25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 3.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have received a return to a writ I issued on 26th October 1964 for the election of a member to serve for the electoral Division of Robertson in the State of New South Wales to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Roger Levinge Dean. By the endorsement on the writ it is certified that Crawford William BridgesMaxwell has been elected.
-I have to announce that on 21st January 1965 I received from the Honorable Hugh Stevenson Roberton a letter resigning his seat for the electoral Division of Riverina in the State of New South Wales. I have to inform the House that I issued a writ on 26th January 1965 for the election of a member to serve for the electoral Division of Riverina in the place of Mr. Roberton. I have received a return to the writ and by the endorsement thereon it is certified that Adam Alexander Armstrong has been elected.
Mr. Crawford William Bridges-Maxwell was introduced and made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the Division of Robertson, New South Wales.
Mr. Adam Alexander Armstrong was introduced and made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the Division of Riverina, New South Wales.
– I wish to inform the House of changes which have taken place in the Ministry since we last met and of consequential changes in Ministerial arrangements. Following the untimely death of Senator Wade, last November, my colleague, the Honorable R. W. C. Swartz, then Minister for Repatriation, was sworn in as Minister for Health. Senator the Honorable G. Colin McKellar was later appointed Minister for Repatriation.
Also since the House rose, the Honorable H. S. Roberton has been appointed Australian Ambassador to Ireland. Subsequent to Mr. Roberton’s retirement from the Ministry the Honorable Ian McCahon Sinclair was appointed Minister for Social Services.
In the matter of Ministerial representation in the other chamber, Mr. Swartz will represent in this House the Minister for Repatriation. In the Senate, Senator Anderson will now represent the PostmasterGeneral and Senator McKellar will represent the Ministers for Primary Industry, Interior, Health and Air. Apart from these, representation arrangements are unchanged.
– Mr. Speaker, since the House last met, as we all know, the death of the Right Honorable Sir Winston Churchill has occurred. A great deal has been said and written about this great man, and repetition would perhaps not strengthen but only weaken our tributes to his memory. Many of us have had repeated opportunities to say something about him. He had a very long and, frequently, turbulent political career. He literally flourished on controversy. He loved politics, for politics he saw as a battle. In his greatest days during the war, with a then victorious enemy astride Europe a few miles away across the English Channel, he burned like a flame and gave courage and hope to millions all around the world.
He was indeed the great initiating architect of victory.
You, Sir, and I, and many of us here, have said all this before and have said it quite truly. For myself, today, I want just to add two observations to those that have already been made. The first is that it was, when we come to think of it, providential that world-wide radio broadcasting had been established before the war. But for this, we and millions of others would have read reports of Churchill’s words but would not have heard his voice or been stirred by its fire and resolution. With broadcasting, he became more than a distant leader. He became a living presence and a soaring spirit in countless homes and hearts in his own land and in many other lands beyond the seas. Because of this, he became a world leader quickly and surely in a period of crisis when speed and resolution were both urgent and imperative.
My second observation, Sir, derives from a close personal association with Sir Winston Churchill in the earlier months of 1941. He never under-estimated difficulties, but he was never cast down by them. Indeed, he had a habit of mind that, perhaps, I should record. He would state a problem in dark and gloomy terms - the gloomier the better, in a sense - omitting nothing. Having done this, he would go on to the attack, almost tearing the difficulties aside one by one, until his listener could see victory clearly ahead. And I mean victory. Churchill had no patience with those who thought that though actual defeat might be avoided the chances of real victory were remote. He believed in victory with passion and superhuman energy and stout-hearted confidence. For that, we, in a country that he did not ever see, will always honour him and remember him.
But may I add a word about Lady Churchill, his gifted and loyal companion over the years? She is a very great lady in her own right. In her own way she made an immense contribution to her husband’s achievements, and I am sure we are all thinking of her today. I move -
That this House records with regret the death of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, a Knight of the Garter, holder of the Order of Merit, Companion of Honour, after a lifetime of distinguished service to his Sovereign and country, and to the world. It also places on record its admiration of and gratitude for his indomitable leadership in time of war, his magnificent and successful devotion to the cause of freedom and his outstanding contribution to parliamentary democracy; shares with the people of Britain their profound loss and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family.
– The Opposition supports the resolution. There is little that anybody can add to the millions of words that have been said in tribute to the memory of the late Sir Winston Churchill. “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here “, if I may quote the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, because our words cannot adorn his deeds. As an Englishman defending freedom his deeds are shining, brave and imperishable.
Churchill was one of the very few great men of history of whom it can be said with some certainty that the judgment of history upon him will not differ in essence from the balance of judgment of his contemporaries. There will always be disputes and revisions of opinion about this or that aspect of his long and controversial career, but this is inevitable with one who spent 60 intensely active years in the politics of his nation, and of the world. There will be disputes about, and much just criticism of, his record in the domestic affairs of Britain. There will also be disputes about, and equally justifiable criticisms of, his strategic concepts in two world wars. But there will be no dispute about the central, ultimate fact of his life - his leadership of beleaguered Britain in 1940 and 1941.
He was the first among world statesmen to divine fully the utterly evil nature of Nazism and Fascism. He was the first to warn against it. And when the time came, he was recognised as the only man equipped to lead Britain against these twin evils. His coming to power in 1940 was one of the many paradoxes of his career. The British Labour Party, which he always bitterly opposed, insisted that he, and he only should lead. Attlee demanded that Chamberlain must go and equally resolutely rejected the suggestion that Halifax, or any other Conservative, should succeed Chamberlain. Even though the Tory Establishment was opposed to the idea of having Churchill, the rebel, as Prime Minister it had to accept him. And so Churchill became Prime Minister. It can be said with much truth that his life up till then had been a preparation for 1940, and that his life after it was, in a sense, a postscript. Of his own part of the great struggle, he said that it had been the British race around the globe which had the lion’s heart; he had merely provided the lion’s roar. That was the humility of greatness. Primarily, Churchill spoke for the people of Britain, and spoke to the people of Britain. But because of what Britain’s resistance stood for, because it represented the last beacon light of freedom in Europe, he inevitably became the spokesman for the world at war with the Axis powers.
As the war widened to the Pacific, with the entry of Japan on the side of the Axis powers, a conflict of priorities arose as to the future conduct of the global war. Churchill committed himself fiercely to the doctrine of beating Hitler first and, as an Englishman, he was entitled to do that. But with the enemy sweeping down towards us, swiftly and seemingly invincibly, the Australian Government under John Curtin did not, and could not possibly, accept this concept. For us - and we were right - the Pacific war was equally important as the Atlantic war. The terrible argument that Australia could be reconquered after the fall of Hitler held little appeal to a country which had voluntarily stripped itself of its most meagre defences to help Britain.
The Australian Government was shocked at Churchill’s suggestion. Churchill would never have accepted that argument for Britain. And, equally sincerely, Curtin rightly rejected it for Australia. We, as Australians, are as much in Curtin’s debt as we, as free citizens of the world, are in Churchill’s debt.
Last month, the obsequies for Winston Spencer Churchill were conducted with fitting solemn pomp and circumstance. But these obsequies were, in a very real sense, the obsequies not for Churchill alone, but for an institution - the institution called the “ British Empire “. If the Empire’s committal to the tomb of history was delayed so long after the Empire’s actual end, it was because of the remarkable survival to his 91st year of its last great proconsul, the last living symbol of its power. From the Empire, something different, something better - the Commonwealth of free and independent nations - has emerged. But it is one of the many paradoxes of his career that Churchill, who was determined not to preside over the dissolution of the Empire, did, in fact, do just that. This was the inevitable result of two world wars, and the new forces released by them. And it was also the logical outcome of the call to freedom for all men, so eloquently expressed by Churchill himself when freedom was in danger.
That Churchill ultimately, though perhaps not eagerly, accepted the inevitable in this regard is not the least of his claims to greatness. There were elements of the heroic built into this man of many human failings. And this, perhaps, is why the democracies of the world have been so delighted to honour him. For his achievements showed that, in the hour of greatest need and deepest peril, democracy - parliamentary democracy - can raise up its heroes, its authentic heroes, like Churchill, like Roosevelt, beside whom the gimcrack dictators of totalitarianism stand as shrivelled, squalid spectres to be brushed aside by man as he marches, in the words of Churchill’s vision, towards the “broad, sunlit uplands “.
Churchill stood like a Pharos light in the most troubled seas of history, beaconing on the troubled and the distressed to the haven of freedom from a life of terror and oppression. May the freedom he helped to inspire and defend be the ultimate possession of all who suffer under totalitarianism anywhere, and may his name be honoured always for his great services to freedom’s cause.
– I desire to associate the Australian Country Party with the motion proposed by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I join in this tribute to the greatest Englishman of his time. It has fallen to the lot of few men in history to make, in a lifetime, so great a mark in periods of peace and in crises of war. Sir Winston Churchill dedicated his life to the preservation of freedom and to the preservation of the democratic institutions. No man whom we might have known and no man of whom we might have read has ever blazed with a more indomitable character than did Churchill, a magnificent statesman and a magnificent orator who, as the Prime Minister has said, with the aid of the medium of broadcasting carried his word of encouragement and hope, and sometimes of denunciation, to the whole world and made his tremendous impact upon the world in the period of greatest crisis.
Churchill never shrank from difficult issues. In the 1930’s when it was perhaps not the most popular thing to do to identify the fear that should have been held of Nazism and Fascism, Churchill spoke out. He led a small but tremendously important band who helped to formulate public opinion on those issues in the right direction. On that occasion - and not for the first time - he was ahead of his contemporaries in his thinking. As we know, he was called by his Parliament - and indeed by his nation - to the leadership of his country in its greatest hour of crisis. In that great office he not only led his own country and the people of the British Commonwealth of Nations but also inspired the enslaved people of Europe to hope and confidence that they could again be free notwithstanding the blackness of the hour at that time. He inspired in them hope and a will for victory. That will for victory pervaded far, based upon the advocacies and attitudes of Churchill himself.
Sir Winston Churchill exemplified, as few persons have done, the capacity of a human being - of one man - to carry masses of people to heights of dedication and willingness to serve based upon his convincing them of the moral righteousness of the issue he was advocating. This indeed was one of his great outstanding achievements. So I and the Australian Country Party which I lead join in mourning the passing of a great man and in paying a tribute to his service. We express here in this Parliament our profound thanks for his services and we extend our deep sympathy to his widow, Lady Churchill, and his family.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– Senator Harrie Walter Wade died at Horsham on 18th November 1964. He had been Minister for Health since 22nd December 1961 after having served for one year as Minister for Air. He was Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate from March 1961 and had served in a number of committees and delegations after his election to the Parliament in the 1955 general elections. Senator Wade was a member of the Parliamentary delegation to Japan in 1958. He was a member of the House Committee from 6th September 1956 to 18th November 1959. a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts from 6th August 1958 to 15th March 1961, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Payments to Maritime Unions in 1958 and a member of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety in 1959-60.
Senator Wade had been active in public life before his election to the Senate. He was a member of the Arapiles Shire Council from 1941 to 1954 and of the Horsham City Council from 1955 to 1961. For a four-year period between 1954 and 1958, he served as President of the Victorian Rural Fire Brigades Association. Senator Wade also served for two years between 1952 and 1954 as State President of the Victorian Country Party. He is survived by a widow and a son.
That is a brief narrative of Senator Wade’s remarkably versatile experience and services in Australia. I first met him when he was President of the Victorian Country Party. At that time, when certain discussions were being conducted, I formed a very high opinion of his knowledge and his complete reasonableness and at no later time did I ever have cause to alter my first impression. Harrie Wade, to put it shortly, was a man of sensitive understanding and complete integrity. He was a colleague to be trusted at all times. I venture to say that it will be recognised more and more as time goes on that he was a really notable Minister for Health. In short he was a great and lovable all round man. To know him was to have an affection for him. To know him was to respect his capacity and his honesty of judgment. On all counts those of us who were closely associated with him, particularly in later years, came to have a deep respect and affection for him. We will remember him all our lives. I say those things because they are true and because I would like his widow and son to know that we all believe that they are true. I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death on 18th November 1964 of the Honorable Harrie Walter Wade, a senator for the State of Victoria and a Minister of the Crown, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– The Opposition also mourns the passing so unexpectedly of Harrie Walter Wade. We on this side of the House wish to be associated with the condolences which the House would like to offer to his widow and son in their very sad bereavement and irreparable loss.
Harrie Wade was a very quiet man of strong character. He was a very reasonable and friendly man. One always felt in speaking with him that one was talking with a person of great conviction, integrity and honesty. He had a very long and varied career. He first stood for Parliament in 1949. On that occasion he sought election to . this House for the electorate of Wimmera. Had he entered this chamber on that occasion I have no doubt that his many outstanding qualities would have marked him down for ministerial preferment quite early in his political career. He would have been a Minister for much longer than was vouchsafed to him when he did become a member of the Government in 1960. 1 am sure that everybody who knew him and who thought he was enjoying remarkably good health was astounded to hear that he had had a heart attack and was deeply shocked when a few weeks later he met an untimely death.
Members of the Labour Party wish to be associated with all that has been said by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) about Harrie Wade. We wish to be closely associated with the sympathy which both Houses of this Parliament would like to extend to his widow and son.
– I wish to associate the members of the Australian Country Party with the motion before the House. It is with great sadness that I speak for my colleagues in mourning the loss of Harrie Wade, who was one of our distinguished colleagues as a distinguished member of the Senate and a distinguished Minister of the
Grown. Harrie Wade had many fine qualities of character and leadership. Those of us who knew Harrie Wade and Mrs. Wade soon learned that here was a couple whom one could respect and for whom one could have affection. And I think that was the feeling of all with whom they came in contact in Canberra. At the very highest level on which I knew Harrie Wade - that of Cabinet Minister - he was regarded as a man of very sound and constructive administrative capacity. No person holding high office could be more approachable than Harrie Wade was.
Senator Wade’s ultimate service here followed a long apprenticeship in public life. He served for 20 years in the municipal sphere, first as a member of the Arapiles Shire Council and then, for five or six years, on the council of his native city of Horsham. He took part in almost every public activitity in the rural district in which he lived and worked. His interests included farm industry organisation and rural fire brigades. Indeed, he was President of the Victorian Rural Fire Brigades Association from 1954 to 1956. So widespread were his interests that at the time of his death he was President of the Central Wimmera Football League.
In the political life of the country, he served with great activity in the Australian Country Party for some 20 years. As the Prime Minister has reminded us, he was President of the Victorian Country Party for a period. He then served in this Parliament as a senator. Eventually he became Minister for Air and later Minister for Health. Those of us who either worked closely with him or observed from a greater distance his work as Minister for Health could not help but be impressed by his constructive approach to the administration of that rather difficult and at times tormenting portfolio. He devoted himself to it with considerable success.
While carrying out his onerous duties, Senator Wade continued always to win more friends and, to my knowledge, had very few critics indeed. As has been said by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, he was a man of great personal probity. His integrity was clear for all to perceive and, with all these qualities, he was a very kindly and approachable man. Those of us who were his friends in the
Australian Country Party mourn his passing very greatly indeed and we extend our most profound sympathy to Mrs. Wade and his son.
– As one who was very closely associated with our late Senate colleague for a good many years, I should like to be associated personally with the motion of condolence now before the Chair. This is a time not for many words but rather for sincere words, and mine will be few.
Senator Wade’s untimely death came as a severe shock to those of us who knew him well and who believed him to be well on the road to recovery. He was a very devoted man. He was devoted to his family and to the people he represented. Above all, he was devoted to whatever task he set out to do. His last thoughts were for the future of his family, for his son in particular.
Harrie Wade never lost sight of the fact that this was a truly democratic country in which we all have an equal voice. At the same time, he always fought for what he thought was right. I believe that no party, government or country can lose a man of the calibre of Senator Wade without leaving a gap which is hard, if not impossible, to fill. I support the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– May I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that as a token of respect the sitting be suspended until 8 o’clock?
– I feel sure that the suggestion made by the Prime Minister meets with the concurrence of the House. As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased the sitting is suspended until 8 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 4.7 to 8 p.m.
– I have to inform the House that the Honorable W. B. Tennent, M.P., Chairman of the General Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, is within the precincts. With the concurrence of honorable members, I propose to provide him with a seat on the floor of the House.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear! (Mr. Tennent thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly.)
– I ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. On information received - he will remember those words from his police court days-
– On information received, I proceeded to the corner of - yes, I remember.
– On information received, I understand that the Martin Committee has presented its report to the Government. I understand, too, that the Government has considered the first two sections or volumes of the report. 1 also understand that the third volume is of very little consequence. My question is: When does the Prime Minister propose to lay the paper or document on the table? Alternatively, when does he propose to make a statement on the contents of the document? Fnally, when does he intend to announce the policy of the Government on the contents of the document?
– As a result of discussions that we have had, I expect that a statement will be made on this matter if not this week, then at least early next week. I will then table the report insofar as it has been made and I will indicate the Government’s view.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. To avoid misunderstanding or confusion regarding the word “Commonwealth”, will the Government consider using the word “ Australia “ or the word “ Federal “ whenever possible, in order to distinguish the Commonwealth of Australia from the Commonwealth of Nations and Commonwealth countries?
– I am grateful to the honorable member for his suggestion. I would remind him that this Territory once was called the Federal Capital Territory, and in my own time it was decided that the Territory ought to be called the Australian Capital Territory. That is completely in line with his own thinking. I have not given enough consideration to the rest of the question; but I will.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether any definite decision has been made on the request for financial assistance to complete the second stage of the Ord River project. If so, when is an announcement likely to be made? If, on the other hand, a decision has not been made, is the Prime Minister able to say when one will be made?
– No decision has been made on this matter. I cannot say at present when a decision will be made; but it will be made as soon as possible after a complete examination of the project has been made.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation say to what extent the Parliamentary Public Works Committee is holding up the construction of the Tullamarine jet port in Melbourne? Is it correct to say that this jet port will not be operational in 1967, as planned, and that the British Overseas Airways Corporation has eliminated certain flights to Australia as a result of that? As Melbourne gives the stimulus and drive to the Australian economy, will the Minister confirm that the Government will make every effort to adhere to the original construction plans?
– I will see that the honorable member’s question is conveyed to my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation, in another place. I understand that the Minister at present has the matter of the Tullamarine Airport under most active consideration. He has informed me that he hopes to make a statement on it fairly shortly.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Was there, or is there, any economic significance in the recent move by the Government to increase the bank interest rate? Does this move indicate that the Government intends to impose economic controls similar to those that it applied in 1960, with similar disastrous results? If this is not its intention, will the Government state its views and its intentions in this field for the benefit of the population generally?
– The answer to the first part of the question is “ Yes “, and to the second part, “ No “. In the course of the session no doubt there will be opportunities for a general economic discussion covering the topic the honorable member has mentioned.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. The honorable gentleman will no doubt recall that one of the reasons the Government gave against the implementation of a national service training scheme was the lack of trained personnel and instructors. I am sure the Minister will agree that without sufficient numbers of trained instructors no such scheme could be successful. I therefore ask the Minister whether he can tell the House what progress has been made in obtaining sufficient instructors to ensure the success of the scheme now in operation.
– I can say that considerable progress has been made. The key staff of the recruit training battalions which will train selective servicemen when the scheme commences have been appointed and have started work. Posting action in relation to other staff has commenced, and these will be on the spot well before the scheme comes into full operation. I have no doubt whatsoever that when the scheme begins to operate, instructors of very high quality, not only in respect of recruit training but also in respect of the three months corps training that will follow, will be ready to undertake their task.
– Is the Treasurer satisfied that present pension rates are adequate? Following his talks with officers of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation on 24th February has he any plans to meet the needs of pensioners at an early date? Further, does he contemplate taking any steps to protect the purchasing power of pension payments?
– I suppose there are few matters in the realm of Govern ment activity in relation to which one can say that one is satisfied at any given point that one has done all that could have been hoped to achieve desired results. What the Government has to do - and this Parliament, of course, has to approve the Government’s decisions - is to decide year by year a balanced allocation of the revenues of the Commonwealth towards a great variety of purposes. This Government can claim that it has at Budget time, year by year, given sympathetic consideration to the situation of pensioners. An increasing proportion of people of pensionable age have become eligible for pensions during the lifetime of this Government. The proportion of national income going to pensioners has increased, so that today it is quite considerably higher than it was when we took office.
– Complete nonsense.
– It is not complete nonsense; it is a statement of fact which the honorable gentleman can check if he chooses to do so. I think that pensioners have recognised the good faith of the Government and the improved conditions that it has provided for them. This Government has introduced a number of new policy arrangements that have benefited them, including the aged persons’ homes scheme and medical and pharmaceutical benefits for pensioners. Perhaps this is one reason why they give us such substantial support when they have the opportunity every three years.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Can he tell the House whether the Government has yet considered proposals concerning the marketing of the Australian wool clip that have been submitted by the Australian Wool Board? If the Cabinet has come to any decision on this matter, can the Minister tell the House when some information can be given to the Parliament?
– As I intimated to the House earlier, the Government referred this subject to an interdepartmental committee for advice. That committee’s report has now been received. I am working on it and I hope to be able to make a statement in the very near future.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service Will he explain the reasons for the remarkable secrecy surrounding the first conscription ballot recently held in Melbourne? Will he state whether, and if so, why, Press, radio and television representatives were asked to leave after the first marble had been drawn from the lottery barrel and why the honorable member for Higinbotham said that the public had no right to know the result of the ballot? Will the Minister state what the Government is trying to hide, particularly when the lives of boys too young to vote are involved? Will he also give an undertaking that, in order to dispel grave public disquiet at the manner in which the ballot was conducted, the next one will be drawn by the Minister himself, or by a Justice of the High Court of Australia, in a prominent public place, not in an obscure board room of a government office under the supervision only of members of the Liberal Party of Australia?
– The reason why the ballot was drawn in the way in which it was drawn by my colleague, the honorable member for Corangamite, a few days ago is that by far the great majority of the young men who should register for national service training have, in fact, done so. When the figures become available, it will be found that only a very small minority have failed to register. It is probable that those who have not registered will be found to represent not much more than 1 or 2 per cent, of those who should have registered. The Government is proud of this. Tt shows that young men are willing to undertake national service training.
Our purpose in conducting the ballot as we did and in not making the birthday dates publicly available was to prevent those who might attempt to evade the provisions of the National Service Act from having notice of the relevant dates. Those who had not already registered could, if they had notice of the dates, subsequently register, giving false statements of the date of birth. It is true that, by asking for the production of birth certificates and by other adminis trative action, we could attempt to overcome this problem. However, the fact is that notice of the dates would inevitably give to a person who wished to evade national service training an advantage that we do not think he should have.
I now turn to a second consideration. Several processes have to be gone through and there are a number of reasons why people should not be called up even though they may have been in the ballot and their birthdates may have been drawn.
– What are they?
– For example, a man may be married and may have his training indefinitely deferred. He may be medically unfit.
– He may have a good friend in the Liberal Party.
– That is an accusation against the civil service itself. For all the reasons I have given, we have adopted the practice that was followed when national service training was last in existence. This system operated satisfactorily then. While there were some complaints at the beginning, as the scheme continued the complaints ceased. We believe that on this occasion, because of the great advantages in its favour and because it protects the details given to us on the registration forms, the previous method of conducting the ballot should again be adopted. As I have said, when the previous scheme came to an end, we were not receiving complaints about it.
– I refer to a telecast originally made, I understand, on Station HSV7 in Melbourne on 7th March. It has been alleged that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition then stated that he was politically “ well to the left of Mr. Calwell and inclined to the outlook of Dr. Cairns “.
– To whom is the honorable member directing his question?
– Yes, Sir. I ask the Minister-
– Order! Which Minister?
– The PostmasterGeneral. Since not all honorable members have had an opportunity to view this telecast, and since it is important for them to know exactly how far to the left the Deputy Leader of the Opposition considers himself to be, can the Minister suggest any arrangement by which this telecast might be shown to honorable members? In the event of the station concerned consenting to the loan of the video tape, could the Minister request the Australian Broadcasting Commission to make its technical facilities available in Canberra so that honorable members can see this interview for themselves in its original form?
– The honorable member will know that I have very limited authority under the Act to give directions as to what matters shall or shall not be telecast. I think this is a matter for a private arrangement between the honorable member and the station concerned’. If the station that telecast the programme is willing to make the video tape available to the honorable member, it is a matter for him to see whether he can enter into an arrangement with the Australian Broadcasting Commission to show it to honorable members. The Commission has full control of its operations. I will be happy to refer his question to the Commission.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is he aware of the submission made by counsel appearing for the Commonwealth in the present basic wage case to the effect that the Government believes it cannot do otherwise than say to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission that an increase in the basic wage at this juncture would be fraught with great danger to the economy? If he is aware of this submission, will he say why the Government is opposing an increase in the basic wage designed merely to restore the purchasing power of workers to the standard set by the basic wage decision given last year?
– The honorable gentleman is correct in one respect and that is that counsel for the Commonwealth did say that an increase in the basic wage at this time would be fraught with great danger. The appropriate place to argue the log of claims filed by the employers and the counter-log of claims filed by the trade union is before the Arbitration Commission. The case is being argued there. The employers have already presented their case and the Commonwealth, which intervened in the public interest, has already presented a detailed case to the Commission. It has presented a Treasury statement relating to the facts, has put in a book of exhibits and has also put in a statement relating to the trends in the economy and argument associated with them. We stand on that. It is in the transcript of evidence. It is now up to the parties to argue their cases to the best of their ability to achieve the interests of their clients. In our case, it is up to us to assist in the public interest to the best of our ability.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. The Minister will recall that during the immediate past sittings of this House he, in answer to questions and in speeches, outlined his plan for supplementary training of adults with a view to making more skilled workers available to industry. As four months have elapsed, I ask: What progress has been made towards the bringing of this plan into operation?
– My Department has had several series of discussions with the metal and electrical trades unions, but we have not so far been able to persuade the unions to agree to a scheme of supplementary training. However, during the course of the last two weeks a meeting was held in Canberra, with the main metal trades and electrical unions, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and ourselves participating. The unions then agreed that they would meet under the leadership of the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, would look at the facts and arguments again and, if they thought it desirable, would submit proposals to my Department for consideration. That is the situation at the moment. What will be of interest to the House and in particular to the honorable gentleman who asked the question is that from the latest employment statistics it will be seen that in the industries with which we are concerned - metal, electrical, vehicle building and building trades - the number of vacancies for skilled men far exceeds the number of people available. What I think should influence the unions in their thinking is that this year the number of apprenticeships available is far in excess of the number of young people who are taking apprenticeships. We are still hopeful that the trade unions will be able to put to the Department proposals that can be looked at. As soon as I can announce something concrete to the House I will do so.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. In view of the latest increase in trading bank interest rates - the fourth in the life of the present Government - and the discussions now proceeding between the Reserve Bank of Australia and the savings banks on the subject of interest rates, can the right honorable gentleman give an assurance that the Reserve Bank and the savings banks have in mind the possibility of avoiding a rise in interest rates on existing as well as future housing loans such as has followed every previous rise in trading bank interest rates? As Leader of the House as well as Treasurer, can he say whether he expects an announcement to be made on this matter before the House resumes the debate on the Housing Loans Insurance Bill, which is ostensibly designed to secure lower interest rates and avoid interest on housing loans?
– As to the last part of the honorable gentleman’s question, I shall examine the practicability of that. I understand that another housing measure is to come before the House shortly, so there will be an additional opportunity for debate. However, I would not expect the second reading of the Housing Loans Insurance Bill to have been concluded before the talks that he refers to have been conducted, but I am not proposing to answer the honorable gentleman at this stage on that specific matter. He will be quite well aware that these measures are taken in order to preserve a proper balance in the state of the economy. He will know that the labour situation, as disclosed in the latest figures released by my colleague, shows the country to be very fully engaged, so far as the labour force is concerned. In the December quarter of this year there were about 28,000 new commencements of domestic dwelling units.
– But that does not affect existing loans.
– The point I am making is that these measures are taken in relation to the total economy of the country. Of course, the incidental consequence on some people is that they will pay more for a particular service. If that service is money and the price of money goes up, people will pay more for it. There have been occasions when these interest rate adjustments have moved downwards. If honorable gentlemen opposite are trying to argue that there should be no flexibility in interest rates in order to control movements in the economy so that we can maintain prosperity and full employment, let them say so. But the policy of the Government is directed to those objectives, and these various means are adopted in order to keep the country moving steadily forward prosperously and with our people in full employment.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry concerning trade expansion. Is it a fact that Australia has achieved a share of Middle East trade amounting to approximately £20 million in recent years? Does the Minister support the view that sales of our goods could be lifted to approximately £50 million a year in this area? Because of the much larger teams of trade officials from competing major countries located in Beirut, for example, will the Minister look into the possibility of strengthening the Australian staff at trade posts throughout the Middle East?
– It is true that as an outcome, I think, of joint Government and commercial activity, Australian exports to what one might call the Middle East have increased very considerably over recent years. We have had a succession of trade missions to the Middle East countries and they have contributed to this end result. The honorable member has mentioned £20 million a year in relation to this trade. I have not the figure in my mind but it is quite substantial. In addition to this succession of trade missions, we have opened up additional Trade Commissioner posts, partly on the advice of the trade missions themselves and partly guided by experience. I think the last new post we opened was in the Persian Gulf area at Bahrein. So we are progressively increasing the number of posts and, where necessary, we are also increasing the staffing of our trade posts. The honorable member may be assured that what he has in mind is under active observation all the time.
Mr.J. R. FRASER. - I ask the Minister for the Interior: As he has achieved what his predecessors have found neither possible nor justified by arranging to have the street lights of Canberra left on all night, will he pursue the paths of reform a little further by amending the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act so as to remove all restrictions on the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capital Territory, particularly as the enrolment in this electorate now exceeds that in at least 25 electorates represented in this chamber by members with full voting rights, including at least two Ministers?
– This is a matter to which I have naturally given a lot of thought; but it is a question of policy and it is not for me to make any comment on it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs concerning Vietnam and I preface it by saying that during his recent visit to Hanoi, Mr. Kosygin undertook to supply further aid to the North Vietnamese. Is the Minister in a position to say whether such aid will be substantial? Have the South Vietnamese authorities or the Americans requested Australia to give further support in South Vietnam? Further, will the Minister be in a position soon to make a statement on foreign affairs generally?
– Subject to the arrangement of the business of the House I propose to make a statement next week, probably on Tuesday evening, about foreign affairs. I have no precise knowledge of what transpired when Mr. Kosygin visited North Vietnam - whether he made exact promises or whether those promises have been fulfilled. However, my impression of the situation is that the Soviet Union is in a very reflective mood about the whole of its relations with South-East Asia. When my colleague, the Minister for Defence, was in Saigon recently he announced on behalf of the Government some increases in the aid which Australia is giving to South Vietnam. Since that point of time no further request has been made of the Australian Government by the Government of South Vietnam.
– My question to the
Prime Minister relates to the appointment of a successor to Lord De L’Isle. Does the Prime Minister agree that many eminent Australians are capable of filling the office of Governor-General with dignity and distinction? Will the right honorable gentleman, by recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen, give recognition to the obviously strong public support, evident in public opinion polls and newspapers, for the appointment of an Australian to this high office?
– My good friend from Bendigo should have been here long enough to know that this is one of those matters I do not debate in advance. When an appointment is made it will be announced. I am happy to say that I received a letter today from some completely unsophisticated fellow who said that he thought I ought to be the GovernorGeneral. For anybody who understands my well-known views on stiff shirts and collars to suggest that I should be a GovernorGeneral is too funny for words. I urge the honorable member to remain patient because there is nothing hidden that shall not be made known.
– Confidentially, could you be persuaded to change your mind?
– Am I allowed to repeat that?
– Confidentially, yes.
– I repeat what the Leader of the Opposition has just said to me, confidentially: Could I be persuaded to change my name - not my name - my mind, which is much more important. The answer is: “No”.
– Does the Minister for Social Services intend to continue the policy followed by his predecessor and establish regional offices of the Department of Social Services in decentralised areas? If so, will he make investigations with a view to ascertaining whether the cities of Mildura and Swan Hill meet the requirements for the establishment of such offices?
– May I say, first, that I hope to be able to continue in some measure the very excellent work done by my predecessor. Knowing something of the dried fruits industry, which is important to the area represented by my honorable friend, I have no doubt that decentralisation in terms of social services as well as productivity is something that my Department as well as all other fields of government should aspire to.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Primary Industry by reminding him that Mr. Atkins, Tasmanian Minister for Agriculture, and Tasmanian authorities some time ago completed consideration of the new proposals designed to give some relief to settlers on King Island. In view of the seriousness of the position and the fact that it is getting worse as time goes on, will the Minister say whether his Department has completed its consideration of these proposals? When may we expect a ministerial statement on the matter?
– The committee set up by the Tasmanian Minister for Agriculture has submitted its report, a copy of which has been supplied to me. Consequent upon that, I asked him and his officers to come to Canberra, which they did. We had a conference and subsequently I stated how far the Commonwealth was prepared to go in the matter. The Minister has advised me that he is substantially in agreement with my approach to the question and the Tasmanian officers are in Canberra at the moment finalising the details of the arrangement.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. No doubt the Minister will be aware of the many suggestions made in various quarters that sinister influences, exclusive of the exertions of the honorable members for Hindmarsh and Yarra, have been active in the Mount Isa strike which is holding the Australian economy to ransom and affecting our overseas earnings. I ask whether there is any truth in these suggestions and what action the Commonwealth can take in connection with this strike.
– I rise to order. The honorable member’s question consists of nothing more than assertions and comments. Therefore, it is out of order.
– Order! The honorable member is directing a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I suggest that he should do so with discretion.
– I think it is well known not only to the House but to the public generally that the two gentlemen referred to by the honorable member for La Trobe-
– What are you doing?
– I know what I think of them, and I will describe them in a moment. The honorable member for Hindmarsh is one of the people who might almost be described as the founder and perhaps the guiding light of what is called the Committee for Membership Control. The Mount Isa Committee is a renegade organisation bitterly opposed to the Australian Workers Union, and honorable members opposite have to make up their minds whether they are for the Committee for Membership Control or the Australian Workers Union. The Committee for Membership Control is also strongly influenced by the Queensland Trades and Labour Council which, for its part, is under strong Communist influence.
It is well known that the men at Mount Isa are anxious to go back to work and that they would go back to work were it not for the coercion and intimidation largely instigated and kept up by the members of the C.M.C. The honorable member for Hindmarsh knows more about its activities than does any other person in this House.
I come now to the part played by the other gentleman referred to. I do not think he has taken a prominent part in the strike, except that when one of the leaders was in
Melbourne he paraded that man with various members of the Marxist group of Communists in Australia. He also sent a cheque to support the C.M.C.’s activities which were designed to ensure that members did not go back to work.
I would like to say to the House - I think it ought to be said - that, as at the moment, 1,460 men have gone back to work at Mount Isa. That number represents onethird of the total work force employed at Mount Isa prior to the date on which the series of strikes commenced. It includes 550 at the mines, 770 staff members and 105 contractors. The balance is made up of the staff of the contractors.
I think we can take it that, were it not for coercion and intimidation, large numbers of additional people would go back to work. We have some hope that commonsense may prevail and the C.M.C. at Mount Isa will be shown up for the organisation that it is - an organisation determined to disrupt industrial activity in Queensland, to destroy the Australian Workers Union and now co-operating with the Communists in preventing the development of Queensland industry.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether he has investigated the tying up of Australian owned and Australian manned oil tankers because of a reported shortage of oil cargoes on the Australian coast. If not, will he investigate the claim that certain practices are being followed whereby cargoes are made available when the ships are not available, and when the ships are available cargoes are not available?
– I do not know exactly what kind of investigation the honorable member wants me to carry out. I can give him a little information about the situation which apparently has not reached the Press. Some very lurid and alarming statements have been made to the Press which are hardly in accordance with facts. Ten Australian flag tankers are operating on the Australian coast. At the moment, one of them is without cargo. This is one of the R. W. Miller & Co. Pty. Ltd. tankers. This company operates three tankers on the Australian coast, and in the six months up to today there has been a total of 39 days on which those tankers have not had cargo. 1 leave the House to decide whether that amounts to largescale unemployment of Australian flag tankers.
As to the permits to be granted to foreign flag tankers to carry oil on the Australian coast when there are no Australian flag tankers available, 26 permits for single voyages have been issued since the beginning of this year. Of those, three or four permits are disputed by the Miller company, which states that its vessels have been available within a reasonable time of the issue of the permits. On examination of all the facts the Department of Shipping and Transport decided that a-n Australian flag tanker was not available within a reasonable time. I can give one simple illustration of the type of dispute that occurs and the kind of judgment which the Department has had to make: On one occasion BP Australia Ltd. at Kwinana asked for a permit for a foreign flag tanker to take a cargo from Kwinana to Adelaide and Melbourne on, I think, 5th March. The R. W. Miller tanker was to be clear of its existing cargo at Newcastle on 10th March, which meant that it could not arrive in Kwinana before about 16th or 17th March, some time after the date on which BP Australia Ltd. stated it required a tanker. After examining the existing situation of petrol stocks in Melbourne, the requirements, and the urgency of the cargo, the Department was satisfied that it was reasonable to grant a permit. That is the kind of judgment we have had to make on every occasion when there has been some suggestion that it has been unfair to grant a permit to a foreign flag vessel. I am satisfied that a reasonable discretion has been exercised in every case. We have been trying to ensure that Australian flag tankers do get cargoes whenever they are reasonably available to lift cargoes.
– I address my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has he followed the progress of that beautiful ship, the “ Empress of Australia “, since her maiden voyage from Sydney to Hobart? Can the Minister say whether the number of passengers and the amount of cargo carried are coming up to expectations?
– I am happy to say there are signs that the “ Empress of Australia “ will be a profitable ship. She got off to a late start, but after one or two voyages, when the passenger loading was not up to capacity and when there was some deficiency in cargo loading from Sydney to Tasmania - though I am happy to say, a fairly full cargo from Hobart to Sydney - the traffic has built up. I am quite confident that as passengers become aware of the excellent facilities offering the voyages will become extremely profitable. I think that only on the last voyage did the ship show an actual profit but, as I said, the first two voyages were upset by a late start. We are very hopeful that she will be as much a success as the “ Princess of Tasmania “ has been.
– Has the Prime Minister seen reports that the Government is most disturbed at the decisions made by the Government of the United States of America to discourage the outflow of capital from that country and to encourage the return of profits? Is it correct that the Prime Minister has decided to plead with the President of the United States to take some offsetting action? Has the Government considered any other action in respect of this matter; and if so, what?
– This problem, of course, has attracted our very close attention, just as no doubt it has exercised the minds of other honorable members. I am bound to say that it is not my practice to make statements about communications that I have with other heads of government until some conclusion has been reached and agreement has been arrived at. However, the honorable member may take it that we are very well aware of the implications for our own country of the United States policy and that we are presenting our views in appropriate quarters, as I think any other Australian or any member of this House would do. But beyond that, I do not feel at liberty to say anything.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate -
Without requests -
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1964.
Without amendment -
States Grants (Water Resources) Bill 1964. Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill 1964. States Grants (Universities) Bill 1964.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Copper and Brass Strip Bounty Bill 1964. Representation Bill 1964. States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill 1964. Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1964. Meat Inspection Arrangements Bill 1964. Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Bill 1964.
Seamen’s Compensation Bill 1964. Papua and New Guinea Bill 1964. Export Payments Insurance Corporation Bill 1964.
Repatriation Bill (No. 2) 1964. Interim Forces Benefits Bill 1964. Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Bill 1964.
Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1964.
Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Bill 1964.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution
Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1964. Income Tax and Social Services Contribution
Bill (No. 2) 1964. Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill (No. 2) 1964. Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill (No. 2)
Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill (No.
Crimes (Overseas) Bill 1964. Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill 1964. Television Stations Licence Fees Bill 1964. Broadcasting Stations Licence Fees Bill 1964. Broadcasting and Television Stations Licence
Fees Repeal Bill 1964. Broadcasting and Television Bill (No. 2) 1964. Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1964-6S. Customs Tariff Bill (No. 4) 1964. Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 4) 1964. Excise Tariff Bill 1964. National Service Bill 1964. States Grants (Water Resources) Bill 1964. Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1964. Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill 1964. States Grants (Universities) Bill 1964.
– I have to inform the House that I have received a copy of the resolution passed by the House of Assembly for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea on the occasion of the presentation of a mace by the Commonwealth Parliament. The resolution is as follows. -
We, the Members of the House of Assembly for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, in House assembled, express our thanks to the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia for the Mace which, by direction of Her Majesty the Queen, they have presented to this House to mark the inauguration of this legislature. In accepting this gift, we do so with a full realization of the good wishes which accompany it and of its significance as a visible symbol of the authority of this House and the role played by British parliamentary traditions in the development of the parliamentary system. We request the members of the Delegation to convey our greetings to their colleagues in the Commonwealth Parliament.
Debate resumed from 15th October 1964 (vide page 1977), on motion by Mr. Freeth -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- In the last year, in the sphere of air navigation Mr. R. M. Ansett has pushed the Commonwealth to exercise, and on two occasions has moved the High Court of Australia to interpret, the Commonwealth’s legislative powers with respect to external affairs and with respect to trade and commerce with other countries and among the States. It is now plain that in the other element of sea navigation the Commonwealth, if it has the will, has the way of passing more comprehensive legislation than this Navigation Bill and the principal act which it amends; and it is also plain that the High Court will not stand in the way of such legislation.
The Menzies Government inherited three government international airlines - Qantas Empire Airways Ltd., British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines Ltd. and Tasman Empire Airways Ltd. It inherited a government interstate airline. It has since assumed overall obligations to a company which numbers air transport among its operations. On the other hand, the Government has refused to operate an overseas or territorial shipping line; it has imposed greater statutory limitations on the Australian National Line than on Trans-Australia Airlines; and it has to deal with a largely defeatist pack of coastal shipping companies. The result of this contrast appears in the relative promptitude and dedication with which the Government carries out its aeronautical obligations and opportunities on the one hand, and its maritime obligations and opportunities on the other.
This Bill amends the Navigation Act of 1912. That principal act is the longest Commonwealth act, except for the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act. It is an impressive act, but a largely dormant one. This Bill is concerned largely with expunging certain sections from the principal act so that other sections can be brought into force at last. I will take them in turn. Division 9 of Part IV. of the principal act - that is sections 236 to 247 inclusive - are repealed by clause 39 of this Bill. All those sections were in the original act of 1912 and were amended considerably in 1921. They have neverbeen brought into force. This Bill proposes to repeal them. The reason for repealing them is that it is now too much trouble to bring in regulations to effectuate them and, in any case, the Navigation (Loading and Unloading- Safety Measures) Regulations cover the same subject matter.
The regulations came into force on 31st October 1961. They were made by the Governor-General on 13 th October 1961 and were notified in the “ Gazette “ on 17th October 1961. They replaced former regulations which were interpreted by the High Court in the case of the Darling Island Stevedoring and Lighterage Co. Ltd. against Long on 3rd May 1957. The former regulations were referred to frequently in this place in questions and in the debates on the 1958 and 1961 amending navigation bills by the former honorable member for East Sydney, Mr. Ward, and by me.
The High Court had held that if a man was injured as a result of the negligence of the person in charge of loading or unloading a ship at hatches, then the injured man could bring an action against the supervisor but not against the owner or the stevedoring company. Mr. Ward and I pointed out that that meant that very often a person who was injured would be unable to secure damages for his injury. The former Attorney-General justified those regulations on the ground that they would make the supervisor more vigilant In other words, the best way to see that a man did his job was to make him liable to damages. The former Attorney-General had appeared for the company in the case before the High Court to which I have referred and he justified the regulations as they then stood.
On the last occasion on which the matter was debated, 18th October, 1961, 1 pointed out that as regards Commonwealth motor vehicles the Commonwealth had decided, not long before, to accept responsibility for the negligence of its drivers and no longer insisted on persons injured by those drivers seeking redress against the drivers. At the time I put to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), that the Commonwealth ought to see that the same liability was imposed in the case of the owners of ships or of stevedoring companies. The Minister interjected -
I assure the honorable member that that matter is being well looked at now.
In fact he had signed new regulations only five days before. They had been gazetted the day before he made this interjection while I was speaking, and the new regulations in all material respects are the same as the old regulations. The contrast now is all the more objectionable in that in three other regulations in the new regulations it is stated that the owner, master and agent of the ship and the owner of any faulty gear are guilty of an offence against the regulations if there is anything wrong with the gear, and consequently they have a civil liability to any person injured through their negligence. In other words, in three other cases there is this express liability imposed on the owner or on the operating companies. Only in the case of hatches is the liability still imposed on the foreman or the supervisor alone, the person in charge of the loading or unloading operations.
This matter of faulty gear is becoming more a problem rather than less a problem. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority said in its report for the financial year ended 30th June 1964 -
The year under review saw a further increase from the previous year in the number of reported instances of vessels attempting to work cargo with gear which did not conform to the Navigation (Loading and Unloading - Safety Measures) Regulations. The increase was from 194 to 210 cases.
The present regulations may make the man in charge more vigilant, but this is no comfort to the persons who are injured as the result of the negligence of the persons in charge or as a result of the faulty gear supplied by the owners or by a stevedoring company. We accept the fact that the old sections of 1912, amended in 1921, should be removed from the Act. We do not accept the proposition that the regulations which are now taking their place are yet adequate.
The next repeal being effected by the Bill is in portions of sections 26 and 76 of the 1958 Act. The Minister who introduced the Navigation Bill 1958 in the House, the then Minister for Air, Mr. Osborne, spoke as follows -
Several provisions are being inserted, or altered, to enable the Commonwealth to ratify conventions of the International Labour Office. These relate to -
I quote the relevant sections - the certification of able seamen - clause 26; the certification of ships’ cooks - clause 76.
These are the two clauses which are now being amended in order that the Commonwealth will not yet have to ratify these conventions. I have expressed some curiosity over the years as to when these sections 26 and 76 - among others - might be proclaimed. On 31st August 1961 I received this reply from the then Minister for Shipping and Transport, the present Minister for Immigration -
Progress has been made towards the making of the regulations necessary for the proclamation of sections 22, 26 and 78. Those sections, and section 76, will be proclaimed as soon as the necessary regulations can be finalised.
I asked a question a year later and on 25th October 1962, the same honorable gentleman told me -
The proclamation of sections 22, 26 and 76 of the Navigation Act 19S8 depend upon the making of regulations under that Act. Serious difficulty has been encountered in devising for inclusion in the regulations the manner in which practical effect may be given to the provisions of sections 26 and 76, which may take some time to overcome.
On 20th May last year the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr.
McMahon) gave me a reply in which he said -
The proclamation of sections 26 and 76 of the Navigation Act 1958 is dependent upon the making of the necessary regulations. Serious difficulties have been encountered in regard to the manner in which practical effect may be given to some of the provisions of sections 26 and 76 and these will take some time to overcome.
The Minister is now overcoming the difficulties by taking the sections out of the 1958 Act. He says that once there are training facilities for cooks and able seamen the Government will give consideration to putting the sections back and then implementing the I.L.O. conventions concerned. One would think that the Government should long ago have established a merchant marine school. We are a large trading country. We have a longer navigable coastline than any other country. We have a considerable coastal shipping fleet, and we ought to have an overseas shipping fleet. We ought to be training men to make the sea a career. It should be no excuse, considering that the Commonwealth has had a Navigation Act on the statute book for 52 or 53 years, that we still have no facilities for training men for our ships.
I make further reference to I.L.O. maritime conventions lest honorable gentlemen may think that these are the only two which we have not ratified, the only two which we cannot yet ratify. There have in fact been 28 maritime conventions drawn up at conferences of the International Labour Organization. Australian Government delegates have supported 22 of them. Australia has ratified eight of them. Of the unratified conventions, 19 were considered by the Departments of Labour Advisory Committee, consisting of representatives of State Departments of Labour and Industry and the Commonwealth Department of Labour and National Service, in April 1960. None has been ratified since then.
Quite apart from the conventions which have not been ratified, the Commonwealth has been slow to implement I.L.O. recommendations in the maritime sphere. In fact, it is at present condoning breaches of recommendations. My remarks here are based on the fact that the Sitmar Line has transferred the “ Fairsky “ from the Italian to the Panamanian registry and the “ Fairstar “ from the Italian to the Liberian registry. The company has put two of its three ships on the Australian run under flags of convenience. Shipping companies follow this practice in order to evade taxes, to avoid safety regulations and to pay low wages. The Commonwealth condones this evasion by the Sitmar Line, for these are ships which are largely employed in the migrant traffic to Australia.
– They are doing a good job, too.
– Yes, but should we condone tax evasion, safety risks and low wages? I am aware of the honorable gentleman’s former interest in maritime matters, particularly as a spokesman for the shipping lines. I know that he has maintained his interest in maritime matters since he became a member of this House. I do not think that the persons for whom he formerly spoke outside the House, and whose case he has pressed on many occasions in this chamber, would condone this practice.
The last time the matter of flags of convenience was considered at an International Labour Organization conference, in 1958, the representatives of the Australian Government, the employers’ representative, Mr. Haddy, and the workers’ representative all joined in condemning the practice. I shall recall to the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) the recommendations concerned. Incidentally, they were brought in by one of the Australian Government’s representatives, Mr. Brentwood, who was the Chairman and Reporter of the Resolutions Committee. These recommendations are Recommendation 107, concerning the Engagement of Seafarers for Service in Vessels Registered in a Foreign Country, and Recommendation 108, concerning Social Conditions and Safety of Seafarers in Relation to Registration of Ships. I do not propose to take up the time of the House by reading the recommendations. As I have said, these recommendations were supported by all the Australian representatives at the maritime session of the I.L.O. conference in Geneva in 1958. The Sitmar company is not following these recommendations and the Australian Government is condoning its breach of them.
The next matter that I wish to mention, Sir, is the Government’s general attitude towards international obligations in the maritime field. To this stage, I have limited mv remarks to conventions concluded under the auspices of the International Labour Organisation. There are, however, a great number of maritime conventions and, indeed, transport conventions in general, to which the Commonwealth could accede. There are some 19 in the maritime field alone, but I shall content myself with reference to six which have been’ concluded in the last seven years. In dealing with these conventions, I shall quote from answers which have been given to me by the Minister for External Affairs in the last ten months. First of all, there is the Convention relating to the Limitation of the Liability of Owners of Sea-going Ships, 1957. On 20th May last year, the Minister gave me the following reply -
Instructions have been or are in the course of being given for the preparation of legislation to enable Australia to become a party . . . Complementary Commonwealth and State legislation is proposed. The precise form which the legislation will take has not yet been finally determined. Until the necessary legislation is enacted Australia will not be in a position to become a party . . .
The Minister told me that France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Ghana and Peru had ratified or acceded to the convention. I believe that the reference to Peru was inaccurate. Since then, I have learned that Sweden, Algeria and Finland also have acceded to the convention. It will be noticed that several countries which trade with Australia have ratified or acceded to this convention. These are France, Britain and Sweden. The purpose of the convention is to ensure that if persons die or are injured as a result of an accident at sea their relatives, or they themselves, may receive greater compensation than is at present the case.
The whole position concerning the compensation available to persons injured or bereaved was dealt with by the Constitutional Review Committee, which reported to the Parliament first at the end of 1958 and again at the end of 1959. At that time, it was thought that the Commonwealth might not be able to provide for greater compensation on the Australian coast except in respect of ships trading overseas or between the States. However, as a result of the decision of the High Court of Australia in the Dubbo airlines case, it would seem that the Commonwealth could now do this if it were to ratify this convention. I have been puzzled for many years by the delay which the Department of Shipping and Transport finds to be necessary in carrying out international conventions, in contrast to the speed with which the Department of Civil Aviation is able to give effect to them. This delay in one case and speed in the other were apparent even when the two Departments were administered by the same Minister - Senator Paltridge. This situation continues with the Departments under separate Ministers. People who go down to the sea in ships would have much better guarantees of compensation if the Commonwealth would ratify this convention. One would think that, as a result of the High Court’s decisions, there is no need to wait for complementary State legislation and that the Commonwealth could take the necessary action itself.
The next matter to which I direct attention, Sir, is the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea, 1960. On 16th November 1964, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who was then Acting Minister for External Affairs, in an answer to a question on notice asked by me, stated that Australia had supported these regulations, as it had supported the Convention relating to the Limitation of the Liability of Owners of Sea-going Ships, 1957. The regulations have been adopted by 32 countries and they will come into force on 1st September of this year. The right honorable gentleman told me -
The Regulations have been examined and instructions have been given for the preparation of legislation to enable Australia to become a party to them. It is not possible at present to say when the legislation will be ready.
The third convention to which I direct attention is the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1960. Here, I shall read three answers which were given to me. On 20th May last, the Minister for External Affairs told me -
Instructions have been or are in the course of being given for the preparation of legislation to enable Australia to become a party. . . . The precise form which the legislation will take has not yet been finally determined. Until the necessary legislation is enacted Australia will not be in a position to become a party. . . .
On 22nd September of last year, the Minister informed me that the requisite number of ratifications had been achieved on 26th May 1964 and that the convention would come into effect on 26th May 1965. He stated -
Extensive legislative changes will be necessary to give effect to the Convention in Australia, and it is not possible at present to say when the drafting of the legislation will be completed. The drafting of the legislation has begun.
On 20th May of last year, the Minister told me which countries had ratified or acceded to the Convention. These include many whose ships trade to Australia, such as Norway, France, the United States of America, Greece and Japan. A fourth convention is the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules relating to the Carriage of Passengers by Sea, 1961. The Government supported this convention. I was told by the Minister on 20th May last that the Government is not presently proposing to become a party to it. A fifth convention is the Convention on the Liability of Operators of Nuclear Ships, 1962. Australia supported the convention. On 20th May last the Minister gave me a reply in similar terms to the reply he gave relating to the fourth convention. The sixth and remaining convention relates to amendments to the Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil, 1962. The Minister told me on 20th May last that the Government is proposing complementary Commonwealth and State legislation such as was passed in 1960 to implement the original convention of six years before. Several countries have ratified or acceded to the convention. Of them, those that trade substantially with Australia are France, Sweden, Norway, Liberia, Great Britain and the Netherlands.
These six conventions are relatively recent. They were all supported by the present Government. Two of them will come into force this year. We cannot get the benefit of them until we enact legislation and ratify them. In two cases, the Government believed at the time the answers were given that complementary Commonwealth and State legislation would be necessary. In the light of the latest High Court civil aviation decisions. I would think that Commonwealth legislation alone would be sufficient. In two other cases, the Commonwealth is not at present proposing to legislate at all.
Maritime conventions well exemplify how treaties do not limit but expand our sovereignty, for they enable our National Parliament to pass laws and extend benefits in fields where it could not otherwise legislate. Treaties not only impose obligations but also confer benefits on the parties to them. The role of Parliament in treaty making, and in international legislation generally, is inevitably remote. Even the United States Congress can merely confirm or reject treaties. In the British system, the Parliament only participates insofar as national legislation is required to implement or fill out the international legislation. I have directed attention to several international conventions. Most of them were under the auspices of the International Labour Organisation; six others were under other international auspices. In each case benefits can be obtained by Australia and can be secured from other countries. These benefits can be secured for Australian seamen, for passengers in Australian ships, and for Australians generally, only when the Commonwealth Government moves in these respects. It is easier now for this Parliament to legislate directly and exclusively than it was before the recent High Court decisions in the field of civil aviation. These are matters in which the Government is denying us benefits by its delay. One only wishes that the Department of Shipping and Transport was as diligent and efficient as the Department of Civil Aviation is in carrying out its international obligations.
I will conclude by pointing out here that there is not only the opportunity for the Commonwealth to act but there is also the obligation to act. For this I cite as authority a quotation by Mr. Justice Menzies in the Dubbo airlines case from the words of the Privy Council in In re the Regulation and Control of Aeronautics in Canada. Mr. Justice Menzies quoted the Privy Council as saying -
We think that the Dominion Parliament not only has the right, but also the obligation, to provide by statute and by regulation that the terms of the Convention shall be duly carried out.
By substituting “Commonwealth” for “ Dominion “ and “ dozens of conventions “ for “ the Convention “, the statement applies to Australia today.
.- I listened with considerable interest to the contribution made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). I thought that many aspects of bis speech were not entirely relevant ta the Bill before the House and I do not intend to enter upon a discourse replying to his assertions about conventions, which he says now number 28. However, I would like to refer to one of the regulations he mentioned and that is the loading and unloading regulation. This is a very important category of regulations that are part and parcel of the Navigation Act. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the number of actions on the waterfront had increased despite the loading and unloading regulations. He particularly referred to the 1964 annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in which, at page 44, it is said that the cases under the Navigation (Loading and Unloading - Safety Measures) Regulations increased from 194 to 210. However, it is interesting to note that these cases are in fact reported instances of vessels attempting to work cargo with gear that did not conform to the requirements of the Navigation Act. The point I want to make here is that these cases are only in respect of reports relative to the attempt to work cargo. Shipowners and all who are employed by shipowners in a supervisory capacity are very cognisant of the essential need to protect the men in their employ, be they seamen or waterside workers, from accidents. I would say, that supervisors and foremen stevedores are particularly cognisant of this essential need.
Great improvements have been effected over recent years in the safety precautions taken on the waterfront both as a result of the loading and unloading regulations under the Navigation Act and as a result of the committees, known as safety committees, that have been established by shipowners. All concerned in the shipping industry recognise that full attention must be given to the need to safeguard human beings from either death or injury. It is particularly interesting to note that employers will not require either a waterside worker or a seaman to work in conditions where there is any danger whatever. In these circumstances, in order to ensure that work is not delayed by gear being faulty or, perhaps, to some extent dangerous, employers do make every effort before men are put to work to ensure that the gear with which they are to work reaches the maximum standards of safety. That was not so, many years ago, but it is so now. I think it proper to say that tribute can be paid to this Government for the attention it has given to the safety regulations included in the Navigation Act by bringing right up to date the Navigation (Loading and Unloading - Safety Measures) Regulations so that every conceivable possibility of injury or danger to human beings can be safeguarded against.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made a rather virulent attack on the Sitmar Line and referred to the vessels “ Fairsky “ and “ Fairstar “. He said that these two vessels have been placed under flags of convenience so that the company is not called upon to pay a wage which is in any way commensurate with wages earned by Australian seamen and so that it can reduce safety measures which apply on the two vessels, and in other ways benefit because the requirements for vessels under flags of convenience are not so great as those under the regulations applying to Australian ships. The honorable member said that the Australian Government was subsidizing the Sitmar Line because it was using vessels of that line as migrant ships. I say that the Sitmar Line with its two vessels is doing a particularly good job in bringing migrants to Australia from Great Britain and other European countries. I pay full tribute to the Sitmar Line in that respect, but I do not pay tribute to the company for placing its ships under flags of convenience in order to avoid obligations which it would have to accept if it operated its vessels on the same terms as vessels under British control plying to Australia from Great Britain and other European countries.
This Bill is for an act to amend the principal act of 1912-1961 relating to navigation and shipping. The principal act, with a total of 425 clauses, seven schedules and innumerable regulations, with the amending act of 1958 comprising 208 clauses covering 85 pages and the amending act of 1961 comprising 36 clauses, has become a document which is both confusing and most difficult to understand if one is required at rather short notice to interpret what the act really means, having regard to all its amendments. The Bill again inclines rather to throw confusion into the industry, as it contains 57 clauses. However, it is important to note that the Bill seeks to correct certain anomalies which have been shown up in the industry in recent times, and especially since the last amending act of 1961.
I am of the opinion - of course, my opinion could be blasted by speakers from the Opposition benches - that the Bill is completely non-controversial. There appears to be no issue in the Bill which could call for any conflict between the Opposition and the Government. As I read the Bill, it seeks to give further effect to a promise, made during the second reading of the Navigation Bill 1958, to keep the Navigation Act under review and to correct anomalies speedily - in other words, without any delays. But the Act, with its various amendments, schedules and regulations, is particularly comprehensive and complex. I hope that in due course, when the opportunity presents itself, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) will see fit to effect a consolidation which will make the Act, with its attachments, much more workmanlike than it is at the present time.
The regulations, which number 33, are in a category which is particularly important to the industry, referring as they do to circumstances of collisions, crew accommodation, loadling requirements for pig iron, coal and ballast and, as has been mentioned already, loading and unloading safety measures. But the comprehensive nature of the Act and its associated regulations and schedules does go to show the length to which the Government has gone to protect the various interests involved in the shipping industry. I refer particularly to maritime employees - master mariners, engineers, cooks, stewards and, especially seamen. It protects also the interests of shipowners, and it is essential that it should. But it is to the seamen that we look to find what protection is given to this worthy body of men. We find that since 1912 the Australian Government, of whatever political complexion, has devoted considerable time to effecting legislation and amending legislation to protect the seamen. Not only do we find the Government looking after the interests of the seamen but we find the employers also taking a particular interest, especially over the last year, in which we have seen the crystallisation of the consent award which was made by Mr. Justice Gallagher on 1st December 1964.
When we are dealing with the Act, it is important that we should also think in terms of the other benefits and protections that are afforded to seamen. We find that under the consent award, the seamen have received considerable benefits including the payment of attendance money, long service leave, the training of new entrants to the industry, higher rates of pay while seamen are on leave and other benefits far too numerous for me to mention. Indeed, it is not necessary to do so because they run parallel to the benefits that are afforded by the Navigation Act. The Act and the award both provide for improved conditions and we see in these improvements the considerable benefits that are accorded by conciliation and when a union earns the right to the assistance of both employers and the Government. So we see that under the terms of the comprehensive Navigation Act as it has been amended to date and through a liberal consent award, the seamen - a most important section of the maritime community - have been very well treated. Their interests have received attention in such a way that I feel sure they will be encouraged to forgo the militancy for which they have been noted over the years and that an industry which has been noted for its turbulence will be known in the years to come for its peaceful demeanour. I hope the result will be contented seamen, happy to join their ships and take them to sea and continuing to work in accordance with their award and the regulations under the Navigation Act.
I congratulate the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) and the Department under his administration upon this Bill of 57 clauses which will become part of our very important maritime legislation. This is a sincere endeavour to make the Act as near perfect as is humanly possible. The Bill contains a number of amendments designed to correct anomalies as has been stated by the Minister in his second reading speech. Three or four of these amendments are particularly important. I refer first to clause 12 which amends section 45a of the principal Act by omitting sub-section (8.). It is interesting to note that this sub-section provides that a marine superintendent can refuse to approve the engagement of seamen who have been excluded by the Maritime Industry Commission. Honorable members are well aware that this provision was made in a piece of wartime legislation and some 700 seamen were excluded by the Commission. The Navigation Act provides that a superintendent shall refuse to approve the engagement of a person whom the Maritime Industry Commission, constituted under the National Security (Maritime Industry) Regulations, has directed shall not be engaged as a seaman.
As the Minister stated in his second reading speech, no doubt many of the men who were excluded have left Australia, have died or have left the industry and taken other employment. It is possible that with the omission of sub-section (8.) of section 45a some of the seamen concerned may wish to get back into the industry, particularly now that the award conditions are so favourable to them. It might be argued that there is no way for them to get back but such an argument is not based on fact particularly in relation to the new consent award. Under this award, a considerable change has taken place in the industry because as a quid pro quo for the conditions of employment awarded by consent, such as the provision of attendance money, long service leave and so on, the Seamen’s Union has agreed to what are known as register A and register B. As from 1st December, or shortly thereafter, all seamen in the industry at that time will register under register A. Any of the 700 men to whom I have referred who require to get back into the industry as seamen have merely to indicate their desire to re-enter the industry. Such a man will then be placed on register B and then by mutual agreement between the employers and the Seamen’s Union he can be taken onto register A. He will then be available for employment as a seaman. It is particularly important that the House should take note of this new condition of engagement.
Reference is made in the consent award to the seamen’s stabilisation system known as the “ three S “ system. From my own considerable knowledge of the shipping industry I believe that if this system is allowed to work - and I say that objectively - it will mean the complete rejuvenation of the relationship between the employers - in this case, the ship owners - and the members of the Seamen’s Union. Such a relationship on a sound basis has not existed over the years and I am sure it will be welcomed and appreciated by the Australian community. It goes without saying that the shipping industry is perhaps one of the most important industries in Australia since we are a maritime nation. I welcome the conciliation between employers and employees in respect of the engagement of seamen because this rationalised system has put the procedure for engaging seamen on a much more stable basis. This compares with a situation which has existed over the years whereby a vigilance officer of the Seamen’s Union would indicate at a pick-up centre - perhaps by touching his lapel - that the vessel for which a crew was being engaged had been declared black by the union, with the result that men would not offer for engagement. Under the new system men will not collectively have the right to refuse to offer for engagement. If a man refuses to accept engagement on a ship or if an employer refuses to engage a particular man, either party has the right to go before a departmental superintendent, who will act as adjudicator. This system will be a considerable improvement on the procedures that have been followed in the past, because the adjudication will lead to a settlement of whatever dispute may have arisen.
Another important variation to the legislation is the repeal of the section which refers to an employer paying to a seaman an amount of money in order to bind the seaman for an engagement. The section refers to what used to happen in the bad old days when ship owners shanghaied crews. The Act protects seamen against such happenings in these enlightened industrial days, but it is now recognised that due to the new systems of engagement such protection of crew members is completely unnecessary. I hope that the adoption of the amendments proposed in the Bill will lead to harmony in the industry, which has been so turbulent and restive and in which unruly elements have had so much to say, all of which has mitigated against the interests of Australia. This is an industry on which Australia as a maritime nation is very dependent. Australian shipowners have done their best to improve the industry and the Government has played its part, through the Australian National Line, in improving the industry and bringing it into line with the most modern shipping industries in the world. Although the number of ships plying around our coast today is fewer than in former years, the industry has a new look. When I say that, I have in mind vessels such as the “Empress of Australia “, which was recently commissioned, the “ Seaway King “, the “ SeawayQueen” and the “Kooringa” - the container vessel which plies between Melbourne and Western Australia. If one were to inspect those vessels, which are of modern design, one would find that the accommodation for seamen is equal to if not better than that provided for passengers in the finest passenger vessels. It would be very difficult to find fault with the conditions under which seamen are today required to go down to the sea. I give full support to the Bill, which is designed to help the industry and to improve the lot of seamen.
.- The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) referred to the Sitmar Line. He did not know what could be done to prevent the line from operating under a flag of convenience. The solution is simple. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) has the remedy in his hands. He could withdraw the licence to the line to carry migrants to this country. The Minister could impose terms that would prevent ships coming to this country under a flag of convenience and flagrantly breaking all safety rules. It would be easy for the Minister to put an end to this practice, but this Government has not shown any inclination to take such action. The Minister knows that despite the increase in the number of migrants coming to this country, not one migrant is brought here on a ship flying the Australian flag. Yet we are told that we live in terrible times with war just around the corner. What will happen if we are involved in a war? Where will we get suitable ships to carry out the acts of war? While this Government has been in power since 1949 all the splendid ships that used to trade around our coast - I do not want to name all of them; I have named them so many times - have been allowed to go off the coast and have not been replaced. I have in mind the “ Manoora “, the “ Manunda “, the “Kanimbla”, the “ Westralian “ and the “ Wanganella “. During the last war those vessels were used as hospital ships or troop transports. Those vessels have now gone. In their place we have two specialised ships - the “ Princess of Tasmania “ and the “ Empress of Australia “. The Government has stood by idly while the situation has deteriorated. The honorable member for Warringah said that we are a maritime nation. If this is so, our efforts are very poor.
The Bill refers to sections and subsections of the principal Act. It is difficult for many people to understand what the Bill seeks to do. We must go through it bit by bit in order to understand it. One matter that should be brought to the notice of the House, and which is supposed to be covered by the Navigation Act, relates to the granting of permits to overseas ships to trade on the Australian coast. As the House knows, two years ago R. W. Miller broke into the trade on the coast against the wishes of the Government. The Government did not want an Australia company operating around our coast and it did everything to stop Mr. Miller.
– That is nonsense. The Government gave him permission to operate.
– The Minister did not give the permission. When this matter was being handled by the former Minister for Shipping and Transport, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) took it out of his hands.
– The matter involved one vessel.
– But now Mr. Miller has three vessels, one of which is laid up. I notice in this morning’s papers that Mr. Miller states that his tankers are for sale. This is a serious situation. Mr. Miller must obtain permission fromthe Minister before he may sell a vessel. While a tanker is laid up in Sydney or some other port in Australia it is costing Mr. Miller £2,000 a day. Those who wish to get their revenge on Mr. Miller may now ask: “How do you like it? “ This is happening at present, and the Minister is well aware of it. In reply to a question by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) the Minister made light of the fact that one tanker had been laid up for a short period, as he called it. He should hear what the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has to say at times. For instance, if a ship is idle for two hours on the waterfront we never hear the end of it in this House. Yet, although the tanker “ R. W. Miller “ has been in commission for only 75 days, it has been idle for 25 days. I shall mention the dates in order to have them placed on record. They can be corrected if what I say is wrong. The “ R. W. Miller “ was laid up in Botany Bay from 17th November to 25th November 1964. It was laid up in Sydney from 2nd January to 19th January 1965 - a period of 17 days - waiting for cargo while a Swedish ship was plying up and down the South Australian coast waiting to hop in and take a cargo. That ship was the “ Camilla “, as the Minister well knows. The “ Millers McArthur “ was laid up from 2nd January to 4th January 1965 and from 22nd January to 27th January 1965. Now the “ R. W. Miller “ has been laid up in Sydney since the 9th of this month and will be laid up ad infinitum. I have been informed that she may get a cargo on the 1st April. But in the meantime, a foreign ship has been given a permit to trade on the Australian coast. The Minister said that the permit was given because the “ R. W. Miller “ could not get to the particular port in time. That is a lot of hooey. In this country, it makes no difference where the petrol comes from or who refines it. For B.P. Australia Limited to say that the “ R. W. Miller “ could not get to Fremantle to transport petrol to Adelaide or Melbourne is just tripe, although I do not like using that word.
Both the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) know that in this country customs officers take dips at the refineries throughout Australia every day and they know exactly how much petrol is in the country. If the Shell company runs short of petrol at Geelong, it borrows from the Vacuum Oil Co. Pty. Ltd., and vice versa. B.P. Australia Limited also engages in this borrowing and lending. In order to gull the public about the quality of the petrol the companies put in their own additives. One company will use a certain type of dope and another company will use another type; but the fact is that they all borrow petrol and add their own colour dyes to it. I have seen this myself. I have seen road tankers drive into the refineries at Geelong or Altona in Victoria to borrow petrol for, say B.P. or Caltex. The drivers load their vehicles with petrol and then add yellow or green dye, as the case may be.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member is a little wide of the subject matter of the Bill.
– Irrespective of whose petrol it is, the consumer pays the same price for it. The “ R. W. Miller “ and all the other ships on this coast should be protected under the Act which the Minister now wishes to amend. They do not now get the protection they should get. R. W. Miller broke into a trade which had been enjoyed for 64 years by the Royal Dutch Shell company, and now he is paying for it. He came into the trade because the oil companies are flooding the country with cheap oil in order to prevent coal being used in Australia. As soon as the factories that are now burning coal go out of existence the price of oil will go up. I leave it at that.
I wish now to draw the Minister’s attention to one section of the Act although there are several which call for scrutiny. I emphasise that I am not making a personal attack upon the Minister. He has a big job to do and, in the main, I think he does his best. I am not trying to belittle him at all. Nobody appreciates more than I do that the principal Act is a very complex piece of legislation. I understand that it is the biggest Act administered by the Commonwealth. Section 287, which relates to ships in receipt of foreign subsidies, reads - (1.) A ship shall not engage in the coasting trade which is receiving, or which under any arrangement is to receive, or which in the immediately preceding twelve months has been receiving, directly or indirectly, any subsidy or bonus from any Government other than that of a part of the British Dominions.
I have asked about this before. When the Department gives permits to some of the ships that trade on the coast, I do not know whether it bothers to find out whether those ships are subsidised by foreign governments. Just recently I read an article which explained how German and Japanese ships are subsidised. For a long time now, we have had Japanese tankers and subsidised Yugoslav ships carrying cattle on the Australian coast and nothing has been done by the Government to see to it that we have ships that can carry out that type of trading. Apparently, without any trouble whatsoever, these foreign ships can get licences from this Government and I hope that the Minister will look into the matter and see what he can do about it.
As I have said, the Bill is rather uninteresting and very complex. In the main, it deals with cooks and engineers. Towards the end, it deals with master mariners. Clause 8 seeks to amend section 15 of the principal Act by omitting from paragraph (a) of sub-section (3.) the words, “ the grade next higher to that of which he is the holder”, and inserting in their stead the words, “ another grade or sub-grade “. This relates to the certificates of engineers and, as honorable members will see, it is quite complicated. The engineers have quite a feeling for this provision because they do not want their profession down graded.
An amendment to section 15 was made by section 12 of the 1958 Act. That amendment dealt with grades and sub-grades of masters, mates and engineers. The provision for engineers covered three grades. They were -
Grade A embraces the classes of engineers employed on sea-going vessels. Grade B embraces engineers employed mainly on vessels plying within the limits of bays, harbours and rivers and to a very limited extent proceeding outside such limits. Grade C applies to marine engine drivers employed within the limits of bays, harbours and rivers.
Sub-section (3.) of the new section 15 enacted in 1 958 also provides that the regulations may make provision whereby the holder of a certificate as an engineer of any grade or sub-grade is permitted to serve in such ships for such voyages and in such capacities as will enable him to qualify for a certificate of the grade next higher to that of which he is the holder. The proposed amendment is intended to have a leap-frogging effect so far as grades and sub-grades are concerned. This is a matter of considerable concern to the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers. The Institute has zealously guarded against the employment on seagoing vessels of engineers not properly qualified. Before an engineer is entitled to membership of the Institute and to become employed on a seagoing vessel he must have part A of the second class engineer’s certificate. The possession of a coast engineer’s certificate or a marine engine driver’s certificate is not accepted. If it is intended that a person who is not the holder of part A of the second class engineer’s certificate may serve in ships in a capacity which will enable him to qualify for a certificate of another grade or sub-grade than the grade for whichhe holds a certificate, the provision is entirely unsuitable and is not required by the Institute and, I think, should be reconsidered.
The present provision, of course, permits a person who is the holder of part A of the second class engineer’s certificate to serve in ships and qualify for part B of such certificate and for parts A and B of the class certificate for an engineer or for the extra first class certificate of an engineer. In this case the Institute claims that this provision enables progression to be made to the extent necessary and in a proper manner. It is also to be observed that the first and second class certificates may be for either steam or motor vessels. If a certificate is endorsed for one of these the endorsement for the other may be made on the certificate if and when the engineer qualifies for such endorsement. In all the circumstances, the proposed amendment would destroy the acceptable line of progression which has been traditional. Any relaxation of this line of progression will probably do more harm than good, because the skills and responsibilities attaching to the office of seagoing engineer really require that an engineer must have demonstrated his ability to cope with the requirements of the position of seagoing engineer by passing the necessary examination for part A of the second class engineer’s certificate.
Clause 55 of the Bill seeks to have the words “ certificated cook “ deleted from Schedule II of the principal act and the word “ cook “ inserted in lieu thereof. There is no objection to this, because certification is not material so far as cooks are concerned. Clause 56, however, seeks to repeal section 76 of the principal act and to insert a new section 76 incorporating a new section 121. The question whether this amendment should be made has already been the subject of consideration by the Marine Cooks Butchers and Bakers Association and, in fact, the General Secretary of the Association conferred with Mr. Iiia, the Superintendant of Mercantile Marine at Sydney, and a representative of the New South Wales Navigation Department in relation thereto during last September. Paragraph (ii) of sub-section (a) of the proposed new section 121 is objected to without qualification. It is contended that such a provision is completely useless, because one month’s service at sea in the capacity of an able seaman, radio officer, fireman, greaser or crew attendant would be completely worthless when considering the qualifications for a person to be rated as a cook.
The General Secretary of the Marine Cooks, Butchers and Bakers Association made it quite clear to Mr. Iiia and the representative of the Navigation Department that his view was that a person should not be entitled to be rated as a cook unless he has had at least two years’ experience in connection with the preparation of meals for the crew of a ship registered in Australia. A very high standard of catering is maintained in ships registered in Australia, and before a person will even be admitted to membership of the marine cooks union he must serve a probationary period of two months on board a ship in order that a chief cook on the ship can be satisfied that he has the ability to serve as an assistant cook. It was also pointed out that this two-year qualification is provided for in sub-section (2.)(b) of the existing section 121 in the case of cooks presently employed. This subsection relates to cooks who have, before the commencement of the section, served at sea in the capacity of cook or assistant cook for a period of two years. It cannot be appreciated why, so far as the future is concerned, a similar qualification is not provided. It is completely incomprehensible that in respect of the future the service requirement is expressly stated to be one month’s service at sea in any capacity. I hope that the Minister will have a look at this. It seems rather odd that one month’s service in any capacity should be all that is required.
Objection is also taken to the reference to “ or engaged in the coasting trade “ in sub-section (b) of the proposed new section 121. Dutch and Italian ships are engaged from time to time in the coasting trade and cooks employed on them would be completely incapable of catering for the crews of ships registered in Australia. The menus to which they are accustomed are entirely different from those on ships registered in Australia. The fact that a cook employed on a Dutch or Italian ship has been responsible for the preparation of meals for the crew of that ship for a period of six months while it has been engaged in the coasting trade would not enable him to cook satisfactorily for the crew of a ship registered in Australia. This, of course, involves the practicalities of the situation, and while it may be suggested that a cook who has been responsible for the preparation of meals for the crew of a ship engaged in the coasting trade - whether it be Dutch, Italian, British or otherwise - should after six months be competent to cook for the crew of a ship registered in Australia, the marine cooks’ union does not subscribe to this view. Its very firm belief is that before a person should be eligible to be rated as a cook he should have served at sea in the capacity of cook or assistant cook for a period of at least two years and should have had experience of cooking for crews of Australian ships. There have been numerous complaints about the competency of cooks who have had experience in cooking for the crews of Australian ships, and it is regarded as a certainty that if a person without such experience were employed to cook for crews of ships registered in Australia more industrial disturbance than usual would arise in this regard.
I note, Mr. Speaker, that the Bill contains no provision with respect to tankers. Eleven tankers are already engaged on the Australian coast, and the twelfth is likely to arrive in the immediate future. Section 100 of the Navigation Act provides for the imposition of penalties for certain offences, but nowhere is there to be found in the Act any provision for the imposition of a penalty where proper safety measures are not taken by members of crews to ensure the safety of tankers. Shipping companies are inserting provisions in articles of agreement for proper safety measures to be taken by crew members. In particular, the areas within which matches and cigarettes may be used are being stipulated, but the only thing that can be done at present where a breach of this provision occurs is for the employee’s services to be terminated when the tanker gets back to port; or if damage results from his non-compliance with the provision he may be sued. This is not a satisfactory situation and it is suggested that the Government should consider whether or not some statutory provision to deal adequately with the matter should be made. Not only might the lives of the crew be involved, but the loss of the tanker and possible injury to suburban residents and damage to property might result because very large tankers will be moored, and are moored, near residential areas.
I understand that new collision regulations have been promulgated by the Imperial Parliament and will become effective as from 1st September 1965. It is also believed that these regulations will be adopted in Australia. The English community has been advised of the requirements of the regulations, but no copies of them appear to be available in Australia. I hope the Minister for Shipping and Transport is listening to this, because if a British ship is involved in a collision in Australia and we have not a copy of the regulations in this country there will be some trouble in the law courts.
– The Minister is not taking much notice of you.
– No; he is not worried. The observance of the regulations will be a matter of very considerable concern for masters, mates and shipowners. Masters and mates will be concerned because their certificates may be placed in jeopardy. The concern of shipowners will be to ensure that they do not become liable by reason of the responsibility that they bear for the conduct of their officers. Shipowners and the Merchant Service Guild believe that it is extremely desirable that these new regula tions dealing with collisions be made available in Australia as soon as possible.
This has been a pretty dry speech, because bills which substitute something for something else are very hard to understand. Before my time expires I want to make another plea to the Minister for Shipping and Transport on behalf of the merchant seamen who served during the last war and are not covered by this Government’s legislation. I have approached the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) in an effort to get compensation for seamen in accordance with the provisions of the Repatriation Act. If a seaman was seen to be wounded, he is covered; but many men who now are suffering as a result of the hardships of war are not covered. It is time provision was made in the Navigation Act for these men. Previously in this House I have raised a case which worries me deeply. It is the case of a fellow who as a young boy of 16 years of age spent 14 days in an open boat and who cannot get any compensation. That is the sort of thing that should be covered by a navigation act.
When war breaks out the seamen’s industry becomes a restricted industry. They are prevented from joining the Services. The government, whether it is a Labour government or a Liberal government, says to them: “ Your duty is to serve where you have been trained”. Their conditions are determined by arbitration; so they do not receive more than they justly deserve. But if they are injured or suffer privation, they are not covered.
– That is why they were paid danger money.
– Who paid them the danger money? They were not paid the danger money ad lib. They were paid it after they went to the arbitration tribunal and fought the case for a fortnight. In that case the C series index, the prosperity of the country and everything else were considered in order to determine whether Jack Tar should receive 6d. a day extra. As the Minister well knows, anything that is given by an arbitration tribunal is not given lightly. We members of the Services received gratuity pay but as the Minister knows, no member of the Merchant Navy received anything like that. When they left their ships, that was the finish. I say that it is time the Government did something for these men who served under blackout conditions in convoys all over the world, who are now suffering as a result of the hazards of war and who are not protected by the Government.
I hope that the Minister will have a look at some of the sections of the Act which have not come up for revision. There are quite a few of them. It is not a very good answer to say that foreign ships are allowed to come on to the Australian coast because such and such a ship would be one or two days late in getting to a port. As the Minister knows, the company concerned could get its petrol from another State. I hope the Minister will give attention to the matters I have raised. If R. W. Miller’s ships are to be sold because the oil companies will not co-operate, I hope the Minister will let the Australian National Line take them over rather than see those three ships go off our coast.
– Ord er! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I do not propose to dwell for long on this Bill. It amends the Navigation Act in ways which, almost without exception, are acceptable to the trade union movement. But I wish to make one or two observations in the interest of bills of this character that will come before the House in the future. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), in his opening remarks, said that bis predecessor, Senator Paltridge, had drawn attention to the fact that the navigation laws need to remain under continual surveillance, which means that amending legislation should come forward from time to time. I noted that the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle), on about three or four occasions, spoke of the difficulty of determining what these amendments mean. I suppose it is difficult. For instance, clause 30 of this Bill makes amendments to section 179 of the principal act; but one has to go to the 1958 amendments to find section 179 as it actually stands. When I was looking at this Bill today, it occurred to me that whenever legislation of this sort, making amendments to amendments, is presented the amendments should be shown clearly in the amending bill when it comes to the House.
Some time ago, when I was leading for the Opposition in the debate on a waterfront industry bill there were two groups of amendments to amendments to the original act. When that bill went to another place, by using bold type the printer was able to print the bill so that the amendments to the amendments were shown clearly. The Minister for Shipping and Transport might well consider this matter now in order to avoid comments from honorable members on his own side of the chamber as well as on this side about the difficulty in sorting out this kind of legislation which makes amendments to amendments and refers not to the principal act itself but to the principal act as amended.
In point of fact, clause 30 does not amend the original act at all; it amends provisions made by Act No. 6 of 1958, which in turn amended the original act. That is the difficulty, unless one pays great attention to these matters. That is the kind of problem that members meet unless they are fairly experienced in handling legislation which involves considering perhaps three different sets of amendments. It is even difficult for the honorable member for Warringah. When I was analysing this Bill today and earlier, I felt that we as a parliament should give attention to this matter. So I have put it to the Minister. Obviously, he recognises the need to give attention to it, because towards the end of his second reading speech he spoke of consolidating the Navigation Act after another series of amendments has been made. If he does not propose to consolidate the Act now, by the time the 1966 amendments are superimposed on the 1965, 1961 and 1958 amendments to the original act, not many members will be able to follow the legislation unless the proposition that I have put to him is considered and implemented. I recognise immediately that it is foolish to expect an act the size of this Act to be consolidated every time an amendment is made if the principle of correcting anomalies as they arise is followed. I agree with the proposition that anomalies should be corrected as they arise, but when matters come to this chamber I think we ought to simplify them so that honorable members will be able to follow what is done.
With respect to the Bill itself, I must say that it has some good features. For instance, it clarifies the situation with regard to wages of seamen left on shore. But there is one clause that has not been clarified by the Minister and, although it does not perhaps touch on industrial conditions of seamen, I am wondering why the Minister did not advert to it. I refer to clause 34. The Minister in his speech went straight from clause 32 to clauses 35, 36 and 37. He said-
To facilitate the documentation of ships moving on the Australian coast arrangements are being made for the production and notation of these documents at certain specified ports of call so that it will not be necessary for a ship to produce the certificate to the Collector at every Australian port.
Clause 34 seems to me to deal with a different question. It seems to deal with the production of certificates in respect of ships registered in Australia and the production of certificates in respect of safety convention ships. Clause 34 amends section 206q and section 206r. This goes back to the original Act, and if we go to the original Act we find that those sections have stood since 1953. When we come to deal with the question of safety, as we do in section 206r, I am concerned about the production of a certificate at the level of section 206q and section 206r, giving effect to section 206m. The mandatory provision is now taken away and it is now left as an optional matter for the customs officer. It seems to me that there must be a good reason for this provision, and the Minister has not made clear in his speech why this mandatory provision, which has stood since 1953, should now be removed, why the word “ shall “ should be taken out and the word “ may “ put in. The Minister does not deal with this question. He does not say why these sections are to be amended in this fashion. The implication is that there is a relation to the amendments in clauses 35, 36 and 37, but it seems to me that the amendment in clause 34 has a much deeper significance. Section 206r deals with the production of certificates in respect of safety convention ships, and as the Minister has not explained the situation I am constrained to ask why we are taking out the mandatory provision as related to section 206m.
Those are the only points I wanted to make in respect of the Bill. It seems to me that the proposition I put to the Minister might be looked at in the future when legislation of this kind is being presented.
I ask the Minister also to consider whether we are wise in taking out the mandatory provision to which I have referred.
– in reply - I want to reply briefly to one or two points raised during the debate. I am grateful to honorable members for the patience with which they have waded through the amendments to this legislation. This is a highly technical and complex Bill. I will certainly consider the suggestions made by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) that when future amendments are brought down means should be found of simplifying them for the benefit of honorable members.
The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) in departing from the Bill - perhaps because it is a little tedious and technical - made one or two accusations which I should not allow to pass unchallenged. He referred to the Sitmar Line and implied that the Australian Government allowed ships operated by that line, because they operate under flags of convenience, to defy the normal requirements of safety laid down for ships operating under other convention flags. This is most unfair to the Sitmar Line. The statement is calculated to do damage to our immigration programme and it is quite wrong and unfair to the Government. We inspect all these ships. When such ships come to the Australian coast, and bring passengers to Australia, they are just as firmly bound by the standards of safety when operating under flags of convenience as are ships operating under any other flag. We carry out regular inspections to ensure that, as far as possible, those standards are complied with.
The honorable member for Batman should be informed of this, if he does not know it already. The implications in his statement were damaging and untrue. He made reference to the fact that we have granted permits for foreign flag ships to carry oil around the Australian coast as a matter of urgency when petrol was required to be delivered by one company in another State, when we ought to have known full well that the companies work an exchange system for their petrol. I am getting a little tired of being lectured by the honorable member for Batman who considers himself to be the repository of all knowledge in this matter. We were fully aware of this practice of the oil companies, and a full inquiry was made into the possibility of an exchange being effected between them. In the particular case referred to by the honorable member there was quite a serious shortage of total supplies of fuel in Victoria due to a temporary breakdown or stoppage at the Shell refinery. It was not a British Petroleum refinery that was involved, although the B.P. refinery was asking for the permit. The B.P. company was not able to arrange an exchange with the Shell company and, indeed, part of the B.P. cargo was required to assist the Shell company in its shortage. There would have been a marginal amount of fuel available in Victoria within the time if the permit had not been granted. I suggest that before the honorable member for Batman lectures this House about petrol refinery arrangements in general he should give credit to the Department of Shipping and Transport for making a thorough inquiry into all the ramifications of permit requirements for tankers operating around the Australian coast.
I wanted to reply very briefly to those two points. I think that no other serious matters were raised in the debate. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) did suggest that the Department of Shipping and Transport should be rather quicker in getting off the mark in the matter of adopting international conventions. This is not always easy, as he knows full well. We have to give priority to the more urgent ones. There are quite considerable drafting problems in many cases. I agree that if the ideal were to be attained we would possibly be quicker in adopting some of these conventions. The honorable gentleman will be glad to hear that there will be some amending legislation in relation to the pollution of the sea by oil within, I hope, the next few days.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Freeth) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Freeth) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker, I think that the House would wish me to say a few words about our friend, Hugh Roberton, who is going off to be Ambassador to Ireland. He was very well known in this House, for he was a member of it over a long time. He held the portfolio of Social Services for eight years.
– He saved your money.
– Looking back, I must say that nothing ever gave me more joy - this would not apply to the honorable member who has just interjected, though most of us, common place fellows like myself, would agree - than hearing a question put by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) and answered by Hugh Roberton. This really reminded us of our ancestry, I think, in the most fascinating way. On whichever side of the Parliament one sat, one would agree that Hugh Roberton was an extraordinarily popular member of this House. He has now gone off to occupy a responsible post which, I am quite certain, he will grace with distinction, with wit, with understanding and with a nice touch of scholarship.
Therefore, I think that the House would wish me to say, although Hugh Roberton has physically left us, that we all wish him well. We compliment him on this appointment. We are quite satisfied that he will represent us and Australia with marked distinction and with the support of his distinctive personal characteristics. Nobody will forget him, having met him. Nobody will fail to remember him, having heard him. He was a very fine member of this House and a very fine Minister, and he will undoubtedly be a very fine ambassador for us in Ireland. So, Sir, I am sure that I express the views of all honorable members when I say that we congratulate Hugh Roberton and wish him well. We all have great confidence in his success.
.- Mr. Speaker, I listened to the remarks of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) with interest. They had anti-Sassenach undertones. I think these were emphasised when the right honorable gentleman spoke of the questioning by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) of the former Minister for
Social Services. There were times when I thought that an interpreter might have been helpful. Both were Gaels and they understood each other. They had an advantage over the Sassenach in that regard. I suppose they both have proved - as has been proven before in this country - that the Sassenach has not much influence in Australia today. This country is ruled by Gaels or by Celts. The Prime Minister, if he will allow me to say so with due deference, is part Scottish and part Cornish, and therefore he is 100 per cent. Celt. He is half-caste Scottish and half-caste Cornish, and I am half-caste Irish and quarter-caste Welsh. If one looks through the whole list of Prime Ministers and important people of this country, one finds that the Celts have an undue advantage.
I was greatly surprised when Hugh Roberton was nominated for his present post. I could not understand why an Australian government should send an expatriate Scotsman to Ireland. There will be great advantages, however. It is like the case of the Occidental trying to understand the Oriental. The Gaels and the Celts can understand each other where, perhaps, the English cannot understand either. We wish Hugh Roberton success in his new post. I told him the other evening at a dinner that he was the Minister for Social Services who never believed in social services. He took objection to that remark, of course, but it was made facetiously. He is a man of scholarship. He must be, because he, with the Prime Minister and I, represented this Parliament on the Commonwealth Literary Fund. I could never understand why Hugh Roberton adopted the pseudonym of “ Peter Snodgrass” for his writings. I asked him why he chose to use the language of a despised race when he could have chosen a name like “Mac” for his voluminous and considerable writings. They were rather erudite.
– Did he explain this to the honorable member?
– No. He could not. In a speech the other evening, I said that he was the son of a very famous Scottish father, Sir Hugh Roberton, who was a great composer, the founder of the Glasgow Orpheus Choir and the composer of “ Westering Home “ and quite a number of other famous songs based on traditional music. I said that what I admired about Hugh Roberton was that he could brazen his way through all his life as he did despite the fact that his most distinguished father was a Socialist. I once asked Hugh why he had defected and I showed him a copy of the “ Scottish Socialist “ which reported that his father had been present at the grave when a Scottish Socialist was being buried. It stated: “ Comrade Roberton delivered the following address . .” Hugh
Roberton seemed to make out that somehow he had improved on this situation. I wished him well when he met all his Socialist Scottish brothers and sisters.
Hugh Roberton is a quaint character. In some ways, he never really settled into Australia. I think that ideologically, if I may use that expression, and in other ways, he still belonged to the Scottish Highlands - to somewhere north of Glasgow. He has now gone away, with his very good wife, to represent Australia abroad, and we all wish him well. I do not know whether any more Scotsmen are to come into this Parliament. Probably, they are a diminishing quantity. I do not know whether any more Irishmen are to come into this place. However, I hope that if the Government ever thinks of sending more ambassadors abroad it will not neglect the claims of the honorable member for West Sydney to an appointment.
.- Mr. Speaker, as I was very closely associated with Hugh Roberton in this House from the time when he became a member of it, I should like to contribute a few words. Every night, when the House adjourned, we used to have supper together.
– Who used to pay for it?
– We followed that practice for 10 years, and I can say that Hugh Roberton was never slow on the draw in all those years. I knew the man well and I met him in many places. I have very many happy recollections of him in this chamber. One that I may perhaps mention arises from the time when, shortly after his election to this House in 1949, the Parliament was opened by the Governor-General and we began the debate on the AddressinReply to his Speech. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) will recall this occasion. The present honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman), who is now Minister for Immigration, proposed the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply and that motion was seconded by Hugh Roberton, who was member for Riverina. As may be verified by reference to “ Hansard “, Mr. Roberton said -
I should like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the honorable member for Corio is not the only man in this place who has engaged in athletics. I myself at one time tossed the caber. That I did not toss it very far was entirely due to the fact that it was a very large caber and that I was only a little fellow at that time.
When that was said and he had finished his speech, the Prime Minister walked across to Hugh Roberton and said, “Congratulations, little Hugh “. After that, Hugh Roberton was known to many of us as “ Little Hugh “. This was the expression of the Prime Minister’s admiration for a man who had tossed the caber. Little Hugh grew up and came to this country about 40 years ago. At a luncheon today I said that he came, I thought, with two great objectives in view. One was to hew for himself a heritage in this great continent and the other was to try to overcome the language difficulty. He succeeded in attaining his first objective most admirably, and I think he had just about achieved his second objective of overcoming the language difficulty when the Prime Minister decided to send him to Ireland to start all over again.
Tonight I want to speak not only of Hugh Roberton; I also want to pay a tribute to his wife. I believe that Mrs. Roberton is one of this Commonwealth’s most gracious ladies. 1 have met her on many occasions and I have always been impressed by the gracious way she met people and spoken to them and by her consideration for others. I said today that I believe Hugh Roberton is the exemplification of the old saying that a good woman can sometimes make a bad man good but can always make a good man better. I believe that Mrs. Roberton has made this good man, this Scot, a better man and we in this Parliament have reaped the benefit of this. When he was Minister for Social Services, Mr. Roberton faced all kinds of interjections during his speeches and met many difficulties. During the time he held the portfolio, the greatest possible progress was made in social services in this country. He was paying out well over £1,000,000 a day.
– Then why did we call him Scrooge?
– No-one will ever know. Under his guidance, the Department of Social Services paid out well over £1,000,000 a day. Only recently in the eleotorate I represent, someone said, “ Now that Hugh Roberton is going what will the pensioners do? “ I repeat that without any derogation to the new Minister.
I suppose that Hugh Roberton had the characteristics of all Scots. He was a man who would make a hard deal, but at the same time he had that soft heart and good intentions that have been apparent in Scotsmen all over the world for generations. I believe that he will acquit himself well in Ireland and that Australia will benefit by his presence there. We know that many people have gone from the little country of Scotland to various parts of the world and have become leaders in their new countries. They have been leaders wherever they have gone. Mr. Roberton had a great affection for the works of Robert Burns. He could recite “ The Cotter’s Saturday Night “, “ Ac Fond Kiss “, “ Logan Braes “, “ My Heart’s in the Highlands “ and “ Ca’ the Yowes to the Knowes”. He could quote all these great poems better than many Australians can quote our National Anthem. The reason is that very few of our people know the second verse of the National Anthem whereas Hugh Roberton knew all the verses of the great poems of Burns.
We have the greatest confidence in Mr. Roberton going to Ireland. We believe that-
Nowhere beats the heart so kindly
As beneath the tartan plaid!
I only hope that he will not be influenced by the Irish character to the extent that he will regard “ Come Back to Erin “ with greater favour than “Will Ye No Come Back Again ?”.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer tothe honorable member’s questions is as follows - [ am aware of the British practice in this regard as set out in Command Paper 5517 of 1936 but the question whether or not this practice could be adopted for the Commonwealth Public Service is a matter of policy. I may say that I understand that Dr. Metcalfe and Dr. Poulton were employed by the firms you have mentioned.
r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1, 2 and 3. The National Health and Medical Research Council continues as a very active body. As a result of one of its recommendations the Commonwealth Poisons Register is at present being compiled. On completion, it will comprise some 10,000 cards embracing agricultural, domestic and industrial poisons and covering human toxicity and the symptoms and treatment of poisoning. About 1,000 cards have been completed, relating to pesticides and organic solvents. It is expected that by March 1965, the register should be sufficiently advanced to enable it to be distributed throughout the Commonwealth.
As to reports and policies published by the Council in relation to poisons, I would refer the honorable member to -
The C.S.I.R.O. Division of Food Preservation is represented on the Apple and Pear Spray Residue Committee of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and co-operates with the New South Wales Department of Agriculture on the development of improved methods for the removal of certain spray residue from apples and pears. Again, the C.S.I.R.O. Divisions of Entomology and Plant Industry are represented on two sub-committees of the Standing Committee on Agriculture which are concerned with the particular problem of pesticide residues in meat.
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Did he tell the House that native wage rates had been reviewed recently, whereas, in his answer to my question No. 590 it was disclosed that there has been no review of native wage rates since the present rates were fixed in 1961? If so, why?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
When I informed the honorable member in reply to a question without notice on 27th August, that native wage rates had been reviewed a few months ago, I had in mind industrial negotiations which had been taking place in a number of centres between workers’ and employers’ representatives. These resulted in improvements in wages being paid in the towns of Rabaul, Wewak and Madang. Workers’ associations had also been formed at Goroka and Wau-Bulolo and the latter association had undertaken discussions on industrial matters with Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers Ltd.
My answer to question 590 referred to the general statutory minimum wage fixed under the Native Employment Ordinance.
Education in the Northern Territory. (Question No. 670.)
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
One Head Teacher.
One Pre-school Teacher.
£2,367 per annum. 6. (a) £1,902 per annum plus £100 per annum attraction allowance and district allowance of £200 per annum for married officers and £120 per annum for single officers at Alice Springs, and at all other centres £325 per annum for married officers and £215 per annum for single officers.
Actual male salaries of primary school inspectors are -
Rates of pay for Teachers, Welfare Branch, Northern Territory Administration Division are currently under review.
School of Pacific Administration (Question No. 694.)
rns asked the Minister for
Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
Concerning 1, I may say that I have noted such suggestions.
On the second point Australia, in 1935, did sign and ratify the International Convention but withdrew in 1945, along with the United Kingdom and Canada. Since then our trade authorities have maintained the view that Australia’s special requirements in the matter of export promotion are better served by avoiding the limitations, as to the nature and scope of promotion activities, which ratification of the Convention could impose.
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
This information was obtained by examining the employment agreements entered into between the company and its employees. 2, This information is not available as it is purely a matter for negotiation between the company and its employees.
No, if engaged as a casual worker; yes, if engaged under agreement. (Question No. 735.)
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Assistance to Coffee Producers in Papua and New Guinea. (Question No. 753.)
n asked the Minister for Territories upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Church of England in Australia. (Question No. 757.)
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What progress has been made since his reply to me on 13th August 1963 (“Hansard”, page 66) in drafting territorial ordinances to supplement the Church of England in Australia Constitution Acts passed by all the States in 1960 and 1961?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The Ordinance for the Australian Capital Territory has been drafted and the Primate and the Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn have now approved its terms. It is expected that printed copies will be available shortly for submission for the approval of the Governor-General in Council. The Attorney-General’s Department is seeking additional information from the relevant church authorities to enable the drafting of Ordinances for the other Territories to be completed.
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Which countries have formed or announced their intention to form stand-by military units for the United Nations peacekeeping service?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The following countries have announced that they have formed stand-by units within their armed forces, or are prepared to make available personnel, on terms to be agreed, for any future United Nations peacekeeping operation for which personnel from member countries may be required -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Does his answer to question No. 740 mean that all indigenous workers in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea are now entitled to payment for all public holidays not worked; if not, what was his intention in answering the question in the way he did?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
i asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Accurate information as to how many of the 3,264 houses are occupied by indigenous persons is not available but I understand that, in all but a few cases, houses built for local staff are occupied by indigenes. There are a few indigenes occupying houses built for overseas staff. Nearly all of the houses built for the Commissioner for Housing are occupied by indigenes.
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers, calculated to 31st October 1964, to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The Senate. 1. (a) 267. 2. (a) 9 years 9 months; (i) 37 years 3 months (Senator the Rt. Hon. Sir George Pearce, P.C., K.C.V.O.). 3. (a) (i) 15; (a) (ii) 9. 4. (a) 8 Senators, viz. -
Senator S. K. Amour ; 26 years 4 months,
Senator J. J. Arnold ; 23 years 4 months,
Senator W. E. Aylett; 26 years 4 months,
Senator Hon. G. Brown ; 32 years 4 months,
Senator Hon. Sir Walter Cooper, M.B.E.- 32 years 11 months, Senator Hon. N. E. McKenna- 20 years 4 months,
ls - 20 years 4 months,
Senator D. M. Tangney ; 21 years 2 months, of whom only Senator the Hon. Sir Walter Cooper and Senator the Hon. N. E. McKenna have been Ministers.
The House of Representatives. 1. (b) 554. 2. (b) 9 years 10 months 8 days; (ii) 51 years 7 months (Rt. Hon. William Morris Hughes, P.C., C.H., K.C.). 3. (b) (i) 33; (b) (ii) 21. 4. (b) 10 Members, viz. -
Adermann, Hon. C. F. - 21 years 2 months 11 days.
Calwell, Hon. A. A. - 24 years 1 month 11 days.
Clark, J. J. - 30 years 1 month 17 days.
Daly, F. M. - 21 years 2 months 11 days.
Fraser, A. D. - 21 years 2 months 11 days.
Holt, Rt. Hon. H. E. - 29 years 2 months 15 days.
McEwen, Rt. Hon. J. - 30 years 1 month 17 days.
Menzies, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert - 30 years 1 month 17 days.
Pollard, Hon. R. T.- 27 years 9 days.
Riordan, Hon. W. J. F. - 27 years 10 months 20 days.
Of these Members, Messrs. Daly, A. D. Fraser and Clark have not had ministerial experience.
e asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
When did the Government first become aware of the procedures adopted by the Government of South Vietnam in interrogating guerillas and illustrated in Australian newspapers on 28th October?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows - 1 am not prepared to conclude that an unattributed photograph of the type referred to is representative of procedures which have the approval of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam. Nor do I think that it would be proper for me to comment on the affairs of a friendly government on the basis of an unattributed press photograph. The Australian Government does not, of course, condone the use of torture or illtreatment of prisoners.
Public Service Arbitrator.
– On 10th November 1964 the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) asked me a question without notice requesting the appointment of a second Public Service Arbitrator.
Similar representations have been made to the Minister for Labour and National Service by certain staff associations. In late November, however, the Secretary of the High Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organizations told the Minister that his Council was making a study of the whole matter and would not be in a position to make definite submissions until the new year.
The Minister for Labour and National Service consequently decided to make no final decision until he bad received and considered the High Council’s submissions. The Council’s submissions are still awaited.
– On 27th October the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) asked me a question without notice in which he requested that consideration be given to extending the concession of a one-third reduction in the charge for renting a telephone to all people of pensionable age who do not receive a pension but whose income does not exceed the amount of pension plus permissible income.
I am informed that frequent approaches are made to the Post Office by, or on behalf of, different classes of telephone subscribers for reduction or waiver of the prescribed rental charges for telephone services. These include charitable, social and welfare institutions as well as individual subscribers.
Bearing this in mind, the Government carefully considered the possibility of extending the concession to other groups of persons, such as those in retirement and receiving superannuation or small fixed incomes before introducing the recent legislation. However, because of the serious difficulties in the way of determining just where eligibility should end and of the need to keep the cost of the concession within reasonable bounds, the Government was forced to take the view that the reduced telephone rentals should be granted only to those persons specified in the legislation.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 March 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19650316_REPS_25_HoR45/>.