my electorate who married two months ago. Who can blame them for wanting to live in the salubrious electorate of Phillip, in the delightful climate of the suburbs near Bondi Beach? Bondi, which has. if not the finest, one of the finest beaches in the world, has an attraction for young people who have lived there. They naturally want to stay there. These young people went around the electorate and found a semi-detached cottage for sale at £5,950. It was more than 25 years old, and probably cost less than £1,000 to build. Now trie price is £5,950. They went to a building society and were promised a loan of £3,500. That left a deposit gap of £2,450, plus the solicitor’s expenses and stamp duty. If they borrowed some of that on second mortgage they would pay a 7 to 10 per cent, flat interest rate, and they would pay back at least twice as much as they borrowed before they owned the house.
There was an article in the Sydney “ Sun “ on 25th June, 1963, giving results of a survey conducted by an expert reporter, Ron Ford. He made a study of the methods of financing the purchase of a new home. He gave as an example a new timber home in New South Wales costing £5,250. He assumed that a deposit of £1,000 was paid, that a first mortgage was obtainable from a building society or a bank to the extent of £3,500 over 25 years at Si per cent., and that the other £750 was borrowed on second mortgage at 7, 8, 9 or 10 per cent. flat. However, based on a 7 per cent, flat rate of interest on the second mortgage over five years, in the period that it would take to pay for the home the purchasers would have paid £4 13s. 7d. a week for nothing.
People get themselves into this kind of ridiculous situation when they are forced to try to buy a home. The young couple of whom I spoke can borrow £3,500 for a home costing £5,950, but it is impossible for them to save the other £2,450 with the cost of living as it is as a result of the price spirals that we have witnessed under this inflationary Government that we of the Opposition have to look at in this House day after day. Such young people cannot possibly save their deposits, so they are forced to go to some usurer and pay a high flat rate of interest. If they borrow, say, £2, J00 they will have to pay at least £140 a year in interest alone for their second mortgage. Just imagine it, almost £3 a week in interest alone out of the hard-earned wages of the couple.
I remind the House that when the wife is working in such cases as that of the young couple I have mentioned, she is unable to do what we want every young Australian married woman to do, that is to produce a good Australian family. Every week I see constituents of mine - and I am sure all other honorable members have had like experiences - who have signed contracts and borrowed money at high rates of interest because they have been in desperate situations. Then suddenly the husband or wife has fallen ill, or some special difficulty has cropped up - perhaps the refrigerator has broken down and a new one has had to be purchased, or some necessary repair has had to be made to the home. They come to see me and other members, crying because they have no way to find the money to meet their difficulties, which could have been obviated by this Government years ago by the presentation to the people of Australia of a plan for home acquisition.
The Labour Party, as usual, has a plan. We have a plan to solve the housing situation. When we are in office - it will not be long before we are - we will set up a federal housing trust along the lines of the Federal Housing Administration of the United States of America. Through the trust, we will see that people can borrow up to 97 per cent, of the purchase price of a home. The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), who is interjecting, makes rude noises when he suffers from indigestion. The fact is that the trust that we propose is practicable. This has been done in the United States, where the Federal Housing Administration has operated for a number of years. It does not lend money. For a charge of i per cent, it insures repayments of mortgage money, so that anybody who lends money does not have to worry whether the security provided is good enough to secure the loan. The mortgagor does not have to worry about bad debts and is thus able to charge a much lower rate of interest.
I have here a booklet titled “ FHA Home Mortgage Insurance”, prepared in May, 1962, by the Office of Public Information in Washington, D.C. It shows that the Federal Housing Administration is a Federal Government instrumentality which will lend 9,700 dollars on a house valued at 10,000 dollars. The purchaser needs a deposit of only 300 dollars. In Australian terms, with about £140 you could finance the purchase of a home valued at nearly £5,000. Why cannot we do that in Australia? Tha Federal Housing Administration operates on i per cent, insurance fee, yet it has built up substantial reserves. Its bad debts are negligible. It has been able to finance housing for years and years. The Labour Party will set up a similar administration so that homes will be financed by lenders who, because they will not need to worry to any great extent about security - that aspect will be examined by the administration - and will not need to worry about bad debts or losses, will be able to lend more money than they were able to lend before, and at much lower rates of interest.
The proposal of the Labour Party is supported by many important authorities. It is supported by Mr. L. J. Hooker, the head of one of the very large real estate organizations in Australia. He is a man who the Government supports whenever it can. In the Sydney “ Sun “ of 24th January, 1963, he is reported to have said -
The present “ bits and pieces “ system of finance and building under which young couples are forced to scratch around and get finance from a number of sources is clearly wasteful. Housing is a national, not a local, problem and should be tackled at a national level. A body to tackle the problem could well be patterned on the Federal Housing Administration of the U.S. The F.H.A. was brought into existence in 1934 after the depression. It was directly because of this authority th-it home-building and sales rose and the home credit and the mortgage investment market regained stability. The F.H.A. does not build homes or lend money, lt insures private lending institutions against loss, lt covers loans for buying old or new homes, rental project housing and modernization or repairs.
An article headed “This in Britain - why not here? “ appeared in the Sydney “ Sun “ of 1st February, 1963. The article said-
Today, Britain launches a new deal in home loans to make it easier for young couples to buy a house. Deposits are halved to five per cent, of the total cost of the house and land. Some building societies have extended the period of repayment to 35 years. Interest rates are cut to six per cent. This means that young couples in Britain can buy a good brick home for only £150 down. They pay it oil’ at about £4 a week.
Would you not think that this Government would be ashamed of its failure to suggest a plan to help young couples and all those who need housing? in the “ Sunday Mirror “ of 16th December, 1962, an article appeared headed “ New Housing Move is Promising “. The article stated -
A Commonwealth housing administration, along the lines of the Federal Administration in the U.S. could do a lot to boost home-building in Australia . . .
The authority, to be patterned on the U.S. F.H.A. would fully insure the remaining 90 pc mortgage loan to be provided by a private lending institution such as a bank, insurance company or co-operative building society.
I wish the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) was in the chamber now. I am about to quote the words of a man who is almost a god to the Minister, a great real estate man he would be anxious to support. I refer to the president of the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales, Mr. A. D. Clifford. He is reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 10th August, 1963, in these terms -
Mr. Clifford yesterday welcomed the A.L.P. plan for a Federal Housing Authority. He said that enormous benefits must flow from any scheme which facilitated home purchase. The Commonwealth Government’s lack of enthusiasm for such a scheme is most surprising, he said. Current reports indicate that finance for home purchase is not so difficult to obtain, particularly from perma nent building societies. The problem confronting, many potential borrowers, however, is that of bridging the gap between their own limited resources and the amount of loan money available to them to meet the purchase price.
The A.L.P. scheme eliminates the deposit gap by making loans of up to 90 per cent of their valuepossible in approved circumstances.
Would you not think that the Government would be anxious to facilitate home building and home purchase by young couples, migrants and people living in sub-standard homes? But it plays with the task. Year after year the Government seeks approval of a loan housing bill - in some years it has happened twice - to provide loan money f0 the State governments. Never has the Government produced a scheme and said, “ When this bill goes through we will get rid of the housing shortage in Australia “. Never has the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) been able to say when presenting a bill, “ This will obviate the difficulty. This is the plan. By 1968 or 1969 or 1970 there will be no housing shortage.” Nol The Treasurer comes along with his bill and says, “ We will provide £X million. It will build a few thousand homes and keep a few thousand people quiet.” But it does not satisfy the housing needs of the people of the Commonwealth.
The building of homes affects many other industries. If the Government wanted to get rid of unemployment in Australia it would imbue in all building institutions and lending institutions the desire to help with the erection of homes. We would get rid of unemployment almost overnight. In every home built in Australia, every piece of timber used is grown in Australia, every tile is manufactured in Australia, every cistern, bath, shower and piece of furniture is manufactured in Australia. A stimulus to home building would bring about a tremendous revival in employment. Why does not the Government look at these things? Why will it not go to the people honestly and say, “ We are unable to give you a plan. We cannot solve the housing shortage. We had better resign.”? Why does the Government object to the setting up of a committee to find out the real needs of housing? Why does not the Government say to the people, “ We will find the needs and prepare a plan to supply them “? The Opposition has proposed the setting up of a committee so that the people will know the needs and the Government will recognize the problems.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) for making one of the better speeches made by Opposition members during this debate. It is a pity that s->me other honorable members opposite have not been prepared to do as much homework as he did. The honorable member put in a great deal of work in obtaining the figures and the information which he has given the House. However, as one might expect, he has given us only half the picture. He has asked for a plan and for information to be provided by the Government on the general picture of housing throughout Australia. I suggest to the honorable member that while preparing his speech he should have looked at the many important things that have taken place in the housing field during the past few months.
First, we have the results of the 1961 census, which give us a fair picture of the Australian housing situation. Secondly, we have the information so promptly made available to us in an article which appeared this week in the “Financial Review”. It sets out details of the increased rate of loans for housing in the last few months. There is a tremendous increase in the rate of building new dwellings, and, what is even more staggering, there is the great increase in the number of approvals for new dwellings at this moment. The honorable member completely ignored the vital move made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) by providing, in his Budget, for mon funds to be made available through the savings banks for housing. In this debate we should look at facts and not at fancy. Let us look at the situation as it exists in Australia now.
The Opposition has said that we need a housing survey, but I ask: For what purpose? What information do honorable members opposite want which is not available from the figures that have already been produced? Let us examine some of the facts which have emerged from the 1 961 census. First of all, there is the fact that in the seven years between the 1954 census and the 1961 census the population increased by 17 per cent, and the total number of dwellings increased by 21 per cent. Whereas, previously, the average number of people in each dwelling throughout Australia was 3.6, the number now is 3.49 It is one of the best housing figures any? where in the Western world. So the situation is not bad.
During this seven-year period, nearly 600,000 houses were built in Australia, an average of over 85,000 houses a year over that time. That is not a bad record. Let us therefore view this picture in the broad and see what a wonderful record has emerged in Australia in this seven-year period during which 600,000 houses and flats were built. Not only have all those houses been built and the average number of people per house been reduced but, what is more important, the size of Australian houses has increased considerably. The number of rooms per house has risen from 5.04 at the time of the 1954 census to 5.16 at the time of the 1961 census. As the Treasurer pointed out so clearly in his second-reading speech on this bill, the proportion of Australian homes with five rooms or more is greater than that of any other country. Considered in relation to the whole population, the housing standard in Australia is. on the average, better than in any other country. This is a remarkable achievement.
The honorable member for Phillip talked about the Federal Housing Administration scheme, in the United States of America providing money for 10,000-doIIar houses. I ask him: What sort of houses would you get for 10,000 dollars in the United States? You would not get a house of anything like the average size of a £3,500 or £4,000 house in Australia. The sort of house that we are talking about here is of a very much higher standard than the average house provided in the United States under the Federal Housing Administration scheme. A 10,000-dollar house in America would not be of anything like the standard of a £4,000 house in Australia. We should compare not only the number of houses, but also the standard of those houses.
Another fact which emerges clearly from the 1961 census is that only 3.2 per cent, of occupied private dwellings in the whole of Australia arc without gas or electricity. That is a pretty high standard. In 1961 two houses out of every three in our metropolitan areas had television. I mention the electricity angle because it means that the householders had the means to provide all of the facilities that are operated by electric power to-day.
I want, finally, to emphasize that the number of houses owned or in process of being owned by the people occupying them has risen from 63.3 per cent, in 1954 io well over 70 per cent, to-day and we are providing the means for people to own their own homes. That is what we set out to do in 1949, and the housing record shows that we are achieving the objective. The honorable member for Phillip talked about the number of sheds and huts occupied as dwellings, but did not refer to the marked decrease in the number between 1954 and 1961. In that period the number decreased from 49,000 to 42,000. The number of shared private houses decreased in that period from 107,000 to 79,000.
These figures show a steady improvement in the housing situation. Therefore, I think it is important that before we decide that a survey is necessary we should ascertain how many of the questions which might be asked have already been answered toy the census. What are the questions which the Opposition would ask if a survey were made? Honorable members opposite have said during this debate that they want a housing survey to be held. For what purpose? What detailed questions are required to be answered? What is required to be ascertained by the survey? Is it suggested that we should go to every householder in Australia and ask: “ Are you happy about the house you are now living in? Do you want to go to another house and, if so, what sort of house? Do you want to move from your present area and, if so, what price are you prepared to pay for a new house? How much per week are you prepared to pay by way of repayments and interest? “ Unless you are to have all those details answered you will not arrive at the true situation as regards housing.
To discover the need for housing involves more than just asking how many sheds or huts there are occupied and how many people are sharing private houses. It is a difficult matter to estimate. Let us be quite certain what sort of questions would be asked if a survey were held. If we are to ask, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) suggested during his speech, how many people are sharing dwellings oi how many of them occupy sheds or huts oi condemned houses, I reply at once that the information is already available from the census. I can tell the Deputy Leader of the Opposition how many sheds or huts there are in the Fawkner electorate. There are two. I can tell him also how many people are sharing private houses there, and so on. I do not feel that we need to hold a survey in order to get a lot of information which has already been obtained.
The more important question, when we come to evaluate housing needs, is bound up with the standard of housing. During this debate we have heard a great deal about the deposit gap, the standard of homes and so on. Reference has been made to the annual report of the Director of War Service Homes for 1962-63. I wish honorable members who have quoted passages from that report had delved more deeply into it than they did. Had they done so they would have discovered the interesting fact that during last year, as the result of this Government’s decision, the average loan provided under the war service homes scheme was increased from £2,750 to £3,500.
The original aim - and I think honorable members opposite agree that this should be done - was to decrease the deposit gap about which there has been so much discussion. But the interesting thing is that this did not happen because the Director of War Service Homes states -
Appendix “L” shows there was a rise in the average cost of homes erected by the Division in each State. This is attributable in the main to applicants building larger and better equipped homes, possibly as a result of the increase in the maximum loan from £2,750 to £3,500.
We can take the matter a step further because, during that year, the average cost of building a home did not increase at all. We see from Appendix N of the director’s report that in Victoria the cost per square of building a brick veneer home was £316 at the beginning of the year and £303 at the end of the year. There was actually a reduction in building costs in Victoria during that year. But, as honorable members opposite have pointed out, during that time the average cost of a home in Victoria increased from £4,458 to £4,956, an increase of approximately £500. An interesting feature about this matter is that as we increased the amount available for a war service home the applicants used it to build themselves a very much better home than they otherwise would have built. They did not use the money to decrease the deposit gap; they used it to increase the standard of the house, and that is extremely important. The Government’s moves in war service homes and housing generally have resulted, amongst other things, in raising the standard of housing, in increasing the size of the house and in increasing the equipment in the home. These are points that are not taken into consideration by honorable members opposite. So when we talk about needs, do we talk about actual numbers of houses built, or do we talk about the much more important aspects - what goes into the houses, the size of the houses, the number of rooms required and so on? If we consider all these things, we find that the Government is deserving of congratulations for what has taken place.
As I see it, the real issue to-day is not a detailed survey. I believe a great deal of the information that such a survey would produce is already available, and what is not already available can easily be ascertained by the State governments themselves for it is all readily available to them if they choose to seek it. But I do say that the aim should be to provide, in one way or another in the Commonwealth of Australia, sufficient money for housing.
Let us see what has actually been done in this direction during the last few months. Let us forget for the moment the mass of fancy theories put forward by honorable members opposite. Let us see what has actually occurred during the last few months. First, the number of houses commenced in Australia has risen steadily. Honorable members opposite and honorable members on this side of the House have already referred to that. The last figure available, for the June quarter of 1 963, discloses that well over 22,500 houses were commenced. This represents an annual rate of well over 90,000. More importantly, the number of approvals has been increasing even more rapidly since then. As there is always a direct correlation between the number of houses approved to be built and those that are actually built in successive months, we can be quite certain that there has been a great increase in the rate of building over the last few weeks. This is borne out by the loans that have been made available, by the savings banks in particular, during the last few weeks. For the quarter ended in June of this year, over £36,500,000 was lent for housing by the savings banks compared with less than half that amount a year earlier. The annual rate of loans by the saving banks alone is nearly £150,000,000 at the present time. This is a tremendous increase, and it is certain to lead to a very considerable increase in the building rate over the next few weeks.
The honorable member foi KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin) has suggested calling upon the unions to submit a programme. I ask the honorable member where we are to find the people to build the extra houses he is now advocating. At 30th August of this year, there were only 1,500 skilled building construction workers available for employment, and there were 1,340 vacancies. Actually, the number of vacancies was almost equal to the number of people available for employment. Can we increase the rate of building homes in Australia until we have increased the number of skilled building operatives available to build them? I suggest to the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith that he might have a closer look at his own trade union figures and tell us where we are to get the people to build the houses because, according to all the information that is available, the number of people available to build homes who are not already engaged in the building of homes, is very small.
– Why don’t you do something about increasing the number of apprentices?
– That is one thing I have advocated. The honorable member for Barton knows very well that almost every time I have spoken on this matter in this House I have advocated that very thing. I believe that we should get greater co-operation from all sections of the industry not only to increase the number of apprentices but also to improve the training of apprentices, enabling them to complete their training in a shorter time than is at present laid down by the various regulations, most of which were drafted at the instance of the unions themselves. I wish that we could get a united bi-partisan policy on apprenticeship for both sides of the House. I hope the honorable member for Barton will do what he can to help increase the number of apprentices entering the building trade.
In the last few months we have achieved stability in building costs. That is clearly shown in the figures which I cited from the annual report of the Director of War Service Homes. One point to remember is that if we reach the stage at which the number of vacancies for skilled building operatives becomes much higher than the number of people available to fill them there could be a sudden increase in the cost of building and every person who wanted to buy a house could find that he had to pay a tremendous amount more for it. We have to make certain that we do not raise the number of building commencements at too great a rate until we are sure that there are sufficient people available in the building industry to complete the programme.
We on this side set out to promote private ownership of homes in Australia, to have homes built by private enterprise and paid for with money provided through private institutions. I have shown from census figures that the Government by its actions is setting out to achieve those objectives. As I have said, more than 70 per cent, of the homes in Australia are owned by the people living in them.
In the Budget, the Government announced that the amount of their deposits that the savings banks would lend for housing would be increased from 30 per cent, to 35 per cent. This will probably mean that over the next few months about £100,000,000 will be provided through the savings banks for housing. We have already seen how much the savings banks have been doing in “the last few weeks to provide money for homes. As a result of the decision announced in the Budget the savings banks will be able to continue to lend at this rate for many more weeks. Not only have loans for home-seekers been provided directly through the savings banks, but in addition a lot of money has gone into the co-operative housing societies. Particularly in Victoria, people will be able now to buy houses through the cooperatives with deposits as low as £300 or £400. With houses costing more than £3,500, the buyers will be able to obtain indemnities through the State Government for more than 90 per cent, of the value.
Honorable members opposite have referred to the guarantee that is provided by the Federal Housing Administration in the United States of America. If they had had the luck to be living in Victoria, they would already be getting such a guarantee from the Victorian Government. It would be helpful if other States, particularly New South Wales, followed the lead of Victoria. While I agree that the United States scheme has a number of virtues and that such a scheme could be of a certain amount of value in Australia, I point out to Opposition members that many of the benefits of the scheme are now being provided by State governments. In the last day or two in Victoria, we have seen how the indemnity is being applied. If Victoria can do it, why cannot other States?
– Victoria has a Liberal Government.
– We know it has a Liberal government. Western Australia, which is another well-run State, is moving towards the adoption of a scheme similar to that operating in Victoria. We do not need to set up a very large and expensive scheme when already our present system provides many of the benefits that such a scheme would give.
I believe that the decision to increase the amount of money that the savings banks can lend for housing is one of the most helpful moves that have been made in the whole field of housing during the past ten years. It will make a tremendous difference to the housing position of many people, but, having regard to the number of employees in the building industry, I believe that the present rate of home buildin? is about as high as is practicable.
More money for housing is being provided through the private institutions, such as the savings banks and the insurance funds. I would hope that in due course less and less of the money provided for home ownership will come from governmental funds. The Director of War Service Homes has said that within five years there will be a very much smaller demand for war service homes. One would expect, therefore, that less money will be provided to the War Service Homes Division. I would hope that in due course less money will be made available through the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement for homes being built for private ownership and that the money will be used by the State governments for slum clearance and for the clearance of the derelict areas in the centres of some of our larger cities. What we should be aiming at is giving back to the State governments their original task of attending to the housing needs of the people. The census figures and the results that have become apparent from the actions that were taken by the Government in the last few weeks show that we are moving steadily towards this objective of the Liberal-Australian Country Party Government.
I can see no reason for voting for the amendment, which seeks to have another survey made. Many of the facts are already available, if honorable members care to look for them, and the State governments can get on with the job of finding the solution to the problem. On the other hand, I think that every honorable member should vote for the bill, because it will go a long way towards meeting the housing needs of the people of Australia.
.- No problem that engages our attention is more serious and more urgent than the problem of housing. Although I live in a State where much progress has been made in this very important aspect of public activity, I believe that much more can and should be done. While those who wish to obtain a house through the various housing schemes must suffer long waiting periods, we are not doing enough. I am quite willing to give all the credit that is due to any organization, such as the Housing Trust of South Australia, that shows enterprise and effort; but I know that even the Housing Trust, which has made a great contribution to housing, still has a long waiting list.
The newcomers to this country as well as those already here need homes. Migrants are now housed in hostels which are not by any means a comfortable or a satisfactory domicile for people with families. Therefore, I believe that we should have a scheme that is capable of meeting the demands of the moment. Unless we have a national plan, covering a period of five to ten years, to show clearly that we are determined to overcome the backlog of applications for houses, we are not responding to the demand that we solve this great social problem.
In recent days I have been studying the question of retarded and seriously handicapped children. The expert advice on this subject shows that housing plays an extremely important part. That being so, we cannot dismiss this matter lightly, because the future life of our country is connected with it. We must give ready assistance to people who want to obtain homes in which they may live in comfort and rear healthy families in an environment that will allow the character of their children satisfactorily to develop. Unless we provide the assistance that is needed, we shall fail lamentably in discharging the responsibilities that we as public men have to discharge.
I was very much impressed by the speach made this afternoon by the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld), who described the great disadvantages and difficulties that beset many young couples to-day because they are not able to obtain readily the accommodation that they need. He also mentioned the heavy financial burden that young people are forced to shoulder when they do get accommodation. This financial burden means that they have a constant struggle to provide for their current needs so that they may live in comfort, happiness and contentment of mind. I believe that, while this situation exists, we who are responsible in these matters are not doing all that we can to meet the needs of the Australian people, who rightly have a claim on the various governments to do something better than is being done at present.
The Commonwealth cannot shed its responsibility. First, it has a responsibility under the war service homes scheme. We know that under that scheme ex-servicemen are at a tremendous disadvantage when they have to wait at least eighteen months and often much longer to get the loans that they require. Why should there be any waiting time at all? I have never been able to understand how the Government can justify its claim that it wants to help ex-servicemen as much as it can while, at the same time, it denies them an opportunity to obtain a home in which to live with their families in reasonable comfort.
I earnestly suggest to the Government that housing is a national responsibility. We cannot palm this off on the States. Admittedly, the States may be responsible for much of the administrative machinery in these matters, but the National Parliament, very definitely, is responsible for finding the necessary funds. As I have recently been reminded, under the terms of the decision given by the High Court of Australia in the uniform tax case, the Commonwealth is absolutely in command financially. It is the master of Australia’s financial affairs. This great financial power should be exercised in the interests of the great mass of the people.
The Commonwealth has great responsibility in another way, too. It is the agency that invites new citizens to migrate to this country and to share the fortunes and future prospects of Australians. Therefore, the Commonwealth is responsible for ensuring that migrants obtain satisfactory homes on the best possible terms and conditions within a reasonable time of their arrival here. How often have we found that people have been forced to live in garages and other kinds of makeshift accommodation entirely unsatisfactory for the raising of a family, or have been compelled to live with their in-laws?
– Or in tents.
– Or in some other kind of primitive accommodation. I. cannot see any reason why the problem of finance should be allowed to hinder housing in a young country like Australia, which has the necessary materials and man-power and ample land. It is time this Government woke up and realized that housing is a national responsibility and that the Commonwealth should be doing much more to help the States by providing sufficient funds to enable them to undertake adequate housing programmes and provide houses on the easiest possible terms. Every worth-while advance in the various housing schemes throughout Australia has come from a Labour government. The Government parties in this National Parliament seem all the time to lean on private enterprise. Something more than dependence on private effort is needed to stimulate the housing programme and provide homes for our people.
I believe, moreover, that we should not put the citizens of Australia into pawn to private interests. Australians should have the advantage of being able either to rent or to buy houses under a scheme that will provide for the nation’s housing needs at the lowest possible cost and relieve our citizens of the need to incur the heavier financial burdens that are imposed on them by the private interests that seek to exploit the present situation. I have some knowledge of the existing situation, because I recently sold a house and bought a new one. I know the difficulties that arise in both buying and selling, and the charges that are incurred.
– I am sure that the honorable member patronized private enterprise in these transactions.
– We should seek to relieve the people of the kind of impost that is made on them at present. The charges imposed by private interests could be avoided if the Commonwealth Government were prepared to do its duty and provide for the people the houses that they urgently need. No kind of social activity is more immediately beneficial or more fundamental to the welfare of a nation than the housing of its people. Adequate housing should be a cardinal requirement of public policy. We cannot evade the responsibility for housing our people. Therefore, I say to the Government: However well you think you have provided for the financial requirements of housing for the Australian community, you have done far less than you should have done. The present proposals for the allocation of funds to housing do not go far enough. They do not represent a generous gesture to the people and will not enable those who need accommodation to obtain houses at anything like reasonable cost.
The people should be able to see some light ahead rather than nothing but the prospect of a heavy burden to be carried for a lifetime, and a constant struggle to liquidate their financial obligations. As one who has seen the difficulties and despair endured by many people under such conditions, I earnestly appeal to the Government to acknowledge the wisdom of the idea of establishing a national authority capable of making a full survey of the housing needs of the nation, for housing is all-important. Such an authority could do much to solve a problem that must be solved as a matter of urgency. Indeed, a national authority of this kind is essential if the urgent needs of the community are to be met and the destiny of this nation is to be protected, for adequate housing is the very embodiment of our future national welfare.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
.- Mr. Speaker, before speaking particularly to the bill before the House I would congratulate the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) who, before the sitting was suspended, at no more than five seconds’ notice, made a speech about housing which, from the viewpoint of his party, was reasonably good. He said that housing was the responsibility not of the States but of the Commonwealth. Last Tuesday the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) pointed out clearly that many years ago during the régime of a former Labour government an investigation was held into the responsibility of the Commonwealth and the States with regard to housing and it was conclusively proved then that housing was and still is the responsibility of the States. In the meantime the Constitution has remained unchanged.
We as a free enterprise government believe that individual housing is a matter for the individual. We believe that young people and the not-so-young in Australia traditionally have always wanted to live in the house of their choice in the district of their choice. It will be a sad day for Australia when a Minister or a public servant in Canberra can say to a young man or a young family, “ This is the house you will live in and this is the district in which you will live “. We believe - I certainly do - that housing is the responsibility of the young people of Australia. Provided the Government makes a. canvass of his requirements, the individual- should make his: own choice regarding housing and should obtain finance from the great lending institutions.
The honorable member for Bonython referred to war service homes. He claimed that ex-servicemen should not have to wait eighteen months for their application for a war service loan to be approved. We all know that there, is no waiting time for a loan sought under the war service homes scheme to build a new home, but there is a waiting time in respect of older or what may be termed second-hand homes. This is necessary because the War Service Homes Division must make certain investigations into homes that have been erected for some years.
The honorable member for Bonython said that housing was the great social problem confronting Australia to-day. I believe this is a practical problem and that the social side of housing is the least of our worries. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) pointed out that between 1954, when a census was taken, and 1961, when another census was taken, Australia’s population increased by 17 per cent, but in that period the number of houses built increased by 21 per cent. The honorable member for Fawkner also told us that in 1954 there was an average home occupancy of 3.9 persons whereas in 1961 the figure was 3.4 persons. In other words, in 1961 home occupancy had declined by 0.5 of a person compared with 1954. In my opinion home building is a practical problem but it is one that should be tackled by the great lending authorities in Australia, such as the savings banks, the co-operative building societies, the life assurance companies and the building industry itself.
In my speech to-night I hope to make two points - one that may concern the Government itself and another that concerns the building industry. The bill provides for an allocation to the States from loan funds of a sum of £49,850,000 for the construction of homes of a cheaper nature. The sum of £49,850,000 was agreed upon by the Premiers at the Australian Loan Council meeting in February this year. The money is to be apportioned as follows: -
If there was a serious shortage of housing in the States and if an inquiry of the type envisaged by the Opposition was necessary I would have expected the Premiers at the Loan Council meeting to have allocated a greater proportion of the available loan moneys for housing purposes. But a perusal of statistics shows that whereas in 1961-62 the Premiers decided to allocate 20.4 per cent, of loan funds to housing and 19.1 per cent, in 1962-63, this year they have allocated only 1 8.3 per cent, of loan funds for housing purposes. If the inquiry sought by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) is to be held, what will be its terms of reference? I am afraid honorable members opposite have not seen the “ Australian Financial Review” of 24th September this year which carries the headline, “Home Approvals Soar. Indicators Point to Vigorous Building Boom.” Perhaps the committee of inquiry will recommend that the States be offered less for housing. I cannot for the life of me imagine what would be the outcome of such an inquiry.
The two points that I referred to earlier emphasize that the £49,850,000 lent to the States - certainly not given to them - is a subsidized amount. The money comes from Commonwealth loans on which interest at the rate of 4) per cent, is paid, but it is lent to the States at only 3) per cent. That means that the Commonwealth, from taxation or some other source, will subsidize the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement this year to the tune of £498,500. The Commonwealth is collecting taxes and diverting the money to the States so that cheaper homes may be built for those people who cannot afford to buy a dear home or to pay high rentals. This is a good thing, but as an individual I would prefer to see a subsidy paid on savings bank deposits. I would prefer young people in Australia to be induced to go to a savings bank as soon as they leave school. There they would be told that they could open an account on which they would be paid by the banks the prevailing rate of interest plus payment by the Commonwealth of interest at the rate of 1 per cent. Such accounts should be limited to £2,000 per person for a period of five years. I would go further and say that the banks or the Government could easily issue house savings certificates much the same as the savings certificates issued during the war years when a catastrophe faced the Australian people. The Commonwealth and the banks could work out a solution which would be very satisfactory to the young people of Australia. The cost of a subsidy such as I have suggested would not be any greater than the present cost to the country of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement.
I dislike the States using funds allocated under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement to build multi-story flats. I dislike young people being induced to live and bring up their children in these places, where there is no privacy. We have great wide open spaces in Australia.
Every young family deserves its own block of land and every child deserves his own backyard in which to play with his own dog. Young children living in multistory flats cannot be brought up as you and I were brought up, with plenty of land around us and with our own backyards. Every young Australian is entitled to that. Young people would put by a little money each week in a savings account, in order to buy a house, if the proper incentive were given to them to do so. The banks should consider this proposition and present their views to the Government so that the Government, if it were possible under the Constitution, could take some action.
Let me now refer to the building industry. We know that during the boom years of 1959 and 1960 the building industry was the target for the fringe financial institutions which operated at that time. Land developers and building speculators were running riot but they did very little for the building industry, which can be called the Cinderella of Australian industries. There is no doubt that the building industry has a responsibility to itself. Master builders, those who belong to the building and allied trades associations and those who supply hardware for buildings should get together as a national body and speak for the industry with one voice. If they speak with different voices, as they do to-day, we cannot expect banks, insurance companies, co-operatives or the Government to listen to them. They could quite easily set up a national building federation or a national building, corporation. The industry spends some £600,000,000 a year in build’ homes and large office blocks in various cities, and this is a considerable proportion of Australia’s gross national product. Therefore, the responsibility should rest with private enterprise to ensure that the industry is placed on a proper basis. It is not a job for a Minister or for a public servant remotely situated in Canberra to decide what should be done in Cairns or in Albany. The future of the building industry is a matter on which a building federation, set up by the industry, should speak with ohe voice to the banks, to the insurance companies and to the Government.
I have no doubt that if the building industry set up its own national organization excellent results would ensue. During the debates on loans for housing purposes and on housing generally we have heard a lot about the need to set up a national insurance body. This again is a matter for the industry itself. If it established a national building corporation it could have its own national insurance body within a very few years and would be able to plan for the future. The Opposition really likes planning. I agree in principle with planning, but I believe in planning by industries for themselves and for the people they serve.
A building research institute should be set up by the industry to ensure some standardization of the services that go into homes. Although the end result of plumbing work and gas and electricity services is specified, the actual incorporation of these services in homes is not standardized. Much saving would result if a building research institute were set up to ensure standardization of services. There are tremendous variations in gas and electricity services in homes now being built. If these were standardized the cost of homes would be reduced. I believe that £1 for every £1,000 of the cost of a home being built could be set aside and used for research in the building industry. Although not more than £4 or £5 would come from the average home, the total would run into £500,000 or £600,000 and this money could be devoted to setting up a building research institute to be conducted by the industry.
The industry could do something about training skilled personnel. We need only look at the figures issued by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr.
McMahon) at the end of August - three weeks ago - to see that the number of unemployed men in the industry is lower than it has been for three years. Although 1,544 skilled building and construction workers are unemployed, there are 1,338 vacancies in this category. That means that in the industry there is net unemployment of 206 persons. How can an industry which spends £600,000,000 a year plan for the future and make any progress if there are only 206 extra workers available to carry out the industry’s future plans? I know that in order to increase its labour force the industry depends to a very large extent on immigrants, on school leavers and on what I might term dilutees, but a national body could easily set up a training centre to ensure that skilled personnel were available in those centres where they are needed most.
The building industry must see a glorious future ahead of it, because the Government has increased the intake of migrants from 125,000 a year to 135,000. The number of marriages must increase in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s because the birth-rate in the early post-war years was so great. These young people will need homes when they marry and all the things that go into homes. It is up to the building industry to take advantage of the excellent conditions which prevail now and which will prevail for years to come to ensure that it and the people it serves are satisfied.
Our national rate of growth demands that something be done by the industry to assure its future. A building research institute such as I have suggested would help to reduce costs and to raise the standing of the personnel in the industry to a higher professional plane so that they would be better qualified to discuss problems with architects, with public servants and with lending authorities. A research institute would induce the speculators who ran riot in 1959 and 1960 to keep out of the building industry and out of the business of selling land. The industry would control its own future and, through the lending institutions, would control the finance for home building. Young couples who will be married shortly and in the early 1970’s deserve homes on reasonable deposits with longterm repayments. Homes can be made available on these terms through the savings banks, through the building co-operatives and through the building industry itself.
The bill, which to me is a part of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, is only a palliative. It does not give the fire to the industry that the industry deserves. It will not spark off the industry to ensure that the provision of housing in Australia is a private enterprise job. This idea prevailed in Australia until the war years. It should be encouraged again now in the 1960’s. I support the bill and I shall certainly reject the amendment.
.- I support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) last Tuesday afternoon to the motion for the second reading of this bill. lt reads, in part - . . whilst not in any way opposing the passage of the bill, the House expresses the view that the Government should give effect to the recommendation of the conference of State housing ministers in Melbourne on the 19th March, 1963, that a committee of enquiry be established consisting of representatives of the Commonwealth Government and the State governments to enquire into the anticipated increased housing requirements during the next five years.
That amendment is completely in accord with the recommendation made by and the various resolutions carried at the conference of State housing ministers held in Melbourne recently. Throughout this debate we have listened to Government supporters telling the Opposition that the Government’s recommendations on finance are what the States have agreed to. I have discussed this question with a State minister. He assures me that the New South Wales Government is not satisfied with the amount that has been allocated to it for housing or with the total amount that has been allocated. I propose to show the unfavorable and unfair treatment that has been meted out to that State by this Commonwealth Government on political lines.
I return to the resolutions carried at the conference of State housing ministers that was held in March of this year. I have just read to the House one recommendation which is embodied in the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The State housing ministers put to the Commonwealth Government for consideration this proposition on housing for the aged - . . catering for the housing needs of the Commonwealth pensioners is one of increasing concern to the States. This conference therefore strongly urges the Commonwealth to re-examine proposals recently submitted for the provision of a capital sum for the erection of pensioner units. in that field the Commonwealth Government has a very poor record. Notwithstanding the fact that it introduced the Aged Persons Homes Act, in the various States large numbers of pensioners are waiting for accommodation. For example, in my electorate the waiting time is about seven to eight years. That is far too long. A male person is not eligible to apply until he is 60 years of age. It means that, if a man of 60 years applies now and if the present rate of building is maintained, he will be about 67 or 68 years of age before he becomes eligible for a home under the present set-up. But the Government does nothing at all about extending the provisions of the Aged Persons Homes Act. It makes no proposition to subsidize the State governments. It subsidizes church and charitable organizations and the like. If the Government extended the subsidy to the State governments, they would be able to treble their present rate of construction of homes for the aged.
The resolution of the conference of State housing minnisters on Commonwealth grants for slum clearance reads -
In regard to the rebate scheme, the State housing ministers asked the Commonwealth to share with the States the cost of the rebates that have been granted to various tenants by the State governments under the housing agreement. I believe that this Government has something to answer for in respect of housing in Australia.
If we examine the various statistics on the conditions prevailing in each State, we find that each State has its own particular problem. Government supporters have placed great stress on the fact that New South
Wales has a Landlord and Tenant Act. Let us examine what that act really means to the people who occupy homes as tenants and who have not enough money to purchase their own. homes. I have some figures which give a clear indication of that. In Sydney, the average weekly rental of a weatherboard home is 49s. 9d. In Melbourne, where rent control has been lifted, the comparable figure is 79s. In Sydney, the average weekly rental of a brick home is 51s. 6d., and the comparable figure in Melbourne is 93s. 5d. Quite frankly, I consider that those figures are not correct because we know that a home that has been decontrolled cannot be rented for anything under £6 or £7 a week.
Two young people came to see me recently. They are physically handicapped. They receive the invalid pension and their income is £10 10s. a week. They are in the unfortunate position of having to pay £6 a week rent for the house in which they live. That is only one example. We could recite to the House to-night numerous examples of people paying £6, £7, £8 and up to £10 a week rent for three-bedroom cottages. Surely no Government can feel proud of that situation, if that is its idea of a free enterprise economy and if that is its idea of a decent social standard of housing for our people, it is certainly not our idea. The time is long overdue for the Government to make additional sums of money available to ensure that adequate housing is provided for the people.
Let us look at the waiting times for houses from the State housing authorities. We have recognized the fact that the State housing authorities are the- avenues through which people in the low income groups obtain accommodation by means of renting or purchasing homes. I have some figures which give an indication of the waiting times in the various States. In New South Wales and South Australia it is from three to five years in the metropolitan areas. In my electorate the position is slightly better. The waiting time for the purchase of a twobedroom or three-bedroom cottage is approximately two years. In Melbourne the waiting time is three years. In Western Australia and Queensland it is between twelve and eighteen months, On those figures alone it is obvious that men con sistently have difficulty in providing accommodation for their wives and families. Although this Government talks about the improvement in housing, the State governments do not support that view.
Let us examine the number of outstanding applications in the various States. In New South Wales at 30th June, 1960, the number was 27,908; at 30th June, 1961, it was 35,230; at 30th June, 1962, it was 36,322; and at 30th June, 1963, it was 37,797. So the number of outstanding applications is increasing. So is the number of applications made. In 1959-60 the number of applications made was 13,418; in 1960-61 it was 15,482; in 1961- 62 ic was 18,192; and in 1962-63 it was 16,706. So the number of people seeking accommodation in the most populous State of the Commonwealth is still substantial; and the number of outstanding applications still represents a condemnation of this Government for not making available adequate sums of money to enable the States to catch up with the serious back-log.
It is difficult to get the relevant figures for Victoria. The number of outstanding applications in that State at 30th June,
I960, was 17,231. Then a review was made and at 30th June, 1961, the number was 14,424; at 30th June, 1962, it was 13,147: and at 30th June, 1963, it was 13,013. Those figures do not give any clear indication that the housing position in Victoria is getting any better. The number of outstanding applications in Western Australia at 30th June, 1962, was 4,336; and at 30th June, 1963, it was 5,800. In Tasmania the number outstanding at 30th June, 1962, was 1,652; and the figure at 30th June, 1963, was 1,588. So in the various States the numbers of applications are either increasing year by year or remaining at about the same level. There is any amount of evidence of the fact that the grants being made by this Government for housing are completely inadequate and need reviewing. There is certainly a need for an investigation as requested by the State Ministers and as proposed in the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
Let us examine the position from the point of view of population. The population of Australia has increased since 1959-60 by 710,000. Yet in that time we have seen substantial fluctuations in the numbers qf homes built, not only by Government housing authorities but overall throughout Australia. One fact becomes very clear: Housing is not keeping pace with our requirements. In 1959-60, 103,837 homes were built; in 1960-61, 93,606 and in 1961-62, 84,791. In 1962-63, only 94,316 homes were built by government authorities and private builders. This is a clear indication that insufficient homes are being provided to keep pace with increases in population.
I said a moment ago that New South Wales is receiving a bad deal from this Government in the matter of housing. The population of New South Wales is 4,038,000, or 37 per cent, of the total population of the Commonwealth. Yet if one looks at the allocations this year one finds that New South Wales receives £17,077,000, or 33 per cent, of the total. If New South Wales had received an adequate allocation, on the basis of population, it would have been given £18,921,000. This kind of trend is disclosed throughout the allocations by the Commonwealth to State housing authorities. In South Australia-
– A good State!
– An honorable member from South Australia is interjecting. I remind him that one of his colleagues from South Australia spoke in this debate the other night, and he was full of criticism of the New South Wales Government. It was the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson), who said -
While South Australia has spent a great deal of its money on housing and consequently has overcome the shortage, New South Wales has expended its money for other purposes . . .
Then the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) interjected, “ What purposes?” To which the honorable member for Sturt replied -
The Opera House, for example.
This in one of the filthy lies-
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– It is one of the shocking lies-
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. It is one of the shocking lies-
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker. I thought you were objecting only to the word “ filthy “.
– Order! The honorable member will restrain himself.
– Yes, Mr. Speaker. This is one of the distortions that honorable members on the Government side indulge in, one of the untruths that they use to bolster up their arguments and to vilify the Labour Government of New South Wales, which has done an excellent job with the limited resources made available to it by this Government. The present Government has played politics in the allocation of these moneys ever since it has been in power. The figures I have given show that New South Wales should have received £2,000,000 more this year.
South Australia has 9.3 per cent, of the total population of Australia, yet it received 18.3 per cent, of the total grants from the Commonwealth Government. I ask honorable members opposite to give some explanation why this favorable treatment is meted out to South Australia. If it is not politically inspired, then what is the reason for this treatment? If Victoria had received the correct proportion of total grants, 28 per cent, based on population, it would have been given £10,700,000 instead of the £13,800,000 that it actually received. It is remarkable that every State which received more than the proportion that it should have on the basis of population has a Liberal government. I charge this Government with political corruption in that it gives favorable treatment to States having governments of its own political colour. Having seen this favorable treatment given to States with Liberal governments, honorable members opposite still come into this House and try to vilify the New South Wales Labour Government, which has done an excellent job in the provision of homes for the people who require them.
In the matter of sales of homes, the terms available in New South Wales are much more favorable than those available in South Australia, which honorable members on the Government side hold up as the State which has done the best job in housing. In South Australia loans are repayable over 30 years, and weekly repayments on a typical home would amount to £4 16s. In New South Wales the weekly repayments on the same amount would be £4 ls. This gives the people of New South Wales a better opportunity to meet their commitments.
I believe it is time we made a serious examination of the housing problem in Australia. I think the suggestion of the State Premiers for an inquiry has merit in it, and I fully support it. I believe, however, that it should go further, and that there should be an investigation of ways and means of providing additional finance so that home ownership will be brought within the reach of the people. We know, for instance, that the Commonwealth Bank will lend a maximum amount of £3,500 at 43- per cent., repayable over 22 years in the case of a timber house, 26 years in the case of a brick veneer structure, and 32 years in the case of a brick home. People are then committed to repayments of £21 8s. 9d. a month for the timber home, £19 13s. 9d. for the brick veneer home and £17 15s. 9d. for the brick dwelling over the longer period. These repayments make it almost impossible for the average working man to obtain his own home. To get such a loan he must produce a deposit of £1,000. How many working men can afford to pay the exorbitant rents now being asked and at the same time save £1,000 for a deposit? Building societies offer slightly better conditions. The terminating societies require a deposit of about £200, while the other societies ask for a deposit of about £700. The interest rate is 5i per cent.
I believe it is time we examined the methods of financing homes for our people. I have gone to the trouble of getting in touch with the New Zealand authorities in Canberra and obtaining details of the housing scheme in New Zealand under which a home builder can capitalize his endowment payments over the life of each child. I have examined the scheme closely and find it quite a good one. I would like honorable members to have an opportunity to acquaint themselves with the scheme, and
I shall ask for leave to incorporate in “Hansard” a copy of the New Zealand Family Benefits (Home Ownership) Act 1958, together with a statement supplied by the New Zealand High Commission in Canberra, entitled “ Family Benefits “ and relating to the act. I believe it would be of benefit to members of this Parliament and to all others who read “ Hansard “ to have this information incorporated. I have also an extract from the report of the New Zealand Social Security Department for the year ended 31st March, 1963, entitled “ Capitalization of Family Benefits for Housing Purposes “. It sets out what has taken place in respect of the act in New Zealand. I now ask for leave to incorporate these statements in “ Hansard “.
– Is leave granted?
Honorable Members. - Yes.
– Although the House has granted leave, if the documents are found to be unduly long for inclusion in “Hansard”, they will not be included. Leave is granted on those conditions.
This Act shall come into force on the first day of April 1959.
Provided that -
Consolidated Fund into the Social Security Fund, out of money appropriated by Parliament for the purpose, such sums as may be approved in that behalf by the Minister of Finance:
Security Fund under the provisions of section forty of the Public Revenues Act 1953 and, notwithstanding anything in subsection two of that section, shall be paid out and restored to the fund or account from which the transfer was made within twelve months from the date of the transfer:
Almost every child in New Zealand under the ago of 16 is entitled to family benefit of 15s. a week.
The only conditions are that the child must -
The benefit, usually payable to the mother, must be used exclusively for the care of the child. It ceases at the end of the four-weekly pay period in which the child dies or turns 16. If the child remains at school the benefit may be continued until approximately the end of the school year in which he reaches the age of 18. It may also be extended beyond the age of 16 if he is incapable of earning a living because of some physical or mental defect.
Benefit may be paid for a child who goes overseas to continue his education provided his parents or parent remain in New Zealand.
To assist families in times of heavy expense, provision was made in 1958 for the family benefit to be paid a year in advance on the birth of the first child of a marriage or when a child begins post-primary schooling. Application must be made within three months of the event.
The Family Benefits (Home Ownership) Act enables a family benefit to be capitalized and paid in advance for housing purposes to promote family welfare.
A benefit may be capitalized to build a house, buy a new house which has not been occupied, buy a State house, buy a section on which to build a house, make alterations or additions to a house already owned to provide extra living accommodation, or to repay debts existing on a home on 1 January 1959.
Capitalization is allowed on any period of the child’s life between the ages of 1 and 16 to a value of not less than £200. It may be done for any number of children in a family but the advance cannot exceed £1,000. If the child dies within a year of capitalization the advance remains as a charge upon the property, but if it dies more than a year after capitalization repayment is not required. In other circumstances where the benefit would cease to be payable, or where the property ceases to be used as a home for the family, the advance must be repaid.
A benefit may be capitalized only if the beneficiary - usually the mother - is the sole owner of the property or if the home is, or will be, registered as a joint family home.
Applicants for capitalization must satisfy two main considerations - need of a home and of financial assistance to meet the cost. One of the parents must have lived in New Zealand for an aggregate of three years during the immediately preceding 10 years.
EXTRACT FROM “ REPORT OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY DEPARTMENT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 March, 1963 “.
Accommodation is one of the prime essentials of family welfare, and the object of the Family Benefits (Home Ownership) Act1958 is to assist parents with the purchase of home properties, additions or alterations to existing homes, or the repayment of mortgages on family homes. In outline, the measure, which came into operation on 1 April, 1959, provides for the capitalization of the family benefit in respect of one or more children from the age of one year up to the age of 16 years, provided that the total of the advance or advances in the case of any one family is not less than £200 or more than £1,000.
The aggregate capitalized value of the benefits in respect of which certificates of eligibility were issued was £5,251,339 and the number of children whose benefits were capitalized was 14,931.
In 3,648 cases involving the benefits of 6,217 children, advances amounting to £2,216,120 had not been paid by 31 March, 1963, although certificates had been issued. It is not likely that the whole of this amount will be taken up as it has been found that in a number of cases certificates are, for various reasons, surrendered. In such circumstances the family benefit periodical payments are resumed and benefit is paid for the period following the issue of the certificate of eligibility when the four-weekly payments would have been suspended. The number of certificates of eligibility surrendered during the year totalled 1,229 with a capitalized value of £824,489.
Table 16: Family Benefits (Home Ownership) - Disposal of Applications received during the Period of 52 Weeks ended 31 March, 1961, 30 March, 1962, and the Year ended 31 March, 1963.
Note. - The moneys for the Family Benefits (Home Ownership) Act 1958 are provided by the Social Security Department and paid out by the State Advances Corporation. Applications for advances under this Act are received only from applicants who have already been declared eligible by the Social Security Commission. For the year ended 31 March, 1961, 10,515 advances, totallying £6,603,109, were authorized by the Corporation under this agency, compared with 9,342 advances totalling £5,684,074 in 1959-60. - (Extract from New Zealand “ Official YearBook “ 1962.)
– I will refer briefly to the method by which the scheme works. The idea is to capitalize the child endowment payments that would normally be due to the parents. The money may be used to build a house, buy a new house which has not been occupied, buy a State house, buy a section on which to build a house, make alterations or additions to a house already owned to provide extra living accommodation, or to repay debts owing on a home on 1st January, 1959. Details of the numbers of applications received are set out. In 1960-61, 12,966 applications were received. Of that number, 11,442 were approved. In 1961-62, 11,326 applications were lodged, of which 9,739 were approved. In 1962-63, 10,235 applications were lodged and 8,884 were approved. These figures show that the scheme has considerable support in New Zealand. The people there are interested in it. I discussed it with the head of a building society, and he is keenly interested. He said that he thought it was a very good scheme.
In order to explain the operation of the scheme I will take as a basis a family with three children and assume that the first child was born two years after the contract was entered into, that the second child was born three years later and that the third child was born another three years later. If money for a home is borrowed for a term of 22 years, the monthly repayments commence at £21 8s. 9d. With the capitalization of the child endowment, after eight years, and for the next fourteen years, the monthly repayments will be only £13 14s. This means that the monthly repayments have been reduced by £7 14s. 9d. If we take a 26-year term, the reduction is from £19 13s. 9d. to £12 13s., a saving of £7 0s. 9d. a month. On a 32-year term, the reduction is from £17 15s. 9d. to £11 16s. 4d., a reduction of £5 19s. 5d. a month. From these figures it can be seen that parents who capitalize their child endowment payments receive a considerable reduction in the monthly repayments. In my calculations I have used the existing rates of child endowment paid by this Government - 5s. for the first child and 10s. for each subsequent child.
An alternative method is to use the capitalized child endowment payments that become available to buy out a certain number of shares in a building society. The value of the £50 shares declines year by year, or six months by six months. I have worked out a table which will show how the alternative method works. If we take a £3,500 loan at 5i per cent, interest for 29 years, which is the normal term for building society loans, for the first two years of repayment the borrower would pay £241 10s. a year, or £20 2s. 6d. a month. The capitalization of child endowment for the first child would amount to £195. The borrower would then purchase four shares, which, at that time, would be valued at £48 lis. 4d. each. The result would be that his annual repayments would drop to £227 14s. and his monthly repayments to £18 19s. 6d. After the birth of the second child he would purchase eight shares, valued at that time at £46 4s. lOd. each. His annual repayments would drop to £200 2s. and his monthly repayments to £16 13s. 6d. After the birth of the third child he would purchase nine shares valued then at £43 13s. 2d. each. From the eighth year of the loan until its complete repayment in 21 years his annual repayments would be £169 ls., and his monthly repayments £14 ls. 9d.
Under the existing loan repayment scheme in Australia, on the basis of purchasing 70 shares at £50 each - the normal method of operation of building societies in lending £3,500 - over 29 years the borrower would repay £7,003 10s. That amount is composed of £3,500 in principal and £3,503 10s. in interest. Under the New Zealand scheme I have outlined he would repay only £5,316 9s., which means a saving to him of £1,687 ls. on a £3,500 loan. Over the period of the loan he would have received child endowment payments of £950. The saving to the borrower is therefore reduced to £737 ls. However, a surplus of £8 2s. 8d. in the purchase of shares would bring the saving to £745 3s. 8d.
The scheme I have described is in operation in New Zealand at the present time. It was introduced by the New Zealand Government on 1st January, 1959. This method of repayment, where child endowment payments are capitalized, reduces the monthly repayments. In the case I described, monthly repayments would be reduced from £20 2s. 6d. to £14 ls. 9d. High monthly repayments are the greatest obstacle to-day to the average worker owning a home. Let us assume that the average worker receives £20 a week. We are told that statistics show that the average weekly wage for every worker in the Commonwealth is between £23 and £24, but masses of workers in industry get a take-home wage of about £19 or £20. A worker on an average weekly wage of £20 pays rent of £5 a week. That leaves him three-quarters of his salary for his living expenses. The New Zealand scheme provides for reduction of monthly repayments, which means that the worker will be assisted in that way. In Australia you have to find £1,000 deposit to borrow £3,500 from the savings banks. To borrow from a building society you have to find £700. If you want to buy a housing commission home in South Australia worth £4,300, you have to pay £500 deposit, or £1,100 deposit on a £4,900 home. If honorable members or the Minister in charge of the bill do not agree that the scheme I have outlined is worthy of consideration, they will have an opportunity to put forward an alternative scheme.
I believe that we have to find ways and means to reduce the deposit necessary to obtain a housing loan. The high deposits required are preventing hundreds or thousands of people from owning their own homes, if the scheme operating in New Zealand will solve the problem, by all means let us examine it and introduce it. Let us examine any scheme that will provide housing for our people on lower deposits, with lower repayments and at lower interest rates than are operating at present. Interest rates of 5i per cent, and 4f per cent, are much too high. If the United States of America can operate housing schemes on 3 per cent, interest, why cannot we do it in a country which the Government claims is one of the most prosperous in the world?
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Whillam’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for the third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Opperman) read a third time.
– J present the eighth report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Debate resumed from 14th August (vide page 99), on motion by Sir Garfield Barwick -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Crimes (Aircraft) Bill 1963 is a complex and ingenious piece of legislation. It need not have been either so complex or so ingenious if the present Government had acted with reasonable speed in giving the People the opportunity to modernize the Constitution. It will be remembered that five years ago, on 1st October, 1958, the Constitutional Review Committee unanimously recommended to both Houses of Parliament that a referendum should be held to give this Parliament the power to pass laws with respect to aviation. This was a subject which was not contemplated at the time of federation. Accordingly, there were no State laws at that time on this subject, and there were no British laws at that time on this subject. Furthermore, most matters concerning aviation can be dealt with in a country such as ours only on a national basis. Aviation matters are dealt with on a national basis in practically every other country of which we can think. They cannot be dealt with on a national basis in Australia. It was five years ago - on 1st October, 1958 - that the unanimous recommendation for an aviation referendum was made to both Houses by the Constitutional Review Committee which consisted of six members of the Labour Party, four members of the Liberal Party and two members of the Country Party, lt was almost four years ago - 26th November, 1959 - that the committee tabled its full reasons for its unanimous recommendation in favour of this constitutional amendment.
We find that this legislation has to be so complex and ingenious because of the archaisms of our Constitution. The bill can deal only with Commonwealth or defence aircraft, or with aircraft registered in Australia or overseas while operating in federal jurisdiction; that is, it can deal with aircraft which are owned by the Commonwealth or its instrumentalities, or any aircraft on flights to or from other countries or between the States, or to, from, in oi between Territories. The complexity of these provisions appears in several clauses of the bill.
Acts of commission and omission on aircraft are crimes if they would have been crimes on the surface underneath the aircraft. It is very difficult these days, when aircraft are usually flying above the clouds, to know whether an aircraft is flying over some part of one State or some part of another State at the time when a crime is committed. Accordingly, we have throughout the legislation a dual control; that is, crimes under this bill can be crimes either under this bill or under the acts and ordinances of the various States or Territories. There is this duality in flights within the country, there is a similar duality in flights outside the country commencing in Australia or destined to end in Australia. This is a duality not just between this bill and the various State acts but a duality between Australian jurisdiction and the jurisdiction of other countries.
The laws which are applied under this legislation are in general laws of the Australian Capital Territory. It is unfortunate that the criminal law so chosen is the most archaic criminal law in Australia. It may be that the criminal law in the Northern Territory is more archaic than the criminal law of the Australian Capital Territory, but the criminal law in the Australian Capital Territory is more archaic than Ae criminal law in any of the States, including South Australia. The Crimes Act of New South Wales is in force in the Territory by virtue of the fact that the law applicable here is that in force in New South Wales at 1st January, 1911, as amended or superseded by legislation issued in the Territory from time to time. There have been a great number of amendments to the New South Wales Crimes Act since 1911. None of them applies within the Territory unless there is a Territory ordinance applying it. There has been no major overhaul of the New South Wales Crimes Act as applied in the Territory; and the New South Wales law of 1st January, 1911, is still substantially the criminal law applying in the Australian Capital Territory to-day. It will thus be substantially the criminal law applying under this bill with respect to crimes on board aircraft engaged in certain flights - ‘that is, flights between States, or flights overseas, or flights in the Territories.
A revision of the criminal law in the Australian Capital Territory was urged early last year by Mr. Justice Joske who, as honorable members will remember, was one of the members of the Constitutional Review Committee which recommended the modernization of the Constitution to incorporate power over aviation. Following on Mr. Justice Joske’s recommendation, a lengthy, authoritative and amusing article appeared in the “ Canberra Times “ of 3rd May last year over the name of Dr. K. C. Sutton, senior lecturer in law at the Australian National University. He points out that the scale of penalties for crimes in the Australian Capital Territory is by far the most severe that can be found in Australia. The death penalty is applied for more offences, as is penal servitude for life. In fact, provision is made even for whipping and solitary confinement. Dr. Sutton says it is possible for. a person to be sentenced to corporal punishment to a total of 150 strokes if sixteen years of age or more, and to half that number if under that age, or to spend three months in a year in solitary confinement as part of the sentence.
Not only are the penalties outmoded, but many of the offences are outmoded. Dr. Sutton points out that there are detailed provisions touching the theft of cattle, with ten years penal servitude as the penalty, but no specific reference is made to the theft of motor cars nor, I hasten to add, to the theft of aircraft. Furthermore, there is a nice antiquarian tinge in some other sections. For instance, Dr. Sutton says -
Historians will be interested to learn that the East India Company still occupies an honoured place in the Act for it is declared to be an offence to forge any East India bond or any similar document made under any Act relating to the East Indies. And such figures as the Inspector-General of Police and the Colonial Secretary still guide the administration of criminal justice by virtue of unrepealed* sections of the Act.
Dr. Sutton concludes by referring to some of the other deficiencies of the act. There is no provision for probation officers; that is, there is nobody who can prepare a report on -a prisoner before his sentence, or who can exercise supervision over an offender after he has been conditionally discharged.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is this interesting and archaic piece of legislation which is being applied to crimes in the air, to crimes in aircraft on certain flights, under the Commonwealth’s latest statute.
I referred to the duality in this law and the law of the States, or the Territories within Australia. It seems that there may also be a duality in the laws as applied by this legislation and a new international convention concerning flights outside Australia.
Last month and this month, Australia was represented at a diplomatic conference in Tokyo which has drawn up a convention on offences and certain other acts committed on board aircraft. The text of the convention, it appears, is not in the hands either of the Department of External Affairs or the Department of Civil Aviation. It is very likely that there will be differences between the international convention which we have helped to draw up and the bill that we are debating now. It could be that there will be crimes under the convention which are not crimes under the bill, that there will be crimes under the bill which are not crimes under the convention, and that penalties will differ under the convention and under the bill.
– Do you think the convention would fix penalties?
– It may not, but I would think that there would be a general code in matters such as the arrest or detention of suspected offenders, which are mentioned in the bill. There probably would be articles defining the crimes. I will not hazard a guess as to whether there would be articles defining penalties. It is not usual for international legislation to deal with criminal matters, but it is possible that an international convention dealing with criminal matters would deal with penalties just as ordinary internal criminal legislation deals with them. It would be unusual, I imagine, for a piece of international legislation to tolerate, let alone promote, different penalties for the same crime. However, we both must speculate on this matter because we cannot obtain the text of the convention.
The third matter that I wish to mention in general terms, apart from the laws of the Australian Capita] Territory and the pending international convention, is the matter of the death penalty. The death penalty, I believe, occurs only twice under Commonwealth statutes - once in the Defence Act and once in the Crimes Act of 1960. This is a matter, accordingly, which is debated very rarely in the Commonwealth Parliament. It is a matter which is debated quite often and quite lengthily* in the various State Parliaments. On the last occasion that it was debated in this Parliament, 18th November, 1960, the debate commenced half an hour after midnight and was gagged 28 minutes later. I hope that a longer time will be given to debate the question on this occasion.
– But on that occasion it was debated for a long time in the secondreading stage.
– It was certainly not one of the matters stressed in the secondreading debate on the Crimes Bill. Many matters affecting civil liberties arose then, but the specific matter of the death penalty, which was introduced in the Commonwealth Crimes Act in 1960 for the first time, was debated for 28 minutes. We ought to be embarrassed and ashamed that the Federal Parliament was allowed to give so little time to debating a matter that is debated by the British Parliament and all the Australian State Parliaments for quite some time and on frequent occasions. Many of my colleagues will be speaking on this matter later in the second-reading debate and I shall move an amendment in committee to delete the provisions introducing these new cases of capital punishment.
The whole subject of capital punishment has been investigated over the last twelve years by an ad hoc advisory committee of experts on the prevention of crime and the treatment of offenders set up by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission. The Economic and Social Commission considered the report of the ad hoc advisory committee in January of this year. A consultant on that occasion was Dr. Norval Morris, now the director of the Asia and Far East Institute on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders and formerly professor at the University of Adelaide and associate professor at the University of Melbourne before that. The commission had before it the report of
The Committee thought it might lie of assistance to (he Economic and Social Council if it summarized the main headings of the arguments for and against capital punishment to assist the Economic and Social Council in its deliberations. The arguments most frequently advanced in favour of capital punishment are: capital punishment is. a uniquely effective deterrent and thus belter protects the community; man’s innate sense of justice secs this punishment as bearing a just relationship to certain heinous types of crime; there is no satisfactory alternative to capital punishment; public opinion strongly favours its retention. Those favouring abolition reject the truth or force of the above contentions and further argue that: it is morally wrong for the State, in the name of the Law, deliberately to take life; miscarriages of justice occur and, if this sanction is applied, cannot be rectified; capital punishment is potentially subject to misuse; capital punishment runs counter to the modern penological aim of rehabilitating the individual offender. In turn the retentionists repudiate these major abolitionist arguments.
The Committee noted that abolitionist policy represents the major trend among experts and other practitioners in this field, and that even those who do not support abolitionist policy tend to take an increasingly restrictive view of the use of capital punishment.
I interpose to say, in all fairness to him, that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) in his second-reading speech was inclined to be much more tentative and more tolerant towards the possibility of abolishing the death penalty under federal laws than he had been three years ago when he very brusquely rejected these arguments and, in fact, in the committee stage did not vouchsafe comment upon them. The comments of the Economic and Social Council continue -
The Committee decided to indicate to the Economic and Social Council certain steps to be taken with respect to this matter in the future which the Council might find appropriate to recommend to governments:
governments, particularly those contemplating a change in the law or practice concerning capital punishment, should be urged to conduct research into the efficacy of capital punishment as a deterrent to crime in their country. In doing so, it should be noted that such research requires considerable sophistication in statistical and research methodology and that governments lacking the required expertise would be wise to call upon outside technical aid for such projects and that the Technical Assistance Programme of the United Nations would be one source for this. One effect of such studies is to concentrate public opinion in a country on this question, thus achieving a desirable and important educative effect;
I interpose again to say that the AttorneyGeneral appears to have no such expertise or statistical and research methodology available to him in his department. There are few such matters available to State Attorneys-General. I believe only those in New South Wales and Victoria have them. There has been little research into these matters in Australian faculties of law, I believe, with the exception of the faculties of Jaw in the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University.
I return to the Economic and Social Council’s proposals -
I interpose to recall to honorable members the unseemly situation which arose in Victoria last year in the Tait case. It will be remembered that in that case the State Government fixed a time-table for an execution while the Supreme Court was being asked to decide whether the offender was still sane. The court accommodated its hours of hearing and its date of judgment to accord with that time-table. Fortunately, the High Court of Australia gave short shrift to the time-table.
I return to the council’s proposals -
I interpose again to recall to honorable members the unseemly situation which arose in South Australia in the Stuart case. It cannot be said that the accused Stuart had adequate legal representation, sum.cien funds to gather evidence on his behalf or ready access to courts of appeal as a matter of right. I believe that the situation has not yet been corrected in that State. The council’s last proposal reads -
The council then made the following general comment: -
Sir, I believe that it has been appropriate, at the second-reading stage of this bill, first, to refer to the unnecessary complexity of the bill caused by the Government’s tardiness in giving the people an opportunity to modernize the Constitution by introducing a twentieth century concept of aviation into the Constitution which was drafted for us in the nineteenth century by State politicians; secondly, to lament that this Parliament, in providing a general code for crimes committed on aircraft in certain flights within federal jurisdiction, should have to incorporate the Australian Capital Territory criminal law - the law which has been left most nearly in its primeval savagery and inadequacy; thirdly, to lament the fact that no attempt seems to have been made to co-ordinate the international provisions of this legislation with the convention concluded this month and, up to yesterday, still not available to federal departments in this country; and, finally, to lament that the Commonwealth is introducing further offences carrying the punishment of death at a time when the rest of the world reports that the trend is the other way.
Having said all that, I submit that there can be no doubt that this bill deals with a situation which is of great public moment and is likely to become of even greater public moment. The bill deals with acts in respect of which the States, in general, have not themselves bothered to pass criminal laws relating to aircraft and in respect of which, because of the difficulties of visual navigation in these days, it would be very difficult to conduct criminal prosecutions.
The Opposition does not oppose the bill.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I listened with some interest to the concluding remarks made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and I propose to examine one of them first. I think that I shall be able to demonstrate to him - and I am sure he will concede - that what he said was completely erroneous. I am sure that if I demonstrate error in that respect, he will concede that most of what he said shares the same lack of confidence in acceptability.
The honorable gentleman seems to have come to a ringing conclusion that the Government has introduced a complex bill. He proposed not to examine it in detail, and he suggested that the only reason why the measure was complex was that the Government had been tardy in providing an opportunity for amendment of the Constitution. The honorable gentleman apparently reached this conclusion on the basis that there is duality of offence under State and Commonwealth legislation. From this, he assumes that there is some impediment to Commonwealth legislation merely because of the duality. But he completely misunderstands the position. The Commonwealth, in fact, has complete and absolute power to pass legislation of this kind, and, in my view, the Commonwealth, by this legislation, overrides State legislation insofar as State legislation relates to a flight between a State and a Territory, or between a State and a point overseas. There is no limitation on th: Commonwealth power in relation to such flights, but there has been a policy decision to allow State offences to run in duality with Commonwealth offences. So, even if the Constitution has been amended, there would not have been greater Commonwealth power in this respect than now exists.
Under the first placitum of section 5 1 of the Constitution, the Commonwealth has power to legislate in respect of trade and commerce between the States and with other countries. The High Court of Australia, on a number of occasions, has found that power not to be without limitation so far as it applies only to the regulation of interstate trade. The civil aviation case provides an example of the power of the Commonwealth to create an agency to conduct air services in Australia, lt is true that the finding in that case prohibited the Commonwealth from giving a monopoly to the organ that it had established. But the reason for the prohibition on monopoly is to be found in section 92 of the Constitution, which binds the Commonwealth. Quite clearly, the measure now before us is regulatory, and, on the High Court’s interpretation of section 92, would be stricken down.
– I was referring to the fact that the Commonwealth could not legislate in respect of crimes committed in the air during flights which commenced and ended in the same State.
– That is true, but (he whole essence of this matter is that the Attorney-General indicated that he proposed to follow a pattern that has gained some acceptance publicly and which I personally think is desirable, namely, to have complementary legislation by the States in respect of a purely intra-state flight. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggests that we should amend the Constitution in such a way as to enable the Commonwealth to legislate for offences on an intra-state basis, what he is proposing is to give to the Commonwealth a criminal power. I am sure he does not intend that. I am sure that what he has put to the House to-night is not in fact in accordance with the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee. In paragraph 507 of its report the committee states -
Accordingly, the Committee .has recommended that an additional paragraph be added to section 51 of the Constitution to vest the Commonwealth
Parliament with a concurrent legislative power over aviation.
All the committee sought to do was to vest a concurrent power over aviation-
– The honorable member would not dispute that if this Parliament could pass laws with respect to aviation, then amongst other aviation laws would be a Crimes (Aircraft) Act covering crimes on any sort of flights within Australia, intrastate or interstate.
– Yes, but the Commonwealth as a matter of policy still would have to decide whether it would leave a duality as it has done here. What the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was putting was that the Commonwealth, by a constitutional amendment, should be precluded from taking a decision on policy that there could be this duality of offences.
– Is it your proposal that if the Commonwealth elects to prosecute in a case it may do so, and if it does not, the State concerned may do so?
– Yes. You will notice that clause 21 of the bill requires that before any prosecution is launched the AttorneyGeneral shall give his consent. This is the Vehicle of the expression of the policy.
– Clause 28 also applies to the query of the honorable member for Moreton.
– Quite. I notice that some honorable members are becoming a bit testy, so perhaps I should revert to my text.
I feel that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has misconstrued the reality of this bill. It is a question of policy that is left in a situation of duality. What it has done, on the other hand, is to create new offences. The new offences have - I am sure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will agree with this - a very definite need in the changed pattern of aviation movement within Australia.
– I do agree.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition dealt with a couple of other matters. If he looks closely at the legislation he will realize that it is not as complex as it at first sight appears to be. Indeed, I think the Parliamentary Draftsman should be complimented on his ‘drafting ‘of this bill.
The bill has been drafted very simply - as simply as is possible with legislation of this kind.
Next the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to the criminal law in the Australian Capital Territory as archaic and said that this bill attaches to crimes on board aircraft the criminal law of the Australian Capital Territory. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition gives some thought to this matter for a moment, what would he have recommended be attached to the bill? Would he have recommended some already identifiable series of offences or would he have suggested that this legislation attempted to set out exhaustively all the types of offences that could be committed on an aircraft?
– A new code.
– That is virtually what it amounts to. I hesitate to suggest the word “ code “ because I agree that this could not be described accurately as a code, but it was necessary to pick up some identifiable and definable area of criminal law and apply it. I have no doubt that in due course the criminal law of the Australian Capital Territory will be modernized and brought into a separate code. When that occurs no doubt this piece of legislation will ba amended by the very simple expedient of eliminating paragraph (c) of clause 7 (1.) and1 inserting in its place the words “ the criminal code of the Australian Capita] Territory “ or whatever may be the appropriate words. The law of New South Wales, South Australia, or the Northern Territory could have been attached. A selection had to be made and I think the selection of the Australian Capital Territory was the obvious one to make.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to the Tokyo Convention, and I interjected to say, “ You surely do not think that the convention would apply penalties.” Of course it does not. The Tokyo Convention or any other international air convention gives powers or obligations only to the constituent states contributing to the convention. So it is with the Tokyo Convention. In fact the Tokyo Convention specifically provides in Article 3 -
This convention docs not exclude any criminal jurisdiction exercised in accordance wilh national law.
It is interesting to notice that Article 1 of the convention states -
This convention shall not apply to aircraft used in military, customs or police service.
But this piece of legislation does apply to defence aircraft and to Commonwealth aircraft, 1 think the point which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition should have made was that the convention would give the Commonwealth Parliament power to legislate in respect of matters conferred by the convention which it otherwise did not have. That is the significant part of the international convention. It clearly cannot be contended that this legislation should have attempted to apply to existing legislation a consistency with international conventions. On the one hand you have a series of specific offences that are created, whereas under the convention there is the conference of power and the demanding of obligation and responsibility.
I think the need for this legislation is undoubted. There was a very great gap in our legislation. This gap was demonstrated in Australia in a recent case when a person behaved in a very dangerous and violent way on an aeroplane. The gap was disclosed when he was convicted of a much lesser offence than would have been the case had his action not been carried out on an aeroplane. There is a very difficult situation in aviation. If there are firearms in an aircraft for the protection of the crew and the passengers, it will not do the crew and the passengers any good if the captain has a gunfight in the aircraft with a Cheyenne-like character. There is little solace to be found for any one in the crew of the aircraft carrying firearms. This does not seem to mc to be a very desirable way of protecting the passengers, who may be caught in the middle of a shooting match. There were incidents recently in the United States of aircraft on which there were passengers being hijacked and flown to Cuba. There were suggestions at that time thatthe crews be armed with guns, but even if this was done it was of no avail.
This legislation has been designed to attach to acts of this kind penalties sufficiently severe to discourage people from committing them. After all. if an aircraft crashes as a result of the unauthorized action of some person, the possibility of either the passengers, the crew or the person who caused the crash surviving is very remote. Obviously this legislation is very necessary in view of the growth of aviation in Australia.
Honorable members will remember that a referendum was held in 1936 or 1937 in an attempt to provide the Commonwealth wi’h power over aviation - power of the kind about which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was speaking. The referendum was defeated, but of course in 1936 or . 1937 aviation in Australia was in its early infancy. I tend to the belief that, of the number of possible amendments to the Constitution which could be proposed to the people, the one most likely to gain favour would be in relation to the control of aviation by the Commonwealth.
The bill raises some very constitutional questions.I have looked wilh interest at the way in which the draftsman has attempted to unravel an intra-state journey from an interstate journey. Clause 10 (1.) (a) is in these terms -
– (1.) This Part applies to-
The term “ prescribed flights “ is defined by sub-clause (2.) of this clause. Quite clearly the term is designed to bring into operation the Commonwealth’s constitutional power under placitum (i) of section 51, but I doubt very much whether this can be done by the device of saying that the provision applies to an aircraft which is used principally for the purpose of interstate journeys. The High Court of Aus’ralia has re-affirmed very strongly its doctrine of the separation of intra-state and interstate transactions. The most recent pronouncement that comes to my mind regularly was in the case of New South Wales against Wragg, in which (he Chief Justice in his judgment stated very strongly that the difference between intra-state and interstate transactions must be preserved. He dealt with the American doctrine of comingling and, very firmly I thought, rejected it.
It seems to me that the device adopled here of saying that these crimes will apply to an aircraft provided it is principally engaged in interstate flights just will not make the grade. It will be interesting to see whether it does make the grade. It seems to me that a test case is very likely to occur. Clause 11 (1.) states -
What does this mean? Docs it mean while an aircraft is in flight? I think it purports to mean that, but on the breadth of the words used it could mean while the aircraft is on the ground. You could have the case of a person obtaining control of an aircraft standing on the tarmac. If that person were charged under State law, 1 cannot think of any offence he is likely to have committed which would put him to the risk of seven years’ imprisonment. Even according to sub-clause (2.) of this clause, il would seem that the offence could be committed while the aircraft was on the ground. If the aircraft happened to be a DC3 which was used sometimes between Melbourne and Mildura and sometimes between Melbourne and Devonport and if the person were charged under this provision, by which he would be subject to imprisonment for seven, fourteen or twenty years, depending on the nature of the offence, I think it is clear that he would argue that the aircraft was not on an interstate journey simply because it was principally used for interstate journeys, He would argue that the aircraft was on the ground and therefore was not in tha course of a journey. If the aircraft was intended to go on an interstate journey al some future time, it would not commence that interstate journey until it actually got firmly into the action of moving.
It is clear that the draftsman was very acutely aware of this problem, because in clause 3(2.) “flight” is defined very narrowly. A flight commences with the closing of the last door before take-off and ends with the opening of the first external door after landing. The area of the interstate transaction is drawn very narrowly.
– In clause 11, in which the words “ exercise control “ are used, is not “ control “ the operative word? Can you reasonably control an aircraft on the ground? Would not control mean control in the sense of the. aircraft being in flight?
– I do not know. You could be in control of this inkwell. You would not have to fly it to control it.
Another matter to which I should like to direct the attention of the House and about which I thought the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would have said something is the wording of the offences. I thought he might have felt that it was a little wide. I think it warrants that criticism. However, the important part is that all the offences are subject to trial by jury. This has a nice symmetry about it. Take, for instance, the three sub-clauses of clause 11. Sub-clause (1.) states -
A person shall not, without lawful excuse, take or exercise control, whether direct or through another person, of an aircraft to which this Part applies.
Sub-clause (2.) then applies a higher penalty to the offence if another person is aboard the aircraft, and sub-clause (3.) makes a further projection.
Provisions which immediately attract attention arc contained in clauses 13 and 15 of the bill. These state that an offence in which no death may have been caused or no aircraft destroyed shall be an indictable offence punishable by death. The question arises whether it is reasonable to attach the death penalty to such an indictable offence. My view is that we should look to the seriousness of the consequences which can flow from an aircraft having, perhaps, 80 passengers leaving their families or going home to their families on board and at peril of death, and also to the extraordinary results which can flow from damage to an aeroplane by putting a bomb in it or doing something of that kind. The seriousness of the consequences is very great.
The incapacity of the proposed victims to do anything whatever to protect themselves is an important point. A passenger in an aeroplane on which there is a bomb or some other impediment is powerless to do anything about it. It is a different matter when people are on the ground. We might be able to stop a train, a motor car, or whatever it might be, and search it. But it is pretty difficult in mid flight to look for a bomb that might have been planted in an aeroplane. The seriousness of the consequences which can flow and the fact that this is a new offence created to meet special new circumstances lead me to the opinion that whilst the death penalty is applied under Commonwealth law it is a reasonable and proper penalty to attach to this offence.
Whether or not the death penalty is a proper penalty is a matter which largely comes from a person’s heart. Perhaps the word “ conscience “ would be better, but I do not think it is a matter of conscience at all. I think it is a matter which exists and which flows from an unidentifiable source. In my opinion, argument on this matter avails very little. I know people whose views have changed, but I have never known a person whose views have been changed by argument. The question of the death penalty is one of tremendous sociological importance. As far as I am concerned with this bill, the attachment of the death penalty to this offence is reasonable while the death penalty persists in Commonwealth legislation. It would be extraordinary if the death penalty did not attach in this legislation, but did in fact attach in the Australian Capital Territory or the other Territories of the Commonwealth.
– But the Government is not going to enforce it.
– That is a point, of course. This is only a possible penalty; it is not a penalty that necessarily is executed. It is the penalty which would be the sentence of the court; but it is then a matter for the government to decide, as an executive act, whether that penalty will be carried out.
In my view, this is not the time for the House to decide the issue of capital punishment. I have no doubt that at some time in the future the House will decide the matter. For my part, I am not certain what the reaction of the people of Australia would be. I know what my own reaction is.
– What is it?
– I do not propose to state my reaction in answer to an interjection of that kind. Now is not the time to do that. No doubt in the future there will be an opportunity for the House to decide this issue; at a time which is more suitable for the determination of such an important sociological question.
.- This bill makes provision to deal with legal problems arising out of the commission of crimes aboard aircraft. It is concerned also with the criminal character and consequences of acts done on board aircraft whilst in flight and crimes affecting the aircraft themselves. In addition, it deals with matters concerning flights that are not wholly and exclusively intra-state flights. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), in his second-reading speech, said that in view of the nature of the legislation proposed it was the intention of the Government to pass complementary legislation.
Arising from the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), I refer to sub-clause (3.) of clause 29 of the bill, which reads -
All the people who have participated in this debate up to now are members of the legal fraternity. Not being a legal man, I may be pardoned for a lack of knowledge of this matter. My approach to it will be based on my interpretation of the arguments that have been advanced. It appeared to me that the honorable member for Bruce advanced his opinions on this basis: That because section 92 of the Constitution provided for free commerce and trade between the States, the Commonwealth automatically could put legislation of this kind into effect. I remind the House that in 1937, at a referendum, the Commonwealth asked for power to deal with aviation and the people of Australia refused that request - in my opinion wrongly. Therefore, the power of the Commonwealth in the field of aviation in undoubtedly limited because the States arc sovereign and in many respects have greater powers than the Commonwealth has. For the life of me, I cannot understand why people should try to argue1 that because oi the application of section 92 of the Constitution to some other matter it automatically applies in this field.
I put a hypothetical case to the House. If a ship was trading on the Australian coast and a member of the crew was convicted of murder in Darwin, under Commonwealth law he could be subject to the death penalty and in all probability it would1 be carried out. This Government has carried out the death penalty in the Northern Territory within the past ten or twelve years. If the ship continued its voyage and a member of the crew committed a murder in Sydney, was tried in a New South Wales Court and was found guilty of murder, if the present New South Wales Government were in office, because of the policy of that Government the death penalty would not be carried out. I have given this illustration simply to show that identical crimes may be committed in different parts of the Commonwealth, with the death penalty imposed in one case but not in the other simply because of the difference in State laws. If the Governor-General may, as is provided in clause 29 (3.) of this bill, order the death penalty to be carried out, in States in which State law does not provide for such a penalty, for crimes committed on aircraft flying interstate, why is there no similar provision covering crimes committed by crews of ships trading interstate around the coast?
I believe the Commonwealth Government has not the power to force Stares to carry out penalties for crimes committed. Section 92 of the Constitution relates to trade and commerce, but this legislation relates to a criminal code and to the penalties to bc imposed for certain crimes. To my knowledge it has never been established that the Commonwealth Government has the power to impose its will on the States in such matters as those with which we are dealing.
I turn now to Part III. of the bill, in which penalties are prescribed. There arc eleven clauses which set out penalties. The first four provide terms of imprisonment of seven years, fourteen years, twenty years and fourteen years. The next clause provides a penalty of death, then there is a clause providing a penalty of fourteen years imprisonment, then another one pro viding the death penalty, and the last four provide terms of imprisonment of fourteen years, seven years, seven years and two years. I am reminded of a quotation from Oscar Wilde’s “Ballad of Reading Gaol “:-
I know not whether laws be right
Or whether laws bc wrong.
All that we know who live in gaol ls that the wall is strong
And that each day is- like a year,
A year whose days are long.
It is quite obvious that whatever sense is possessed by the person responsible for these penalties, he has no sense of time. Time does not mean a thing to him. Possibly he also has no appreciation of what it means to be deprived of one’s liberty. I am appalled at the savageness of the penalties provided. They are what you would expect to find in legislation passed by an authoritarian government, not a democratic government. The concept of justice that underlies these penalties is completely out of line with modern thinking.
I turn now to the question of capital punishment. There is a division of opinion on this matter, but it is not as stated by the honorable member for Bruce. There is a growing awareness of the fact that capital punishment is outmoded, and this awareness is becoming wider every day. In fact the matter of capital punishment has been debated in the United Nations since 1957. It is a matter that has been seriously considered by people throughout the world. It is, of course, very difficult to achieve a rational approach to the question. When a trial is held of a person charged with a brutal and heinous murder you cannot expect people to adopt a rational approach to the question of punishment because of the effect on their minds of press reports and articles. On the other hand there have been occasions on which things that have happened at executions have disgusted people, and again you do not get a rational approach at such times. However, as I have said, there is a growing interest in this question, and I say quite definitely that this applies in Australia as well as in other countries.
Let us take the experience of the United Kingdom. The Government of that country appointed royal commissions in 1948 and 1953 to investigate the question of capital punishment. A few years later Canada did likewise. This Government would be doing something in the interests of Australia if it were to appoint a royal commission to deal with all aspects of the question. I do not know that this suggestion would have any appeal to the Government, but I do say that when one considers the trend in other countries, our approach to this question leaves a good deal to be desired. When you look at the penalties imposed under this bill you wonder how outmoded we can get in our approach to these problems. In the House of Commons a resolution was passed to this effect -
That this House believes that the death penalty foi’ murder no longer accords with the needs or the true interests of a civilized society, and calls on Her Majesty’s Government to introduce forthwith legislation for its abolition or for its suspension for an experimental period.
That resolution was carried in the House of Commons, only to be defeated in the House of Lords. The abolition of capital punishment is not as remote as the previous speaker would have us believe. At present there are four countries that have abolished capital punishment in all its forms. There are 35 countries that have abolished capital punishment in peace-time. There are nine States in the United States of America in which capital punishment is not imposed. If it is suggested that the abolition of capital punishment is remote, much evidence can be produced to repudiate that suggestion.
I believe that the death penalty should be abolished. It has been definitely proved that it is not a deterrent to the commission of crime. Statistics are available to prove this, but 1 am not going to use statistics, because one can make statistics prove anything if one wishes. But the fact is that it has been shown that the death penalty does not prevent crime. The State should not pursue a policy of revenge, and that is what it is doing if it retains the death penalty.
A further point is that the death penalty is irrevocable. Some one has said that death is so permanent. Furthermore, no matter how scrupulously fair may be the conduct of a trial, there is still a chance of a miscarriage of justice. 1 remind the House of what happened in the United Kingdom some years ago. A man called
Timothy Evans was charged with a murder in 1950 and was executed. In 1953 another man, John Christie, was found to have committed the crime for which Evans had been executed. Following the outcry that arose as a result of this disclosure, the Home Secretary of the day appointed a committee, which eventually issued a report. The report stated that the committee was of the opinion that Christie was lying when he said that he had committed the murders of which Evans was found guilty. However, the committee met in secret. Its meetings were not open to the public and consequently nobody was in a position to test the validity of its findings. For this reason, one must have some reservations about the findings. I have pointed out that an innocent man can be convicted and put to death in countries where the death penalty applies. It is reported that Lord Birkett, in a letter to “ The Observer “ on 15th January, 1961, said -
The case against Evans at his trial on the facts as they were then known was quite overwhelming. There was no failure in the administrative machinery of the criminal law. No human skill could have prevented the conviction, and no human judicial system, whatever its checks and safeguards, can ever provide complete security against the exceedingly rare and utterly exceptional case such as that of Evans.
I suppose that is small consolation to Evans. There have been other cases of doubt. A book is obtainable from the library that relates no less than 57 cases where there has been a very strong element of doubt.
The death penalty does not prevent capital crimes. People who think that the introduction or maintenance of the death penalty is going to prevent capital crimes from being committed are very wrong. Statistics from the United States of America, where capital punishment applies, show that in 1957-58 there was a rise of 1.9 per cent, in the number of murders committed. The number of charges of rape in that year rose by 13 per cent. In that same period the population increased by 1.7 per cent. It is well worth quoting to the House the comments of Dr. Karl A. Menninger when speaking to the Vancouver Medical Association about two years ago. He said -
Terrible threats of retaliation do not deter the commission of terrible acts. Sexual atrocities are caused by mental disturbances. Many of these disturbances can be corrected, others cannot. Meanwhile, our duty as a people is to work until we can correct the disturbances dna not take lives or -Jose out terrible punishments with the thought that by doing so we can deter future crimes.
Petty theft in the United Kingdom was once punishable by death. One fellow wrote that on an occasion when a man was being hanged on the gallows for petty theft, amongst the crowd which gathered to watch the hanging no less than 164 cases of petty theft were reported after the hanging. Figures relating to crime in the United Kingdom prove conclusively that capital punishment is not a deterrent. In 1948 there were 646 charges of felonious woundings and in 1958 there were 1,565. For malicious woundings, in 1948 the figure was 3,547. In 1958 it had risen to 9,174.
Capital punishment affects not only the people of a particular nation where it applies. It affects the whole world, because it spreads fear and hatred. I will quote to the House the words of Bertrand Russell. He wrote -
Men are capable not only of fear and hate, but also of hope and benevolence. If the population of the world can be brought to see and realize in imagination the hell to which hale and fear must condemn them on one hand, and on the other the comparative heaven which hope and benevolence can create through new means of skill, the choice should not bc difficult and our self-tormented species should allow itself a life of joy such as the past has never known.
I shall support the amendment to be moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam).
.- Two astonishing speeches have been made in this debate. The first was the second-reading speech of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) and the second was the speech of the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden). To me, both speeches indicated a deplorable lack of social sensitivity. Honorable members opposite either believe in the propositions put forward by the Minister or they do not. That the question of capital punishment, which has been brought into this discussion, is important is beyond doubt, yet three speakers in succession will be heard from the Opposition, without any participation by honorable members opposite.
I do not need to canvass the technicalities of this bill. The provisions of the bill arise from the failure of the Government to act along the lines of constitutional reform. I will refer briefly to the general question of capital punishment, to the attitude of the Liberal Party to capital punishment and to the failure of the Commonwealth Government to set standards on the matter in the community. The Minister said -
The inclusion of the death penalty in this bill is in line with the existing Commonweatlh and Territory provisions. It is somewhat inappropriate to deal wilh the general question of the retention of capital punishment which can be reserved for some occasion of a general revision of the criminal law.
It is an unfailing theme of the speeches of honorable members opposite when dealing with any social question that they are in favour of reform, but not yet. Now is always too soon. However, I am sure that eventually the public conscience will drive the Government to the belief that no civilized country should allow to persist in its legislation the dreadful barbarity, with the ensuing social degradation, of capital punishment.
It is an unfortunate fact that the Liberal Party is the sole remaining sponsor of capital punishment in Australia. In Victoria recently there was the case of a man who had been responsible for a dreadful crime. It is not denied that it was a dreadful crime. The murderer was saved from the gallows only by long public pressure and public outcry. The community was not going to be degraded by acts of a Liberal Party government. In South Australia a few years ago a powerful article gave to that State the unfortunate but accurate name of “ the hanging State “. The death penalty is retained in Western Australia and in the Australian Capital Territory. It is being retained here on the specious view that we should not consider its retention until we have a general revision of the law.
The argument adduced by the honorable member for Bruce is age-old - the more dreadful the crime, the more dreadful the penalty. Once treason was the most frightful crime in the eyes of the governors and for it they reserved the most dreadful and ferocious punishment. That is the reasoning of the honorable member. I believe capital punishment is unworthy of this Parliament, of this Government and of this country. The Government ought to be setting up sign-posts for the community and for the rest of the world, but, as usual, it is failing to do so. So first of all there is the question of the Commonwealth and its legislation. This is one of the times when the subject of capital punishment comes before this House. It is unlikely to come before the House as a general proposition and so on this occasion a clause embodying this principle should be knocked out of the legislation in which it is inserted. It is not a case of having to knock a section out of existing legislation. The provision has actually been put in this bill because it has not been removed from other legislation. What kind of nonsense is that? I believe the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is showing a lack of sensitivity in failing to repeal the relevant sections in acts. So far as I can see there is no case for the retention of capital punishment on the statute-book. The argument that it is a deterrent has been adequately refuted on countless occasions.
As the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) pointed out numerous countries and states of countries have abolished capital punishment. In Australia there is the evidence of Queensland and of New South Wales. If we consider for a moment the illogical attitude and structure of the Liberal Party, we are reminded that a CountryLiberal Party Government has been in office in Queensland for some years, but has it taken steps to re-introduce capital punishment? Of course it has not! I understand that the Liberal Party of New South Wales has accepted the policy of non-enforcement of the law in relation to capital punishment. But in this Parliament what should be the ruling body of the Liberal Party, which sets the standards for that party elsewhere, is still turning back the clock. The argument that capital punishment is a deterrent has been refuted. We could go to the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) for an expression of the view that we should revenge ourselves upon people who commit dreadful crimes. Surely vengeance is the lowest human motive and the adoption of a provision, embodying it is not to , be encouraged. There is the. argument that, the person adjudged guilty may well be innocent. There are plenty of instances in the annals of law and justice to show that this is the case. Some people who were condemned and hanged ultimately were found to have been innocent.
This, I believe, is not the key to the argument. The question we ate discussing here is our attitude towards the sanctity of human life. I believe the general citizenry in this country believe that human life is sacred. But this view will gain greater and greater support only if governments, through law and action, also show that they believe human life is sacred. It is not the task of any government to exact vengeance. It is the task of government to rule a country with justice and with set standards of social behaviour. We will not prove the sanctity of human life or our attitude towards its sanctity by hanging people. I believe that many honorable members opposite feel as we do on this question and I ask them, in all justice and with a sense of political integrity, to take this opportunity to remove this blight from the Australian statute-book.
.- As previous speakers from this side of the House have pointed out, ii is not our aim to discuss the technicalities or legal aspects of this bill, except to mention them as they relate to the problems which have arisen out of the pressures of modern life. The fact that these matters have been introduced in this measure shows the dilatoriness of the Government in facing up to the Constitutional Review Committee’s proposals. We cannot help feeling amazed that while the rest of the world hurtles forward at terrific velocity along the path of progress, this Government should see fit to cling tenaciously - with one arm anchored - to a grim, grisly and disgraceful relic of a dark and unenlightened past. I cannot see that any justification can be put forward for the maintenance of capital punishment in this modern age when it is the rejection of every Christian principle and the denial of every human right.
It is inconceivable to me, in this modern age, that any one in this enlightened nation - as it is defined - which places such heavy emphasis on moral values and which lays such strong claims to having a culture so far advanced beyond anything that has gone before that past ages pale into insignificance, can make a claim to moral righteousness and espouse the perpetuation of primitive barbarity, because in my opinion it is barbaric in the extreme that we, in the twentieth century, should pretend to define the case where it is lawful to kill a man. How any man can support the case for the taking of another man’s life is incomprehensible to me.
If human life is valued so cheaply and if Christian ethics are capable of being conveniently mothballed during the week and given a brief airing on Sunday before being returned with despatch to the bottom drawer of the closet so that they will not interfere with our ethics in day-to-day living, I would like honorable members to reflect on at least one fact. It is that the processes by which a man is presented before a court on a criminal charge attracting capital punishment are dependent entirely upon human elements. It has yet to be established that they are above infallibility.
How can we be sure that the people responsible for arresting a man for a capital offence have not erred? As humans, they suffer emotional pressures - pressures quite capable of interfering with their judgment. The arresting officer is a human being and surely, in the atmosphere in which he is dealing, he must be affected emotionally a little. Such people must be affected by the pressures of the daily newspapers, when the atmosphere is electric and dynamic and when there is considerable pressure from the newspapers demanding that the processes in relation to some particularly disgraceful or sadistic crime shall be brought to a swift conclusion. The officers are harassed by their superiors, who in turn are harassed by the general public and the press and rush around in an electric atmosphere. I cannot believe that they could fail to be affected emotionally in the discharge of their duties.
As I proceed, I will show that there is a host of evidence in the community - I speak of the community on a world-wide basis - to support this point of view. There are the witnesses who, over the years, have shown that they have had failing memories and unreliable recollection of events which have occurred. What of the jurors, who are subject to the glare of the daily press - the jurors who read the full details of a case as it progresses through the lower court? I refuse to believe that those people enter the jury box with completely unbiased minds, that they are not affected in some degree and that they are not in some manner conditioned to a point of view which is prejudicial. There are instances where all these things have occurred.
The first case I want to mention is that of a man named Charles Stielow. He was a farm hand in the county of Orleans in the United States of America. He was convicted and received the death penalty for the murder of his employer. This case occurred since the war. Fortunately for this man, Governor Whitman, of Orleans, was interested in his case. He ignored the terrific pressure generated in the community for the execution of Stielow and commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. In the case presented against this man, witnesses gave evidence as to his culpability and experts said that the murder bullets had come from a gun which he owned and which had beer, traced to him. Despite the fact that these witnesses came forward and identified the gun as being the one from which the bullets had been fired, and despite the fact that the so-called experts claimed that the bullets extracted from the murdered man had been fired from that gun, a subsequent investigation revealed that they were wrong, that the bullets had not been fired from that gun and that an itinerant pedlar had been responsible for ;the murder. After three years in gaol Stielow was released. The significant point is that if the State Governor had not exercised his right to commute the sentence this man could very well have been executed for a crime which he did not commit.
Similar circumstances applied in 1926 in the case of a man named Edward Larkman who was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a Buffalo paymaster. It was not until 1929 that Larkman was able to establish his innocence of the crime. In 1929, a man who was on his deathbed, confessed to having committed the offence. Had it not been for this deathbed contrition, having regard to the extremely long sentences which are imposed in the United States of America, Larkman might at least still have been languishing in prison there. Had the death penalty been carried out, the establishment of Larkman’s innocence later though the dying declaration of the real perpetrator of the crime would have been of no avail.
We do not have to go far afield to find instances in which emotionalism has undoubtedly influenced the verdict of a jury. It happened in this country within the last couple of days, when a jury saw fit to reject the evidence of three very eminent medical authorities, one of whom was a government medical officer, and convicted a man named Macdonald of murder. Once again we had an instance of the perpetual conflict between the judicial and the medical interpretation of insanity. Had this been a country in which the carrying out of the death sentence was mandatory, Macdonald would have met his death.
– The legal and the medical authorities agreed that he was insane. The jury disagreed with them.
– I said that. Perhaps the term “ perpetual conflict “ was not appropriate. The conflict between the judicial interpretation and the medical interpretation is manifested with great regularity. There are instances in which innocent men would undoubtedly be alive to-day were it not for the fact that the death penalty was carried out. For instance, in the case of Caryl Chessman, Judge Goodman, who heard his appeal for a stay of the death sentence, after some procrastination, agreed to the stay but when he rang the prison authorities to advise them of his decision Chessman was already in the death cell, the cyanide pellets had been dropped, the chemical reaction was taking place and the poisonous gas was pouring through the cell. This happened despite the fact that the judge had forwarned the gaol authorities to expect a telephone call from him advising of a stay of proceedings. Burton W. Abbott suffered a similar fate in 1957 because Governor Knight of California took twenty minutes to make a telephone call to the prison authorities. Both these men died despite the fact that it was the intention of the judge in one case and the governor in the other to grant a stay .of execution.
In each case there are glaring doubts about the reliability of the evidence adduced as to the reliance that could be placed on the evidence given by the police, and doubts about the manner in which these people were brought before the courts. Apparently Caryl Chessman was unfortunate right from the start because he did not even receive an impartial hearing from the trial judge. There are a whole host of dislocations of the judicial processes which dealt with him, and world-wide majority opinion to-day appears to be that Chessman would have established his innocence had he had the benefit of an impartial trial.
In a book written by Judge Jerome Frank and Barbara Frank, entitled “ Not Guilty “, mention is made of over 30 cases in which people have been convicted of murder in the United States of America and have subsequently established their innocence. Fortunately they were able to have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) put the point very aptly when he asked: Of what benefit is it to people who have been already executed to be proved innocent later? Once a person has been executed no one seems to take any further interest in him notwithstanding that his innocence may be subsequently proved.
The argument of honorable members opposite that capital punishment has a deterrent effect has no basis in substance. In the mid-1800’s, pick-pockets in droves attended public hangings of thieves and there practised their profession. Dr. Berg reported in an English medical journal that out of 167 convicted felons who were awaiting execution for theft 164 had already witnessed the public hanging of petty thieves. There is no evidence anywhere in the world of an increase in homicidal offences following the abolition of capital punishment. In Sweden, capital punishment was abolished in 1921, it is interesting to note that its abolition had no effect upon offences of this type which had taken a nose dive from 1831 up to the present. In the period from 1831 to 1845, there was an average of between 14 and 16 murders a year. Between 1945 and 1947, which is the latest period for which I have been able to obtain figures, there were less than 6 murders. I think it is significant that the United States of America, which is probably the most extensive practitioner of capital punishment, where vicious crime is rampant and murders are committed with startling regularity, has the highest murder rate of any country in the world, and this despite the fact that extremely brutal forms of capital punishment are imposed on the community.
In our own country, capital punishment has been abolished in Queensland. For all practical purposes, it no longer exists in New South Wales. There is no indication that there has been any increase in the number of capital offences in Queensland since the abolition of capital punishment. In fact, the increase there has been no greater than the increase in Victoria, for example, where capital punishment is imposed. There is no evidence whatever that Victoria gains any advantage over Queensland by imposing capital punishment. In fact, the contrary seems to be the case.
It appears that the pro-capital punishment camp is motivated by a strong desire for revenge. Its members display vindictiveness and exhibit a manifestation of selfesteem. Apparently they believe, probably subconsciously, that the loss of themselves to the world is monstrous and that revenge in a primitive, barbaric form should be wreaked. To try to treat a social problem with force is no way in which to eradicate it. The fact that most murderers are first offenders, and the fact that most murderers commit their offences without premeditation must surely be ample evidence of the necessity for not treating them with barbaric severity. Most of these people have a background of social maladjustment. Those who commit such crimes do so because of social pressures or mental deviation. Therefore, - the way to attack the problem surely is not to execute the offender but rather to try and rehabilitate him by means of treatment. I am not suggesting that we should pardon these people. We all appreciate how heinous their offences are. We also appreciate the need for the imposition of some punishment, but I do not think that any one has the right to take the life of another.
When we look back over the history of capital punishment we find that the same arguments have been put forward in great volume and with regularity over the years. It is argued that it is necessary for a serious offence to be treated seriously and for severe retribution to be exacted for a severe assault against the person. These arguments have been advanced from the very early days when people were broken on the rack, down through the ages and through the days of Joan of Arc. Her grand inquisitor, Pierre Cauchon, excused himself with the same arguments that honorable members opposite advance in an endeavour to substantiate the retention of capital punishment.
It is paradoxical that a judge, when delivering the death sentence, calls down the mercy of God on the unfortunate prisoner. I think he would be more correct to call down the mercy of God upon himself and upon the society that practices such a barbaric, inhuman and savage form of reprisal against an offender. Of course, the action of the judge in calling down the mercy of God is only symbolic, but it is symbolic of the attitude of many people in the community who believe that this is enough to salve their consciences. It is significant that Jesus Christ himself more than 1,900 years ago saw fit to excuse an adultress who was being dragged forth to be executed by clamouring multitudes of people who believed that the crime this woman had committed was sufficient to justify her extermination from society.
If the taking of a man’s life by execution, given the imprimatur of law, is not murder merely excused by a technical term, I am afraid the people of this community are easily deceived. If I were to be killed, I would not expect that some revenge should be taken against the person responsible for my death. I think that is a reasonable attitude. A person being killed would gain no satisfaction from the knowledge that the person responsible for his death was also to be killed. This is a rather negative approach to the problem. It is the taking away of human life without any effort to make a contribution for the destruction that has already been wrought. The risk of mistake, the chance that an innocent person may be executed, is so great that wc cannot afford to allow this type of punishment to be retained. There is certainly no evidence to support the argument that the maintenance of capital punishment acts as a deterrent.
I sincerely hope that in the very near future the Government will adopt a more enlightened approach to the social problems in our community. Capital punishment is an outdated and outmoded expression that has been retained in the act. I notice that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) concedes that the inclusion of capital punishment is controversial. I would have expected that a man of his great ability, with his legal mind, with his background and his knowledge, would have had a more humane approach to this matter and would have exercised his right as Attorney-General to have the bill introduced without such an archaic punishment and such a grim, grisly reminder of a depraved and unenlightened past of which none of us is proud.
.- I do not intend to delay the House for more than a few minutes on this subject, but I find it impossible to allow the enactment of a death penalty in a piece of Commonwealth legislation to pass without saying something about it. I therefore support the amendment foreshadowed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). It will have the effect of removing the death penalty from the bill. I support the case made very well by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) and by the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden). However, I want to make some remarks based on my experience.
The reasons that people give for retaining the death penalty are broadly two. One is that the death penalty in law imposed upon a man who commits a murder has an element of balance, or, expressed with more colour, an element of revenge or retribution. I do not think that view is he’d by very many people to-day, because it has been recognized that there is no balance at all in this situation. It is now recognized that there is no balance in the feeling of revenge or retribution that people seemed to think justified the imposition of a death penalty. The death penalty is an act of force and an act of violence that is more likely to lead to another act of force or another act of violence than to balance a situation. The feeling of revenge or retribution that has contributed so much to the imposition of violence in the name of the law is certainly a feeling that is shared by people to-day to a far less extent than in the past.
We are left then with the second main reason for retaining the death penalty, and that is the social reason of deterrent. People believe that if a very severe penalty is imposed for a particular kind of offence, this will deter the commission of the offence and protect those who may be the victims of the offence. I think that very few people who hold this view have any personal knowledge of the men and women who have committed murders. I do not know how many honorable members have talked to a murderer. I have talked to many and I have been able to discover the background reasons for their commission of the offence.
My experience leads me to believe that deterrents would have affected very few convicted murderers that I have questioned and examined. I believe that any man who kills another has a very strong element of insanity in him, no matter what type of killing he has committed. But 1 found that, at the time of killing, murderers are so obsessed with the act of killing that they cannot weigh the possibility of being punished. At the time, they are obsessed with the thought and action of killing. They are not in a condition at that time to weigh the possibility of what will happen to them if they are caught. If they are suffering from a sexual aberration or some other kind of psychological condition, sometimes described by the medical authorities as insanity, or the kind of condition described by the legal authorities as insanity - there is a significant difference - people do not weigh up in the course of committing their offence the possibility of what may happen to them if they do commit it. They are obsessed with the act itself; their mind is full of the act itself.
Then there is another type of offender. Whilst not medically or legally insane, he commits an offence, satisfied that he will not be caught. Here, again( the possibility of deterrence does not operate upon him because he believes he will not be caught but will get away with it. Deterrence docs hot enter into the scales of decision at all.
I believe those people - and there are some on the other side of the House - who genuinely consider there is a deterrent factor in the death penalty, hold this feeling as a result of how they would act and be influenced. But the people who actually commit murders do so in a state of mind that, I suggest, is not understood by honorable members who take that point of view. Unless you have some opportunity of examining those who have committed these offences, I suggest you are not in a position adequately to judge. Therefore, I believe that it is time we reconsidered completely our beliefs in the effectiveness of deterrents, both in respect of the death penalty and of other penalties. In regard to the offence of murder in particular to which the death penalty is directed, I believe there is very little weight in the argument of deterrents.
In the case of the two offences to which the death penalty is proposed to apply under this act, as set out in clauses 13 and IS, .ve have in the actual offences themselves the description of conditions which strongly suggest that the mind of the offender would not bc susceptible to thoughts of deterrents. The first is the offence of destruction of an aircraft with intent to kill and the second is prejudicing the safe operation of an aircraft with intent to kill persons. In clause 13 it is stated -
Any man who is in a condition of reckless indifference to the safety of life of a person is not a man who at that time will be influenced by deterrents. The very fact that he is described as being in a state of reckless indifference to the safety of life of a person proves that at that time he is in a state of mind in which he will not be influenced by thoughts of deterrents.
I am reminded that these definitions are classically accepted legal definitions, but once these definitions are subjected either to common sense or examination by people who arc equipped psychologically and medically to understand what is involved, then the legal basis of them shows some deficiency. So I merely want to make it clear that after many years of experience in this field, in which I have had opportunities to see closely how murders were committed and to talk to and examine those who committed them - not as an observer <v as an amateur - I feel that the value of the death penalty as a factor of deterrence is very slight indeed and would in no way justify the continuation of this penalty in Commonwealth law.
I regret indeed that the Government again is asking us as a National Parliament at this late hour in the twentieth century to impose, for the first time in a new act of parliament, two further clauses providing for a death penalty. It is very well known that almost all over Australia to-day except for one or two States, there is little or no prospect that the death penalty will be imposed. It will not be imposed in the Australian Capital Territory upon the law of which this law is based. So why enact it once more in a situation where we could almost be certain it will never be applied?
I suggest that this anachronism is nothing more than one of a cloud of general deterrents that this Government from time to time has held over the community of Australia with some intent to discipline the people and to put them into a condition of apathy rather than one of protest, perhaps through militant political activity. It seems to be part of the general programme in which the Government has involved itself to deter radical and unusual activities rather than a particular provision to meet the needs of law in regard to crimes and offences committed on aircraft in Australia. So I support the amendment proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I ;an see no good reason whatever why the amendment should not be carried. If it <s not carried now, it will not be long before it is accepted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 12 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
A person who destroys an aircraft to which this Part applies with intent to cause the death of a person or with reckless indifference to the safety of the life of a person is guilty of an indictable offence punishable by death. ,
.- I move -
Omit “ death “ second . occurring, insert “ imprisonment for life “.
Sir, in the second reading debate, many honorable members spoke on the subject of the death penalty. They gave their reasons for thinking that the death penalty should not be introduced in Australia for any fresh crimes. New crimes are being created in this legislation. We are providing the death penalty both in the clause 13 which is now before the committee and in clause 15. I believe that no honorable member has spoken in favour of the death penalty being retained in any of our laws, let alone in favour of the death penalty being inserted in this new law.
Tt should be quite plain that the death penalty does not deter malefactors and does not edify the community. There are no statistics which show that, when the death penalty has been abolished as it has been in Queensland and as it virtually has been in New South Wales, the crimes for which it was formerly prescribed have increased in number. There have been a few countries in the world where the death penalty has been restored for some offences. There are no statistics which show that in those cases the occurrence of those offences has decreased. If the sheer severity of a penalty deters crime, then we should not boggle at inflicting the death penalty by hanging, but should revert to some of the more protracted and spectacular forms ot death penalty which our ancestors enjoyed such as hanging, drawing and quartering. There is no statistical argument and there is certainly no logical or humane argument for preserving the death penalty, let alone for introducing it in respect of new crimes. Commonwealth laws in the Territories, in two instances already, and now in this measure, provide the death penalty under legislation enacted by this Parliament.
The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), several days ago, in answer to a question that I had asked on notice, advised me to the effect that, during the Menzies Government’s term of office, sentence of death has been passed twice in the Australian Capital Territory, once on a conviction for rape and once on a conviction for murder. In neither case was the sentence carried into execution. The
Attorney-General advised me also that, during this Government’s term of office, sentence of death has been passed three times in the Northern Territory, but, in one of those cases, was not carried into execution. We in Australia know that whether sentence of death is carried out depends on the political complexion of the government to which the responsible Attorney-General belongs.
– That is hardly correct.
– I do not say that Attorneys-General who belong to the Liberal Party of Australia or the Australian Country Part’y always order that sentence of death be carried into execution. In fact, they usually do not. Labour AttorneysGeneral invariably order that sentence of death be not carried into execution. A convict therefore knows that he will not be executed under State or Federal laws or Territory ordinances if a Labour government is the responsible authority.
– An open slather!
– The honorable gentleman has made many interjections during the last hour. His latest one merely causes mc to repeat that there are no statistics which establish that liability to the death penalty deters prospective malefactors. In Queensland, there is no greater frequency in the occurrence of those offences for which, in other States, the death penalty can be imposed. If one goes outside this country and considers crimes in respect of which the death penalty has been reintroduced, one finds that there has been no diminution in their frequency. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) may call this an open slather if he likes, but the plain fact is that the slather occurs no more frequently where the death penalty has been abolished or where a Labour Attorney-General administers the criminal laws than it occurs where the death penalty can still be carried into execution or where a Liberal or Country Party Attorney-General is responsible for administering the laws. In British countries, including Australia, the fiction of imposing the death penalty can now take place only where there are conservative Attorneys-General, and even then execution of the sentence depends on the view of the particular crime taken by the responsible Attorney-General.
We know quite well that the terms of a statute which requires the death penalty to be imposed are not in fact automatically observed. Labour Attorneys-General always exercise their discretion against the carrying out of that penalty. Liberal and Australian Country Party AttorneysGeneral - conservative Attorneys-General - usually order that it be not carried out. If one may use a colloquialism such as “ open slather “, one may say that conservative Attorneys-General-
– They treat the matter objectively.
– There is a gamble.
– They adopt an objective approach.
– The honorable gentleman comes from Victoria. I would not have thought that the history of the Tait case bore out his latest interjection. Mr. Chairman, I support all the arguments which have been put in favour of omitting clause 13 in this new legislation. No arguments for its retention have been put; so there is none for me to answer.
.- Mr. Chairman, without wishing to ruffle the feelings of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), I should like to support those honorable members who have expressed regret at the fact that the committee is debating the measure at this hour. This is plainly a vital social measure, and it is regrettable that at about 11 p.m. at the end of the parliamentary week we find ourselves considering the bill in committee.
Having said that, may I say to honorable gentlemen opposite that I do not think that they do their cause or the cause of the Parliament any good by protesting that they have a monopoly of social conscience in respect of their attitude of mind regarding the question of the abolition or retention of the death penalty. This matter, plainly, exercises the individual conscience of every person, whether he be on the Labour or the Liberal and Australian Country Party side of politics. I have heard it said this evening that, on the count of experience, people should vote against the retention of the death penalty. I put it to the person who used that argument that there is in this chamber another person with manifest experience in criminology who takes a completely contrary view. I respect both views. The fact that a person has had a tremendous amount of experience in a particular field in association with, or in the treatment of, criminals - arresting and charging them, or whatever may have been involved - does not mean to say that his views combine all the elements of correctness. So I do not think that the argument of experience obtained by contact necessarily supports the view that the death penalty ought to be abolished.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has contended that the death penalty should not be introduced in respect of the new crimes provided for in this bill. Let that be conceded. But surely the honorable gentleman is not prepared to argue that the mere count of novelty should raise a barrier against the creation of particular forms of punishment. I put it to him that there may be in existence to-day crimes that we are prepared to tolerate and that a community, in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time, would not be prepared to tolerate. This, of course, is part of the process of evolution.
Clause 13, which we are considering at present, comes under the context of crimes relating to aircraft. May I put to the committee the circumstances of a case that actually occurred in the United States of America. This is the case of X, who insures his wife or some other relative in whom he has an insurable interest, the person insured later boarding an aircraft. There is nothing at all wrong with the person who has insured the passenger. He is not in any way sick or mentally ill. There is no umbrella of medical authority to shelter him from the disapproval of society.
– The opportunity to have him medically examined would occur too late.
– That is perfectly true. X insures the passenger and also places on board the aircraft an explosive device timed to explode when the aircraft is flying at 20,000 feet at a distance of 150 miles from the point of departure. X had an intent to kill. In the language of the clause, he had a “ reckless indifference to the safety of the life “ of another person. There is, as I have said, nothing at all wrong with him. He is just as sane as any one else.
– Do you think that that is normal behaviour?
– I listened to the honorable gentleman without interrupting him. I am not pleading with him not to interrupt me, but I ask him whether he would mind being patient and listening to my point of view. Here is a case where X deliberately sets out to kill that person and destroy the aircraft in order to collect the insurance. This may be, according to an attitude of mind, evidence of a sick mind, but how are you going to establish it? Take the case of the War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremburg. Mr. Chairman, I say with great respect that at Nuremburg was gathered together as catholic a collection of curia] authority as the world has ever known, but the tribunal at Nuremburg was not inhibited in the manner of passing the death penalty. What of the case of Eichmann? Many people contended that his was a sick mind. There were those who, like myself, would contend that he had plainly a malevolent mind and those who would move on to argue that he should pay his debt to society by surrendering his life. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said that there are no statistics to prove this proposition. Let that be conceded, but are there any statistics to disprove it. It is so incredibly subjective, whichever way you look at it.
My honorable friend said that the death penally does not deter malefactors or edify the community. This is the honorable gentleman’s point of view. I respect it but I disagree with it, because you can fine it down to that sort of individual who is so calculating in what he does as to take himself completely outside what I have described as the umbrella of medical authority. He is not insane. He is not unstable. He wants to destroy a life. When you come to that sort of individual, I submit to the committee and to my honorable friends opposite, the death penalty could loom as a possibility. I concede quite readily the possibility of mistake, and nothing fills me with a sense of apprehension more than that a mistake should be brought into being, but I am happy to racall that under our system of law, with what may appear to the outsider to be its manifest sense of tardiness and cumbersome ways, mistakes so rarely occur. I ask the committee to bear in mind, in relation to this clause and to the other clause that provides for the death penalty, that this Parliament must consider that calm and brutal mind that has a calm and brutal indifference to life, in whatever way he seeks to destroy it. That is the person against whom, I believe, the provisions of clauses 13 and 15 are directed.
Finally, I concede that this is plainly a matter of conscience. I do not laugh at any honorable gentleman opposite who rises and says, “ I am opposed to the death penalty.” I hope that he would not laugh and, above all, chide those of us on this side who take the point of view that there are exceptional circumstances that call for this extreme form of punishment.
.- I have been greatly interested in this debate, probably more so than in any debate that has taken place in this chamber in the three and a half years that I have been here. The debate has been pursued with levelheaded.ness and a very sober discussion has taken place. I listened with great interest to the contributions made both by Government supporters and by members of my own party, and I find myself in a very strange position, because for some twenty-odd years it was my life to serve the community in the elucidation of serious crime. During those years, I saw many things done by the gross evil-doer, the murderer. I might say, Mr. Chairman, that in the last week that I served in the New South Wales Criminal Investigation Department I was, as chief investigator, the principal Crown witness in the trial of a man who went to gaol for life for the murder of a defenceless woman and a small child of three years of age. I can see the whole of the situation now. To me, as a layman, the man was not insane. He showed no degree of repentance. He had no criminal background. This might have been a case that deserved the death penalty.
I believe that the majority of the Australian people to-day are not in favour of the abolition of the death penalty. I believe that they hold the view that the death penalty should be carried out only in very exceptional circumstances. I remember the Commissioner of Police of New Guinea giving a talk at the businessmen’s club at Kurri, the town in which I was reared. After his talk, he invited questions. Most of the listeners were reluctant to ask a question. I asked him whether the death penalty was in force in New Guinea and, if so, did he agree with it. He said that recently in New Guinea a native had been arrested for murder and committing sodomy on the body immediately after the murder. There was an abundance of evidence. He v/as tried according to Jaw, convicted and sentenced to death, and the death sentence was commuted. Some six months afterwards, he committed an identical crime in gaol against a fellow prisoner. According to a psychiatrist and other medical evidence, he was sane. He was brought out of gaol and, on an abundance of evidence, he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. Again the sentence of death was commuted to life, imprisonment. Some nine or twelve months after that, he committed an identical crime in gaol against a fellow prisoner. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to death, and the death sentence was carried out. The guest speaker said, in answer to my question, “ Yes, the death penalty is on the statute-book, and I agree with it “.
I do not know where we go, when political parties are subjected to pressure groups and allow their consciences to drift away from reality. No one ever likes to see human life taken. But 800 or 900 human lives are taken on the roads of New South Wales every year with reckless indifference. It is estimated that in Japan each year 1,500,000 legal murders are committed by terminating pregnancies. It is estimated - there are no statistics available - that in the United Sattes about 1,000,000 similar murders are committed each year. We can only suspect that a substantial number of similar murders are committed each year in Australia. I know that probably economic circumstances and the shortage of houses leads otherwise decent married women to do that sort of thing so that they may keep up the exorbitant payments on a home.
I remember the case of a man whose name began with the letter G who committed a crime at Bulli some years ago. I will not give the man’s name in full because
I have a good deal of sympathy for the relatives of the victims. The offender murdered the fiance of a girl and then ravished the girl four or five times. He had been out of gaol only about twelve months after having been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for attacking a woman in a train at Hornsby. At this trial on that occasion the judge said that the man had attacked the woman with animal ferocity. The offender beat the woman and either ravished her or came very close to ravishing her. After serving four or five years for that offence he was released, only to commit his shocking crime on the south coast of New South Wales. On the latter occasion, after murdering the young man and ravishing the young lady, he placed the dead body of the man in the car, set fire to the car and pushed it over a cliff. Indisputable evidence of these facts was presented at his trial. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and two or three years ago he was found dead in his cell in Maitland gaol. While in gaol he had to be kept under constant surveillance by warders. It is strongly rumoured that while in gaol he on one occasion held another prisoner’s head in a vice in a workshop and committed sodomy on him.
These matters are of great public import. I do not appreciate honorable members laughing; this is the Parliament of tha Commonwealth, and this is a serious debate. It has been claimed, and I believe it is true, that some governments are deterred from passing legislation to enforce the death penalty because of the reluctance of juries to convict when the only penalty prescribed for an offence is the supreme penalty. But another country gives juries the right to find persons guilty of murder in the first, second or third degree. This is a system that should be introduced into this legislation. A conviction for murder in the first degree carries the death penalty. A conviction for murder in the second degree carries a penalty of 10 to 30 years imprisonment and a conviction for murder in the third degree may be dealt with by requiring the offender to enter into a bond or by imposing a term of imprisonment of up to ten years. I would admire this Government if it had introduced provisions of that kind in this legislation.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to speak at this stage only because the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) suggested that honorable members on this side of the chamber were not interested or concerned in discussing the death penalty. Government suporters have not discussed the death penalty in the wide and general terms in which the matter has been raised by honorable members opposite for the very simple reason that they accept the explanation given by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) who, when introducing the bill, said that it is a problem that does not really arise in connexion with this legislation. Four States as well as the Commonwealth keep the death penalty as part of their law. In those States and in the Commonwealth Territories certain crimes attract the death penalty. The death penalty applies in this legislation in respect of crimes of a similar nature committed on board an aircraft. Clause 13 proposes to add a very serious crime to the list of those crimes and to punish it by death. I remind honorable members that even New South Wales, which has done away with the death penalty for most offences, retains in its Piracy Punishment Act of 1902 the death penalty for a crime of a similar nature in relation to ships. The similarity will be apparent to honorable members. This clause relates in effect, to the commission of a deliberate or reckless act involving tremendous loss of life on an aircraft. For the sake of consistency and for the sake of treating this offence in a special category, the Government does not propose to accept the Opposition’s amendment.
I should like to congratulate the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who obviously feels very deeply about this problem. He spoke with sincerity, logic and a good deal of sense. I was rather surprised - I say this only in passing because I do not intend to embark on a long debate about the death penalty in general terms - that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) did not take some cognizance of what I think is an obvious deterrent effect of the death penalty, and that is in cases of crimes which can be associated with violence. I think a person setting out to rob somebody or to commit burgulary can be deterred at the outset from putting a. pistol into his pocket if he knows that by so doing he may suffer the death penally, but if there were not a death penalty he might take the risk. Before saying that the death penalty is not a deterrent the honorable member for Yarra might have thought about that type of crime. Of course, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) mentioned this matter in relation to crimes in an aircraft where the only object is a mercenary one - the gaining of advantage from an insurance policy or something like that.
The other point rightly made by the honorable member for Hunter is that society in general has no guarantee of future protection from a person who is already serving a prison term for murder. Under the systems which operate in our country there can be no guarantee that at some time that person will not be released and subsequently a similar crime will bc committed. I mention those two points in passing, because several members opposite have suggested that there is no case whatever for the preservation of the death penalty. I put it to honorable members that, although the question of the abolition of the death penalty does not arise immediately in this legislation, it is an enormous problem. I do not think society has yet arrived at a satisfactory conclusion.
.- Consideration of this clause raises an issue which was discussed by honorable members opposite at the second-reading stage. Undoubtedly it is a matter upon which they have very firm views. The AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick), in his second-reading speech, indicated quite clearly that this particular provision had to remain in the bill, because it would be incongruous to include in the measure a provision which was different from that which applied elsewhere in criminal law. There can be no doubt that the Minister’s logic must prevail in this case.
The arguments that have been advanced by honorable members opposite all revolve around the special plea that has been advanced by people who are not in favour of the death penalty in general terms. I am not prepared to accept the view that this is necessarily the opinion of the Australian community. It moy well be the opinion of the Australian public, but the matter has never been decided, and 1 do not know of any way in which it can be decided. A government must make a policy decision and, having made that decision, it must carry it into the legislation. I have no doubt that a great welter of people who are members of the Australian Labour Party, not only in the broad organizational sense but also in this chamber, do not share the policy considerations which have been put to the committee. I am sure there are men on the other side of this chamber who believe that in appropriate cases the death penalty is proper.
I am well aware that when we debated the Crimes Bill a lot of the contributions from the Opposition side were directed towards removing from that measure provision for the death penalty The attachment of the death penalty to the crime of treason must surely be an appropriate use of the ultimate penalty for crime. In the measure now before us other factors are involved which in many respects are not markedly dissimilar from those involved in the Crimes Act. The wrong which could be done under the Crimes Act could result in at least a multiple loss of life and the security of the country could bc at stake. The ultimate penally must indeed be a deterrent to persons who contemplate acting in a way which would bring them into collision with the provisions of the Crimes Act. The offence now under consideration is or>e which could result in multiple loss of life, and for that reason it bears a similarity to the wrong which is covered by the Crimes Act.
The inevitable thing which attracts one’s attention to this clause is not so much the death penalty which attaches to the offence as such, but the fact tint that penalty attaches to an offence which need not necessarily result in loss of life or the destruction of the aircraft that is involved. This is a very great departure from what might have been expected. 1 do not make any apology for repeating at the committee stage my earlier statement that in this legislation a new offence has been created. More appropriate occasions, will arise upon which the death penalty as a whole can be considered. It may well be that in the future the real will of the Australian public will emerge. Indeed, in my opinion what will emerge at some time in the future is that the Australian public docs no* want the death penalty. But I am not convinced that that is the stale of public opinion at this stage.
– This is for sixteenyearolds, you know.
– 1 do not follow that. What do you mean?
– The death penalty.
– Do you mean it can apply to sixteen-year-olds?
– Yes, under the Crimes Act.
– 1 very much doubt whether that is an accurate statement. But I suppose it would serve your purple by way of illustration if one said that it applied to eighteen-year-olds.
– It applies to sixteenyearolds.
– T!-.at does not mean that the death penalty would be carried out.
– The point just made by the Minister for the Interior is a very good one. Whilst in all these cases it is incumbent upon the judge to pronounce a sentence of death, the ultimate responsibility for carrying out the penalty lies exclusively with the Executive. I am sure that if honorable members look at the personnel of the present Executive they will agree that all of them would act very responsibly if they had to make such a decision. 1 think it is proper that the Executive should have the responsibility of deciding whether to carry out the penalty.
It was argued earlier that th. re is a conflict between legal insanity and insanity which is certifiable. Just recently the New South Wales Criminal Court heard a curious case in which the medical evidence established that the accused man was not only medically insane but also legally insane. The prosecutor, in his address to the jury, indicated his belief (hat a proper verdict would be not guilty on the ground of insanity. It is not desirable to rely exclusively on newspaper reports, but the newspaper report on this case indicated that the judge in his charge to the jury held the same view. However, the jury acted in what might be described as a perverse manner and brought in a verdict of guilty as charged. If one looks at the verdict one can only come to the conclusion that the jury believed that this man was guilty and should be punished. It would not surprise me if the jury had in its mind that this man should be punished in a most severe fashion. It is a curious twist of circumstance that probably the jury would have achieved its object if it had found the man not guilty on the ground of insanity. Undoubtedly he then would have been held in custody while his condition remained unchanged, whereas it now seems likely that even with the imposition of a life sentence, which I think in effect is imprisonment for fifteen years less a remission for good conduct of one-fifth of the term, this man will be released in twelve years. Had the jury followed the judge’s charge, this man could have been kept in custody without limit.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question put -
That the word 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.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 14 to 20 - by leave - taken together.
– Clause 15 also provides for the death penalty. Our attitude to this clause is the same as our attitude to clause 13, but we shall abide by the vote which has just been taken.
I wish to direct the committee’s attention to clauses 17 and 18. It will be noticed that clause 17 states that a person shall not do any act or thing that, to his knowledge, is likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft. Clause 18 states that a person shall not do certain other things, but in this clause the words “ to his knowledge “ are not used. It can be inferred that the omission of those words from clause 18 means that some more automatic or less intentional wrong doing will be a crime in the terms of the clause and will attract the severe penalty of seven years’ imprisonment. I ask the Minister why the words “ to his knowledge “ have been omitted from clause 18.
I direct the attention of the committee now to paragraph (c) of sub-clause (2.) of clause 18, which is in these terms -
– (2.) This section does not apply-
I hardly think that the interpretation I am about to put was intended. Nevertheless, 1 think it is possible and it may be the natural interpretation. TransAustraliaAirlines operates Commonwealth aircraft. Officers of and persons employed by T.A.A. arc required in the performance of their duties, to deliver goods to and place goods on board T.A.A. aircraft. If those were dangerous goods there would be no criminality because they would have been placed on board by T.A.A. officers. If the aircraft belonged to Ansett-A.N.A., there would be no such exemption. It may be that prospective passengers could be deterred from travelling on T.A.A. aircraft because it was not an offence for T.A.A. employees to place dangerous goods on board T.A.A. aircraft. Employees of T.A.A. would not be deterred, but employees of AnsettA.N.A. would be deterred, from placing dangerous goods on their respective aircraft.
I must confess that this seems a farfetched interpretation, but I cannot really sec that it could be in any way excluded as the provision now stands. I do not know why it is necessary to make this exemption in respect of Commonwealth aircraft. I could understand it in respect of defence aircraft, but as regards civil aircraft I should think the same rule should apply to all commercial airlines, whether they be Qantas Empire Airways Limited, or T.A.A.. and so owned by the Commonwealth, or whether they be Ansett-A.N.A. or some of the foreign airlines which are not owned by the Commonwealth.
.- May I ask the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) whether he or his officers would consider the points raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam)? 1 interpret clause 18 in precisely the same way as he did - that the provision in question applies to Trans-Australia Airlines but does not apply to Ansett-A.N.A. It seems to me that it would not apply to any other privately owned airline, either. In the definitions clause of the bill, “Commonwealth aircraft “ is defined as - . . an aircraft, other than a defence aircraft, that is in the possession or control of the Commonwealth or an authority of the Commonwealth;
It may be that the apparent inconsistency could be eliminated in the definition clause. It seems to be very clumsily worded.
– Dealing with the first point raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), clause 17 refers to a person who is on board an aircraft. The clause prohibits him from doing any act or thing which, to his knowledge, is likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft. That is pretty wide scope. So the words “ io his knowledge “ really are necessary to define the crime of endangering the safety of the aircraft. I believe, as the draftsman has indicated to me, that under clause 18 the placing of dangerous goods on board an aircraft would still require a guilty intent to be shown. I think that is clear. There is a clear distinction between the actual carrying of dangerous goods on board an aircraft - and they would be evidently dangerous goods - and a person on board an aircraft doing any act or thing to endanger the safety of the aircraft. I think that the idea is that a person on board an aircraft may do something accidentally, whereas carrying dangerous goods on board an aircraft would be an act which he obviously intended to do.
On the second point raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, with regard to Trans-Australia Airlines being permitted to do things and Ansett-A.N.A. not being so permitted, I think the distinction would hardly arise because an Ansett-A.N.A. employee would be able to carry dangerous goods on board an aircraft if he had permission under the air navigation regulations which apply to ordinary commercial aircraft. The regulations prescribe the means by which dangerous goods are permitted to be carried on board aircraft. I do not think there is any danger of Commonwealth officers being allowed to do things which other persons are not permitted to do. But there are Commonwealth aircraft other than purely defence aircraft, and therefore this provision has been inserted in the bill to catch those other aircraft.
Clauses agreed to.
Clause 21 agreed to.
Clause 22. (l.)…… (3.) The jurisdiction conferred on a court of summary jurisdiction by this section shall not be judicially exercised except by a Chief, Police, Stipendiary, Resident or Special Magistrate, or a District Officer or Assistant District Officer of a Territory.
Amendment (by Mr. Freeth) agreed to -
Omit “ , or a District Officer or Assistant District Officer of a Territory”.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Remainder of bill - by leave - taken as a whole.
.- I direct the attention of the committee to clause 25 which provides that the person in command of an aircraft may arrest and hold in custody any person whom he reasonably suspects of having committed, or having attempted to commit, an offence.
– Order! I remind the committee again that there is too much audible conversation in the chamber. Apart from the need to show consideration to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition this evening, because he is having difficulty with his throat, it is extremely difficult at times for the “ Hansard “ reporter to record what the speakers are saying. I suggest to the committee again that the audible conversation be reduced.
– Under clause 21, a prosecution shall not be instituted except with the consent of the Attorney-General or a person authorized by him. It seems to the Opposition that there is a gap between what a person in command of an aircraft can do under clause 25 and a prosecution which requires the consent of the Attorney-General or his delegate under clause 21. It is possible, we agree, that administrative action can be taken to authorize the person in command of an aircraft to institute prosecutions, but we do not believe that it is satisfactory to leave such matters to administrative action. It ought to be plain on the face of the bill as it leaves us that there will be no gap unaccounted for between a person being arrested or placed in detention and a prosecution being launched against him. The principle - although it is not always followed in. legislation - undoubtedly should be that when a person is arrested he should be told why he is being arrested and he should be brought promptly to trial. If he is not, of course, habeas corpus is available to him.
This is quite a detailed, ingenious and intricate bill. So many things have been covered in it that it seems a pity that no provision is made in respect of this matter. I will not suggest an amendment at this stage. If an amendment is necessary, I think the matter should be covered. I direct the Minister’s attention to it so that consideration can be given to it before the bill goes to the other place. Clearly the bill will have to be reprinted, during the next twelve days in which we will be in recess, before it goes to the other place, because already some words have been omitted from clause 22. Therefore, I seek an explanation and, as appears to be advisable, an amendment in those terms.
Having made that criticism, I conclude on a happy note by commenting on the thoroughness with which the draftsmen have done their job on this bill. Subclause (2.) of clause 25 says that the person in command of an aircraft may, if he considers it necessary, place a person who is on board the aircraft under restraint or in custody and if the aircraft is not in the course of a flight, remove a person from the aircraft. I think that last phrase shows a touching solicitude. We all can be reassured that troublesome characters on aircraft will not be ejected from them while they are in mid-air.
Friday, 27 September 1963
– Mr. Chairman, I do not think the gap suggested by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) exists in reality. This provision that the person in command of an aircraft must have power to arrest is very necessary. The only thing that person can do once he has made an arrest and is satisfied that an offence has been committed, or is about to be committed or attempted, is to hand the alleged offender over to the custody of somebody when the aircraft lands. I imagine that once that happened the normal processes of law would require the alleged offender to be charged or released within a reasonable time. However, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has raised a point and I undertake to examine it.
Remainder of bill agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
House adjourned at 12.5 a.m. (Friday) until
Tuesday, 8th October, at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
m asked the Minister for Ship ping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Television. (Question No. 242.)
d asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
-The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
Postage Stamps. (Question No. 248.)
d asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: - 1 (a). 1961-27, 1962-39. (b) 1963-31. (c) 1964- Nine.
In 1961- Three; in 1962- five; in 1963- seven; in 1964 - one.
World Conference of Associated Country Women of the World, 1962.
Centenary of Continental Crossing by 3. McD. Stuart, 1962. 50th Anniversary of the Australian Inland Mission, 1962.
British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Perth, 1962.
Royal Visit, 1963. 50th Anniversary of Canberra, 1963. 150th Anniversary of the First Crossing of the Blue Mountains, 1963.
Red Cross Centenary, 1963.
Export Consciousness, 1963.
Opening of C.O.M.P.A.C. cable, 1963.
Christmas, 19S3. 50th Anniversary of the First Airmail Flight in Australia, 1964.
Centenary of Local Government at Parramatta (New South Wales), 1961.
Salvation Army Centenary, 1965.
Sesquicentenary of Liverpool (New South Wales), 1960 (too late). 75th Anniversary of Discovery of Greta Coal Measures, 1961.
Malaria Eradication Programme, 1962.
Golden Jubilee, Friesian Cattle Club of Australia, 1984. “ Banjo “ Paterson and Mrs. Aeneas Gunn.
World Rover Scout Moot, 1961-62. 12th World Poultry Sciences Congress, 1962.
Freedom from Hunger Campaign, 1963.
First Decade Lionism in Australia, 1962.
Australia Day (Annual Commemorative). 15th Anniversary of Human Rights.
Mattara (Newcastle, New South Wales), 1961.
Golden Jubilee, Royal Australian Navy, 1961.
Century 21 Exposition, Seattle, Washington, United States of America.
Mrs. Edith Cowan, M.L.A. 5th Anniversary of Hungarian Revolution, 1961.
South-West Apple Centenary Festival, Bridgetown, Western Australia, 1962.
Centenary of New South Wales Police Service, 1962. 50th Anniversary of Opening of Commonwealth Bank, 1962.
Centenary International Cricket, 1962.
First Commonwealth Paraplegic Games, 1962.
Melbourne Film Festival, 1962.
Bread Industry. 50lh Anniversary (International) and 20th (Australian) of Lions, 1967. 125th Anniversary, Royal Hobart Regatta, 1963. 30th Anniversary of Apex.
Prevention of Blindness Week, 1962.
Diamond Jubilee of Royal Automobile Association of South Australia, 1963. 10th Anniversary of Moomba, 1964. 6th Plenary Meeting, World Power Conference, 1962.
Great Eastern Camellia.
The Breadknife, Warrumbungle Mountains, New South Wales.
Christian Family Year Symbol, 1962-3. Memorial Science Centre (Sir Ian Clunies-Ross) 1962. Preservation of Monuments of Nubia. 50th Anniversary of First Australian Commonwealth Stamps, 1963.
Western Australian Goldfields Water Scheme (60th Anniversary), 1963.
Centenary Gold Discovery at Kalgoorlie, 1963. 60th Anniversary of Record Production of Gold in Western Australia, 1963. “ Keep Fit “ cycling motif. 50th Anniversary of Workers Educational Association of New South Wales, and of Adult Education in Australia. 90th Anniversary R.S.P.C.A. in Australia, 1961. 2nd Melbourne International Trade Fair, 1963.
Centenary of Local Government, Dalby, Queensland, 1963.
Kelpie and Blue Heeler Dogs.
Adelaide Festival of Arts, 1962 (and 1964). 150th Anniversary of the Benevolent Society of New South Wales, 1963.
Centenary of the Introduction in Victoria of the Torrens Land System, 1962.
Sydney Trade Fair, 1963.
Centenary of the Birth of Bernard O’Dowd, 1966. 2nd Asia and Oceania Congress of Endocrinology, 1967. 50th Anniversary of Small Arms Factory, Lithgow, New South Wales, 1962.
Centenary, Royal Horticultural Society of New South Wales.
Discovery of Oil in Queensland.
Cottages for Old Colonists, Diamond Creek, Victoria, 1963. 24th Board Meeting, International Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, 1964.
Parramatta, New South Wales.
Western Pacific Regional Conference of World Health Organization, 1963.
Centenary of Local Government, Mailland, New South Wales, 1963. 10th Anniversary of Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II , 1963.
Centenary of Nepean River (N.S.W.)
Railway Bridge, 1963. 2nd Congress Asia - Pacific Academy of Opthalmology, 1964.
Sir Dallas Brooks.
Road Trains. 7th Australian Scout Jamboree, 1964-65.
Sister Kenny and Albert Namatjira.
Centenary of Esperance (W.A.), 1964.
International World Congress, Junior Chamber of Commerce, 1964. 50th Anniversary International Junior Chamber of Commerce, 1965. 150th Anniversary of the Settlement of Wollongong, 1966. 50th Anniversary of the Australian Division of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries, 1964.
Sir Winston Churchill.
Easter, 1964. (Requests in respect of the above occasions were repeated in several instances.)
b asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
The total number of unduplicated route miles of the Ansett airline group is 51,782 miles and total ports served 249, made up as follows. -
In answering the honorable member’s question 224 the number of unduplicated route miles of Trans-Australia Airlines was stated to be 21,403. This related to Australian services only and a further 4,798 miles should be added for Papua and New Guinea.
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
How many indigenous persons of the Territory of Papua ‘and New Guinea hold commissioned rank in any branch of the armed services?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
There are no indigenous persons holding commissioned rank in the armed services in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. There are, however, two young indigenes undertaking training at the Officer Cadet School at Portsea, Victoria-, at the present time and it is expected that a further two or three will commence similar training next year with a view to their ultimate appointment as officers in the Pacific Islands Regiment.
Breakwater at Jervis Bay. (Question No. 292.)
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Has any consideration been given to the provision of a breakwater linking Bowen Island with the mainland at Jervis Bay to facilitate safe deepwater anchorage for naval vessels and to provide an alternative port for naval and merchant vessels in times of hostilities?
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following information: -
No. The provision of a breakwater between Bowen Island and the mainland would not provide a safe, deepwater anchorage at Jervis Bay.
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following information: -
s asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– There are approximately 6,800 blind persons receiving the pension. The Postmaster-General’s Department has supplied the following information: - 1. (a) The average cost over the Commonwealth of providing a telephone service, including a proportionate share of the associated line work, junction cable, exchange equipment and buildings, is £570. (b) The annual rental charged in the metropolitan exchange areas of Sydney and Melbourne for a residential service is £14 12s. 6d., and for each new service a connexion fee of £10 is charged at the time the service is provided.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasury has supplied the following information: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 September 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19630926_reps_24_hor40/>.