25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took (he chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question, ls it a fact that radioactive rain is falling in Melbourne today? If so, does the right honorable gentleman know how this has come about? Finally, what does he propose to do about it?
– 1 do .not know that I can stop it, Mr. Speaker. 1 appreciate that the matter raised by the honorable member is a serious one and I think it calls for an authoritative and detailed reply from our expert advisers. I shall see what information 1 can secure for the honorable member.
– Will the right honorable gentleman do it urgently?
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is he aware that the British Foreign Secretary, speaking at a British Labour Party conference on 6th October, referred to views identical with those expressed by the Australian Labour Party and suggested that persons holding such views are really advocating a solution which would guarantee a future of extended bloodshed and destruction not only in Vietnam but far beyond?
– That is asking for comment.
– Order! I point out to the honorable member that he has directed attention to a statement, that he is now quoting from it and that he is therefore putting himself outside the Standing Orders.
– Then I will not quote further from it. I will ask the Prime Minister whether he will take the opportunity of conveying the views of the British Labour Party to my friend the leader of the Australian Labour Party.
– Order! I point out to the honorable member that the Prime Minister has no obligation in this House to convey certain views to the Leader of the Opposition.
– Then may I ask-
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister in his capacity as representative in this House of the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. I preface the question by referring to a statement by the Minister last Friday at the University of New South Wales that overcrowded universities should restrict enrolments and, as a corollary, new universities should be established. Will the Prime Minister ascertain whether the Minister contemplated an autonomous Wollongong university, severed from dependence as an underprivileged university college on its overcrowded parent body? Will he ask the Australian Universities Commission to investigate the problems of Wollongong University College arising from the attitude of its senior institution in such matters as the allocation of capital grants for building construction and the filling of long standing vacancies in lectureships and tutorial positions? Will he also ask the Commission to investigate a situation in which for the metallurgy course Wollongong has six senior academics for its 150 metallurgy students, while its parent body, the University of New South Wales, has 18 senior academics for 75 such students?
– The Minister for Education in New South Wales has, I am informed, made some representations to my colleague, the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. My colleague has discussed this matter with the Government and I can say that the Government is sympathetically disposed to the proposal that adequate finance for the purposes required be made available to the Wollongong institution out of the funds made available to New South Wales as a whole. 1 would need to examine more closely what more the Commonwealth Government can do in this matter and then perhaps convey to the honorable member a further reply. But I repeat that our reaction to what was put to us was sympathetic and, 1 hope, helpful.
– I address my question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I ask: Has there been any increase in the export of motor vehicles in recent years? ls it correct that New Zealand is Australia’s biggest market in this field but that export there is being hampered by inadequate shipping facilities? If so. what is being done about shifting the mounting backlog of export vehicles?
– New Zealand is the most important market for Australian motor vehicles. I am glad to say that the market there has been increasing very satisfactorily. Over the last five years the annual purchases of Australian motor vehicles by New Zealand have increased in value from $8,500,000 to $35 million. This is important. Therefore we watch very closely everything that bears upon this market. It is my understanding that there is no backlog of shipping at the present time. But, having said that, I add that shipping, both in regard to adequacy and regularity of services and the freight charge, is tremendously important and we watch these matters very closely indeed. The principal line servicing this route plans to have a roll on, roll off ship in operation in, I think, 1968. This would make a contribution to the regularity and adequacy of the service: and to the extent that it reduces costs I hope it will make a contribution to a solution of the freight problem. We watch the position closely.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is it true that the Federation of Co-operative Housing Societies of Victoria claims that the co-operative bousing movement in Victoria is being starved for funds and that housing societies in Victoria have hundreds of people on their waiting lists? The Federation claims that these people are mainly in the low to lowmiddle income group and are suffering from the housing finance squeeze. Does this opinion, and the opinion of the Secretary of the Master Builders’ Association of Victoria to the effect that there is no shortage of labour and material in the building industry and that work is being held up due to the lack of funds, contrast very sharply with the claim made by the Prime Minister that the Government has provided adequate finance for housing requirements in Australia? Would not these opinions indicate that there has been no positive approach to the housing problem by this Government during its 17 years of office?
– I gave some facts yesterday which, 1 think, clearly demonstrated that Australians are the best housed people in the world; with more housing available to them in terms of room availability and matters of that sort than the people of almost any other country that could be mentioned; with a higher percentage of owner occupancy; with substantial government financial provision through the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement, which this year will be making $120 million available for this purpose; with a war service homes scheme in which waiting time has been eliminated; and with an economic environment which has encouraged private enterprise to build about 85 per cent, of all the houses constructed in Australia in any one year. The current rate of construction is, I believe, satisfactory. On my information, construction is running at the rate of approximately 1 16,000 homes a year. This is certainly much higher than the comparable figure in either the United States of America or the United Kingdom. If a particular section of the industry is having special problems, I shall be glad to supply to the honorable gentleman such information as I can relating to them and also to the action which the Government may be taking.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. I am sure the right honorable gentleman has seen the report on the danger of a world shortage of food. I ask him, therefore, whether, in view of the opportunities that there are for the development of primary production in Australia, not only in new areas but also in those coastal areas already in production, he will have discussions with officials of the Commonwealth Development Bank with a view to increasing the allocation of funds to that Bank for loan purposes.
– I have heard it said that one of the big problems that will face the world in the years to come is a shortage of food. At the Commonwealth Finance Ministers’ Conference in Montreal, this was one of the subjects that was keenly discussed. It was generally recognised there that food shortages could become acute by the year 1970. In other words, the theory that David Ricardo propounded many many years ago now looks like being proved. I accept what the honorable gentleman has said about the necessity for finance being made available. I shall discuss with both my Department and the Reserve Bank the necessity for the development section of that bank to have available the necessary finance to permit the rural industries to produce the food that is needed.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, by saying that the Minister has several times made it clear that under no circumstances will he or the Government interfere with decisions made by the courts with respect to applications for deferment by boys being conscripted into the Army. I ask the Minister whether he is aware that on 14th October last a responsible and highly respected magistrate in Mackay refused to consider an application for deferment based on exceptional hardship and made by a young cane farmer, who is also a young father, on the ground that the boy had already been given a total of 12 months’ deferment and, under the National Service Act, was not entitled to one day more. Is the Minister aware that if this decision is correct, the Act is a vicious piece of legislative conscriptive machinery that will cause tragedy and chaos in Australian families? As the Minister will not interfere with the decision, will he immediately amend the Act to make the Government’s intentions crystal clear and to give decent and deserving boys the democratic right to apply for deferment if they so desire? Further, what action can this boy now take?
– I am aware of this case for the simple reason that the honorable member rang me up about it recently. When the honorable member rang me, he indicated that he had a copy of the judgment. I have called for the papers in this case and I will certainly look into the circumstances.
The position is that any national serviceman who applies for deferment on the ground of exceptional hardship can be granted deferment for a maximum period of 12 months at one time. If, at the end of that time, he feels that the hardship is still continuing, he may apply for and be granted an extension. I shall certainly look into what is alleged to have occurred in this case, but that is broadly the position. Neither my Department nor the Government in general interferes with decisions of the courts. This would be a most autocratic and undemocratic thing to do, and there is no prospect of any member of this Government ever attempting to do it. As to the honorable gentleman’s general and rather unjustified comments towards the end of his question, I would say that they are very largely irrelevant.
– I direct my question to the Postmaster-General. Can he indicate when the broad band system for telephone services between Tasmania and the mainland will be introduced? I would add that news of this event is eagerly awaited by the Hobart business community in view of the delays in trunk calls and the suggestion in some quarters that the introduction of the system has been held up.
– A microwave system between the mainland and Tasmania - particularly Launceston - is due to go into operation on 14th November. A week or two ago there was a suggestion that it had been brought into operation already and that there had been a breakdown. That was not correct. The system was under test. Testing of this kind of system is undertaken on a live basis so that proper and adequate tests may be made. The honorable member has mentioned Hobart. I point out that as a result of the opening of the new service on 14th November subscriber trunk dialling will operate between Melbourne and Launceston. At present, subscriber trunk dialling operates from Launceston to Hobart, but there is not yet and will not be immediately subscriber trunk dialling from Hobart 10 Launceston. This will have to await the construction of a new trunk exchange in Hobart and will therefore be delayed for some months.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I ask: Now that the annual report of TransAustralia Airlines has been presented, will the Minister act on T.A.A.’s complaint that it is denied competitive access to small feeder routes throughout Australia? Will he take action to give this airline equal rights with Ansett- A.N. A. to allow it to give equal service, noting the complaint by T.A.A. that of the airports in Australia that handled more than 5,000 passengers in 1965 Ansett operated into 56 and T.A.A. into only 27?
– I certainly am aware of the facts mentioned by the honorable member, because they are set out in- a report which was presented to me and which 1 presented to the House only yesterday and some of them have subsequently been published in the Press. I would like to correct one statement that the honorable member made. Trans-Australia Airlines certainty has not rights to operate in all the -States, but it does operate intrastate in two States at present. Had the honorable member read the report further, he would have seen that the Australian National Airlines Commission indicated that a review of policy is being undertaken at present and that it has made certain submissions for consideration. That is correct. Those submissions have been received and will be considered in conjunction with other .matters being dealt with in the review of policy.
– My question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, relates to reports that the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State AttorneysGeneral has been considering legislation to limit the number of company directorates that any individual may hold. Has the Standing Committee considered this matter and has it made a decision to impose a limit?
– I have seen reports of the kind mentioned. This matter has not been considered by the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State AttorneysGeneral and, no discussion having taken place, no decision has been made. It is true that the Standing Committee is at present making a general review of the uniform company legislation. Some changes in the draft uniform legislation had to be made at the time when the enactments were passed. Other smaller matters were put aside until a general review could be undertaken. It may be that somebody mistakenly thought that the matter mentioned by the honorable member was being considered in the general review that is now being made. At this stage, I am able to say clearly that that matter has not been considered.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. The right honorable gentleman has frequently justified our sale of steel, rutile, wool and wheat to China on the ground that such sales have not been banned by any Western nation except the United States of America. How many years ago was the list of banned exports drawn up? When was it last reviewed? Which principal strategic items are placed under the ban? Which principal nations adhere to the ban?
– What I have said repeatedly is right. I cannot give a detailed answer off hand to the honorable gentleman, but’ I will see what information can be obtained. Certainly I will be able tei ascertain in which year this procedure was initiated. If some nations of what might be described as the “ Western world “ - this is perhaps to a slight extent a fluctuating front -do not Conform, I will give the information to the honorable member if I can ascertain it, although at the moment I have no knowledge of such nations. To the big of my knowledge there is no fixed review of the items on the banned list but rather a constant, review. It has not been customary to publish the list of items. This matter comes within the administration of my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, it being considered a matter relating to foreign affairs policy and the Minister being in contact with those nations which comprise the group to which I have referred which follows this procedure.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. What is the legal position of an alien who becomes naturalised between the ages of 20 and 21 years? Having avoided the obligation of registering for national service at 20 years of age because of his alien status, is he required to register for national service after becoming naturalised?
– So far, aliens have not been required to register. The first occasion on which they will be required to register will be in the January 1967 registration. This will apply to those aliens turning 20 years of age in the first six months of next year. If the young man to whom the honorable gentleman has referred is already 20 years of age he will not be concerned with registration, irrespective of becoming naturalised. After January 1967 and subsequent registrations, all aliens and others will be on the same basis; they will all be required to register during the six months in which they turn 20 years of age. But the difference between them and the rest of the citizenry is that they will not be called up until they are 21 years of age and until they have been in the country for two years. As the honorable member knows, they will then have the option of becoming naturalised after a period of three months national service. If they object to doing national service they will be allowed to return to their homeland if they so choose. If the honorable member wishes to inquire about a particular case I would ask him to let me have particulars and I will advise him accordingly.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral for his help in a very important, urgent and intensely human matter. Television stations in New South Wales and, I think, in some of the lesser States, are to televise live the running of the Melbourne Cup, but not ABSN Channel 8 Bega-Cooma which, unless the Minister acts, is to be blacked out and its viewers deprived of this intensely important national telecast. Apparently this is to be done on the ground that a few miserable Victorians living a few inches or a few miles across the border might be able to see the race on this station’s transmission. Will the Minister use his influence with the Australian Broadcasting Commission and with the Victoria Racing Club-
– I take a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I object wholeheartedly to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro calling my Gippsland constituents “a few miserable Victorians “.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Though the remark was not out of order, at the request of the honorable member I will withdraw it. I was thinking of their representation. Will tha Postmaster-General use his influence with the Australian Broadcasting Commission and with the Victoria Racing Club and will he, if necessary, invoke the aid of the Prime Minister and of President Johnson to ensure that these oppressed southerners are not further oppressed? Will he bear in mind that unjust treatment of this kind can turn the most peaceful and law abiding citizens into desperate revolutionists?
– For the last three years, while I have occupied the position of Postmaster-General, the Opposition has tried to tell me that in no circumstances should I interfere with the Australian Broadcasting Commission and its control. Sir, on this occasion I will abide by the Opposition’s previous requests.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. On 13th October 1966, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, when introducing the Public Service Bill referred to an announcement by the Minister for Labour and National Service on 25th August and went on to say that the Public Service Act is to be amended also in relation to the permanent employment of married women, that the drafting of the relevant legislation is in train and that a bill covering this aspect will be introduced as soon as possible. The Public Service. Bill already dealt with by the House does not cover this subject. I ask the honorable gentleman whether he can give any more precise definition to the phrase “ as soon as possible “ - whether, for example, this means before the House gets up next week - and whether he and the Government will give most sympathetic consideration to this matter. A number of young ladies in the Public Service are anxiously contemplating marriage and this would relieve their anxiety and allow them to make the necessary arrangements.
– I am certainly most eager to relieve the anxieties of these young women at the earliest possible moment. As the House is well aware, there is at present tremendous competition both to complete the drafting of legislation and to get it through the House before we appeal to the people. In this intense competition, with the grave difficulties that arise in getting everything done in time, I find that I have not been quite as successful in pressing ahead with this notable landmark as I would have wished. I think that, with the proper co-operation of my colleagues, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that we will get the bill in here, but at this juncture 1 can give no complete assurance. However, I can assure the honorable member that his friends will be looked after at the earliest possible moment.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I refer to the approval by the Rationalisation Committee for Trans-Australia Airlines to operate services to Bundaberg and Gladstone, against which Ansett-Transport Industries Ltd. has appealed. The appeal has been referred to Mr. Justice Spicer. Is there any limit on the time for a decision to be made? Is the Minister aware that organisations in the area and the public of Bundaberg generally feel that the delay has been too prolonged? They want improved services from Bundaberg, especially to the north.
– This matter is before the Arbitrator at the present time and, of course, there is no time limit for the hearing. We expect that it should not be too long before a final report is received, and as soon as possible thereafter an announcement will be made.
– I address a question to the Minister for Defence. The last list of honours and awards for services in the field referred to incidents that took place as long ago as 18 months before the list was published. I ask the Minister: Why does it take so long for these citations to be processed, especially in these days of rapid communication? Does the delay occur in Canberra or in Westminster?
– I am sorry to tell the honorable gentleman that there are a number of points at which, in the past, delay has occurred. Some of the delay occurs in the field and has to do with the difficulties of authenticating incidents and preparing the citations, having them checked and so forth. The honorable member will understand that from the nature of the actions from which these awards come there is a considerable number involved. Some people might regard the number as out of all proportion. For that reason, more than the ordinary amount of time has been necessary to check that the awards were properly given.
– This has taken 18 months.
– I admit that 18 months is a long time. I can assure the honorable member that in recent months action has been taken to speed up the processing of awards, and I think he will be a lot happier in the future.
– Will the Prime Minister arrange for the Minister for External Affairs to make a statement to the House on the present situation in Vietnam and on the policy of this Government at the Manila conference next week - a conference that we hope will be highly successful? If a statement is made, will he arrange for the House to debate it next week before the Parliament goes into recess? Will he arrange also for the Minister for Trade and Industry, or some other Minister, to make a statement on the Government’s policy on tariffs, particularly in view of the present condition in the woollen and worsted industry, the footwear industry and the motor car industry?
– I should have thought that the Government’s views on Vietnam had been clearly stated on a number of occasions by myself, by the Minister for External Affairs and by others. In relation to the forthcoming conference in Manila, Australia has indicated its hope that in the limited time available the discussions can be concentrated principally on matters related directly to Vietnam. We would wish to see a review made of all previous attempts at negotiating a peaceful settlement directed to a just and enduring peace and, at the same time, consideration of any possible new initiatives that might be made. As the governments represented will all be governments that have some forces in the area I think it would be desirable that there be some review of the current situation in Vietnam, including the military situation. Thirdly, we would wish to review - and I am sure this is the general wish of all those participating - the possibilities of some improvement in civic action, in rural reconstruction and in matters of that sort even while hostilities continue, and at the same time to consider what usefully could be done once hostilities have been brought to an end. I do not know that a great deal would be gained by having a discussion in the Parliament prior to the Manila conference, because it is when we get there that we will have a much clearer idea not only of what is being discussed but, of course, of the outcome from those discussions. 1 had thought that, assuming the Parliament was still in session on our return, we would be able to make some report to the Parliament and allow sonic discussion to take place at that time.
– The session will end next week.
– We propose to be back before the end of the Parliament.
– What about the tariff position? J asked the Prime Minister whether he would ask the Minister to make, a statement on the Government’s tariff proposals as they affect three industries and give the House a chance to debate them.
– To which industries is the honorable gentleman referring?
– The woollen and worsted industry, the motor vehicle industry and the footwear industry.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean the Minister for Trade and Industry or the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs?
– The Minister for Trade and Industry. A statement made by him would give us an opportunity to discuss the matters.
– I think the Minister for Trade and Industry would be in a better position to answer that question. He has been dealing with these matters personally.
– Mr. Speaker, the second part of the question which I asked the Prime Minister was: Will he refer the matter to the Minister for Trade and Industry and arrange for him to make a statement? May I hear from the Minister for Trade and Industry?
– The Leader of the Opposition asked about three industries, as I understood his question. In respect of the footwear industry, a Tariff Board examination is proceeding at the present time and this will take its course. The Government does not influence the Tariff Board, but if during the hearing of a normal Tariff Board reference some very serious position occurs within an industry it is competent for the industry to ask for a reference to the Special Advisory Authority. That is possible even while the Tariff Board reference is proceeding. The footwear industry has not asked for that reference. If the case were made it could be granted and a decision given within 30 days.
In respect of the woollen and worsted industry, there is no request for a Tariff Board hearing at the moment. The Australian Textile Council is currently having discussions with the Department of Trade and Industry in an examination of the whole problem of the industry. We will act according to the outcome of those discussions which could lead to a Tariff Board reference, if it were asked for, or possibly some other course. But those discussions are currently proceeding.
In respect of the motor car industry, some manufacturers have indicated that they arc not asking for anything. Other manufacturers have agreed to implement plan A to achieve a 95 per cent. Australian content within five years. They are having discussions with the Department of Trade and Industry, their proposal being that the time limit should be extended. I have already said to the House that if they make a substantial case we will be receptive and will act accordingly. I believe that this really answers the three points.
– I am now in a position to add to the answer in respect of the Tariff position on footwear. I am now informed that the Tariff Board’s report and the Government’s decision on that report will be tabled before the House rises.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. Last week, in his answer to a question by my colleague, the member for Lawson, I understood him to say that he would hold an early meeting with the Minister for Transport in New South Wales to discuss the discontinuance of certain air services in New South Wales and especially the service between Sydney and Goodooga. Has the Minister made any progress with this proposal to initiate discussions? If he has not already made progress, will he treat the matter with the appropriate degree of urgency?
– What I referred to last week was the re-forming of the committee which was established about 12 months ago to discuss airline rationalisation matters with the Government of New South Wales. I spoke to the Minister for Transport in Sydney in the week before the question was asked - that is nearly a fortnight ago now - and we agreed to re-establish this committee. At present the process of reestablishment is in train. I hope that the committee will meet soon. At the present time discussions are going on between my Department and the Department of Transport in New South Wales in relation to the terms of reference for the committee. As soon as these details are ironed out the committee will meet and will discuss the matters that I mentioned in my answer last week.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Health. Under the voluntary health insurance scheme is the patient now reimbursed for only about 70 per cent, of his hospital and medical costs instead of 90 per cent, as was originally promised? Is the Minister now considering even higher contribution tables? Will he take steps to prevent increases in contribu tions by individuals, either by increasing the Commonwealth contribution or by using the $80 million of fluid reserves at present held by the hospital and medical benefits funds?
– In his question the honorable member lumps the medical and hospital schemes together. As I am sure he realises, it was only in relation to the medical scheme that there was a requirement that at least 10 per cent, of costs would be met by patients. Under the hospital scheme it is quite possible for a member of the public to insure himself for the full cost of hospitalisation. As to the medical benefits scheme, it is true that on an average - taking overall statistics which obscure the true position in respect of particular individuals - two-thirds of the cost is met by the funds and the Government. But 1 repeat that this conclusion is based on overall statistics, and many members of the public insured under the medical benefits scheme would receive a very much greater proportion of their costs. The honorable member referred to the possibility of an increase in the Commonwealth contributions. I remind him that only two years ago the Government increased its contributions under the medical benefits scheme by 33 i per cent. As to Commonwealth contributions under the hospital benefits scheme, this matter is given careful consideration from time to time by the Government, ft is a matter of Government policy.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Tt follows a question asked yesterday by the honorable member for Lalor, when the Minister said that the delay in drafting joint legislation on offshore oil exploration is not delaying an agreement on price, which is worrying Victoria. Can this be rightly claimed when the selling party does not yet know what the terms of his lease will be and when the proposed legislation threatens to confiscate up to four-ninths of the discovery, in complete contradiction of normal mining practice in the issue of production leases?
– I am sure that what I said yesterday was correct, because the company which is negotiating a price for gas in Victoria has had the opportunity of seeing joint statements made by me and the six State Ministers for Mines on at least two occasions. These statements set out very fully the terms and conditions on which offshore leases and permits would bc issued to people mining either oil or gas. I do not think it is correct to say - in fact I know it is not correct to say - that the Commonwealth Government is confiscating four-ninths of the discovery. What happens is that the mining company has a permit area in which to search. Once it makes a discovery it is then given, as of right, five blocks covering 125 square miles. The other four blocks were never owned by it, and I cannot see how one can confiscate something for which a person never had a lease. The legislation is based, after careful research throughout the world, on various laws which apply in North America, particularly in Alberta, and also in Western Australia and some other small areas. I believe that our mining laws and conditions covering the search for and exploitation of oil in Australia are the most generous in the world. These companies will have 125 square miles guaranteed as of right as well as getting an exclusive permit area of a very large size. In the United Kingdom, which I visited recently, the area is only 100 square miles and of this 50 square miles has to be relinquished after five years.
Mr. COSTA__ I desire to ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. Does he know that because of its high safety standards Trans-Australia Airlines has won a special insurance cover from overseas insurance companies for its aircraft fleet at the lowest premium rates in the world? ls he aware that as a result T.A.A. is now paying premiums totalling $500,000 a year compared with more than $700,000 payable on equivalent commercial rates operating in the rest of the world? Because of these facts will he loosen the strangling restrictions placed on T.A.A. by this Government’s legislation, which prevents it from freely competing against the Government’s sheltered friend, Ansett-A.N.A.?
– The strangling restrictions on T.A.A. have apparently not been very effective, because that airline is at present carrying over 50 per cent, of the passengers on the main traffic routes where it is competing with the other airline. The insurance rates to which the honorable member refers are a matter for the Australian National Airlines Commission. The Government considers that the insurance arrangements made by the Commission are very satisfactory indeed. So are the insurance arrangements made by Qantas, for example, our other Government owned airline, and the arrangements made by the private operator. In fact, the insurance cover given generally for aviation purposes throughout Australia and for our international airline is as good as any other in the world, and better than most others.
– For the information of honorable members 1 present the following paper -
Australian Capital Territory - Report of Committee of Inquiry into the need for a College of Advanced Education.
Honorable members will be aware that the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research has already made a statement In another place about the Government’s policy on this matter.
Debate resumed from 13th October (vide page 1704), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- Some time ago the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) raised in this House the question of the eligibility of national service conscripts to contest seats for the House of Representatives at the election which is to be held shortly. As a result of the questions asked by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, this legislation is now before the House. It proposes to give national service conscripts the right to contest seats at elections for the House of Representatives or the Senate, subject to certain conditions which are laid down.
The introduction of this Bill is rather late. Nominations for election to the House of Representatives close on 7th November -in 19 days time. The Bill has to go through this House and through the Senate, and then has to receive the Royal Assent, before the machinery for which it provides can begin to operate. I know that its passage through the Parliament will not be delayed, but the disadvantage that one of these young boys who wishes to become a candidate will suffer is not hard to see. All sitting members of this House have had a Jong time in which to prepare for the forthcoming election. Their opponents also have had a long time. Many pamphlets are already being circulated throughout the various electorates. But this Government, acting as usual, delayed the introduction of this important legislation. It waited until questions were asked by the honorable member for Hindmarsh and until other probing was done. It is not giving much time to those young boys who may wish to become candidates.
Existing legislation enables members of the Permanent Forces to be discharged for the purpose of contesting elections, but no such provision was made in the National Service Act for national service conscripts. The Bill provides that national service officers or national servicemen who are unsuccessful in their attempts to enter Parliament may be required, under certain conditions, to return to the forces. We of the Opposition do not disagree with this provision, but we do disagree strongly with the provisions relating to the contesting of elections by national servicemen. I refer in particular to clauses 4 and 5. Clause 4 reads - (1.) Where a national service officer -
As to national servicemen, clause 5 provides -
Where a national serviceman -
makes application to the Military Board to be discharged from the Military Forces; and
satisfies the Military Board that he intends, if discharged from the Military Forces, to become a candidate for election as a Senator or as a Member of the House of Representatives at a particular election or particular general elections, the Military Board may authorize his discharge from the Military Forces as from a date fixed by the Military Board.
The Opposition believes that the word “ may “ should be replaced by the word “ shall “ in both clauses. We believe that when a national serviceman signifies his intention to contest an election and inquiries establish that he is eligible to stand for that election, the Military Board should mandatorily arrange for his discharge. The word “ may “ should not be used. The Opposition proposes to move at the Committee stage for the substitution of the word “ shall “ for the word “ may “. We realise that the word “ may “ appears in a number of the provisions of this measure. Legal men and others may argue that it is sufficient. But the Opposition believes that there should be no room for argument on this important matter. So we shall press to a vote the amendments that we intend to propose in Committee.
It has been suggested that conscripts who express a wish to nominate for elections will undergo a screening conducted by Army officers to establish whether they are genuine in expressing a wish to nominate. We would like to know what methods will be adopted in such screenings or inquiries. Will an attempt be made to talk potential candidates out of their intentions? National service conscripts come from all sections of the community. Undoubtedly, many of them gave little thought to politics, especially before the political action taken by the Menzies and Holt Governments to conscript them into the Army. National servicemen include a certain proportion of young people who have been active in political organisations for some time.I have no doubt that among them are members of Young Liberal organisations, Young Labour associations, the Eureka Youth League, the Communist Party of Australia, the Australian Democratic Labour Party and perhaps other groups in the community that have their own line of political thought. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that if any of these young men in the forces intimate that theyintend to nominate for an election, once the Army has established that under the conditions laid down by the Commonwealth Electoral Act and the Australian Constitution they are eligible to nominate, they should be permitted to do so without further questioning.
It is to bc hoped that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) will instruct Army officers who may inquire into the eligibility of these young men to stand for election that in no circumstances is an attempt to be made to talk a conscript out of his expressed wish to contest a parliamentary election. No inquisition should be conducted to determine why a conscript has decided to nominate. He may be doing so purely as an independent action and he may have no tie with any political party. He should not be queried about why he has suddenly decided to contest a particular electorate. A political party may invite young men serving in the forces to stand for election on its behalf. This would not be anything new. For years, the Liberal Party of Australia has picked horses for courses. It has been in the habit of picking popular fellows who may never previously have had any interest in politics. If a man has beon a good sportsman, it will grab him.
– A bike rider, for instance.
– Yes. That is why the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) was selected to contest the seat of Corio.
– He was a good choice.
– He was. The point I make is that notwithstanding that a young conscript is a member of the Young Liberal League, the Young Labour Contingent or even the Australian Communist Party, if those organisations wish him to nominate for election he should not be asked why he seeks nomination. Certainly his politics should not be questioned. National service conscripts are entitled to be treated in the same way as other citizens who desire to contest a parliamentary election. It has been suggested that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) may be opposed by national service conscripts. In fact I have heard it stated that the conscripts will collect among themselves sufficient to pay the deposit required of their nominee and to provide adequate election expenses. If a conscript nominates in these circumstances what right has his commanding officer or anybody else to question his reasons for nominating, the arguments that he may advance during the campaign or who is paying his deposit and his election expenses? These things should not be issues. I would like the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) to assure me that apart from questioning whether the prospective candidate complies with the requirements of the Constitution and the Commonwealth Electoral Act, no other questions will be asked of him. He should be entitled then to receive the necessary discharge enabling him to contest the election.
Some national service trainees who prior to conscription had taken no interest in politics believe that the decision to send them overseas was a political decision reached by the Menzies and Holt Governments and was not a decision reached on the advice of the Chiefs of Staffs of the Australian Forces. One can readily understand national service trainees holding this view. One has only to consider statements made to a Returned Services League Congress in Hobart on 26th October 1964 by the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes), who at the lime was Minister for the Army. He said -
I would perhaps say. however, that we have not introduced conscription up to this point of time because our military advisers have indicated in the clearest and most unmistakable terms that it is not the most effective way of creating lim Army we need to meet the situation we face.
– Who said that?
– The Minister for Health, who was then Minister for the Army. He said further -
I stress that this is military advice.
The Minister’s speech to the R.S.L. Congress was substantially the same as the one he made in this House on 20lh August 1964 during the Budget debate. In the course of that speech the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) interjected and said -
Why have you not introduced national service training?
The Minister replied -
We have not introduced it because to do so would be against the unanimous advice of our military advisers.
Later, in a Ministerial statement, the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, said -
For some months the Department of Defence and the Service and Supply Departments, in close collaboration with the Chiefs of Staffs Committees, have been making a complete re-assessment of our defence needs and programmes.
He continued -
The Government has exhaustively studied the reports placed before it and has consulted closely with the professional military advisers.
Honorable members will note that the former Prime Minister said that the Government had consulted closely with professional military advisers. The former Minister for the Army was adamant that the unanimous opinion of the Defence Chiefs was that conscription was neither wise nor desirable. If national service trainees question whether they are in Vietnam as a result of a decision based purely on politics and against the advice of our defence chiefs, they are entitled, after having fought in the area, to put their views to the people of Australia. They should be allowed to do so without having their reasons or their method of financing their campaign queried.
I come back to the matter of time: It is only 19 days to the close of nominations. That is hardly time for the boys in Vietnam to submit their nominations. It is all very well to give them a nomination form, but the form has to be returned to Australia. The nominee has to obtain certain signatures. These things may not be so easy in an area such as Vietnam. I would ask the Minister for Defence to make sure, if he has not already done so, that young men contemplating nominating are told to start the machinery moving at once. I would like the Minister to assure me that no officer will question the politics of a conscript who may desire to nominate for election. These young men are entitled to the same treatment as is accorded any other candidate, be he Liberal, Labour, Democratic Labour or independent. We sometimes wonder why some people nominate for election. We sometimes think that some candidates have no chance at all. The results often bear out our views. We may wonder who is backing these candidates. But they are exercising their democratic right. These boys in Vietnam must be given the same opportunity. I would welcome an assurance from the Minister for Defence that no inquiries will be held into the actions of prospective candidates and that certainly they will not be asked who is financing their candidature. If the boys are passing the hat round in order to obtain the deposit and the necessary expenses to enable one of their number to stand against a Minister, that is their democratic right. The prospective candidates should not be asked to disclose how they will finance their campaign.
I hope that the Minister will accept the amendments which we propose to move at the Committee stage so that as soon as a national service trainee’s eligibility to contest the election has been established, the necessary steps will be taken to see that he is discharged from the Army.
.- I support the contention of the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) that this legislation has been introduced all too late to be of much service to those fighting overseas who may want to stand for election to the Parliament. Honorable members on the Government side say they want to do whatever they can to promote the interests of the people who fight for this country on the battlefields of the world. They claim that they are especially dedicated to ensuring that every service that the community can render to these people is rendered to them. The statements made in the Parliament by honorable members opposite create the impression that they are certain that, if there is any representation at all in this Parliament by those who are fighting overseas, it will be representation that will strenuously support the views of the Government and the attitude that the Government seeks to promote. If this is so, the Bill should have been introduced long ago so that people who belong to the Australian Labour Party, the Australian Country Party, the Australian Democratic Labour Party or the Liberal Party of Australia could submit their names to their parties for pre-selection and could go out as standard bearers for their parties. Their chances of being elected would then have been enhanced.
Everyone knows that the game of politics is fought on the basis of parties. If a person who claims to be a member of the Liberal Party and who has been fighting in Vietnam goes into a Liberal constituency to stand against the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), for instance, or if a member of the Australian Country Party who is now fighting on a battlefield goes into the Mallee electorate to stand against the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), he will not have much of a chance against the political machine representing the organisation to which he belongs. As the honorable member for Kingston said, these people are at a considerable disadvantage. But the Government can ease the impact of this disadvantage considerably. If the Government wants to show that, in putting forward this legislation, it sincerely wants to help people who are fighting overseas to stand for election to the Parliament, with some chance of being elected, it should say: “ We, the members of the Liberal Party of Australia, will try to ensure that 5 per cent, of the people elected to represent us will come from the battlefields of Vietnam and, so that our effort in Vietnam will not suffer by this arrangement of presenting people from’ Vietnam for election in blue ribbon Liberal seats, other members of the Party now serving in the Parliament who have the qualifications to fight and who are young enough to distinguish themselves in battle will stand down and will go to Vietnam to take the places of those who come from Vietnam to the Commonwealth Parliament “. There is nothing objectionable in my proposition. It should be welcomed by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall). He at least would like to see some of the people who are now fighting overseas serving in this Parliament.
– Does the suggestion include people who fought in other wars? Do they have to pull out?
– I beg your pardon?
– Order! The honorable member Cor Scullin will address the Chair.
– The honorable gentleman asks whether my submission includes people who fought in other wars. I will exempt them. But surely quite a number of honorable members on his side of the House who, to my knowledge, have not fought - if they have, they have not fought very strenuously - in any wars in the past are vigorous, capable, alert and courageous enough to add to the glory of Australia on the battlefields of the world. Why should we stop them from going overseas? Why should they not go overseas if in this way first hand knowledge can be brought to the Parliament by people who are now fighting overseas? This is simply an exchange of parliamentarians for members of the fighting forces.
– The honorable member is a bit old.
– 1 am a bit old, but my principle should be adopted by the Government to show that, in introducing thislegislation, it sincerely believes in giving to nien who are fighting overseas an opportunity to contest seats equal to that now enjoyed by the people who are in Australia and by the people who are members of the Parliament. 1 want the Minister for Defence, for instance, to show that this legislation is not humbug. I do not think that he would be a party to humbug. I think he really believes in what he has said and will say about this legislation. 1 think that he would welcome the inflow of people from the fighting forces. 1 think he would be the first person to welcome them to the Parliament if they succeeded at the election and became entitled to sit as members of his Party in the Parliament. Because I realise from the remarks he has made in the past that these are his sentiments, I think he should do everything he can to help members of the fighting forces to become members of the Parliament, as members of both the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party.
I do not want to go into personal details or to say specifically who should be selected to stand down to allow fighting men to come into the Parliament. But I will go as far as to say this: If the Minister for Defence or any of his colleagues want my help in making a selection, I will be only too pleased to give it.
.- My submissions will be short, to the point and in support of the advocacy of the Australian Labour Party on this legislation. I wholeheartedly support the remarks of the honorable members for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) and Scullin (Mr. Peters). But I want to say that I am one who believes, as I think most members of my Party believe, that this legislation should never be before the Parliament. We should not have to legislate for our troops in Vietnam because we should not have troops in Vietnam. I would like the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall), who is at the table, to say whether this legislation provides for 20 year old servicemen who are now training. Are they eligible to contest the forthcoming election? I would be surprised if they are. I have not made myself as familiar with the Bill as I should have, but I do not think it makes provision for troops now undergoing training.
I want to criticise the Minister for Defence and his Government for not bringing the Bill before the House earlier. I think there could well be some foundation for the gossip that is spreading throughout my electorate and the Hunter Valley. I well believe that what some people have said to me could be true, namely, that this legislation is being delayed because one of Australia’s greatest cricketers, Doug Walters, who scored two centuries in his first two Test matches, and who lives at Dungog in the heart of the Minister for Defence’s electorate - he received a civic reception and the freedom of the town - was rumoured to be going to run as an independent candidate against the Minister. If he did so he would undoubtedly take the seat away from the Minister who would no longer be in the Parliament. Not only is Doug Walters popular as a cricketer but he is of outstanding character, as are his parents, and he would sweep the Minister clean from the seat of Paterson.
– Order! I remind the honorable member of the terms and title of the Bill. I should like him to confine himself to the Bill, although I do not mind him drawing conclusions or giving examples.
– I do not think this legislation gives Doug Walters the right to nominate. If that is so, I suggest it is framed in such a way as to prevent this great young Australian cricketer from running against the Minister. It is gossip in my electorate that if Doug Walters does nominate and run against the Minister, Ritchie Benaud. also one of Australia’s greatest cricketers, will be his campaign director and will open his campaign. So there we are. One can easily see why, if these suggestions are true, this legislation has been delayed for a purpose. If this delay prevents Doug Walters from running as a candidate in the Paterson electorate now held by the Minister for Defence one can understand why it has been so framed. We should remember that the Government used Hubert Opperman, when he was at the height of his athletic career, to win the electorate of Corio from the Australian Labour Party. I submit that the people of this nation, and members of the Parliament, should know the situation.It may well happen that if Doug Walters becomes eligible to nominate as a candidate for Paterson he will be sitting with the Labour Party on the Government benches, after 26th November, as the member for Paterson.
.- The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) told the House that this legislation had been introduced at an extremely, late stage and that had it not been for a question asked by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) on 24th August it is doubtful whether even a limited number of national servicemen who wished to participate as candidates in the Federal elections could have been chosen at all. The honorable member for Kingston also pointed out that the Opposition wants this legislation to be fair, just and democratic in its application to national servicemen who want to nominate in the forthcoming elections. I have studied the Commonwealth Electoral Act, section 68 of which states -
No person shall be capable of being elected as a Senator or a Member of the House of Representatives unless duly nominated.
Section 69 states - (1.) The qualifications of a member of the House of Representatives shall be as follows: -
He must be either -
Senator or a Member of the House of Representatives he must have the qualifications specified in the last preceding sub-section.
The Commonwealth Electoral Act refers to sections 43 and 44 of the Constitution. Section 43 of the Constitution states -
A member of either House of the Parliament sholl be incapable of being chosen of or sitting as a member of the other House.
Section 44 states -
Any person who - (i)Is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or (ii)Is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; or (iii)Is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; or
Holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth; or
Has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common wilh the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons; shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a Senator or a Member of the House of Representatives.
But sub-section (iv) does not apply to the office of any of the Queen’s Ministers of State for the Commonweallh. . . .
I believe that the onlytest that should be appliedto national service trainees is that laid down in the Commonwealth Electoral Act as applying to any candidate for membership of this House or of the other place. This is why today the Opposition is concerned when it sees that the Military Board will conduct the proposed inquisition or screening. Clause 4 of the Bill, which we will seek to amend, states - (l.) Where a national service officer -
My point on this is: How is the word “ satisfies “ defined? What is meant by “ satisfies “? Must the person concerned be Liberal? Must he be a bitter antiCommunist - a fanatical anti-Communist? Must he be a person who will give no support to the Australian Labour Party in the elections? Just how expressly do we define “ satisfies the Military Board “? Presently I will name the personnel of the Military Board. I think honorable members will realise that a person might have difficulty in satisfying that Board, particularly if he is at all a militant type of fellow.
After satisfying the Military Board, the person still does not become a candidate, because the clause states that the Military Board “ may transfer the officer “. Why should not the clause provide that the Military Board “ shall transfer the officer “? Clause 5 also contains the expression “satisfies the Military Board”. Clause 10 contains a dangerous provision. The clause states - (1.) The Military Board may, by instrument in writing, delegate lo a person, either generally or otherwise as provided in the instrument of delegation, all or any of ils powers or functions under this Act (except this power of delegation). (2.) A power or function so delegated may be exercised or performed by the delegate in accordance with the instrument’ of delegation.
I can understand that probably the whole Military Board would not want to interview the persons concerned, but it is dangerous to give one person the power to decide whether an applicant has satisfied the qualifications necessary under this legislation to enable him to stand for Parliament. We are concerned that national servicemen who, at this moment, are being called upon by conscription legislation to offer their lives for this country are to have applied to them, when they seek to stand for Parliament, a test that is not applied to any other intending candidate for the Parliament.
Whom does the national serviceman have to satisfy? Let us examine the composition of the Military Board. My information has been obtained from the Library, which obtained details from the General Staffs Office in Canberra on 19th October. The President of the Military Board is the Honorable Malcolm Fraser. M.P. The Chief of the General Staff, the first military member and Chairman, is Lieutenant-General
– He may be too busy fighting.
– Yes. But the fact of the matter is that a very important board will be deciding these matters, a board before which 1 believe he may be denied ordinary natural justice. What kind of scrutiny is to be made of servicemen who wish to contest the election? What type of inquisition will the serviceman be faced with when he goes before the Military Board? Will the inquiry be held in public or will it be in some room where he could be intimidated or stood over? Honorable members opposite cannot say that this situation does not occur. What about the soldier who was handcuffed while in Vietnam?
– Gunner O’Neill.
– What about Gunner O’Neill? Do not let it be said that there is no intimidation of men in certain cases. What form will the inquiry take? Will the Military Board want to know his politics or details of his previous associations? Will it want to know whether he ever demonstrated against the Government’s policy on Vietnam before he was conscripted? Will it want to know whether he has his deposit available? Such a question is never asked of any other candidate, so long as he produces the deposit when required. Will the Board want to know whether he has his financial commitments arranged? Again that question is not asked of any other candidate. Will the decisions given in these cases, based on answers to questions, be held against an individual as only the Army can do during his future service? I know that it is said that servicemen do not suffer when politicians take up their cases, but there are more ways of killing a cat than by wringing its neck. These boys may well suffer as a result.
If anything the legislation will not give justice to the servicemen but may well scare some who may quite legitimately wish to contest the election. They may see that the future would be bleak for them if they did so. The honorable member for Kingston said that they may have to pay their nomination fee and their election expenses. In 1943 I contested a seat against the largest number of candidates ever to contest a Federal seat at the one time. There were 1 1 candidates. 1 would say that three or four of them ran in order to get the petrol ration tickets which were allowed at that time. There was an allowance then of a couple of hundred gallons of petrol. Some of those candidates were never seen and never heard; they never put a notice on a post and never manned a booth. But the Labour Government of the day did not ask them to submit to a test to see whether they had the requisite money, or to go before any board - even the petrol ration;ng board - to find out whether they had the money. The point 1 want to make is that this legislation is a departure by this Government that we must watch. It is whittling away the rights and liberties of every citizen who dares to protest against the Government’s policy. 1 say again that those questions must be answered. 1 should like to know whether, at the inquiries, the boys will be there with people who at least can protect them if they are being questioned on these matters. Is there any reason to doubt the Government’s intentions on this legislation? ls there any reason to doubt that it desires to do the very best for the servicemen and give them equal opportunity? Quite frankly I believe there are grave grounds for doubt as to the Governments’:, intention.
The legislation was introduced only after the honorable member for Hindmarsh had raised the matter in the Parliament. Why should we not doubt the intentions of the Government in asking the Military Board to decide these matters? We have seen interviews with servicemen on programmes shown by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but very few servicemen, if any, were interviewed when they spoke against the Government’s policy on Vietnam. 1 have yet to be convinced that the Australian Broadcasting Commission did not hand pick them and that in order to keep down criticism of the Government no servicemen were selected if they would have expressed anything against the Government’s view. This was because they feared that intimidation might well follow. If that has applied to interviews from time to time, why should it not apply when servicemen are interviewed by the Board?
We have seen that we should doubt the Government’s intentions. We find that kiddies at school are now being brainwashed and enemies are named for them. In the Minister’s own electorate special nations are now being selected as enemies so that boys will grow up to hate them. Then again we saw the Minister for the Army (Mr, Malcolm Fraser), who is the Chairman of the Military Board which will deliberate on candidates under this Bill, produce a security file against a defenceless woman in an effort to discredit her family at a time when the Government was vulnerable because of its policy. Is there any reason why we should not doubt that the intentions behind this legislation are to cause dismay and create fear which will force national servicemen to be denied their rights under the legislation?
Why should we not doubt, for instance, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) who has described every person demonstrating Vietnam as a fifth columnist. A person in a democracy who waves a sign against something that he does not believe in and knows to be wrong, the very Minister in charge of the Bill describes as a fifth columnist. Is there any reason, therefore, why we should not have grave doubts why certain things are going into this legislation? Every honorable member knows that every demonstration against the Government’s policy is checked, counter checked and tape recorded by security police, and that a dossier is prepared about every person who demonstrates against Vietnam or anything else, if he signs any document. Therefore, we have grave reasons to doubt the intentions of the Government in respect of the interpretation that will be placed on “ may “ and the inquisition which will be applied.
Then again, why should the Government want national servicemen to have a vote? When ali is said and done, impartial observers have said that the Government may well perish on its monstrous policy of the involvement of conscript boys of 20 years of age who are in Vietnam without a vote. There are a dozen and one reasons why the Government should want the very minimum number of national service trainees to participate in elections this year. From one end of the country to the other they will be able to condemn the Government’s policy. The Government will not be able to hide behind the sham campaigns of unity and solidarity put up by honorable members in support of the Government’s policies on Vietnam at the present time. That is why today we have good reason to doubt and to require the safeguards that we will endeavour to write into this legislation when it is in Committee.
I wonder why any test is to be applied to these boys if they want to nominate. Why worry about the Military Board? Any honorable member in this chamber who nominates for election has the nomination signed by a couple of persons and pays his money. He is not even asked whether he is bankrupt or has served time. If it turns out later that the candidate has been convicted of an offence it must be proved.
Honorable members know as well as I do that many members of the Australian Country Party, and also many Liberal members of this Parliament, would never have been elected if an intelligence test had been applied to them.
Many honorable members opposite would not be here now if any tests had been applied to them or qualifications were required to get into Parliament. There would be many empty seats opposite. Yet some poor soldier up in Vietnam who wants to stand as a candidate to express his point of view, because before he went to Vietnam he was given no opportunity to do so. is to be submitted to the full rigors of a Military Board inspection to run for a seat which possibly he cannot win merely because he wants to exercise his right as a citizen. No matter how we look at it, no test whatever should be applied to any national serviceman other than the test applying to any member of this Parliament or to any citizen who wants to nominate. In other words, there should be no test whatever if a person wants to nominate. He should merely sign his form. Whether he has his deposit or anything else is of no concern to the Government. It is a matter for the electoral officer when he submits his nomination.
As 1 have said, I fought an election in 1943 against people who I believe did not spend £2 10s. on it. The fact that they were not stopped from nominating is something of which we are proud. Why, then, do we make an exception of national service trainees, men who are conscripted, men who at this stage are giving their lives without having any say about it? The legislation, as it is, may be good, but it has too many weaknesses so far as the protection of our rights is concerned and requires the amendments we have foreshadowed in order to protect the rights of our democracy.
The Government cannot escape certain responsibility for bringing the Bill down so late in the session. As the honorable member for Kingston said, we are to give these servicemen about three weeks in which to fight a Federal election. Every honorable member knows that it takes him about three years preparation and about three or four months intense organisation prior to the election. So. to say the least, the servicemen start a long way back. They are further back than Walla Walla under this legislation. Even allowing for the drawback of the belated introduction of the legislation, they still have to face an inquisition by, and a test from, the highest military authority in the land.
I support the remarks of the honorable member for Kingston. I say that the only qualifications which should apply to these servicemen are those under the Commonwealth Electoral Act. They should be no different from those which apply to members of this Parliament or to those who contemplate being members. If any hillbilly or any person of any kind in the community who has his deposit and a couple of nominators, and who is of sound intelligence and can qualify under the Act. is free to nominate, then no restrictions should.be placed on national service trainees.
I conclude by saying that our sole motive in putting our point of view, in asking that the word “ shall “ be written into the Bill, and also asking for certain safeguards in the legislation, is to protect the rights of national servicemen and to see that they are not discriminated against. While I would like to trust the Government, on conscription I am afraid 1 do not trust it at all. I think it will do anything possible to deny to the people suffering most from its legislation a right of free expression. Any government that keeps dossiers and security files on people, that refers to those who demonstrate as fifth columnists and that brings in legislation such as this at the latest possible moment, shows itself to be the kind of government that will go to any lengths to see that the minimum opportunity is given to people directly involved to express their opinions about its policy.
I shall support with pleasure the amendments that will be moved by the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) because I think it is vital that the protection that he will ask the House to write into the legislation should be given to national service trainees.
– in reply - I never fail to stand in awe of the ability of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) to set up Aunt Sallies and then to dribble words as he knocks them down. He has gone into the whole field of this legislation and related legislation. He has erected a lot of Aunt Sallies and has given us a very wordy lecture indeed. Unfortunately, we find him very much like the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), “who, on his own admission, has failed to bring himself up to date by reading the Bill. 1 do not propose to spend very much time on what the honorable member for Hunter said, but I can assure him that if Doug Walters, a noted young sportsman whose home was originally in my electorate of Paterson and who was honoured in his own town of Dungog, wishes to stand for election, under the provisions of this legislation he will certainly be able to sta-d and I would welcome him as an opponent in the campaign, knowing that we would have from him a clean and sportsmanlike contest - and he would get the same from me.
If the honorable member for Grayndler had read the Bill we might have been spared about 20 minutes of debate on his part, because clauses 4 and 5 make a stipulation that where a serviceman makes application to the Military Board to be discharged from the military forces and satisfies the Military Board that he intends, if discharged, to become a candidate for election, the Board may authorise his discharge. Leaving the word “ may “ aside for the lime being, all he has to do is satisfy the Military Board that he is a bona fide candidate for election. There is no question of any inquisition. There is no question of any tests. There is no question about where the necessary money is coming from. All these things are delightful figments of the suspicious Labour Party mind. Honorable members opposite look right and left as they sit on their benches and I well understand their suspicion about everything that goes on in politics. If I were mixed up with a crew like that 1 would be pretty suspicious myself. The fact of the matter is that all the serviceman has to do is to satisfy the Military Board that he is a bona fide candidate for election.
Then we come to the next point upon which the Opposition proposes to move amendments - amendments which, I must tell the Opposition, the Government finds itself unable to accept.
– That is a disappointment.
– I imagine it is, but I do not think the honorable member will be surprised about the Government’s inability to accept the amendments, because it has- a very good reason. It is well said by the Opposition that any member of the community can go along, put in his nomination form and his fee and be accepted without question. But the important fact is that the national serviceman has a prior obligation to the military forces of this country. Therefore he must face this test of whether or not he is a bona fide candidate for election. The obligation to serve this country and to do what can be done to ensure the security of the armed services is paramount, and the Military Board must continue to carry out that responsibility, without which there would be chaos in defence. The Government is quite unwilling to detract from the authority of the Military Board in any aspect, and certainly not in this. I cannot imagine a set of circumstances in which a national serviceman, having convinced the Board of only one thing - that he is a bona fide candidate - would be refused discharge from the military forces. After I made my announcement on 29th September of the contents of this Bill, before I was able to present it to the House - and the House understands the difficulties of dealing with legislation in the closing stages of a Parliament - the announcement was widely publicised throughout the armed services. Those who might have been interested in standing as candidates in the election knew at that moment, on 29th September, that they were entitled to put in an application for discharge and that it would be checked and processed as soon as this Bill becomes law - as indeed it will.
The honorable member for Grayndler referred to clause 10, which provides for the right of the Military Board to delegate its powers to deal with applications. The only reason for putting this provision in the Bill was to ensure that an application could be dealt with as expeditiously as possible, regardless of the source from whence it came. If there is an application from Vietnam the Military Board will not want to sit as a full board and deal with the matter at second hand. Clearly it will delegate its authority to check that one point, whether the applicant is a bona fide candidate. If he is, then he will be given his discharge in the field.
No matter how one reads this legislation, it is quite clear that it is a reasonable piece of legislation. It preserves the rights of national servicemen to stand for election if they wish to do so. There is no question of a particular man’s views or of his political convictions. Nobody will ask. him even which party he proposes to stand for, or whether he proposes to stand for any party at all. When his discharge is authorised he will be returned at the expense of the Government to the point of enlistment, or to any other point in Australia if he chooses to stand as a candidate in another electorate. These are right and proper provisions, but if the Government were to destroy the overall responsibility of the Military Board it would produce a situation, as the honorable member well knows - but of course he could not neglect the opportunity to make a speech - in which all the national serviceman would have to do would be to say to his commanding officer: “ Sorry, Joe, I am on my way. Here is my chit. I am going to be a candidate at the next election.” This, of course, would be the kind of organised chaos to which the members of the Labour Party are thoroughly accustomed. They have it all the time on their side of the House.
This legislation preserves the rights of national servicemen and it preserves the responsibility of the Military Board. The honorable member for Grayndler himself has quite clearly admitted that the integrity of the members of the Military Board and of the Board as an institution is beyond question. The real fact is that the defence of this country is in thoroughly responsible hands, and the administration of this piece of legislation will likewise be in the hands of responsible people.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 4. (1.) Where a national service officer - (a) Makes application to the Military Board to be transferred to the Regular Army Reserve; and
.- I move -
In sub-clause (1.), omit “may”, insert “shall”. We are indebted to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) for at least clarifying some of the points that have been worrying not only members of the Opposition but the people of the community and members of our national service force. We feel that the substitution of the word “ shall “ is most important. The Minister says that all that the trainee will have to do is tell the Military Board that he intends to nominate; that all will then be happy. The Minister chided the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) a moment ago and said that he had suggested that the trainee should be able to say: “ Sorry. Joe, I’m on my way “. From what the Minister said it looks as though the trainee will just have to say: “ Well, Joe, I intend to nominate “. The Opposition would like to know exactly what the trainee will have to do. That is the point we are worrying about. We suggest that all he should have to do is to inform his commanding officer that it is his intention to nominate. I agree that he should be checked as to his eligibility to stand for election in accordance with the existing Acts and the Constitution.
– After that there would be no further question.
Mr. GALVIN__ What the Minister has said at least goes part of the way. But what if the Military Board decides that it is not satisfied with the bona fides of the application? That is what we are worried about. The Board could decide that it is not satisfied and there would bc no time before the election took place to question its decision and ascertain whether it was a correct one. Time is an important factor. Even the Military Board can make a mistake. Even an officer can make a mistake. I recall the case of Gunner O’Neill. He asked that he be tried by a court martial. Military law lays down that once he made that request the case had to go before a court martial. But an officer tried to talk him out of proceeding with his expressed wish. In this case, what if some officer tries to talk a potential candidate out of his desire to stand for election? What if the Board decides that it is not convinced?
– The Board has no authority to talk him out of anything. He has only to satisfy the Board that he intends, if discharged, to stand for election.
– The Minister says, in other words, that the national serviceman merely has to intimate that he is going to stand and that if he is checked out as being eligible to nominate he will be permitted to stand. Is that what the Minister says?
– That is right. So long as he satisfies the Board.
– I am indebted to the Minister for making this clear. But the Opposition feels that mistakes can happen, and do happen. We intend to proceed with our amendment and move that the word “ shall “ - a mandatory word - be inserted in clause 4 in place of the word “ may “. Even in view of what the Minister suggests there should be no objection whatever to inserting the word “ shall “ in place of the word “ may “. There should be no argument about it. It is because many of the Acts of this Parliament, and the Acts of other Parliaments, contain indefinite words like “ may instead of “ shall “ or some other word, that the legal eagles make a fortune in Australia. We of the Opposition are not prepared to have this important legislation passed without raising our voice in support of our suggestion and without taking the matter to a vote. 1 am gratefull to you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to talk of national service officers and of national servicemen, because the same argument applies in respect on clause 5. I do not intend to repeat in the discussion on clause 5 the argument I have put forward in regard to clause 4, because the same argument applies.
.- If the national service officer or the national serviceman concerned is going to have as much trouble in satisfying the Military Board that he intends to be a candidate for the election as the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) is having in satisfying the Opposition - that he knows exactly what is going to transpire when a national serviceman does make his application-
– The Electoral Officer is not dense.
– It is not the Electoral Officer that I am talking about. The Minister for Defence spoke for 10 minu.es or a quarter of an hour a little while ago. He talked about a bona fide candidate. He said that all that that person had to do was to satisfy the Military Board that he intended to be a candidate. But the Minister did not give one specific question that might be asked of the man by his commanding office by the Military Board or by anyone else. The wording of clause 4 is simply that the national service officer must satisfy the Military Board. The Minister indicates to the Commitee that there will not be much involved in this question, but I happen to have been in the Army for a period of four years. 1 know how cussed a commanding officer can be. I know how cussed the various people with authority in the Army can be. I know how they can sit on files and can sit on applications for compassionate leave. I know how they can fiddle around with these things, lt is only a matter of about 19 days or so before nominations for this election close. If the Minister has a satisfactory explanation to give as to the procedure that will be followed for any national service officer or national serviceman to be granted his transfer to the Regular Army Reserve or his discharge from the Army, as the case may be for the period of time necessary, then surely this is the place that it should be given.
The Committee should be told exactly what a national service trainee will have to put before his commanding officer so that his application can go through the various channels to the Military Board or to the officer with the delegated authority to give a decision on the matter. National service trainees should be told what is required. They ought to know when they apply that they have to give certain information in order to satisfy the Military Board. It is no good the Minister throwing his head in the air and telling us that we are a lot of nongs and that we should not be asking these questions. We are entitled to ask this question. We want an explanation. If the Minister in charge of the Bill is not capable of giving one, then let him call in the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) so that he can give the explanation. I for one do not think that the Minister has answered the argument advanced by the Opposition on this matter.
The word “ satisfies “ is included in this clause and the amendment moved by the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) is to insert the word “ shall “ to replace the word “ may “. “ May “ is not a mandatory word and therefore the Military Board, irrespective of whether it is satisfied or not, still has the right to make a decision. It does not have to give the applicant leave from the Army. That is for the Board’s decision. It may do so, or it may not do so. If a national service trainee is going to applyto nominate for the election he should know what is required of him. He should know whether he has to produce a bankbook to show that he has the required $100 deposit. He should know whether he has to produce a signed nomination form - a form signed by six people and naming a particular electorate for which he intends to stand. He should know whether he should include other information that the Army might require. But to leave this clause as open as it is, means that no honorable member here knows exactly what is required. No national service trainee knows exactly what is required. There may be one commanding officer who might take a certain attitude towards a trainee who wants to stand for election and another commanding officer may take a different attitude. Some applications will be referred to the Military Board, and in other instances there will be an officer with delegated authority to make the decision. Surely the Parliament is entitled to have an answer to these questions? Surely the Opposition is entitled to request that the word “ may “ shall be replaced by “ shall “, so that once a boy has satisfied the Military Board, the Board shall transfer him if he is an officer or shall discharge him if he is a national serviceman.
There is one point that I should like to raise with relation to clause 5. The clause contains the words “ as from a date fixed by the Military Board”. Here again, the Military Board or the delegated authority has an open slather. The clause does not say that the Military Board must fix a date within 7 or 14 days. It can fix a date whenever it likes. I suggest that it would be reasonable to provide that the Board fix the date as the date on which the writs are issued. That would give the national serviceman an opportunity to take his place in the election field. So far as I can see, the Bill does not say how quickly transport is to be provided in these cases. If a national serviceman is stationed in Western Australia and wishes to contest a seat in New South Wales, does he have to make his own travel arrangements or does he have to wait for the Army to make them? If he is in Vietnam, will he be flown out in the first available plane or will he be kept sitting in a camp until such time as the authorities are ready to let him go?
The Bill is a step in the right direction, but surely it is up to the Government to be honest with the Parliament and to draft the legislation in such a way that not only will we know what is required of the national serviceman but also that the national serviceman will know what is required of him. We ask for a specific definition of the word “ satisfies “. We ask also that the word “ shall “ be substituted for the word “ may “. We ask, further, that the AttorneyGeneral - who apparently will be answering questions from now on - shall give us some information on how soon the Military Board must give its decision and on the arrangements that will be made to bring a national serviceman back to his place of abode so that he will be able to contest an election.
.- 1 want to add a few words to what the honorable members for Lang (Mr. Stewart) and Kingston (Mr. Galvin) have said. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall), following his usual tactics of endeavouring to rubbish criticism, said that I had not read the Bill, but he did not explain what the honorable member for Lang asked him to explain. He did not state precisely the meaning of the word “satisfies” in the context in which it appears in clause 4. Does it mean that the national serviceman must satisfy the Military Board politically? Does it mean that he must satisfy the Board financially? Does it mean that he must satisfy the Board morally? Does it mean that he must satisfy the Board on mental grounds or on constitutional grounds? If the Bill is to contain a provision that the Military Board must be satisfied, there should be a precise statement of what it is to be satisfied about.
I do not know why the national serviceman should have to satisfy anyone. The Minister said that he could not be allowed to say: “ Goodbye, Captain; I am off to nominate for an election “. Why could not he do that, within reason? Why should he have to front the Board? Evidently, the only person who knows what the word “ satisfies “ means is the person who drafted the Bill. Nobody else knows. The Minister certainly does not know. Therefore, we think that the procedure to bc followed in these cases should be laid down. I can think of many ways in which I could say that an applicant did not satisfy me if I did not want him to get his discharge. From my experience in this Parliament, having been he-re during the last conflict when the Army was in control of the nation for a time, 1 know that the Army has its own methods of making sure that it is impossible to satisfy certain conditions. A former old trooper. the honorable member for Lang, has told us what he knows about that matter. I do not doubt that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding) has had similar experiences. Gunner O’Neill found that it was exceedingly difficult to satisfy the Army. I should think that if a man such as he had wanted to nominate as a parliamentary candidate, he would not have got through, whatever the requirements for satisfying the Military Board.
The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) is interjecting. Fancy having to satisfy him if you were a Labour Party candidate. He is the type of person who might well be called upon to decide whether a soldier should be allowed to stand for election in order to criticise the policy of a Government that he, the testing officer, supported. This is a very important question, and we would like it clarified.
Let us take the matter a step further. There is this quaint method of satisfying the Military Board - whatever the word “ satisfies “ means. Let us assume that the applicant does satisfy the Board. The Bill as now worded provides only that the Board may then transfer or discharge him for the period desired. In addition, as the honorable member for Kingston has pointed out, there is no provision as to the date by which the decision shall be made. We seek the inclusion of the word “ shall “. There is a vast difference between the meaning of “ may “ and “ shall “. Lawyers have mac’.e fortunes over the years out of arguments about the application of those words.
If the test is satisfied, on what grounds would the Army, the Military Board or a commanding officer deny to a person the right to be a candidate at an election? I do not know why any tests should be applied, irrespective of the argument about the use of the word “ may “. This is a case where the serviceman cannot win. If he gets out of the Army in order to nominate and does not in fact nominate, he must go back into the Army and the time that he is out does not count towards his service. Even if he runs for Parliament and fails to be elected, he still must go back into the services, and the lime that he has been out does not count towards his service. He cannot win either way. However, it is provided that he must satisfy the Board and that, if he does, he “ may “ be discharged to contest the election.
I think we are turning back the clock of democracy in this country by applying these provisions to a man who is a conscript and who has had no opportunity to pass judgment on the Government’s policy. We want a better explanation than the one that the Minister for Defence has given. He has said that every person who demonstrates against the Government is a fifth columnist. I would not like to have to satisfy him that I was a fit person to stand as a candidate. This is a terribly important matter to a person who wishes to stand for Parliament and who is a conscripted serviceman in Vietnam.
A few moments ago, before the honorable member for Hindmarsh came into the chamber, I read out the list of the members of the Military Board. They are pretty important people in the community. We would like to know what kind of political test will be applied to applicants who have to face a board of that kind. I hope the AttorneyGeneral will be able to explain to us precisely, not broadly, what “ satisfies “ means in this context. I should like him to say, secondly, why the word “ may “ is used instead of “ shall “. I support the amendment and I hope that it will be carried, in the interest of all national service trainees.
– I want to come into this debate, too. I believe this is one of the most dangerous steps ever taken in a free country. It is the thin edge of the wedge. It is dangerous to allow an independent authority -in this case the Military Board - to determine whether a man who is fighting in the defence of his country shall have the right to nominate to serve in the Parliament of the country. Surely this is a step which is unprecedented in any democracy anywhere in the world. If we accept this as a proper principle, we are only one very short step away from establishing a special board to examine the reasons and the qualifications of other people in the community, not serving in the military forces, who nominate for Parliament. It has been said that a fairly well to do grazier in South Australia used to nominate regularly for the Senate because he discovered that he could claim as a tax deduction the £500 that he was permitted to spend on election expenses. At his tax rate of lis. in the £1, his tax claim was far greater than the deposit of £25 that he would lose. I admit that the amount of the deposit has since been raised. The return to this man for the loss of his deposit of £25 was 500 times lis.
Order! What the honorable member is saying is completely irrelevant to the clause now before the Committee.
– You will see that I am right on the ball when 1 explain why I mention this man. It may very well be that the Government, realising what this character was doing, said: “ It is about time we established a special board “.
– Order! What the honorable member is saying has no relevance to the clause under discussion.
– It is relevant to the clause now before the Committee.
– Order! The honorable member has the clause in front of him.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Hindmarsh is making the point that no test was applied to the person whom he has mentioned. That person was not asked why he nominated for election. If n© test was applied to a grazier who was nominating only to save tax, why should a test be applied to a conscript in Vietnam? Certainly, there may be no test concerning his financial circumstances, but the authorities will want to know why he proposes to stand for election. I believe that the argument advanced by the honorable member is valid.
– Order! The honorable member for Grayndler has already spoken. I suggest that he should not make a second speech in explaining to the Chair what the honorable member for Hindmarsh means. I point out to the honorable member for Hindmarsh that the matters that he is discussing are not relevant to the clause now being considered.
– 1 am sorry that I am prevented from drawing an analogy between the situation of a conscript in Vietnam and that of the ordinary civilian whose position I was discussing. If you insist, Sir, that I must deal with the clause before the Committee, let me do so. The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) has proposed that the word “ shall “ be inserted instead of the word “ may “. Surely this is fair enough. It is bad enough for a start that a conscript who intends to stand for election to the Parliament has to satisfy the Military Board of his qualifications. This is obnoxious enough. Having satisfied the Board of this to the best of his ability, he still has no guarantee that the Board will allow him to stand for election. It will still have the right to refuse, because the clause provides only that he may be transferred to the Regular Army Reserve. The honorable member for Kingston insists, with the full support of Opposition members, that the Military Board should be obliged to agree to transfer the officer to the Reserve. I would like to know what will happen if the Board is satisfied of the bona fides of the person concerned and accepts that he is eligible to stand for election, but refuses to transfer him to the Reserve. I do not know just what test will be applied to him in the first place. But, supposing he satisfies it, just what can be do legally to insist on the right to stand for the Parliament if the Board exercises its right, under its discretionary power, to refuse to transfer him to the Reserve? After all, the Board will have a discretionary power as the clause stands. This will leave the matter entirely in the hands of the Board. I do not think that we should accept this situation for a moment.
– That power is a very dangerous one.
– As the honorable member has observed, it is a very dangerous power. What I want the Committee to remember, Mr. Chairman, is that we are now talking about men who are overseas fighting for this country. It is true that they are fighting a phoney war. We know all about that. The fact that they are fighting to uphold a military dictatorship is beside the point. They are fighting in Australian uniform. They have been conscripted by an Australian Liberal government that has no mandate to conscript them. Nevertheless, they are fighting in Vietnam under the Queen’s colours. I believe that in this situation conscripts have a perfect right to insist that if they satisfy the electoral requirements they have the right to be transferred to the Regular Army Reserve without anybody else having the authority or power to say: “ We still will not transfer you, and you cannot make us do so, because the law provides only that we may transfer you “. I hope that the people on the other side of the chamber who have so much to say about war when it suits them - who seem so bent on having wars whenever they can arrange them and who claim to be great defenders of the Returned Services League of Australia, except when they have an opportunity to vote-
– Order! The honorable member is again getting a little wide of the clause under discussion.
– If you think that, Mr. Chairman, you are probably right. I conclude with a fervent plea to the returned servicemen and the warmongers on the other side of the chamber. I appeal to them to try to see the point of view put forward by the honorable member for Kingston, who argued that the right to stand for Parliament should be given to conscripts in Vietnam and that the matter should not rest on a discretionary power vested in the Military Board.
.- Mr. Chairman, when I was speaking on this clause earlier, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) by interjection agreed that all that a conscript would have to do would be to satisfy the Military Board that he intended to nominate for election to the Parliament and that he was eligible to nominate. If this is correct, why cannot a kind of pro forma application couched in simple language be inserted in the Bill so that there shall be no doubt about what questions will be levelled at an applicant? I am sorry that I cannot accept that what a Minister says in this chamber will be adopted as the pattern by either the Military Board or public service officers. Only last week, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), in reply to a question, stated that certain aspects of age were not considered in selecting persons for temporary employment as electoral officials on polling days. I had a query about this and I sent the Minister’s statement to a constituent of mine. He took it to a public servant, who said: “ I am not interested in what is said in the Parliament and printed in Hansard’. It is my instructions and what is provided in the Act that I carry out.”
It is all very well for the Minister for Defence to say what will happen. The Bill does not state that that is what will happen. lt states that the Military Board shall be satisfied of certain things. It does not state what questions will be levelled at a national serviceman who wishes to nominate for election to the Parliament. It does not state that he will not be asked whether he has sufficient money to put up the required deposit or that the officer who exercises the delegated powers of the Military Board will not question him about a variety of matters. I mention this because it is rumoured at present that certain conscripts are collecting to defray the expenses of a particular candidate. There is nothing to say that an officer may not ask questions about matters like this and a wide variety of other matters. If the Minister for Defence is sincere in saying that questions will be confined to the two simple issues of whether a national serviceman intends to nominate and whether he is eligible to nominate, I suggest that the position be made absolutely clear by the insertion in the Bill of a few simple words stating what questions shall be asked of an intending candidate.
One could go a lot further, but I would not support the idea. A prospective candidate could be asked what electorate he intended to ‘Stand for and whether he had a nomination form. These matters are important. Let us remember that national servicemen in Vietnam are a long way from home and that .obtaining a nomination form might take some time. The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) has asked what transport will be provided and how speedily conscripts who wish to nominate at elections will be brought home. Not much time is available at this stage. A conscript in Vietnam who nominates for a parliamentary election is entitled to be in Australia now campaigning, just as we are. Yet the Government has delayed the consideration of this legislation. If it were not for the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) we would not be discussing it today. The questions to which national servicemen who intend to nominate for election will be subjected should be made clear. As I have said, I am sorry that I cannot accept that what a Minister suggests will happen will in fact happen. We want specific provision to be made in the measure. If matters will really be as simple as the Minister for Defence has said, the Government should accept the amendment, which would make it mandatory for the Military Board to transfer an officer to the Regular Army Reserve if he had satisfied the required conditions. No doubt the legal eagles - two of them are at the table now, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) and the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) - could advance arguments about the use of these words on other occasions. They could argue until doomsday why the word “ may “ should be used in the legislation.
For humble people, such as myself or national service trainees, the law should be clear, lt should bc made clear that no officer delegated by the Board will go too far with his inquiries. I would be happy if this simple question were the only one put to prospective nominees: “ Do you intend to nominate and are you eligible? “ If this is all that nominees will be asked, why is it not included in the Bill? As the Bill stands these people have no protection. We know that in the past Ministers have told us what will happen in certain situations but invariably the results have been different from those forecast by Ministers. The Attorney-General knows the arguments that will arise over these matters. He knows from his vast experience of industrial legislation that the great legal-men will argue continually over these points. The Bill as it now stands is a perfect let out for the Military Board or for some officer serving overseas to express dissatisfaction with the application of a conscript whom the officer may not like. What will be done if an officer, acting under powers delegated by the Board, interviews a prospective nominee and reports that he is not satisfied with the nominee’s application? Will the fellow be left in Vietnam? He has no appeal. Parliament will be dissolved. We cannot question whether the Board’s action was correct. This situation is not good enough. There should be no room for doubt. If the Government is sincere that only a simple question will be asked, let it define the question in the legislation so that there will be no mistakes. This matter should not be left to the whim of an officer who may have a personal dislike of a conscript. The officer may not like Communists, Labour supporters or Liberal supporters. The officer who is asked to make a decision for the Board may have strong political beliefs. It is sometimes hard to make decisions divorced completely from political prejudices.
– We can always do that.
– If that is so, let there be no room for argument in this legislation. Accept our amendment and substitute the word “ shall “ for the word “ may “. Then there will be no room for argument or mistake. If the Board says that it is not satisfied with a conscript’s application, what appeal does the soldier have? Does he accept the Board’s decision as final? The word “ may “ gives the Board a let out. This is not good enough, because at least one and perhaps two conscripts will be campaigning against the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) or the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) and their expenses will be paid by fellow conscripts.
.- I want to refer briefly to the importance of our amendment. There seems to bc a great deal of confusion in the minds of Government supporters about the difference in meaning between “ may “ and “ shall “. To clarify my mind and to bring the Government up to date I referred to Webster’s Dictionary. lt says that “may” means “might”. That means you might get it and you might not. The dictionary states that “ shall “ means “ should, must, am going to, is going to “. The dictionary says that “ shall “ is “ used in laws and regulations or directives to express what is mandatory “. In other words. “ shall “ refers to what must be carried out.
– Has the honorable member emphasised this to the Attorney-General?
– Yes. “Shall” means that something must be done, whereas “ may “ means “ might “. Let me turn now to this issue of satisfying the Board. According to Webster’s Dictionary, “ satisfy “ means “ to fulfil, meet or answer “ and implies the authority to measure up to a set of criteria or requirements. The dictionary states: “ Satisfy “ often implies adequacy to a practical extent or for a stated purpose. So somewhere hidden in the archives of the Government are the requirements, the regulations and the criteria which will be applied lo satisfy the Board, and it is of no use saying that the word “ satisfy ‘” means this or that. There must be some requirement which prospective nominees must satisfy. The Government must tell us what they must satisfy because, as 1 have shown, to satisfy, they must fulfil certain conditions.
I have pointed out that “ may “ means “ might “ and “ must “ is used to express what is mandatory. The words are totally different. Even if the prospective nominee satisfies the Military Board - and we do not know what “ satisfy “ means - he then only may be released. These words are so important and so vital to men who have been conscripted to give their lives that they should bc spelt out in detail in the legislation. Our amendment should be accepted.
.- The word “satisfy” is like the words “ in the opinion of “. All that is necessary is to apply a subjective test to the question, not an objective one. If you permit words like “ satisfy “ or “ in the opinion of the Board “ to be used you are making it utterly impossible for the person affected by an adverse decision to do anything in the matter. The President of the Military Board is the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser). Fancy putting yourself in his hands. Fancy giving him the opportunity to make a subjective test.
– The honorable member could not be in safer or more objective hands.
– If the Minister is the safest of them-
– I did not say that. I was talking about the honorable member putting himself in the hands of the Minister for the Army, which is the problem raised by the honorable member.
– I have placed the cases of a few national service trainees in the Minister’s hands recently and 1 did not get on very well. One man wanted to get into the Regular Army and could not get in. Another wanted to get out of national service training and could not get out. I offered to make a swap, but 1 got nowhere with the Minister. If he is the best on the Board, all I can say is: God help the poor devil who tries to satisfy the Board that he will stand for Parliament. Instead of “ satisfy “ you might just as well use the words “ if in the opinion of the Minister and his mates”, who will all be dyed in the wool conservatives if I know anything about them and if one can judge from their appearances. If rejected, the applicant has no redress because the Minister and his mates on the Board say: “We are of the opinion thai you do not intend to stand for Parliament “. The bloke could produce his nomination but the Minister could still say: “ Never mind about the nomination. That does not count. I am still of the opinion that you do not intend to stand. The fact that you have paid your £50 deposit does not mean anything. What counts is my opinion, not the fact that you have already paid £50 deposit. My opinion is the final thing. You have not satisfied me that you intend to stand for Parliament.” The alternative is even worse. It could go this far. He can say: “ Yes, you have now satisfied me that you will stand for Parliament. 1 have seen your nomination paper and the receipt from the electoral officer showing that you have paid your deposit of £50. But that still does not give you the right to be discharged, because the Act provides only that I may let you out if I am satisfied.” He can take one of two courses. He can say: “ I am not satisfied and therefore your application faits “. Or he can say: “ I am satisfied. I am compelled to admit that you are eligible. But I am not obliged under the Act to let you out, as the Act says only that I may do so. 1 have decided that you may not be discharged.”
.- It was not my intention to participate in this debate. When it started I must confess that I did not have any strong feelings about it, but, having heard my colleagues, especially the honorable members for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) and Grayndler (Mr. Daly). I feel moved to speak about this very important matter. I am especially concerned to know why the Government has left this legislation for so long. The Opposition’s contention is that the whole matter should be streamlined so that a serviceman seeking to contest a parliamentary election has a mandatory right to do so. lt should be his service right to participate in an election campaign as a candidate. Speed is of the essence at this time. This cannot be questioned.
Early this year and last year I had several questions on the notice paper asking the Government to say what the position of a serviceman who wanted to contest the forthcoming election would be. Months elapsed after I had submitted each question before any answer was given at all and then the answer to each question was evasive. We come to the 29th September. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall), when introducing the Bill, said -
Honorable members will recall that in my statement made on 29th September 1966 I foreshadowed the Government’s intention to introduce legislation to enable national servicemen to contest Federal elections.
A long period elapsed since 29th September, even, and now we are on the very dividing line, that is, is it still possible for a national servicemen to contest the forthcoming election? Is the Government genuinely interested in providing the opportunity for servicemen to contest the election? I ask the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), who is at the table, to say whether it is possible now for anyone to obtain selection as a candidate for the Liberal Party of Australia. Have the selection ballots concluded? The answer clearly is that selections have been made. No genuine attempt is made to give any serving member of the Forces an opportunity to become a Liberal candidate. Nominations have closed and candidates have been accepted by the Australian Labour Party.
Several categories of people may benefit by the legislation. A serviceman could become an independent candidate. We on this side of the chamber and probably all honorable members would hope that there would be independent candidates at the forthcoming election. My local newspaper contends that this legislation is intended to facilitate the entry into the campaign for the Division that I will contest of a Vietnam veteran who will stand as a candidate for the Democratic Labour Party. Not much can be done for prospective candidates of the Australian Labour Party or the Liberal Party. The Minister must concede that it is too late to do anything for them. But he must also concede that the Opposition is putting up a sterling effort on behalf of servicemen. Indeed, I can claim to be putting up a sterling effort to give a prospective opponent an opportunity to participate in the campaign in the Division I now represent. The Attorney-General, however, seems to be intent on keeping him out.
What will the Military Board seek to ascertain when a serviceman asks for a discharge to contest a parliamentary election? What will it want to know about him? Will it want to know whether he supports the Government’s policy on Vietnam? What if he is a Gunner O’Neill type? What if he is highly critical of the Army and of the Australian Government for being in Vietnam? I can assure the Minister that plenty of people in the Army now are critical of the Government. Having recently returned from Vietnam, I can tell him that some conscripts there are appalled at Australia’s involvement and do not accept the proposition that it is necessary to have conscripts anyway. What chance would such a person have if he sought a discharge to contest the election?
If we accept the amendment of the honorable member for Kingston, we will give him an opportunity to participate in the election. If we do not accept the amendment, honorable members will deny to young men fighting and risking their lives in Vietnam the right and the privilege that they claim for themselves.
Perhaps I am altogether wrong in assuming that the Government wants to give these young men the opportunity to contest the forthcoming election. I had a telephone call from a serving member of the Forces at Holsworthy military camp at the week end. He told me that the Army is getting ready to double Australia’s forces in Vietnam.
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Hughes that that subject is not under discussion by the Committee.
– I will not continue with that point, but it seems to me that the attitude of the Government at present will make it impossible for a serving member of the Forces to be cleared in time for the forthcoming election, lt may be that the legislation is directed at the election that will be held in three years’ time. The writs for the election this year will be issued on 3 1 st October, not very long from now. About 1 2 days from now, nominations will be called. Young men will need to come back from Vietnam to participate. The nominations will actually close seven days later. If the Minister is not prepared to accept the amendment, we can fairly construe that the legislation is directed to the Federal election that will be held three years’ hence. I appreciate the ruling you gave a moment ago, Mr. Chairman, but is it fair comment to say in this debate that the Parliament and the people must construe that ‘he Government’s intention is to have national servicemen in Vietnam for at least another three years? It is important to have some regard for the rumours that are abroad in high places, that after President Johnson leaves Australia we will double-
– Order! I suggest to the honorable member for Hughes that he should not pursue that line of argument.
– I do not want to labour the point. I am grateful to my colleagues for stimulating my interest and the interest of many other honorable mem bers. I believe that the points that have been made justify a thorough and frank answer from the Attorney-General, who is now at the table. Let me come to the very essence of the situation. Will he not concede that, without the Opposition’s amendment, it will be impossible even for D.L.P. and independent candidates to contest the election? Does he not also concede that it is now impossible for a serviceman in Vietnam to contest the election as a Labour or Liberal candidate? Does he not admit that, if the amendment is not carried, the legislation can apply only to the Federal election that will be held three years from now? Is he not implying that we will be in Vietnam three years from now and that a large number of unfortunate young 20 year old conscripts will be the victims of the Government’s ineptitude and failure to concede the right to these servicemen to participate in the same democratic principles that every member of the Parliament has demanded for himself?
.- When the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) answers the arguments advanced by the Opposition I should like him to say why the Government refuses to insert the word “ shall “ instead of “ may “ in the clause we are debating and in a subsequent clause when clause 6, dealing with the transfer to a place of residence, uses the word “ shall “. It states -
Where a person is transferred to the Regular Army Reserve under section 4 of this Act or is discharged from the Military Forces under the last preceding section, the Military Board shall, if the person so requests, arrange for the person to travel, at the expense of the Commonwealth, from the place where he is when so transferred or discharged to the place at which he resided immediately before the commencement of his service in the Regular Army Supplement or to such other place as is agreed on between the person and the Military Board.
Here again, clause 6 deals with the authority of the Military Board. In clauses 4 and 5, after a man has applied for permission for discharge or for transfer to the Regular Army Reserve and has satisfied the Military Board that he intends to be a bona fide candidate in an election, the Military Board has discretionary power. It “ may transfer “ or it “ may authorise “ the discharge of a national serviceman. However, after this discretionary power is given to the Military Board, by clause 6 the Government makes it mandatory upon the Board to meet the expense of transferring a person to the place at which he resided immediately before the commencement of his service, or some other agreed place. If it is logical to make it mandatory for the Military Board to meet this expense surely it is logical to insist that the Military Board, after it has satisfied itself that the person will be a bona fide candidate at an election, shall transfer the officer to the Regular Army Reserve or shall authorise the national serviceman’s discharge from the military forces as from a date fixed by the Board.
There are two substantial questions that the Attorney-General must answer if he is to satisfy the Opposition. First, what procedure will be insisted upon by the Military Board or the delegated authority when a national service officer or national serviceman seeks to satisfy the Board? Secondly, why is it that in two clauses the word “ may “ is used, giving discretionary power to the Military Board, and in a third clause there is a mandatory provision? The Minister must answer these questions to satisfy the Committee of the Government’s good intensions in this legislation.
– There is a remarkable similarity between the wish expressed by the Opposition and the wish of the Government as expressed in this legislation. I hope that the honorable gentleman in charge of this legislation for the Opposition will come to the conclusion that there is no need to proceed to a division in this matter. What is wanted to be achieved, as succinctly expressed by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), is exactly what: the Bill does do. The honorable member for Grayndler said that nobody would want to prevent a national serviceman from standing for Parliament “ within reason “. This, of course, is what everybody believes about this legislation. The Parliament, and the whole area of the constitutional process, should not be permitted to be eroded in any circumstances. This is why the honorable member for Grayndler so rightly used the term “ within reason “. He does noi want to see this process eroded, neither does the Government, nor do the people of Australia. This is what we go to election for - to let the people of Australia express their will, as indeed they will express it. What is the situation? We do not want to erode the processes; we do not want to submit them to ridicule; and we do not want to let the great parliamentary institution be wrongly used as a vehicle by people to avoid a national responsibility.
– Is the Minister suggesting they will do so? What a suggestion to make.
– Please wait a moment. We do not want people to be able to use the law as a vehicle to evade a statutory national responsibility, but on the other hand the Government and the Opposition are combined on the one single issue, and that is that a person who wishes to stand - genuinely wishes to stand - for Parliament, should be able so to do. That is why the honorable member for Grayndler says: “ We want him to be able to stand for Parliament within reason “. This is exactly what ,he Bill provides. If the word “ shall “ instead of the word “ may “ were used it would mean that a person with no wish whatever to stand for the Parliament, and who never entertained any real intention to do so, would be able to ask for discharge and be given it.
– Will he not be screened thoroughly?
– I do not suggest he will be screened thoroughly, whatever that means. What I meant was that the honorable member for Grayndler would not want that to he possible - and I agree with him, and I thought from what was said that every member of the Opposition agreed with him. Certainly the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) agreed when the question was asked by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron)-
– The Minister never thought of it before that.
– That is not quite so. I assure the honorable member that it was being thought of.
– Then the Government should have acted a long while ago.
– Order! The honorable member for Kingston has spoken twice.
– I suggest that the honorable member does not lose his temper. He was very good earlier; he was calm and intelligent. 1 suggest he remain that way. The honorable member for Hindmarsh questioned the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Leader of the Opposition was sitting at the table in the precise position where the honorable member for Kingston now sits, and said: “The Bill will get a rapid passage through this House “. The honorable member for Grayndler, who is a senior member of the Australian Labour Party and a responsible spokesman for it, we are told - and who are we to challenge this assertion? - said that this should be done “ within reason “, and this is what everybody would want. The very terms laid down by the honorable member for Grayndler would be subverted if the Opposition amendment were carried. Because they would be subverted if we carried it 1 would not expect the honorable member for Grayndler to vote for the amendment. 1 am sure he will use his presuasive eloquence upon his colleagues to convince them that the amendment should not be proceeded with. Of course we cannot have the word “ shall “, because if we do it will mean that a person need merely say, whether it be true or false: “ I wish to be discharged because I wish to be a candidate “.
– What a thing to say.
THE CHAIRMAN. - Order!
– That is what the Minister for Defence said was all a national serviceman would have to do.
– The Opposition would not want that to happen.
– The Attorney-General has a different opinion from that of the Minister for Defence.
– The Attorney-General is just trying to lie his way out of it.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Hunter to cease interjecting, and I remind the honorable member for Kingston that he has already made two speeches.
– Mr. Chairman, is it permissible-
– Order! Is the honorable member taking a point of order?
– Yes. Is it permissible for a Minister by innuendo to suggest that national servicemen are liars?
– There is no substance to the point of order.
– Let me now come to the difference between the words “ may “ and “ shall “, as used in clauses 4 and 5, as contrasted with clause 6. These were referred to by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart). The term is “ may “ in both clauses 4 and 5 for the reason that some body, some organisation or some structure, has to take the decision. What better organism is there to take a decision than the Military Board?
– But the serviceman has to satisfy the Board first.
– I shall come to that. The honorable member for Hindmarsh displayed an extraordinary process of thinking. He spoke about the Military Board and described it as the Minister and his mates who are dyed in the wool Conservatives. I find it an extraordinary thing that a group of people who are dedicated to the services of this country, who have a fine record of soldiering and a fine record of service in the best traditions of government service and military service, and who, in the unlikely event of honorable members opposite being returned to Government, would serve them equally as well and equally as loyally, should be so described. It is no reflection of that quality on the part of the Opposition to use those terms.
The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) has already abandoned hope of winning the next election because he has said this piece of legislation applies only to the election three years away. He assumes that we will be in office and maintain the legislation. If honorable members opposite were in office they would amend it. He has already given up hope and assumes that (he Government will be returned. Then the honorable member said that he has been to Vietnam and can assure me that there are soldiers there who disagree with the Government’s policy. I can say to him that it certainly makes one feel proud, feel a sting of pride and pull one’s shoulders back, when one sees the young servicemen marching. When one meets and talks to them one cannot help feeling pride that these young people belong to the country in which one was born or which has become one’s home by naturalisation. These are great young men. The honorable member said that he met national servicemen up there who held different views. Let me tell him that I have met national servicemen and all whom I have met have been glad and anxious to serve. They enjoy serving and feel that they are making a contribution, as indeed they are. The honorable gentleman from Hughes says: “ There are a lot of people in Australia who disagree withthe Government’s policy “. The honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson), the man whom the Australian Labour Party put up as the skilled scientist, conducted his poll as to whether the people of Australia in great numbers disagreed with the Government. What happened? They did not even have the loyalty to keep it confidential. They gave it to the Press.
– Order! The Attorney-General’s time has expired.
Question put -
That the word proposed to be omitted (Mr. Calvin’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole.
– I wish to make a point which I think is important both to returning officers and to servicemen. To enable a national serviceman to avoid the disqualification imposed by Section 44 (iv) of the Constitution and to be in a position to make the declaration that is required to be made by Section 73 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, a national serviceman who is to be discharged pursuant to the authority of this Bill to contest a Federal election will be discharged before he nominates. The critical time is the time of nomination - that is the critical time for qualification to be a candidate. The position is, of course, the same in the case of all members of the permanent forces, whether of the Army, the Navy or the Air Force; to be eligible to nominate, the member must first be discharged.I make this point because if a declaration made under Section 73 is made falsely, the person making it is liable under Section 170 to a maximum penalty, if convicted, of two years imprisonment.
.-I refer to clause 5, which reads -
Where a national serviceman -
makes application to the Military Board to be discharged from the Military Forces; and (b)satisfies the Military Board that he intends, if discharged from the Military Forces, to become a candidate for election as a Senator or as a Member ofthe House of Representatives at a particular election or particular general elections, the Military Board may authorize his discharge from the Military Forces as from a date fixed by the Military Board.
I move - Omit “ may “”, insert “ shall “’.
The arguments we advanced in respect of clause 4 apply equally to clause 5.I had not intended to speak on this clause, but the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) in replying to our case on clause 4 has proved beyond doubt the necessity for this Committee to insert the word “ shall “ in place of the word “ may “. Earlier in this debate the Minister’s colleague, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall). who is in charge of the Bill, said that all the conscripted national serviceman had to do was to advise that he intended to nominate forthe election, and that the only inquiries made by the Military Board or its delegate would be for the purpose of being satisfied that the applicant was eligible under the Commonwealth Electoral Act and the Australian Constitution. Now the AttorneyGeneral comes up with another suggestion. I could hardly believe that he meant the words that we heard him use. He suggested that some national servicemen might decide to nominate for election to this Parliament for the sole purpose of avoiding national service training.
– It is a serious charge.
– I do not know about a serious charge, but it is apparent that the Attorney-General, without knowing of particular applications, is prejudging the applicants. He is suggesting that they will lie. He suggests that national service conscripts that the Government has sent to Vietnam to fight and perhaps die are prepared to lie in making out a case that they wish to contest a parliamentary election, for the sole purpose of avoiding service to the nation. Who is right? Is it the Minister for Defence, who is in charge of this Bill and who states that all our fears are groundless, that an application need simply be made and that all the Military Board will want to know is that the applicant is eligible? Or is the Attorney-General, who says: “ We are going to have a look at this. If they are putting it over us they are not going to get out ‘”? He did not use those words, but the insinuation was clear. What questions docs the Government intend will be asked of these conscripts? What inquiries will be made of them? 1 must confess that the Minister for Defence fooled me completely. I thought that perhaps we were worrying unnecessarily, but I still believed that it was more appropriate to use the word “ shall “ than the word “ may “. I felt that we should not take chances and that we should insist on our amendment. The proof that our doubts were soundly based came only a very short time later. As soon as the Minister for Defence left the Committee the AttorneyGeneral, another senior member of the Ministry, said: “ But these national service fellows might put it over us. They are not going to do so because we cannot let them all get out.” Which ones does the Government intend to discharge? What test will be applied? Will they discharge only Liberals? Tell us. Come clean.
So that the Attorney-General may be thoroughly familiar with clause 5, if he is not already familiar with it,I will read it to him.It reads as follows -
Where a national serviceman -
I am amazed that two senior Ministers have such divergent views on this important legislation. It is just not good enough. This provision should represent a complete guide, if not an instruction to the Military Board that it shall release a candidate from national service training once he has indicated that he intends to exercise his democratic right to contest an election for a seat in this Parliament. Why on earth does the Government lay down regulations for national service conscripts different from those applying to all other people in the community? I invite the Attorney-General to stand up in a few minutes and tell me why his views differ from those of the Minister for Defence, who is in charge of this Bill, and why he has the temerity to suggest that national service conscripts will lie in order to avoid national service training. Such a suggestion is contemptible and 1 hope that not only national service trainees but also the rest of the Australian community will judge this Government by the insinuations made by the AttorneyGeneral this afternoon.
.- The really important requirement, in my view, is that there shall be no impediment in the way of a citizen of Australia who wants to become a candidate for a seat in this Parliament. 1 believe this is fundamental to the whole machinery of democracy, lt is not a question of the integrity of the people who are administering these matters from time to time, but rather the whole of the atmospherics surrounding them, and in which the democracy must work. It has been a long-established tradition that an Australian shall vote on reaching manhood or womanhood. At the age of 21 an Australian citizen is competent both to vote and to stand for election to this Parliament and, if successful, take a seat in this Parliament. No governmental organisation or band of Ministers should be permitted to erect a barrier between a citizen and his capacity to do this. The use of the word “ may “ in the context we are now considering implies that the Government is prepared to exercise judgment about the fitness of a citizen to nominate for election to this Parliament. The fitness of a person to do this was defined in the Constitution 1 6 years ago. The words of the Constitution are clear and specific. The AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) has made it pretty clear that the reason for this terminology is to clarify the position of a soldier who is. apparently, in an office of profit under the Crown while he is serving in the Forces. The soldier receiving whatever the pittance may be from time to time may well regard that term as a euphemism. However, in the constitutional context there is no doubt that this would be true. Therefore there can be no possible excuse for any body or any person in Australia to deny an ordinary citizen his constitutional rights. 1 believe that the use of this term “ may “ is presumptuous. I believe there is a good deal of nonsense being written into this legislation simply to meet the wishes of the legal jargon manufacturers. There should be no difficulty about this matter whatsoever. If the soldier says “ I want to stand for Parliament,” that is his right. He is over 21 and is not excluded because of any of the other excluding clauses in the Constitution; therefore he should be able to stand. Not the Military Board, not the Minister or anybody else is competent to pass judgment on his capacity to do so. Therefore the House should reject this clause out of hand. One can only ask: Why is this being done? Why is this terminology being used? Why is there this delay? ls it presumed that in the next few weeks there will be very few national servicemen in this position? Is it presumed that national servicemen will continue to serve until the next Federal election? is it presumed that national service is going to be a continuing feature of Australian life and that this legislation does not really matter so far as this coming election is concerned?
There is an urgency about this legislation. These men are serving in Vietnam. Possibly they are serving in Malaysia and they are serving throughout Australia. There is a good deal of work to be done if a person is to go through the procedure set out in this Bill. An ordinary serviceman has little capacity to argue his way through the toils of the military establishment. When the average young man of 21 or 22 years fronts his company commander, his battalion commander and so on up to the Military Board, what is he going to say? This, of course, is part, of the afflictions that we place upon this particular generation. We are now demanding from them an absolute commitment - that they in their time will have to take their place in the armed forces. Their sacrifice is total. Now we have the presumption to lay between them and their right to stand for this Parliament the terminology and jargon of the parliamentary draftsman, or perhaps the Minister; or perhaps it is just the plain presumption on the part of the Liberal Party that only those that it selects may stand. Of course in this context the Bill will not affect many people. The Liberal Party, I understand, has selected its candidates. The Labour Party has selected its candidates. Perhaps there are a few Democratic Labour Party candidates still to be selected. There are people who want to stand as independents. Despite the fact that no honorable member wants to encourage these men to stand for election in one’s own electorate, this is the very presumption upon which democracy is based. I believe that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall.) is being presumptuous in even including this word “ may “ in the Bill. Honorable members will be failing in their duty to the nation and to the whole democratic concept if they do not reject the Government’s clause out of hand and replace it with the terminology put forward by the Opposition.
Question put -
That the word proposed to be omitted (Mr. Galvin’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in theaffirmative.
Remainder of Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (On motion by Mr. Snedden) - by leave - read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8.23 p.m.
SUPERANNUATION BILL 1966.
Debate resumed from 13th October (vide page 1753). on motion by Mr. McMahon - that the Bill be now read a second time, Mr. Howson. - I would suggest, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you allow this Bill to be discussed with two cognate Bills - the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill and the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Bill - and that, after discussing the three Bills together, we put the motions for second reading separately.
– Is there any objection to that course? There being no objection, it will be followed.
These measures are very carefully drawn so as to preclude debate on the wider principles of superannuation, parliamentary pensions and defence forces retirement benefits. They all deal with the payment in certain circumstances of special benefits to orphans - children under the age of 16 years and, in some cases, children up to 21 years of age if they are still receiving full education - of people who have been participants in the funds covered by the measures. This applies where both the parents have died.
The Opposition regards this as a reasonable tying up of the provisions. We offer no objection to the passage of any of the measures. This is not the occasion for a full scale debate on the principles of superannuation, or its inadequacies and potentialities. We on this side offer no objection to the legislation.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) spoke very briefly. I, too, shall not take up the time of the House for long. These Bills are commendable. We are very pleased to see them. They take cognisance of the fact that the Government has a duty to the unfortunate orphans of people who have served Australia, lt will be agreed by all that Commonwealth public servants, members of the defence forces and members of this Parliament all serve the country.
In dealing with the Bills, we have to look at a fact of life. They provide for a minimum benefit of $10 a week. The point I wish to make is that every member of this House contributes the same amount and earns the same salary.
– We do not all earn it.
– If the honorable member has any doubts about his own service to this country, let him stand up and state them. Because we, as members of this Parliament, all pay the same amount, we do not have any differentiation in benefits. Should one of us be so unfortunate as to leave some orphan children, those children would be regarded as being on a parity with the children of other members and would receive, therefore, the base rate of $10 a week. Members of the Commonwealth Public Service and members of the defence forces, however, are in a different position in that they pay varying amounts of contribution and, therefore, receive varying amounts of pension. It is necessary, therefore, to recognise, as these Bills do, that there is a difference between the standards which should be applied to the orphans of those who have contributed higher amounts and to the orphans of those who have paid lower contributions. These are the facts of life, and the Bills represent an acceptance of the position as we see it.
Where there are four or more orphaned children, the income goes up to a reasonable level, but where there are only one or two children each child will receive, in addition to the base rate of $4 a week, onequarter of what was the mother’s income as a widow’s pension prior to her decease. This is a commendable provision and I certainly join the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in supporting it.
But whilst we congratulate the Government on bringing this matter to an acceptable point, we also recognise that there are still many matters which have not been provided for in the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill. As 1 have told the House on previous occasions, the present Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes), who was then Minister for the Army and Minister assisting the Treasurer, promised in May 1965 that two measures would be introduced to amend the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. The amendments were supposed to apply in respect of those who enlisted prior to 1959 and those who enlisted after that year. This was recommended by a committee of Government members. That year was critical because new conditions and new benefits applied from then on.
There is a need to clarify these matters so as to stimulate recruitment by encouraging more men to enlist and to show men who are new in the Services that their superannuation rights under the Act are clear and simple. On the other hand, there are inherent complexities with respect to men who transferred from the scheme that existed under the original Superannuation Act to the present defence forces retirement benefits scheme. The present scheme should be streamlined to remove the anomalies and difficulties now inherent in it. If this were done, it would operate much more to the advantage of those who are covered by it. The Government, it is true, has amended the Act in some respects. However, the amendments introduced touched only the fringe of the anomalies applicable to men who enlisted before 1959. These anomalies should be removed and an end brought to the dissatisfaction that those concerned feel because the anomalies exist. I urge the Government to look into this matter. We are discussing now assistance to children who unfortunately are orphaned. But we must not overlook the problems of men who are now serving, particularly men who enlisted prior to 1959.
Tn the financial year 1948-49. which was the first year of operation of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, the sum paid out for pensions totalled $25,000. In the year ended 30th June 1965, a total of about S6 million was paid out of the Fund. The total investments of the Fund rose from S22 million in 1949 to $64 million in 1964. When we consider these facts, we cannot help feeling that a report on the quinquennium ended on 30th June 1964 is long overdue. It is most regrettable that such a report has not yet been presented to the Parliament. I acknowledge that the Commonwealth Actuary has been, put under considerable difficulties by the changed conditions introduced in 1959. As I have pointed out, the investments of the Fund have grown tremendously, as have the sums paid out, and we are more or less holding a balance between contributions and benefits until the actuarial report on the quinquennium ended in 1964 is received. The benefits paid in respect of orphans may be well below the optimum benefits that could be paid if we only knew the true condition of the Fund as revealed by the actuarial report that we are awaiting. This report was due 27 months ago.
– It was to be commenced 22 months ago. It was not to be finished 22 months ago.
– Well, the critical date was 27 months ago. We had to wait three and a half years for the actuarial report on the quinquennium ended on 30th June 1959. Are we to wait another 15 months before we get the report on the quinquennium ended in 1964?
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. 1 deliberately avoided going into details of this matter because the three measures that are now being discussed concurrently have titles that are very carefully circumscribed so as to ensure that the Bills relate only to pensions for orphans. If it had been suggested that there was to be a full debate on either the Superannuation Fund or the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, 1 would have discussed these matters more fully. I have been assured that the Bills are limited in their impact. Therefore, I suggest that the honorable member for Maribyrnong, in discussing quinquennial reports and the like, is dealing with matters that are not relevant to the Bills now before the House.
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Maribyrnong that the three measures that are now being debated together are limited in scope. 1 suggest that he relate his comments to the Bills.
– I respect your ruling, Sir. Because I have been inhibited by the interdiction of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports from discussing a matter that is of great importance to many thousands of members of the permanent. Navy, Army and Air Force and their wives, I shall content myself by saying that 1 commend the Government on the introduction of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill. I believe that I speak for my colleagues on this side of the chamber also in saying that. The Bill provides for unfortunate children who have lost their parents. However, I regret that it has been necessary for me to mention the criticism directed at the Government because it has not introduced the legislation that was promised in May 1965 to streamline the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act and because it has not yet been able to present to the Parliament the actuarial report on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund for the quinquennium ended on 30th June 1964.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am glad that the House is prepared to give a speedy passage to the three measures now being debated together. I believe that the Government has taken timely action in providing additional allowances for orphans. I am sure that this action has the overwhelming support of honorable members on both sides of the chamber. I spent a great deal of time preparing documents in relation to these measures, because I realised how needy are the orphans for whom the additional allowances are being provided. Concerning the other matters raised by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) 1 would like to say only that in the debate on the estimates for the Defence Services last week I gave him an assurance on these matters. I do not believe that it is necessary for me to repeat that assurance now. The honorable member already knows the views of the Government. I know that the subject has interested him for many years since he became a member of this House. 1 hope that early in the life of the next Parliament these matters can be presented to honorable members in a form in which the subject can bc readily debated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Howson) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 13th October (vide page 1753), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
That the Dill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Howson) read a third lime.
Consideration resumed from 13 th October (vide page 1754), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Howson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 14th October (vide page 1814), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill arises out of the deliberations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which is a body set up under section 96 of the Constitution to recommend payments to certain States to enable them to maintain their activities at the same level economically as those of the rest of the Commonwealth. The Bill enables us to look at the relationship financially of the Commonwealth to the States. At present only two States benefit from this legislation, but they do so this year to the extent of more than $40 million. Under this legislation Tasmania this year will receive $20,666,000 and Western Australia will receive $19,406,000. It is not many years ago that four States were what are known as “ claimant States “. Until recent times, Queensland and South Australia, in addition to Tasmania and Western Australia, were beneficiaries under this legislation. To determine whether a State was entitled to special assistance, an endeavour was made to strike an Australian standard. In the days when four States were participants the standard was provided by matching them with the strongest States - Victoria and New South Wales. In recent times Queensland and South Australia have been able to slip out of the necessity for assistance in this way.
– “Slip out” is hardly the expression.
– That may be. I am not sure where the slip was. Anyway, Queensland and South Australia no longer find it necessary to make separate applications for special assistance. There are now only two States in this category. They still use the budget positions of the two strongest States as the standard. The annual report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission is always a mine of information about Commonwealth-State relations, lt contains a great deal of statistical information not readily available anywhere else. In paragraph 13 of its 33rd report the Commission stated- -
The increase in the basic wage of S2 per week granted by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in July, 1966, will undoubtedly impose heavy additional costs on Slate budgets and the carry-over of indirect costs of the drought will continue to impose strains on the New South Wales and Queensland budgets. There may also be increased costs resulting from higher margins payable to all State employees. All States will be faced with serious budgetary problems in 1966-67, and with the need to increase charges for State services and State non-income taxation.
This simply highlights the dilemma in a Federal system of action which, in essence, affects the economy as a whole, lt highlights the ramifications which this action has in the various parts of the Federal union. While at the moment only two States are claimants, it is quite likely, circumstantially, that if a change takes place other States could again become claimant States, lt is open always for any State to apply for special assistance in terms of section 96 of the Constitution. The extract from the Commission’s report which 1 have just read highlights the dilemma that faces us in a Federal system when increases in wages affecting the States are conceded by reason of arbitration provisions. Even though instrumentalities such as railways and electricity undertakings are State responsibilities, for the most part they are subject to Federal arbitration decisions and increases in wages paid by those instrumentalities pose certain difficulties as far as State finances are concerned. I simply cite this as an example of the kind of difficulty that occurs in a Federal system and which points to the need for the central government to exercise tolerance in dealing with the problems of the States. I have used the word “ tolerance “ quite a few times in the last week or so because, although the Commonwealth has financial dominance, it does not always show administrative tolerance so far as individual problems of the States are concerned. Under the mechanism of the
Grants Commission, as far as claimant States are concerned, you at least have some system of arbitration as regards differences in the economic strengths of the various States.
In this debate, I want to refer to one or two matters that affect the State of Tasmania in particular. I am sure my colleague, the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), will later go into greater detail about his State. At page 22. paragraph 20, of its report the Commonwealth Grants Commission states -
Though the rate of natural increase in Tasmania in 1964-65-
That is. the excess of births over deaths - was the highest in any Stale and higher than in 1963-64 there was a net loss of population by emigration. This loss illustrates, as the Commission has mentioned on previous occasions, one of Tasmania’s problems - the loss of native-born citizens who migrate to the mainland for various reasons, one of which is better employment opportunities.
Another point to which I shall refer in a moment seems to me to show that sometimes the Commonwealth, and in particular the mechanism of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, is not altogether as sympathetic as it ought to be with this very real problem. I am sure that those who come from Tasmania believe that it is the ideal place in which to live in Australia. The fact that relatively more people are bom there than in some other part would suggest that it must have attractions of some other kind, but the tragedy is that those who are born there presumably do not seem to want to stay there.
– Perhaps there are not many other attractions.
– I am sure my friend from Wilmot will describe the splendid attractions of his State. In fact, it is rather intriguing to find that even Queensland, with its glorious climate, seems to be noted principally for the import of southerners in winter and the export of its youngest people from the towns to the City of Brisbane. This is the kind of problem that exists in Tasmania. It is bad for any community when its youngest and most active members want to leave it. A matter mentioned on pages 75 and 76 of the report indicates to me again that often the left hand of government is not always aware of what the right hand is doing. I refer in particular to paragraph 128, which I will read more or less fully because it reveals quite a serious problem. It states -
For some years, the level of University fees in Tasmania had been below standard but not to the same extent as Western Australia. However, Tasmania had kept its State grant down to a level where it did not qualify for the full amount of Commonwealth Assistance to which it would have been entitled had the level of fees been equal to standard.
This is another example of what the Commonwealth rather benevolently describes as matching grants. It says to the States: “ If you spend a certain sum, we will supplement you with a certain sum”. That, of course, ignores the very real point that sometimes the ability of the State to match the grant is determined by the State’s other commitments. This applies in the field of university finance for reasons that are apparent in the full text of the report. For instance, the average wage in Tasmania is some few dollars less than in the rest of Australia and the per capita income of Tasmania is some hundreds of dollars less than the per capita income in the rest of Australia. The Labour Government of Tasmania, rightly in my opinion, has taken the view that the citizens of Tasmania on average do not have the same ability to pay university fees as citizens in Victoria and New South Wales have. Tasmania does not, in the rather benevolent phrase that is sometimes used, help itself. Of course, what the Commonwealth calls helping itself, as was pointed out here yesterday, means charging the citizens of a State perhaps more than is reasonable for them to assume. The reason that the State Government of Tasmania has not raised the fees is given later in the paragraph.
The report continues -
However, Tasmania had kept its State grant down to a level where it did not qualify for the full amount of Commonwealth Assistance to which it would have been entitled had the level of fees been equal to standard. This policy was changed in the academic year of 1965. The Tasmanian Government decided to “provide a grant of sufficient amount to enable the University to qualify for the maximum financial assistance available under Commonwealth legislation, notwithstanding that the level of fees in Tasmania is estimated to be equal to only 90 per cent, of standard. The level of student fees in this State has increased significantly during the past two years, but the Government, after consultation with the University, is satisfied that it would be unreasonable to expect student fees in Tasmania to be exactly equal to those ruling in New South Wales and Victoria.” At the Hobart hearings it was submitted that the capacity of parents to pay University fees in Tasmania is less than in the standard States because of a lower average level of incomes-
The details can be found in the body of the report - relatively few higher income recipients and the greater dispersion of population resulting in a greater burden on parents to provide accommodation for students in Hobart. Accordingly, Tasmania claimed that no unfavourable adjustment should be made for the lower level of fees in 1964-65.
That seems to me to be a reasonable enough suggestion. Surely this is one of the things that would, if it had been allowed to continue, stop the drift of the young people from Tasmania to the mainland. Yet the Commission set its face against that argument.
– It ruled the argument right out.
– That is right. Another example is contained in paragraph 132 of the report. It reads -
As there was a considerable increase in Library expenditure in Tasmania for 1964-65. the Commission raised the matter at the Hobart hearings this year. In 1963-64, the per capita expenditure in this field of social services in Tasmania was $1.43. as compared with the standard of $0.70. in 1964-65 this gap was widened, the per capita expenditure in Tasmania being $1.63 as compared with a standard expenditure of $0.75. Tasmania then claimed that there were special circumstances concerning the provision of library and museum services in that State which would warrant an increase in the allowance for special difficulties. The submission was made that Library services in Tasmania are not completely “ comparable with Library services in New South Wales and Victoria. Because of the effect of two important influences, the comparative smallness in si/.e of the Tasmanian population and the legacy of a rich history, the functions the State Library is required to carry out in Tasmania are very much wider than those carried out by the State Libraries in New South Wales and Victoria. As a result, per capita costs must also be greater.” Much the same arguments were advanced in respect of Museums, Art Galleries, etc.
It seems that Tasmania wants to preserve its cultural heritage. I am sure that Tasmania has a great cultural heritage, despite the unfortunate words of a former Prime Minister about its heritage. Tasmania at least is conscious of its heritage, cultural and otherwise. Yet, when it tries to preserve it, a barrier is put against it by the operations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. This seems to me to highlight the kind of thing that is taking place in our Federal financial arrangements at the moment. The Commonwealth can decide, almost as it likes, to bestow $50,000 on the Boy Scouts’ Association, for instance - and 1 do not choose this as any special example or want to regard it as less important than something else - or $300,000 on the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. I notice that a fellow Tasmanian yesterday in another place complained about the operations of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust suggesting that that body has been useful only in the field of ballet. I should have thought that was the place where it had been least useful, but it is presumably a question of taste. The Tasmanian Government feels that it ought to bc able to spend sums as small as $120,000 on its libraries, art galleries and museums, but it is prejudiced by the operations of the machinery of the Grants Commission.
Mention has been made of adult education. I happen to know something about finance for adult education, having been Chairman of the Council of Adult Education in Victoria for nearly 20 years. Sums as low as $50,000, if expended in the States, could give greater cultural advantages than larger sums aggregated in Federal bodies. The States cannot get such sums because of their overall financial difficulties. I would suggest that what is happening - and J will use this term for a third time, giving it a third variation of meaning - is that the States are suffering from marginal starvation. The States ought to be able to say: “ For cultural reasons we ought to expand our libraries, our theatrical undertakings and our adult education “; but the State Treasurers point to the fact that they have not available sums even as small as $50,000 or $100,000. I suggest that in terms of a gross national product of $21,000 million, which Australia has at the moment, this sort of marginal starvation measured in sums as low as $50,000 or $100,000 shows the absolute inflexibility that has crept into our Commonwealth and State financial relations, lt simply shows the intolerance at the centre - perhaps not intolerance, but almost ignorance - as to the problems around the periphery in the various States.
The document before us this evening highlights some of these difficulties. True, it underlines them only so far as the States of Western Australia and Tasmania are concerned, because they are the only participants at present in special benefits. Here in microcosm are the problems of the whole working of the Federal system, lt is at least another opportunity - and 1 know some of my colleagues will expand on the problems of their States - to indicate that alf is not well in the smooth functioning of our Federal system, particularly at this important level of financial relationships. As I said earlier, we are forcing the States either to increase the charges of their public utilities - and 1 believe that public utilities should simply cover their costs; they are not there to make a profit but to provide a service and should simply gain sufficient income to cover expenditures - or to increase non-income taxation which, for the most part, means regressive charges. We arc pressing the States into a straitjacket, and they cannot expand as they ought to expand.
There should be a degree of flexibility in the Federal system, and the States should have the same luxury of choosing the direction of expenditure as has the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth lakes great unction to itself in its Budget because it can increase defence expenditure by over $200 million. Without arguing about the relative merits of that, at least the States in aggregate ought to have something of the same degree of choice. They ought to be able to expand their activities, if they want to do so, at the magnitude of $200 million. What ought ultimately to bc argued is whether what the States want in terms of social priorities is more significant than what the Commonwealth is able to choose in isolation. Until we can get to the day when there is better co-ordination of State and Commonwealth activities as to the higher priorities, I think the States are going to languish both at the level of development and at the level of culture, each of which is significant for the greater prosperity and growth of the Commonwealth.
.- I wish to address myself to some aspects of this Bill, which tries to compensate Western Australia and Tasmania for some of the disabilities that they endure in Federal-State financial relations. I was particularly struck by one passage in the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s report for 1966 dealing with the Western Australian State Shipping Service. The passage appears in paragraph 357 in these terms -
The loss borne by the budget in 1964-65 on account of the State Shipping Service was $2,806,000 which was $354,000 in excess of the loss for 1963-64. This Commission recognises that the increased expenditure incurred in Western Australia resulted from increases in award rates and other costs over which the Western Australian Shipping Service had no control. Nevertheless the Commission has indicated that whatever the causes losses in excess of $2.4 million will be balanced by adverse adjustments of an equivalent amount. This decision has been implemented in this Report (see paragraph 239) and an adverse adjustment of $406,000 has been made. This Commission is watching with interest for fundamental economies to be introduced in the operation of the shipping service.
In paragraph 239 the Commission refers, for reasons, to its report for 1965 which deals with the disabilities that this shipping service encounters in developing the north western part of Western Australia. In particular, in the 1965 report, it makes this comment -
This raises the whole question of the economics of transport in underdeveloped areas, principally in the northern parts of Australia. I will give some other illustrations of the way in which the Commonwealth does not let its right hand know what its left hand is doing. The whole subject of transportation costs in the northern part of Australia was entrusted after the last House of Representatives elections to a committee we know as the Loder Committee - the Committee of Investigation into Transportation Costs in Northern Australia. I shall refer the House to various questions which my colleague, the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb), has put to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for National Development on this subject.
– What happened to the report?
– Cabinet is still considering it, spasmodically and superficially as I shall demonstrate from the replies. On 1st April last year Sir Robert Menzies said in reply to the honorable member for Stirling- “ No report has been received “. I have not recently been told when a report is expected. The honorable member having inquired, I shall find out from the chairman of the committee, if I can, approximately - it can be only approximately - when we may expect to receive a report.
On 1 1 th May last year Sir Robert provided a written answer for the honorable member for Stirling in these terms -
As promised I took this matter up with the Chairman of the Committee and have been informed that the Committee believes its report will be presented by my colleague-
That is what “ Hansard “ says, but I think it must be “ to my colleague “ - the Minister for National Development, before the end of August.
On 15tb September the honorable member for Stirling asked Sir Robert, without notice -
As this report has not yet been tabled, will the Prime Minister indicate when it will be available to the House?
Sir Robert replied
I cannot. The delay is not something for which I was responsible. There has been delay in receiving and considering the report. I certainly hope that we will have the report during the current sitting of this sessional period, because I am sure that it will turn out to be of great interest to all honorable members.
– What year was that?
– Last year on 15th September.
– What report was that?
– The Loder Committee’s report. On 26th October last year the honorable member for Stirling returned to the subject and Sir Robert replied -
I do not know whether I was ever optimistic enough to say that it would be available before the end of August, but I have been asking about this report myself. I can assure the honorable member that as soon as I can get my clutches on to it and have a look at it I will do my best to see that it is made available for debate during the course of this sessional period.
On 28th September this year I asked the present Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) about the report and reminded him that his predecessor expressed the hope in September last year that the House would have the report during last year’s Budget session and, in October, said that he would do his best to see that it was made available for debate during that session. 1 asked the Prime Minister whether he would consent to tabling the report in this Budget session and even permit a debate upon it. The right honorable gentleman replied -
I can assure iiic honorable gentleman thai there has been a great deal of work done at the departmental level on various aspects of this report. It has had some preliminary examination by Cabinet, but I would not state it to be consideration of depth at this stage. There were many recommendations which covered a considerable area of Commonwealth activity. We are not yet in a position to make known the views of the Government on these recommendations, nor are we in a position to say whether or not it would be appropriate in the circumstances to have the report published.
My colleague, the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), interposed- ls there a bit of embarrassment?
The Prime Minister continued -
No. The honorable gentleman will appreciate that it was the Government led by my predecessor which took the decision to sei up a committee that would examine these problems.
Then I interposed -
But ils reports will bc as stale as the Vernon Commit lee’s report.
The Prime Minister continued -
Nevertheless, this is the first time that any Government has sought to do that in Australia. 1 think that might be counted as a matter for commendation rather than one for criticism. The Government has every desire to see that full consideration is given to the terms of the report and to ascertain the extent to which the report can be applied with advantage to the people of the north. That is the objective which the Government has in mind.
Finally, on the 11th of this month, the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) gave this answer to a question which had been placed on the notice paper by the honorable member for Stirling -
The report of the Loder Committee deals with a wide range of matters of far-reaching importance affecting all modes of transport throughout northern Australia. It has been the subject of exhaustive study by relevant Commonwealth Departments.
Consideration of the report by the Government b continuing and, in the meantime, it is not proposed to table the report.
To sum up, honorable members will notice that a year has elapsed since the previous Prime Minister declared his eagerness to table the report and to have it debated. This is the report of the Committee set up two and a half years ago to investigate transport costs throughout the whole of the north.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission has penalised Western Australia for the second year running because of the expense of running the Stale Shipping Service. It determines that Western Australia must increase fares and freights on the State Shipping Service. This is despite two facts. The first is that over the last three years the State Shipping Service has had to forego a great deal of the business in passengers and freight for which it had planned in the expectation and confidence that the Ord scheme would proceed uninterrupted. The barrage, Bandicoot Bar, was opened nearly three and a quarter years ago. Everything was prepared to proceed with the main dam. The State Shipping Service had taken a great deal of the material and the personnel to the nearest port. It expected - clearly, it was entitled to expect - that the whole of the project would proceed uninterrupted. The project has in fact been suspended. The State Shipping Service has suffered as a result.
The aspect to which the Grants Commission refers, however, is the competitive position of quicker air service and, perhaps, cheaper air service. Here I compare the attitude that the Commonwealth takes towards that air service. Last year the Department of Civil Aviation determined that MacRobertson-Miller Airlines Ltd., a subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., should have a subsidy of $180,000. This year the Department of Civil Aviation has determined that it should receive a subsidy of $356,000. By contrast, TransAustralia Airlines, which is prepared to operate a service between Perth and Darwin without subsidy, is prevented from doing so. It does not need the consent of the Western Australian Government to operate intrastate, although the Western Australian Government, both under Mr. Hawke and later under Mr. Brand, has requested the Commonwealth to permit T.A.A. to operate within Western Australia. This, however, would be a route between a Territory and a State. It is a route, therefore, which under the Constitution and under the statute T.A.A. could operate forthwith. It is ministerial direction alone which prevents T.A.A. operating between Perth and Darwin. It would operate without a subsidy.
Here we see very clearly the situation where the Commonwealth, on the recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, penalises the State Shipping Service which operates between Fremantle and Darwin and, through the Department of Civil Aviation, subsidises and then doubles the subsidy for an Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. subsidiary. Quite clearly there is no co-ordination of transport in this vital area of the northern part of Australia. This is a very clear case in which we are all suffering because the Loder Committee’s report, now a year and a quarter old, is still being considered spasmodically and superficially by the Cabinet.
I have referred to the suspension of the Ord scheme. This is attributed to the hostility of the Country Party, which is centred in Victoria and New South Wales. I do not know what truth there is in this allegation. All I can say is that I cannot remember when a Country Party member of this House from Western Australia last made any reference to the Ord.
– That is unfair.
– 1 would be happy if the honorable member would direct my attention to the last occasion on which one of his colleagues from Western Australia referred to the Ord.
Now I shall refer to another form of transport which concerns Western Australia - railways. The Commonwealth has at last made it possible for the capital of Western Australia and the adjacent ports to be linked by a railway of unbroken gauge to three other State capitals. But we still find that it costs less to send goods from Perth to the eastern States than from an intermediate point between Perth and Kalgoorlie, such as Merredin, to the eastern States. Vice versa, the position still obtains that it costs less to send goods from the eastern States to Perth than it costs to send goods from the eastern States to some intermediate point between Kalgoorlie and Perth, such as Merredin. This is a consequence of the inter-system rate schedules. In general, one can say that the Western Australian Railways charge 40 per cent, more for goods going to the eastern States from Merredin, or from the eastern States to Merredin, than they charge for goods going from Perth to the eastern States or from the eastern States to Perth.
The Constitution provides for an interstate commission which would cure such abuses as the trend towards centralisation in the State capitals. We do not have to wait, however, until the interstate commission is appointed. It was this Government that repealed the act under which members could be appointed to the Commission. The Labour Party is committed to establishing the interstate commission in the terms in which the Constitution describes it. In fact, we would give it the additional interstate functions which the Interstate Commerce Commission in the United States has acquired during :-his century, since our Constitution was adopted. The reason why we do not have to wait for the interstate commission to be reconstituted is that the Commonwealth has provided the funds for building a standard gauge railway between Kalgoorlie and the west coast. The Commonwealth should make it a condition of this standard gauge railway assistance that there will be a pro rata rate between intermediate points in Western Australia and the eastern States. It is illogical as well as onerous that intermediate points such as Merredin should be handicapped in what they sell to the eastern States and what they buy from the eastern States. Here again we have a clear case in which the Commonwealth has done nothing to co-ordinate transport in Australia, even where it has the power under the Constitution or can exercise suasion through its grants.
I now pass to the transport position as it concerns Tasmania. We all know how transport between Tasmania and the mainland has been transformed by the operations of the Australian National Line, a Commonwealth instrumentality ordering and operating Australian ships, designing ships ideal for this trade, setting a standard which private enterprise has followed across Bass Strait and from Port Adelaide to Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln. Clearly, the export income which Tasmania contributes to the Commonwealth depends on an extension of the Commonwealth’s interests overseas. There is no primary industry in Australia which loses so much of its export income in freight charges as the apple and pear industry. Last season was particularly disappointing for Tasmania. In fact 80 per cent, of the f.o.b. price that Tasmania got for its apples went on freight charges for transporting those apples to their markets. Freight charges are due to rise a further 10 per cent, under the current formula. Since 1949 freight charges for carriage of goods to Britain, the main market, on Conference Line ships have doubled, although more efficient handling and more economical vessels are now used. On the other hand, freight charges by the Conference Lines for goods transported to the Philippines and Hong Kong are lower now than they were when the Conference was set up in 1952. The Conference Lines fix freight rates for goods carried to Britain at what the traffic will bear. The Federal Government allows this to be done.
Not only is Conference Line shipping too costly for the Tasmanian apple and pear industry; it is also too slow. Many vessels picking up Tasmania’s early export apples proceed to Europe by way of a number of ports, so that apples arrive after having been loo long in store and when it is too late for the early apple market. The lesson is quite clear that the Australian National Line ought to participate in Tasmania’s overseas trade as it does in Tasmania’s Bass Strait trade. Costs would be very greatly reduced. The A.N.L. could operate a fleet of refrigerator vessels on this run and participate in the trade, lt is only by participation that one can learn the costs of the operation and curb those costs. At other times the fleet of refrigerator vessels operated by the A.N.L. could carry our meat and dairy produce to various parts of the world.
While I. am on the apple and pear industry I will direct the attention of honorable members to another aspect where the Commonwealth is responsible. The industry in Tasmania realises that its prospects depend very greatly on the introduction of new varieties. No new varieties can be introduced, as the honorable member for Braddon reminds me, unless, very properly, they are approved under our quarantine laws. I asked the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) about this matter on 14th October, and I think it is not unreasonable to say that he was not familiar with the position. The Australian Apple and Pear Growers’ Association made it very plain two years ago that it found that the quarantine facilities provided by the Commonwealth - and which, under the Constitution, only the Commonwealth can provide - are too slow and too few. One delegate to the Association’s conference said that the facilities at Canberra arc totally inadequate for the needs of the industry. 1 come now to the other respects in which Western Australia in particular has not received the assistance from the Commonwealth which that State would be entitled to expect. We are inclined, because this is an annual Bill, to look at the assistance which the Commonwealth should give to Western Australia and Tasmania, the two remaining claimant States, purely in the terms to which the Commonwealth Grants Commission directs its attention. There are, however, other respects in which the Commonwealth is responsible, both in the capital and in the revenue field, lt is the fact in Western Australia, as in Queensland, that over the last couple of years the specific projects have petered out. After the LiberalCountry Party Government was returned in the 1963 House of Representatives election it provided, in the 1964 Budget, the sum of $4. 368.000 for specific development projects in Western Australia. In last year’s Budget this Government appropriated $3,766,000. In this year’s Budget it appropriates $1,500,000. There is no legislation enacted by this Parliament which will appropriate any money at all, after the end of the present financial year, for specific development projects in Western Australia.
The development projects are not all philanthropic and are not all dealt with philanthropically at the hands of the Government. I will quote from a couple of answers which my colleague, the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) received, in order to illustrate the burden which loans for such projects can represent to State Governments. In the last financial year the Commonwealth lent Western Australia $1,200,000 for the comprehensive water scheme in that State. The State Government will have to pay back the whole of this sura by 1991, but the principal and interest will represent $2,415,000. The Commonwealth will receive back twice as much as it has lent Western Australian. The same principle applies, for instance, in respect of standardisation of railways. The Commonwealth has had to lend Western Australia more than it ever expected to have to lend. In all fairness I must say that that is not the fault of the Commonwealth but of the present Government of Western Australia. Nevertheless, the Western Australian Government, over the course of the next generation, will have to pay back more than twice the amount which the Commonwealth is lending for that project. Not only are capital sums from the Commonwealth involved under this principle; revenue and current expenditure by the Commonwealth are also involved.
Australia is undergoing a very great increase in expenditure for defence purposes. The two States which are the beneficiaries of this Bill are certainly not beneficiaries from such increased defence expenditure. In 1964-65 the Commonwealth Department of Supply spent in Australia $147,726,000. In Western Australia it spent, out of that sum, $2,312,000 and in Tasmania $282,000. Last year, 1965-66, the Department of Supply spent in Australia $165,883,000. In Western Australia, out of that amount it spent $3,511,000, and in Tasmania it spent $269,000. This expenditure is all the more disproportionate when one notices, again from an answer given to my colleague, the honorable member for Dawson, that last year the value of exports overseas from Western Australia exceeded by $138,700,000 the amount of imports from overseas entering that State. It is very clear that the Commonwealth, in this Bill, is hiding the fact that its capital expenditure tn Western Australia is declining and that such Commonwealth expenditure has always been lacking in Tasmania; that its current expenditure, even in the greatest increasing field, defence, is grossly inadequate in both these claimant States.
.- The Bill before the House is to cover a grant of financial assistance to the States of Western Australia and Tasmania. As honorable members would be well aware, this grant is based upon the annual report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. At the outset may I say that this report of the Commission again is a fascinating document deserving the deepest research by those honorable members who would like to contribute to this debate. What a pity it is that our timetable has not permitted the adequate research that the task demands.
Regarding the statements made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who has just concluded his speech, I would like to put on record that we appreciate his co-operative reference to the development in Western Australia in recent years. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is a master of the art of having 20 cents each way. Whilst he spoke appreciatively of what has been happening in Western Australia - the State from which I come proudly as a representative to this House - whilst he praised the activity in development, he then tried to offset this, with his masterly art, by a criticism of the Western Austraiian Liberal Government for faults in one area and errors of judgment in another. Of course he linked with this a criticism of the Commonwealth Government, a Liberal-Country Party Government, which at no time is he prepared to praise. I will come back to one or two of the points raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition before I conclude.
The recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, right down through the years, invariably hae been adopted by the Parliament without amendment. This is again the situation on this occasion. We find that an insistent argument has cropped up in the representations made to the Commissioners. This is referred to in chapter 3 of the report. It is the argument as to whether it is now appropriate for the standard to be altered. The standard so far has been the two-State standard. Now representations are made, as I have said, rather insistently that it should be altered to a four-State standard. I am quite attracted by the soundness of the decision of the Commonwealth Grants Commission as enunciated in paragraph 97 of its report. There the Commission makes clear that all of the issues presented demand careful consideration of the reason and purpose of these special grants. The Commission says that a proper method of calculation cannot be formulated without a conception of this reason and purpose. The character and legal basis of the Commission, clearly enough, requires that these issues be considered from a broad national point of view, treating neither the assertions of the States aor those of the Commonwealth Treasury as definitive upon the matter.
I support the contention that the broad national view must be the first consideration. I hope there will be no hasty movement away from the current standard if this would be to the detriment of the States now quite justly receiving the benefit. If such a movement would be a deterrent to their progress, let us leave the standard as it is, based upon the two States of Victoria and New South Wales, for an additional period.
In the second reading speech by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) emphasis is placed on the fact that finance is the basis of the special grants to enable the two claimant States to provide government services nf standards not appreciably below those of the standard States. Wc find from this fascinating document, which is complex indeed if one tries to draw conclusions from it in any limited space of time, that there are adjustments, favorable and unfavorable, of the claims of the two States, but it is the financial need of the two States which is regarded as the fundamental point. The advance payments, the completion payments and the totals are helpfully set out in a table covering the three-year period up to the current financial year. Western Australia, in which I am particularly interested, received §17.1 million in the financial year 1964-65. The special grant rose substantially in the next financial year to something in excess of $24 million. Now the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is complaining, rather pertinently, about the grant for Western Australia falling back on this occasion to $19.4 million.
One would need to spend a considerable time in examining in detail the favorable and unfavorable adjustments, and it is my intention tonight to refer only to a couple of points. The Treasurer drew attention to this fairly large reduction in the grant for Western Australia, but he went on to deal with the progress of the State. If a claimant State is making appreciable progress, that is an indication that the time will come when it will no longer be a claimant.
– Hear, hear!
– -This is something that my friend from Victoria naturally applauds. No representative of Western Australia takes pride in supporting a claim for a special grant. We do it when there is justification for the grant, but when, as has happened in the cases of South Australia and Queensland, the ground is removed for claims of this nature, we applaud the progress that has been made. As a Western Australian, I want to place on record my personal pride in the advances made by a State so vast in area, a State which has faced so many problems in previous years-
– Does the honorable member mean that?
– My friend from Macquarie knows full well that if he were a Western Australian he would be vocal indeed on this subject. The problems that have been encountered-
– I would support the Ord proposition.
– So do I.
– You did not vote for it.
– Yes, we did. We are confident that the approval will be along the right lines. Perhaps it is not far off. But my honorable friend cannot deflect me from the point 1 am making. Western Australia has had a remarkable record of achievement in recent )’ears under the government which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been criticising - a Liberal Government. The development of the State has been very definitely aided by the Commonwealth Liberal Government.
– And the Country Party.
– And, of course, the Country Party, our brother in the coalition government. Do not let me for a moment exclude it. I am rather pleased that my friends of the Country Party have seen the light regarding north-west development. The old story has changed. Now they are on side with us.
– Of course, we are.
-Of , course, they are, and they will be just as pleased as their friends in the coalition when we get approval for the Ord development.
– We have always favoured it.
– The honorable member cannot deny that some of his colleagues had second thoughts. But let me come back to these special grants. The Commission’s investigations revealed that Western Australia’s revenue and expenditure efforts for the year were above those of the standard States. I turn to my friend from Victoria, the honorable member who helped me a moment or two ago, and remind him that whilst we have appreciated the assistance given by the grants we have been making a genuine effort to improve, and we have been criticised by the Grants Commission. Our revenue and expenditure efforts have been above those of the standard States. This has been recognised by the Grants Commission and has been made the subject of an unfavorable adjustment.
The Treasurer said: “ lt appears that there is a decline in Western Australia’s need for a special grant “. He then referred to the fact that we have been aided by seasonal conditions in Western Australia. We are pleased to know that this current season will be no exception in that respect. This, combined with a general buoyancy and economic activity in the western State, has had a most desirable effect on the State’s revenue, particularly the revenue from railway operations.
I have heard just recently of a cut-back in some of the rebates extended to organisations engaged diligently in the development of some of the mineral fields of the State. I would put on record my view that it would be a pity if the recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission were to influence the State Government in Western Australia, having agreed to certain rebates, to modify those rebates. I make a special plea to my colleagues in Western Australia to see that there is no hindrance of developmental programmes. Various commercial organisations, acting upon an understanding that rebates would be paid, moved into the field and now may be embarrassed if the rebates are cut. I do hope that any conclusion in this respect drawn from the Commission’s report will be reconsidered and that these rebates will be reinstated.
The Treasurer, very wisely, said in hh speech on this Bill that it is too early to be sure of a continuation of the outstandingly rapid growth of Western Australia’s economy. It is premature to assume that this will lead to a further reduction in the State’s dependence on special grants. We must bear in mind the extreme difficulties that Western Australia has faced and will continue to face for some time, the vastness of its areas, its small population in comparison with those of the other States, its responsibility for miles and miles of roads through difficult areas, and the problems faced by the State Shipping Service, with the great mileage to be covered up and down the coast. Is it any wonder that this business undertaking faces a deficit?
I find that it is essential to mention the summary of adjustments referred to in paragraph 243 at page 120 of the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission for 1966. This excellent summary shows a favorable budgetary adjustment for Western Australia because of its expenditure on social services. There is a further favorable budgetary adjustment because of the severity of the non-income taxation that the State Liberal and Country League Go: vernment has imposed. There is an unfavorable budgetary adjustment only to the extent of $524,000 because of the differential impacts on the State Budget of the financial results of State undertakings. This brings mc to the point made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I do not think he was really fair when he analysed paragraph 357 of the report, which lays stress on the recognition by the Commission of the fact that the increased expenditure incurred on the State Shipping Service in Western Australia resulted from increases in award rates and other costs over which the Service had no control.
– Would the honorable member mind reading the whole paragraph?
– I do not need to read it all. The honorable members colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, read it. I intend just to underline the couple of points that T consider to be material. The Commission stated that it is watching with interest for fundamental economies to be introduced in the operation of the Shipping Service. This is fair enough. I only wish that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would recognise that the Commission, soundly, is searching for fundamental economies. In other words, though expenditure has been increased by higher award rates it is hoped that every effort will be made within this State business undertaking to make it a profitable concern, as nearly as is possible, rather than one that through the years has had, and perhaps in the future will have, a large and embarrassing deficit.
– The State Shipping Service is playing a very important part in keeping down shipping freights.
– Of course it is. If the Service were abandoned, the northern part of the State woUld be denuded of the people whom we are glad to encourage to find careers and establish business undertakings there. Those people would be deterred from remaining in the north. The honorable member, during his long service as a member of this House, could well have used the State Shipping Service for his own enjoyment. If he has not, I commend it to him. He would find that a journey on one of the vessels operated by the Service would reveal to him the pleasures and attractions of the north west of Western Australia. He would be convinced that the Service ought to be encouraged. No-one in his right senses would suggest that the people in the north should be without a shipping service of this kind.
With these comments, I come back to my friend, the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson), who has been a great supporter and keen advocate of the development of the north. We on this side of the chamber do not always agree with him, but we have found a basis for agreement in his advocacy of development of the north of Western Australia. I reiterate that, as a representative of Western Australia, I have never been deflected from my judgment by . any of the criticism of the fascinating and challenging scheme on the Ord River that we have heard. I am confident that this Government with which I am associated and which I am proud at all times to support will see the wisdom of assisting the Western Australian Government further in its expansion of the Ord River scheme. I would not be surprised if a favorable decision were reached by the Commonwealth in the near future.
Let me say in conclusion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the Commonwealth Grants Commission, once again, has accorded favorable recognition to the activities undertaken in Western Australia, which is a claimant State because of the financial problems with which it is confronted. However, I do not think that it will always remain a claimant State. It has made highly commendable progress in recent years. As I have already indicated, Western Australia has been marked down a few points in respect of the grant to be made this financial year. This is due to the favorable budgetary adjustments made in view of what has been done in the State. However, as a representative of the claimant State of Western Australia I go on record as saying that the State is greatly encouraged by the assistance to be given in the form of the special grants provided for in this Bill.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I support the remarks made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) who gave us a very interesting analysis of the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s report for J 966, with particular attention to the various aspects, especially the transport system of Australia as it affects Western Australia and Tasmania. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports made an excellent economic analysis of the effects of the work of the Commission on certain aspects of the Tasmanian economy. I fully endorse everything that the honorable member said. Indeed, he discussed the very subjects that I had pinpointed for my speech tonight. I shall now be content to emphasise the correctness of his analysis and opinions.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission is to be congratulated on the intensity of its work, its careful analysis of the economies of Western Australia and Tasmania and its report. As previous speakers have said, the annual report of the Commission is one of the finest of the annual reports that we in this Parliament receive. It is a veritable bible of statistics relating to the economy of the Commonwealth as a whole and the economies of the individual States. lt presents a wonderful range of tables that could bc used with advantage in any economic debate in this Parliament. I understand that Mr. Phillips, who has been Chairman of the Commission for some years, has just retired. I. do not know the name of the new Chairman who has just been appointed, but I wish him well. J trust that he will meet wilh success in directing the work of the Commission. However, I appeal to him to be a little less stringent in his treatment of the two claimant States.
I propose to say something about this aspect of the Commission’s work right away. 1 shall put on record again the grants recommended for the current financial year for Western Australia and Tasmania. They are §19,406,000 for Western Australia and §20,666.000 for Tasmania - a total of §40,072,000 for the two States. Being claimant States, under the workings of the Commission they have to be protected from economic storm and impoverishment due to various factors operating within these States. These factors make it difficult for them to keep pace with the better developed and more highly industrialised States like Victoria and New South Wales, which also have vast populations compared to Tasmania and Western Australia. Sometimes, I wonder whether the Commission, in its eagerness and keenness to do the right thing for Tasmania and Western Australia, does not go beyond its charter. I am sure that there is great danger in the methods that it adopts in its analysis and investigation of an entire economy, which results in its almost standing over these States. With the best will in the world it has this tendency. Its influence on the claimant States is too great economically because what it gives with one. hand it can take away with the other and very often does. On the one hand, it may praise a State for some investment or for some surplus in a sector of its economy, and on the other hand it may strongly criticise the State for what it may regard as overspending in another sector of the State’s economy. It even threatens, in effect, to make an unfavorable report in the next year because, in the opinion of the Commission, the State did something wrong. This can lead to dictatorship of the States in the field of the Commission’s operations.
The Commission acts like a bank manager to Western Australia and Tasmania, lt acts like a commissioner of laxation, searching through the States’ files and drawers for evidence of wasteful spending or over spending in this or that field. The Commission often acts like a judge and jury as far as the States are concerned. At other times it acts like a benevolent dictator of our economies. I have no hesitation in saying that, with the best will in the world, the Commission retards progress in Tasmania and Western Australia in some special fields which I will refer to. This is clear from statements made by the Commission. For example, why should these two small States, economically, be penalised for improving their health services, their social services, their school transportation systems, their assistance to universities and their libraries? These are a few of the things I have in mind. Why should Western Australia be penalised for what it has done for its shipping service? It is all very well to criticise a State for spending too much in one sphere, but costs are increasing all the time for Tasmania and Western Australia, as they are for the other States. Tasmania and Western Australia have a right to adjust their economies according to their increased expenditures. The Commission has no right to penalise Tasmania to the extent of thousands of dollars because the State spends too much, in the Commission’s opinion, on one sector of its economy.
The Commission uses the big States as standard States. The Commission has a norm or common denominator which the claimant States are not allowed to go beyond. Tasmania is not allowed by the Commission to spend more than a certain amount on certain aspects of its economy because the Commission compares Tasmania with the standard States. So Tasmania must go along at the pace set by the standard States. Sometimes this pace is mighty slow but Tasmania is held back to that pace by the Grants Commission. Sometimes when the pace is fast Tasmania may not be allowed to keep up, but generally it is kept back to the pace of the two standard States so far as certain aspects of their expenditures are concerned. Take, for instance, the matter of university fees, referred to by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. Paragraph 128 of the Commission’s 33rd report is very revealing. It reads -
For some years,the level of University fees in Tasmania had been below standard but not to the same extent as Western Australia.
Tasmania changed its policy in 1965. It is now providing a grant to its university sufficient to enable the university to qualify for the maximum financial assistance under Commonwealth legislation, notwithstanding that the level of fees in Tasmania is estimated to be equal to only 90 per cent, of standard. In my opinion some of these fixations are mighty artificial, very academic, horribly statistical and as cold as the ice of the Antarctic. These percentages are worked out in cold blood. Tasmania is supposed to have a level of fees only 90 per cent, of standard. In 1965 the Tasmanian Government decided -
The level of student fees in this State has increased significantly during the past two years, but the Government, after consultation with the University, is satisfied that it would be unreasonable to expect student fees in Tasmania to be exactly equal to those ruling in New South Wales and Victoria.
That was the Tasmanian submission to the Grants Commission in December 1965. The Commission’s report continues -
At the Hobart hearings it was submitted that the capacity of parents to pay University fees in Tasmania is less than in the standard States because of a lower average level of incomes, relatively few higher income recipients and the greater dispersion of population resulting in a greater burden on parents to provide accommodation for students in Hobart.
In paragraph 130 of its report the Commission gave this finding -
The Commission has considered the Tasmanian claim but is of the opinion that there is no legitimate ground for making an allowance for special difficulties in determining the level of University fees in Tasmania, as compared with the standard States. It is evident that the State raised its contribution from the budget for 1964-65 to compensate for the deficiency arising from lower fees. Accordingly, the Commission has decided to make an unfavourable adjustment of $20,000 (calculated from a level of fees 10 per cent, below standard) for the year of review - 1964-65.
Tasmania was hit in the solar plexus by that decision of the Commission. Let me prove that the average income in Tasmania is lower than the average for the Common wealth. Official statistics show the average weekly earnings in Tasmania rose by 4.5 per cent, in 1964-65 compared with a rise of 7.5 per cent, throughout the Commonwealth. Tasmania is well behind the Commonwealth in increased weekly earnings. The official statistics show that in Tasmania the average personal income per head of population in 1964-65 was $1,145 compared with the Australian average of $1,354. The Commission ignored those statistics and reduced Tasmania’s grant in 1964-65 by $20,000. That was most unfair.
As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said, Tasmania has been penalised because it is supposed to be spending too much on its library system. In paragraph 133 of its report the Commission said -
After considering the Tasmanian arguments the Commission concludes that an unfavourable adjustment is still justified. It has, however, made a further concession to Tasmania for the special difficulties claimed.
But it still is not convinced that Tasmania is spending what the Commission would call a “ proper amount “ on libraries.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports truthfully said that Tasmania is full of history. It has as much history as any other State, if not more. Our archives in Hobart are a model for any State. The Tasmanian Government is fully conscious of the historical value of Tasmania and is providing marvellous facilities for all those who wish to write about Tasmania’s history. The provision of these facilities is costly, but the Commonwealth Grants Commission claims that, as we are spending more than the average, we must be penalised. At pages 69 and 70 of the report, the Commission was critical of our expenditure on the transport of school children, but at the moment will not make an unfavourable adjustment for this item. It was severely critical of Western Australia and at page 70 said -
However, at the Hobart hearings this year, the matter was discussed with the Deputy Director of Education and officers of the State Treasury. It was agreed that the process of consolidation of schools had gone further in Tasmania than in the standard States. Whilst this has resulted in economies in expenditure these economies might not be as great as the annual cost of transportation.
It went on -
The Treasury suggested that the higher transport costs in the claimant States might “ partly arise from a more generous policy towards collecting children from their homes and returning them after school, or from other similar factors. Wc suggest that in considering the adjustments with respect to transport of school children, the Commission should examine these aspects of the school transport services.”
The Commission has not reached a decision on this matter. It will give us one more year of grace in which to make certain economies, and if these economies are not effected an unfavorable adjustment may be made next year. We are spending about $1,400,000 on the transport of school children. But the schools in Tasmania are more centralised than they are in the other States and we are giving the children a better chance to obtain a good education than they had under the old system, which permitted schools attended by 20, 30 or 40 pupils to be scattered all over the countryside. The transport system is in effect the life line that enables the children to get a complete education and gives them a chance to reach the top in the education field. They come to district high schools and to area schools and meet other children, develop into better citizens, have more com-: petition and many chances to learn a host of subjects that would not be available to them in isolated schools. However, we may be penalised. next .year for the amount we are spending on the transport of school children. - In hospitals and education, expenditure in Tasmania is the highest in the Commonwealth. But why should a State be penalised for providing good hospitals and a good education system? I just cannot understand the philosophy of the Commission. I want to read a comment from page 22 of the Commission’s report. This relates to population, and employment. As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports pointed out, Tasmania loses many native born citizens each year to the mainland, mainly for employment purposes but sometimes because they have married Victorians or New South Welshmen and must live on the mainland. The loss by migration in 1964-65 was 3,356 and was higher by 1,312 than in the previous year. The two claimant States of Western Australia and Tasmania have the highest rates of natural increase in Australia. The Commission stated -
This situation has persisted for some years and is a prime cause of the relatively large number of school children in those States which is reflected in the costs of the provision of education services.
The Commission admits that we have a greater number of children in our island. That is why we must have a larger number of schools, a larger number of teachers and a larger number of buses to bring the children to the schools. Yet it penalises and criticises us for the money we spend on aspects of education. To me, this is unjust and in some senses a not very logical approach to the problem.
I would like to mention here that on 21st September 1966 the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) announced that over the next three years the Commonwealth will pay the University of Tasmania $500,000 less than the grants recommended by the Australian Universities Commission and agreed to by Tasmania. Western Australia will receive $1 million less than the Commission recommended and Western Australia wanted. Here is astounding discrimination by the Commonwealth Government despite the recommendation of the Universities Commission. Tasmania will receive $500,000 less and Western Australia $1 million less than the Commission recommended, though both States guaranteed to match the amounts. The other 12 universities in Australia will, receive the full amounts suggested by the Universities Commission. The Minister has not seen fit yet to offer any reason for this discrimination against Tasmania and Western Australia. The two States are battling. They are mendicant or claimant States and surely deserve equal treatment wilh the other universities. But we are being penalised to the extent of this large sum of money in the coming three years. We would like an explanation for this decision. We want to know why we should be discriminated against in this cold blooded way. The Universities Commission made the recommendation but the Government did not carry it through for the University of Tasmania and the University of Western Australia. I condemn this action most strongly. Tt has led our State to view decisions of the Commonwealth with mistrust and misgivings.
The report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, at page 176, gives some interesting statistics. Although the Commission believes that we do not always come up to the mark a study of the statistics of the money spent by each State on education, health, hospitals and charities and law, order and public safety is revealing. The figures for education include expenditure on administration, transportation of school children, training of teachers and primary and secondary schools. We have the highest expenditure in Australia, with $39.16 per capita. The nearest to us is New South Wales. That is the first section of education. The second section of education deals with expenditure on university, technical, agriculture, libraries and deaf, dumb and blind. The total expenditure for Tasmania on both sections is $47.24 per capita, which is the highest in the Commonwealth. That is for the entire range of education. Queensland, strange to say, is right down to $29.61 per capita and has the lowest expenditure for the Commonwealth.
Expenditure on health, hospitals and charities takes in a wide range of relief. We in Tasmania are spending $24.56 per capita on these activities. Western Australia is spending $26.91 per capita and has the highest expenditure in the Commonwealth. Tasmania has the second highest expenditure. It is certainly trying to lead the Commonwealth in all aspects of education yet so often the Grants Commission says that Tasmania is spending too much on certain avenues of education. This, to me, does not represent a fair go at all.
A matter that could affect our economy within the next two years is the proposed rationalisation of ports that the overseas shipping combines are trying to introduce to Australia. If implemented this will mean that ships will bypass certain Australian ports. Ships will call at a major port and goods for overseas markets will have to be brought to that port for loading. The combines will not permit their ships to call at secondary ports. This move will adversely affect producers on the mainland. This could be a more serious blow to Tasmania’s economy. In some respects it could be disastrous to some of our primary industries. Yesterday I asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) whether the shipping combines had decided to bypass the northern Tasmanian ports and whether exports from that area would have to be taken to Melbourne for overseas transport, but he did not know the answer. If this happens, and it is quite feasible that it will happen in this new plan designed to cut costs but not profits, all our beef, lamb, wool, cheese, butter and powdered milk products for export will have to be shipped across Bass Strait to Melbourne for loading on the overseas vessels. This will involve a lot more handling with greater transport costs. Ultimately this extra cost will fall on the shoulders of the primary producers of northern Tasmania who grow this produce. In two years’ time the Grants Commission may have on its hands the problem of the impoverishment of our economy by the rationalisation of ports and it may have to make allowances for this in the grant it recommends for Tasmania.
The Commonwealth grants system has many dangers. It is becoming more and more circumscribed and I feel that the Federal system is endangered by the special purpose grants being loaded with conditions. The States are reaching the stage when they will have to abide by Commonwealth views concerning the construction of science blocks, universities and other utilities for which special purpose grants are made. This could be serious for the future of Commonwealth and State relations. We appreciate the grants that the Commonwealth makes for special purposes, but why should they be so loaded with so many conditions? Why should the Commonwealth interfere with the expenditure of this money? Why should it expect the States to comply with special patterns in building structures for which the money is being granted?
The Tasmanian Premier is most concerned about this. He made special mention of it in his recent Budget speech in the Tasmanian Parliament in Hobart. He said, in a splendid statement on the subject -
The Commonwealth responsibility to provide the States with the necessary funds does not carry with it the right to direct the States in their expenditure policies. Therefore I feel that we should press for a greater share of the pool of taxation revenue in the form of increased general revenue grants rather than persuade the Commonwealth to introduce more grants for specific purposes. Otherwise we- can look forward to increasing control by the Commonwealth over our administration.
He has a point there. The Commonwealth often has an obsession about tracing the expenditure of its money down to the last cent. In some respects, where there could be extravagant spending, this is necessary, but I think the States can be entrusted with doing the right thing and not treated as irresponsible children.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- This Bill, which grants financial assistance to Western Australia and Tasmania, involves the expenditure of $40,072,000. This is of some significance, for Western Australia. There are sufficient members in the House to look after the interests of Tasmania so ] shall confine my remarks to Western Australia. However, before doing so 1. should like to comment on the remarks of two previous speakers. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) referred to the Australian Country Party and its lack of activity in relation to the development of the Ord River. He went so far as to say that no Country Party member had spoken in recent times on this important project. I remind him that only last week I spoke about Kununurra - and anyone who knows Western Australia and the Ord River knows Kununurra. I referred to the high cost of freight and building materials applied to the people developing the north. .1 did this because 1 am concerned about the development of the north and the high costs imposed on individuals who are willing and able to go into the north of Western Australia to take up residence with their families. Previously on many occasions I have referred to the development of Australia’s water resources, and I have included in such discussion the Ord River development. As a nation we cannot afford not to develop our vast resources. The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey) has spoken of the Ord River development.
– So has the honorable member for Gwydir,
– The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) has done so on many occasions. How many times has he suggested to this House plans for the development of the Darling River basin, another tremendous scheme that the Country Party has well in mind? The Country Party has always supported the development of areas throughout Australia. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) said that the Country Party had second thoughts about the Ord River project. Much has been said both inside and outside this House, about the development of the north and of the Ord River. The Press repeatedly prints articles about the development of the Ord River area. I speak for myself - other members of the Country Party are capable of speaking for themselves - but surely at this stage of our development it is reasonable to expect that before moving on with a project of this nature a responsible government will look at all major aspects to determine whether a project of such magnitude can be successful. It should consider all aspects to make sure, if we can ever be expected to be sure, that the developmental projects go ahead without any hitches.
Do we want a repetition of, for example, the Humpty Doo episode where several millions of pounds were spent by individuals who then walked out? Does this kind of experience develop the north? If we are realistic about this sort of thing we must admit that it does not help to develop the north; rather it helps to retard its development. Do we want an episode such as we saw with the Chase syndicate when it first went to Esperance? It spent a great amount of money and took up a considerable area of land, ft raced in where no-one else would go and completely ignored all research findings which had been made available by the State from time to time as a result of investigations of problems associated with the development of the coastal areas of Western Australia. The syndicate went in thinking that it knew more than anybody else and the project was a complete flop. Fortunately it did not retard to any great extent development of that area. Private individuals with more practical experience and backing came into the district, took up blocks and made a tremendous success of the area. I have no doubt that it will go on from success to success. But there was success in that area only because the people who went in later took note of research findings and all the developments of science. They worked in accordance with a plan and have since gained more knowledge. Indeed, they are now making a success of the area because they took advantage of the research that had gone on for many years. The money invested in research was well and wisely invested. 1 refer now to the building of a diversion dam, as it is called, at the Ord in Western Australia. The dam is a completely separate unit and can operate as a separate unit. lt was built following the development of the research station in the area. The research station, which is almost right at the dam, has put into practice all the findings of research officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Western Australian Department of Agriculture. This was a sound development programme, but it was putting research into practice in order to try to establish what would happen in this field of development. Anybody who has been to the Ord and has watched its development knows that the settlers have had their problems. He knows also that it is only in the last year that yields of cotton in that area have improved. They have been considerably better because of the use of different techniques, different know-how, and different sprays. They are mastering the art, and as the scheme was developed it was intended that they should do so. lt was this Government that put in this dam. lt has been said that nothing has been done. The Ord River has been there since Federation; in fact it was there long before Federation. But who developed the area and set the scheme going? I hope that any government, before setting out on a project of this nature, will lake the steps necessary to be taken and ensure that all evidence is available to people so that not only the Government’s money but also the capital invested by individuals who go into these big projects at a late stage is reasonably protected by know-how and experience which can be gained in circumstances such as we have at the Ord River at the moment.
I hope that to some extent I have answered the criticism levelled by honorable members opposite. I reject the suggestion that the Country Party has had second thoughts about the development of any water scheme in Australia. We may think about it, but it is only fair that we should. I hope that we do think about these schemes. We put to the House sound propositions which have been reasonably tested and which we believe in the long run will be completely successful. We have seen many successful development schemes. I could go back over the years - 1 certainly do not want to do so tonight - and mention various projects throughout Australia which have been established by one government or another and which have been a complete headache and worry to Australians who have endeavoured to develop blocks of land but have failed. When I w.is younger I saw many of these and they were a tragedy, to say the least. With the high capital value of land and the high level of investment today in Australia, lel us bc reasonable about these things. Let us look at them in a practical way.
The Ord scheme is to be seen in the correct perspective at the moment, lt h moving along quite nicely and I have no doubt that the complete scheme will go ahead in due course. I believe that the scheme is sound. 1 sincerely hope that any government will look after a project of this magnitude not only by concerning itself with the dam and other structures but also by looking after the individuals who will go to the district and spend their capital in developing the area. With a big project such as we will have on the Ord a tremendous amount of money will be invested. I want to see that people going to the area invest their money wisely and do not get caught up. We have problems in the sugar industry at the moment. Let us not continue with the Ord scheme willy nilly.
To get back to the Commonwealth Grants Commission, I should like to mention one or two things in relation to the Bill. As I have said, the purpose of the Bill is to assist two States. Perhaps I should mention first that Western Australia is in a somewhat different position from any other State. Western Australia is now developing in quite a big way and we hear much about this, but it has its problems. The adverse balance of trade between Western Australia and all the eastern States when lumped together is quite a large sum. In 1961-62 the adverse balance for Western Australia was SI 60.6 million. In 1962-63 it was S222.1 million; in 1963-64 it was about the same figure at $221.3 million: in 1964-65 it was $223.1 million, being almost the same figure again; and in 1965-66, the last year for which the
Grants Commission’s report comes to us, it had risen to $275.5 million. This is a lot of mon:y for Western Australia to be pouring into the eastern States for circulation in the east. This provides a tremendous advantage to the eastern States. This situation comes about because with development going on as it is in Western Australia we require a tremendous amount of machinery, not only for secondary industry but also for agriculture.
Industries are beginning to build up in Western Australia, but our progress is so great in developing the land at the rate of 1 million acres each year and in improving the already developed land within the Stale that more machinery is necessary. Consequently, Western Australia has to buy much of this machinery in the eastern States. Hence the adverse balance of irade which in 1965-66 was $275.5 million. Although the eastern States make some contribution towards the grants to Western Australia recommended by the Commission, in my view they have a tremendous advantage from Western Australia because of the circulation of the $275 million each year, which is the adverse balance at the moment. This is quite a lot of money for the State of Western Australia. However, as I may have said before, obviously this situation will not be allowed to continue. It is obvious that factories will be developed in Western Australia. If these are not built by existing organisations or firms from the eastern States, I have no doubt that we will have an ever increasing number of overseas firms coming into Western Australia. There is not sufficient capital in the west at the moment to develop such enterprises lo any great extent, although there are some successful industries which are being developed with Western Australian capital. For instance there is Chamberlain Industries Pty. Ltd., which is well on the way to becoming quite a big concern. I have no doubt that it will not only continue to build the tractors, ploughs and scarifiers that it has built in the past, but also that it will move into the manufacture of other kinds of agricultural implements. This is an industry with a great future, and we want more of this kind of activity in Western Australia.
I would also like to mention another disadvantage that is suffered by Western Aus tralia. I think 1 may have spoken of this some time ago. Looking at the figures regarding borrowing programmes for State works and housing purposes and for the larger semi-governmental instrumentalities and local authorities, I note that of the total of $246,658,000 Western Australia is allocated just a little more than SIO million, which is quite a small proportion of the total. The formula under which these allocations are made was devised some time ago and it is very difficult to change a formula of this kind when all the States have to agree to such a change. I imagine, therefore, that unless the Commonwealth decides to make special grants to Western Australia that State will shoulder an everincreasing burden in this field, lt is true that up to $200,000 may be borrowed independently of this overall borrowing programme, but if a local authority or semigovernmental instrumentality wants to raise a loan of more than $200,000 the total allocation must be reduced by the extent of the loan. There is another way out, and that is for the Commonwealth to increase the figure of $200,000 to, say, $300,000. This would be of some assistance, but I do feel that at present Western Australia is at a distinct disadvantage and that the Commonwealth should consider making special grants to reduce some of the leeway.
Some reference was made to the State Shipping Service which operates on the west coast of Australia. There will be. I hope, some improvement in this direction because the Commonwealth Government has cooperated with the State Government in the provision of a deep water jetty at Broome. This has recently been completed. One of the problems that have had to be faced by shipping services on the north-west coast has been the very large tidal movements. There has been a sad lack of deep water jetties to allow vessels to move in, load or unload, and go on their way without delay. They have simply had to wait for tides, and this has wasted a considerable amount of time. The deep water jetty at Broome will eliminate much of the delay which had occurred in the past. But I believe that this kind of facility must be provided in many other places, because obviously we cannot afford the loss of time that takes place in the present situation. I know that the Commonwealth Grants Commission does take this disability into account to some extent, but I feel rather strongly about this subject, which has an effect on the costs that must be met by people in the north.
When we are talking about the development of the north we must necessarily consider the costs that must be met by people undertaking this development. All kinds of goods must be brought from the south because that is where the factories and shopping centres are situated. The cost of transporting goods, whether by air, by sea or by road, is tremendous. I believe there is room for the Commonwealth to give special consideration to this matter and to ensure that the people of the north get a better spin with regard to costs. I. am not suggesting that this is the responsibility of .the Grants Commission, although I realise that the Commission already takes into account the deficits which are incurred by the State Shipping Service. I believe the Commonwealth Government itself has a responsibility to look closely at this problem which, regardless of what may bc said to the contrary, must become more serious for at least a number of years or until such time as the northern areas themselves can produce some of the materials which are now brought from the south. During this interim period we should be doing our best to assist the people in the north to overcome the problem of costs. lt is my pleasure to support this Bill. Before closing 1 may say that T hope the House and the people of Australia will not gain the impression, from what has been said by certain people and in certain newspapers, that the Country Party is against the development of any major project such as the Ord River scheme. We are certainly not opposed to anything of that nature. But many of us who sit in this House as represenatives of the Country Party have had a good deal of experience of developmental projects as individuals. When one has had such experience as an individual one tends to look well ahead and try to ascertain what the future holds for the people who will have to take over the blocks that are made available under these schemes. These men will have to build homes for themselves and their families and they will face many problems, and we want to make sure that they have opportunities to carve out successful careers. If we appear to be delay ing anything connected with the Ord River scheme it is only for the reason that we are looking beyond the present. Anyone who examines the world position of the cotton industry today must see that it faces difficulties. But wc are most anxious that this scheme should be carried out, and we are also anxious that the people who participate in the Ord project will be successful.
.- I listened to the very wise remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) in connection with the co-ordination of Australias transport services with the care and attention with which the people of old used to listen to the Delphic oracle. The honorable member certainly impressed me. Of course the co-ordination of transport services is a matter of major importance. The rate of development of this country and its security in time of war and in time of peace depend upon our transportation system to a very large extent. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition dealt with air transport, rail transport and sea transport. Of course these should be co-ordinated and developed. The Labour movement of Australia was responsible for the establishment of the Government shipping lines that serve this country, inadequate as the lines are at present, lt was the Labour Party, under the leadership, for this purpose, of the former member for East Sydney, the late Honorable Edward Ward, that initiated proposals, which were helped to fruition by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) to standardise railway gauges throughout the country. This resulted in a greater degree of co-operation of the various railway systems than had existed previously. lt was a Labour Government too, of course, which brought into existence a Government airlines scheme to engage in intrastate, interstate and international services. Those things have served Australia well. But there is also the question of road facilities to be considered.
Road facilities are mentioned in the thirty-third report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission which refers to Tasmania and Western Australia. It is pointed out in this report that the Commonwealth Government contributes to the construction of roads. But it does not contribute enough. Nor do the State Governments. Nor do the
Commonwealth and Slats Governments put into operation sufficiently farsighted schemes for road construction. They cannot put such schemes into operation. The entire road system in Australia should be coordinated and developed - and developed rapidly - if Australia is not to be in the position of danger that it was in at the outbreak of the last world war. Australia may again be menaced in such a way.
Apart from considerations of defence, there is the aspect of national development. Any person who goes to one of our capital cities any day of the week will find that cars have to be parked five or six miles from the centre of the city. There are large numbers of cars which cannot be driven into the city because the road systems and facilities for parking are not adequate. There is a great economic loss as a result of the existing congestion on roads in our cities. That economic loss is growing as time goes by and as the congestion gets greater and greater. Undoubtedly there are too many motor cars on too few roads in Australia. Our road systems must be multiplied, even if the growth of motor transport is kept at a rate not much greater than that of today. But road transport is increasing at a fast rate. Therefore the Commonwealth Government should co-ordinate all road planning and road building activities in Australia and it should be the major partner in providing the necessary funds. Not only the money from licence and registration fees paid to the various Slate Governments should be used for our roads; all money raised from petrol taxes should be used to provide adequate roads in Australia. There is only one body which can properly carry out the necessary work to give Australia the system of roads that is essential to its progress in days of peace and to its security in time of war - that is the Federal Government. It was in 1956-
– Order! I ask the honorable member to link his remarks to the Bill. This is a Bill to grant financial assistance to the States of Western Australia and Tasmania. It is in order for the honorable member to use illustrations, but I ask him to keep his remarks within the framework of the Bill.
Government supporters. - Hear, hear.
– You are right, Sir; and I happen to have before me a book called the “ Commonwealth Grants Commission Thirty-third Report (1966)”. 1 have read that book. Unfortunately those honorable members who said “ Hear, hear “, to your remarks have not read that book. If they had, they would see that not on one page, but on a dozen pages, the question of Australian roads and methods of transportation, and the method by which road transportation is financed, is mentioned. Because 1 disagree with the methods used to finance the road transportation system I want to draw attention to a better method of financing it - an authority that can co-ordinate this matter in a way which our State Governments cannot. When I was interrupted by you, Sir, to the plaudits of honorable members on the other side of the House, I was about to mention that in 1956 the United States was faced with exactly the same problem that Australia has today. I refer to the numerous road systems within our States, which are uncoordinated, inefficient and inadequate. The United States Government brought into operation a federal system of transport control and road building to cover the whole of the United States. The Government of the United States provided the funds to build main roads and freeways. There is now a road that goes from New York to Buffalo, a matter of 200 miles-
– Order! I think the honorable member is getting a little wide of the Bill. I ask him to come back to the Bill.
– How is it possible for me to let honorable members know of the inadequacy of the methods of financing road construction in Australia if I cannot refer to another country and say that there is a system which should be adopted in Australia to replace the piecemeal methods set out in this particular document that I have before me?
– We can read the honorable member’s last speech.
– I have not made speeches on roadways before in this Parliament. That is probably one of the reasons why our roads are in such a condition today. Most of the speeches on this subject were made by the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) and he only added confusion and made the problem more confounded than it was before he commenced. However. Mr. Deputy Speaker. I will content myself by saying, in closing, briefly, what I think should be done in Australia. Roadways similar to that from New York to Buffalo should be constructed in Australia. That roadway is eight channels wide, with four lanes of traffic running each way, and has a central dividing strip. There is not one cross-over in 200 miles. Why, in a distance of 20 miles of roadway near Sydney or Melbourne there are 30 or 40 cross-overs. One of the reasons for this is the method of financing road works in Australia - set out in this report: - whereby the State Governments operate through local government bodies to provide the roads. They do not have the finance to build the big freeways which should be constructed to handle modern traffic. I cannot hope that the words of wisdom . 1 have uttered here will fall upon very fruitful ground amongst the members of the Country Party and of the Liberal Party. But honorable members on this side of the House will appreciate what I have said and those who may in the future read “ Hansard “ will learn of the view thatI have put forward. I hope, that as a result, there will be a series of endeavours to secure in this country a system of roadways that will put an end to yearly casualties amongst our people as great as those which occur in a medium sized war, that will put an end to the retardation and impeding of the progress of the country and that will not imperil the country in an hour of danger.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Luchetti) adjourned.
Drugs - The Parliament - Teachers Federation of New South Wales - Political Parties - Trade with Communist China - Overseas Investment in Australia.
Motion (by Mr. Howson) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– It is not very often that I desire to detain the House on the motion for the adjournment, but on this occasion I feel compelled to draw attention to a question which I asked of the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) last Friday relating to the use of drugs, and to the first few words of the answer which the Minister gave. The answer disturbed me because of certain facts that have been placed before me by a man who has been the victim of the drugs that I mentioned to the Minister in my question. In the opening words of his reply, the Minister said -
The Commonwealth powers relating to the investigation and control of drugs such as those mentioned by the honorable member are limited. 1 have had a visit from a man whom I have known ever since he was a boy. He informed me that he had been stricken with a nervous breakdown and that he went to a medical practitioner who prescribed certain tablets to help him overcome his disability. He told me that the tablets did not have the effect that the doctors said they would have and that, because of this, he went back to the doctor and was given tablets which were double the strength of those which had previously been prescribed.
From my conversation with this man - I believe that what he told me is true in every detail -I am convinced that medical practitioners are prescribing drugs for people on a trial and error basis. 1 have a letter from this man. He says he has no objection to my showing it to any member of Parliament, or even to my reading it in the Parliament. I do not desire to do this, but 1 do desire to make some reference to what he told me. When the man’s wife complained to the doctor about the effect of the drugs which he had prescribed for her husband, the doctor told her that the husband was quite all right but that she was in need of some form of medical treatment to tone her down. He then prescribed similar drugs for the wife, with a similar disastrous effect.
This man told me that so drastic was the effect of the drugs that were prescribed for him on the second occasion that they caused a complete change in his character, and that he can adduce evidence to support that claim. This man was a quiet, lawabiding citizen. In fact, I can say that he was one of the most inoffensive of men. He became a violent man. Not only was he violent in his speech, but he was physically violent to other people. He attacked a man in St. Kilda Road, was taken to the Russell Street Police Station and finished up in the cell for violent patients at the Royal Park Hospital. In addition to having this effect on him, the drugs had the effect of degrading him to such an extent that his wife was compelled to move their little boy and little girl from the home. But for the concern of his neighbours and friends at the ill effects that the drugs were having on him, this man probably would not be in his right senses today. The neighbours saw the extent of the deterioration that was taking place not only in him but also in his wife, and they became so concerned that they stopped the couple from taking the tablets that had been prescribed. They treated and looked after the couple for nearly 12 months. As the man said, he owes his health today to the kindness of his neighbours and friends, who looked after him, his wife and their children during that dreadful period.
– Did he get another medical opinion?
– He got several medical opinions. He was sent back to where they prescribe for nervous disorders and mental depression. The same drugs were given him again, and when he went back they admitted that they had given him the wrong drugs. This man mentioned certain things that I have no intention of raising in this Parliament tonight. I leave it to people to draw their own conclusions from the fact that the effects of the tablets that were prescribed for him were so serious that he felt he must tell me his story, in order that something might be cone to warn other people of the effects that the tablets, as he called them, had on him and his wife. He said to me: “ We read in the newspapers about dreadful sex murders being committed in the community. Because of that, and because of the effects of the drugs I have taken, I felt that I must come to you and ask you to publicly disclose what I have stated in my letter. If you care to read it in the Parliament, you may do so.”
The Minister’s remarks reveal that there is no examination, or indeed any knowledge, of the effects of many of these drugs. Drugs are being prescribed on a trial and error basis by people who have no idea of the damage the drugs may be doing in the community, of the effect they may have on people or of the effect that the people who are taking them may have on others.
– Is not this more a matter for the State Governments?
– It is a matter of national concern. If crime that is being perpetrated in the community is not a matter for the Federal Government, I do not know what is. The Minister for Health has informed me that there is in existence a body known as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and that some of the most eminent physicians and pharmacologists in Australia are members of it. Surely that Committee ought to be vested with the authority to examine and test all drugs and to establish the truth of the claims made concerning the cures that they are supposed to effect. If the Committee has not this authority, this is a bad state of affairs not only for the States individually but for the Commonwealth in general. The Committee should be vested with this power, Mr. Speaker. It should have responsibility not only for investigating drugs that are provided free under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. I appeal to the Minister to make good his promise that he will look into the matter and see whether there is any substance in the points that I have made and whether anything can be done about the situation. I could get the man concerned to come before the Minister. I could get his wife to meet the Minister. In view of the statements that this man has made, a serious investigation of the whole matter ought to be undertaken.
– Mr. Speaker, I had proposed to raise tonight a matter affecting the political honour of the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser). However, when I spoke to the Opposition Whip about it, he told me that the honorable member would not be in the chamber tonight. Indeed, the Whip said that he did not know when the honorable member would be present for the adjournment of the House. I would prefer to say what 1 have to say in the presence of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. It may be possible to meet his convenience in the Grievance debate or in a debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House tomorrow. If he persists in absenting himself from the chamber at the relevant times, I shall have no alternative but to say in his absence what I have to say. I hope that in the Grievance debate tomorrow it will be possible for him to be present to hear what
I have to say about what is, as I have said, a matter affecting his political honour.
Secondly, I want to raise tonight a matter relating to the elections for the New South Wales Teachers Federation Council which are now in progress. I understand that the ballot papers are out already and are returnable on 4th November. Honorable members will agree with me that the members of the Teachers Federation by and large are not Communists, lt would be monstrous to say that even a significant proportion of them had Communist inclinations. Yet the New South Wales Federation has fallen under the domination of Communists led by a man called Sam Lewis. 1 cannot say for certain that he is a card carrying member of the Communist Party of Australia because I have never seen his card. But I will say in this House - if necessary, I will say it outside the House - that his conduct is such as to link him very closely with the Communist Party. If he likes to consider this a matter that should be stated outside the House, 1 shall have pleasure in so doing.
This man Lewis is in control of the election machinery of the Federation. He uses the resources of the Federation to advance the Communist cause and to arrange for the election to the Council of Communist officers, lt is therefore most important that those people who vote in the elections for the. Council should know what is being done and that they should vote for the opponents of Communism, tickets for this purpose having been circulated by the Federation Reform Committee, which is an organisation dedicated to getting the Communists out of control of the Teachers Federation. 1 hope that every loyal teacher will realise-
– Which Federation is this?
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. I should have made it clear that I am speaking throughout of the New South Wales Teachers Federation. I hope that every person who is voting in the election for the Council of that Federation will realise that the persons recommended by Lewis carry a Communist taint. There arc some unity tickets among them. They are tainted by co-operative association with Communists, even if they are not Communists themselves. In contrast, the people recommended for the election by the Federation Reform Committee are in point of fact persons who are dedicated to getting the Communists out of the Federation.
May 1 remind the House of things that have happened in the past in a so called while collar union. Let me take, for example, the Federated Clerks Union of Australia. This, as we know, is a union the majority of whose members are opposed to Communism. Yet, for years, that Union was corruptly manipulated by a man called Jackie Hughes who was closely associated with some people who sit in this House. The. Union was corruptly manipulated by Jackie Hughes so that Communists were elected to key positions, if a Communist gets in control, he can manipulate tha electoral machinery.
Let me give another instance, Sir - the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia. The majority of this union’s members are not Communists. Yet we remember the shameful situation - it has been corrected now - when, under the infamous Ernie Thornton, that union’s affairs were so manipulated by the people in control that Communists, one way or another, were elected to misrepresent its members. This is now a matter of record. Anti-Communists who are associated with the Australian Labour Party - I am glad to say that there are still some people opposed to Communism who are associated with the Labour Party - are now in control and we no longer get this succession of Communist power in that union.
The point that 1 want to make is that union machinery is misused by Communists to make their corrupt regimes self perpetuating. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Teachers Federation, where the man Lewis, who is closely associated with the Communist Party, behaves in the way I have described. Let me bring to the attention of the House one small illustration of the way in which this union’s property is being misused for Communist purposes. I have checked this and I have discovered that there is in existence a statutory declaration which could be produced in this House if necessary and which verifies the things that I am about to say. The New South Wales Teachers Federation has on its staff a Miss Doris Jobling. On Friday, 2nd September last, she attended a Communist Party lecture on the “ Communist revolution and trends today “, which was held at Communist Party head-quarters in Day Street in Sydney. She drove to the lecture in a Teachers Federation vehicle with the registration number DHF-245. In other words, the property of the Teachers Federation was being used by a Communist in connection with Communist work. I understand that the union does not deny this. The union, according to my understanding, says that this is her business, that she was paying for the petrol. It was a Federation vehicle, but the union says that she paid for the petrol and that if the vehicle is used for Communist work that is none of the members’ business.
I hope that everybody opposed to Communism will not behave as some honorable members on the opposite side of the chamber have behaved in trying to shout me down, but instead will co-operate in trying to get the Communists out of the Teachers Federation. Do honorable members opposite believe that Communists should be there or that they should not? Now we are getting this kind of outcry from honorable members opposite. Do they want the Communists in or out of the Teachers Federation?
– Who said that we wanted them in it?
– Well, honorable members opposite become very vocal and indignant when anybody suggests any way of getting the Communists out of the Teachers Federation. Let me say that the organisation of the Federation has a strong Communist influence and taint and that this is self perpetuating. Whereas the Federation Reform Committee is not well organised and cannot get all its information out to the voters, this corrupt Communist team uses its position in the Federation to recommend candidates to the voters, who probably do not know what the members of the Communist team are doing. In this instance, that team recommends candidates with a Communist taint or candidates who are running with Communists on a unity ticket. This is a dreadful thing. I am saying this because I hope that members of the Teachers Federation who are now voting for their council will realise that a vote for the Lewis candidates is a vote for Communism and that a vote for the Federation Reform Committee candidates is a vote against Communism. This is a matter of some importance. I understand that in the last election only a small proportion - about 50 per cent. - of members of the Federation, entitled to vote did so vote. I hope that on this occasion all will vote, particularly members of the Federation who are opposed to Communism, and will see that the team sponsored by Lewis, the Communist operative, is thrown out.
.- 1 am glad to see the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) in the House tonight. After all, it is not easy to have the honorable member in this House on the occasion of an adjournment debate when one intends to discuss a matter relating to him. At least this was the unfortunate experience of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) who advised the honorable member for Lilley early in the day about a fortnight ago that he intended to discuss on the adjournment motion some important matters which affected the honorable member for Lilley. I was worried about this because I wanted to discuss something tonight affecting the honorable member for Lilley. 1 wondered how I could best achieve this; how I could get this important presence in the House.
– Order! The honorable member for Mitchell will remain silent. If the honorable member for Oxley refers to a matter that is in the hands of the court and therefore sub judice, he will be out of order.
– I will not be referring to it.
– I warn the honorable member for Oxley that he has no right to refer to it.
– I will be happy to comply with your ruling, Mr. Speaker, because I have no intention of referring to the matter, which is probably-
– Who was that third man?
– Order! The honorable member for Hunter will withdraw that remark.
– As a-
– Order! The honorable member for Hunter will withdraw the remark he has just made.
– In obedience to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I will withdraw the remark.
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw the remark unreservedly.
– Unequivocally, I withdraw it.
– 1 am sure all honorable members admire the principle observed by the honorable member for Hunter-
– Order! lt is difficult to hear the honorable member for Oxley with so much audible conversation on my right.
– Almost three minutes of my time have elapsed. 1 have not been able to make my speech due to the rudeness of honorable members opposite. This is most distressing in a democratic institution. All 1 was observing was that at last I have the privilege of having the honorable member for Lilley in the House tonight when I discuss a subject relating to him.
– I have no intention of referring to the court case, which has conveniently been adjourned until after the election.
– Who was that third man?
– Order! The honorable member for Hunter will withdraw the remark.
– I am sorry, Sir. I withdraw the remark, and I withdraw from the House.
– The honorable member may be safer if he does that.
– I regret that I am not making much progress because of the interruptions of Government supporters. I can only speculate as to why they are so embarrassedly concerned about my speech. I will not refer to the court case, because it is Sub judice. It has been conveniently adjourned until after the election. Nor do I intend to refer to damage to election signs in the electorate of Lilley. :»Ir. SPEAKER. - Order! I have already drawn the honorable member’s attention to the fact that this matter is sub judice. If he refers to it again he will be ordered to resume his seat.
– For some time, the honorable member for Lilley has been running around willy nilly, hither and thither, saying that he cannot get the honorable member for Oxley onto a platform to debate the subject of Vietnam. At first I paid no attention to the honorable member, because it seemed so unimportant, but now I see that this matter is becoming a real thing with him. He is getting almost ink a disordered state, if one could say that in the kindest way. Perhaps we could say that he is psychologically disturbed, to use a euphemism. He was running around saying that he could not engage the honorable member for Oxley in debate on the subject of Vietnam. This was becoming an obsession with him. He obviously had a complex about this matter. I realised that 1 had to do something to release the poor man from his sufferings. I had to grasp the first opportunity that presented itself to relegate this thought completely from the poor man’s suffering mind.
So a week ago last Monday 1 had an invitation to participate in a debate with the honorable member for Lilley right in the heart of his electorate, in the lush liberal area around Clayfield - the silvertail area of Brisbane. I had this invitation, as did the Federal Secretary of the Australian Labour Party and the Party’s outstanding candidate for Lilley, Mr. Frank Me lit. On this same night I had an engagement in an important country area of my electorate, Yarraman, which votes wisely and strongly for me. 1 wanted to keep the engagement but knowing how the honorable member for Lilley has suffered, I immediately cancelled it. About three weeks before the night in question I sought the honorable member for Lilley. It is not easy to ocv.a him. I telephoned all around this House without much success. Eventually I saw the honorable member crossing the lobby to attend a division. I told him about the invitation and this excellent opportune to remedy all the concern that was so upsetting him. I encouraged him to come along to the meeting. He muttered something, which I hope was generous. I telephoned him two or three times. What happened on the night of the meeting? I was there. Mr. Cyril Wyndham, Federal Secretary of the Australian Labour Party, was there. Unfortunately, Frank M e 1 it had German measles, but he sent along a tape recording of a speech. But where was this valiant member for Lilley who wanted to run around cutting off dragons’ heads? He had been going around saying that it was impossible to get me onto a platform. I must be honest: He was experiencing difficulties here, but little wonder. He had not let me know in advance that he wanted to get me on the platform. I never hud an invitation. But I was there on this occasion; he was not. I remember posing the question that night on the platform: I am here, where is the honorable member for Lilley? Somebody, who, I have since discovered, was a Liberal Party supporter, said: “Tearing down Frank Melit’s signs”. ; Mr. SPEAKER.- Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
.- May I be permitted to take up the time of the ..ouse for a few moments to make one or two precise points? I understand very tenderly the concern of the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) regarding this meeting which he was able to drum up. His concern is very great because he had a most sparsely attended meeting. He apparently wanted me to attend in order to drum up a respectable audience for him. On the evening in question I had a little campaign meeting in my home. There were more people in my living room than the honorable member for Oxley had in his hall.
For some time the honorable member has been concerned about me. I am touched to know that he thinks so constantly and so generously of what J do and say. In some manner I would like to return his concern for me with a like concern for him. For a number of years some of us in this place have observed his activities. I hope that when he spoke to his most sparsely attended meeting he was able to explain his obsession with the peace committee in Queensland - his obsession with those people who are not concerned with Aus tralia’s freedom in South East Asia. I will bring one or two matters to his notice so that he can explain them on a public occasion, on an occasion outside the House, or on any occasion that suits him. I have in my hand a number of photographs of the honorable member for Oxley. Being a member of the Australian Labour Party, he is, of course, bound not to associate with members of peace committees or to take part in marches with peace committees or Communists and so on. lt is well known that he becomes sunburnt on the yearly march from Ipswich to Brisbane - the yearly Aldermaston march. We are a little concerned, because this affliction apparently affects his reasoning powers for the rest of the year.
Just two years ago he took part in this march. I will give some names of the people with whom he associated, and then he may do a little bit of explaining. I have some photographs here of him speaking at the Queensland Peace Committee meeting. Immediately to his right is Mr. Morrow - ex-Senator Morrow. He is applauding the speaker and on his right lapel apparently is the Lenin Peace Prize Medal. He is a friend of the honorable member for Oxley. Many members of the Australian Labour Party in Queensland are embarrassed by the associations that the honorable member has built up in the short time that he has been a member of the Parliament. We have some other associations of the honorable member that are worth while considering. One of his confreres at the meeting was Mr. Llewellyn, who is also well known in the Ipswich district and who was campaign director for the Communist Party in the election for the Ipswich City Council a few years ago. He is an associate of the honorable member for Oxley and supports his attitude. The honorable member for Oxley asked for this and he will get it. More people are shown in the photograph. One of his confreres in the march was Mr. McArthur. supporting him all the way. He is the President of the Cairns branch of the Queensland Peace Committee. We also have Mrs. Eva Bacon, the wife of Ted Bacon, who is the Secretary of the Communist Party in Queensland. All these people are the friends and associates of the honorable member. They are the people with whom he finds common truck and common allegiance. He wanted to throw a little bit of muck tonight. I will ask him to explain these matters and to deny, if he can, that he is an embarrassment to his own party.
I will refer to the editorial in the Queensland “Worker” of Monday, 12th September last. A paragraph of this editorial is appropriate and should concern the honorable member for Oxley. The “ Worker “ is one of the oldest Labour papers in Australia. It is written by members of a most respectable union, a union that has in some way the disadvantage of not liking Communists in official positions. The editorial referred to Labour members who associated themselves with Communists and said -
How many times, in recent years, have we seen leading Federal and State A.L.P. identities sharing platforms with leading Comms., supposedly the arch enemies of democratic socialists. Recently, too, we read reports how Dr. Cairns-
The honorable member for Yarra - the acknowledged Federal Parliamentary Leader of the Left, visited Saigon and Cambodia on a private member’s visit to South East Asia. Nothing wrong with that, you might say? But who did he closet himself with for lengthy talks in Cambodia?
These are interesting questions that should be answered. The editorial continued -
None other than Australian journalist, Wilfred Burchett, recognised as the Public Relations man extraordinary for Peking and Hanoi. What did they talk about? The weather? Burchett was named in a British Government White Paper on Northern Korean treatment of British prisonersofwar. The White Paper stated that Burchett had assisted in the interrogation of British prisoners by Communist North Koreans.
When the journal asks about leading Federal and State A.L.P. members associating themselves with Communists, it nominates the honorable member for Yarra. It could, without much stretch of the imagination, nominate another member of the Opposition. The honorable member for Oxley is a severe embarrassment to the people in his own party and in Australia who are concerned with these matters.
I will return to the meeting that I mentioned. It was a poorly attended affair. I hope the honorable member was able to answer a few questions that were put to him. I hope he was able to answer questions about the defence of Australia. I hope he was able to answer such a question as this: “How do you explain respect for an alliance when you will not stand by your allies? “ I hope he explained how adopting that position helps Australia’s security. I hope he explained how to defend Australia when planning to abolish national service. If he was not able to explain those matters to his audience, I hope he can explain them to some Opposition members who sit on the front bench on the other side of the chamber. Some very respectable members there have the courage to ask these questions and to be dissatisfied with the answers that are given by other Opposition members.
I will say one last thing about this meeting. It is suggested that we ran for cover, that we were rather afraid to appear on the same platform as members of the Australian Labour Party. It is true - this has been published quite widely - that three other gentlemen offered themselves very generously to appear on this platform and debate, in a temperate way, the subject of Australian security in South East Asia. They were rebuffed in a most nasty, vicious and intemperate letter. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cross) will know the story. The people who offered themselves were such respected men as Senator Gair, the Australian Democratic Labour Party’s candidate for Lilley and the State Secretary of the Democratic Labour Party in Queensland. Not only was their offer refused, but it was refused in a most vicious, nasty and intemperate way and in a way that clearly indicated that the people who held the meeting were frightened of what the truth might do to them.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I claim to have been misrepresented. First, I point out that I do not go around turning people upside down to see what political stamp is on them. Secondly, the photographs produced by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) were taken by Mr. George Hook and another man who are paid officials of the National Civic Council.
– Order! The honorable member is now debating the matter. He can deal only with the manner in which he has been misrepresented.
.- At the outset, I should like to say that I am strongly opposed to the ideologies of Communiom. I am also opposed to the ideologies of Fascism, which seem to be gaining momentum wilh some honorable members on the Government side of the House. Let us examine the position. Where do these so called Red baiters stand in regard to trade with Communist China? This is an old subject, but it is not nearly as old as the one that some honorable members bring out all the time. Lel us have a look at it. Recently the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) said overseas that we must bc afraid of China, that it is an aggressor. At the conclusion of the previous sessional period of the Parliament, 1 asked the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) a question. He said in answer that China technically is not our enemy. He must say that in the House, but he does not say it outside when some advantage is to be gained from propaganda.
The fact is that we would be bankrupt if it were not for China, and members of the Government parties know it. China has saved our economy over the last few years. It is our fourth best customer. Members like the honorable members for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns), Moreton (Mr. Killen) and Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) support the Government that is feeding and clothing the Red Chinese Army. But there is no protest. What is more, the Government is selling wheat to China on credit, lt trusts the integrity of the Communist Party but it does not trust its politics.
Let us examine the history of some of these so called anti-Communists. In 1954 the present Administrator of the Northern Territory was elected to this House on Communist Party preferences. It was not a leakage, it was a deliberate vote against the Labour candidate. In 1955 Senator McCallum was elected on the preferences of Jim Healy. In 1961 the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) with Communist Party preferences was responsible for returning Menzies as Prime Minister of this country. In 1961 Senator Marie Breen was returned on Communist preferences. Let me refer once more to Senator McCallum. The honorable member for Mackellar was very friendly with him and he knows that Senator McCallum’s daughter was one of the leading Communists in New South Wales. In 1963 she was No. 2 on the Communist Party ticket - Mrs. Curthoys, Senator McCallum’s daughter. Does that make Senator
McCallum a Communist? According to the thesis of the honorable member for Mackellar and some of those who sit with him Senator McCallum would have been a Communist every time he sat on the Liberal Party benches.
In 1949 Mr. Chifley was blackguarded by malicious innuendoes by some honorable members opposite who would not be fit to clean Mr. Chifley’s shoes if he were alive. Of course, when he died, he was a great son of Australia and everyone paid homage to his memory, but when he was alive, if a point was to be scored with the old Communist bogy they sought to score a point from him. This is what is called character assassination. At the time the honorable member for Mackellar presented the Illawarra Cup to the Waterside Workers Federation at Wollongong was he a Communist? In the eyes of the honorable member for Lilley he would have been a Communist. He made a contribution to the strike fund at that time, and the strike was controlled by members of the Communist Party. I am giving facts about honorable members opposite who are no more than hypocrites. I ask the Minister for External Affairs to follow me and to tell me whether China is our enemy. I challenge him to do so. If China is our enemy-
– What did Lee Kuan Yew say?
– I think the honorable member must have fallen over his lawnmower. When the Prime Minister was in England recently he stated quite unequivocally that China was the threat to South East Asia. If this is the case the Prime Minister, every Minister of the Government and every honorable member opposite who supports the Government are guilty of an act of treason. Beat that one! One does not trade with an enemy. I ask the Minister for Externa] Affairs to get up and say whether we trade with an enemy.
– The honorable member did not oppose trade with Indonesia.
– The honorable member should hide his lawnmower in case he trips over it again. At the outbreak of World War II in 1939 the former Prime Minister immediately introduced legislation related to trading with the enemy. This was necessary. The legislation made it an act of treason for any person in Australia to trade with an enemy country. If China is our enemy today why has not this legislation been invoked or re-enacted? The answer is that honorable members opposite are not game to do so: they are afraid of offending the Country Party. They are afraid of losing votes among the primary producers. In other words, honorable members opposite want to have two bob each way on everything possible.
When the Prime Minister was Minister for Labour and National Service he was obliged to see Mr. Healy occasionally about matters appertaining to the waterfront. After their talks the Prime Minister would take Mr. Healy to the visitors’ dining room and lunch with him. I ask honorable members opposite to be fair about this: If I were seen with a leading Communist dining in the visitors’ dining room what would the honorable member for Mackellar say about me? I have seen the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), when he was Minister for Shipping and Transport, in the course of his duties interview the secretaries of trade unions, irrespective of the political parties to which they belonged. He interviewed Eliot Elliott, and wined and dined him. Just imagine what would be said if the honorable member for Wentworth or the honorable member for Lilley saw me, or any of my colleagues, dining and wining with Eliot Elliott. We would be described as Communists.
It is interesting to note that in addition to selling China wheat and wool Australia has also been selling China tallow, steel sheet and tin plate. This information can be obtained from the Library. Many of the articles that we are selling to China are for the Chinese Army or are necessary to enable Chinese industries to keep China’s war effort going. Honorable members opposite should not talk to me about associating with Communists when they have not the guts to say in this House that China is our enemy, while outside on their propaganda leaflets they say that China is our enemy. They are not game enough to say it in this House because of the Country Party. Outside they offer malicious innuendoes, just as they did against the late Ben Chifley, and I repeat that several honorable members opposite who used these tactics would not be fit to clean Mr. Chifley’s shoes.
.- 1 wor.t to answer briefly some of the comments made by honorable members opposite, principally those of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). I do not think it is necessary for me to say much about the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns). We all know he is the agent of the National Civic Council and of Santamaria in this Parliament. His general operations are suitable only for a situation in a society that does not accept the general traditions of the Austraiian scene. For the information of honorable members I point out that a few weeks ago I attended a redoubtable and contentious meeting in Brisbane. I think it was called the South East Asia conference. A number of people addressed the conference but I do not think anyone well known politically was on the platform at the same time as I was there. For the benefit of people who may be concerned at the way society is going, I should mention that a police car was parked outside the hall for the duration of the conference. It was there on Friday night, all day Saturday and on Sunday. Three policemen were in it and no doubt they were taking the names of people seen moving in and out of the hall. This was a sheer waste of public money. Had they come inside they could have had a list of the persons present. This is a deplorable state of affairs, lt should not be encouraged even for meetings of the Liberal Party, the National Civic Council or anybody else. 1 believe in an open society and in open politics.
I was interested in the comments of thhonorable member for Mackellar about elections. I only wish hi would carry his regard for decent ballots into his political activity. When is he going to get the Liberal Party of Australia to adopt a fair ballot system? When is he going to apply himself to the question of equal member electorates? When will he interfere with the Liberal Party’s control of Legislative Councils in three States? When will he bring some atmosphere of this sort to his activities? I really stood up just tq make a few remarks about Mr. Sam Lewis, the President of the New South Wales Teachers Federation. I have heard it said that Mr. Lewis is a Communist. I do not know whether he is or not. The honorable member for Mackellar said that he did not know whether he was a card carrying man or not. I do not know whether he is or not.
– That is the point; the honorable member does not care.
– No, it happens to be part of the Australian tradition that people may adopt whatever politics they like. I personally would resent and object to people being suppressed even if they were known to be members of Fascist parties or anything else. This is part of the price we pay for democracy. But in the associations 1 have had with the New South Wales Teachers Federation I have come to believe that it is one of the best organised trade unions in Australia. 1 believe, from my observations of it, that the direction of its social policy is worthy of the best traditions of such an organisation. Mr. Lewis is the head of one of the largest industrial organisations in Australia. He is a highly placed public servant in the largest State in Australia and I presume he holds his position because of his general integrity in dealing with members and because of his professional competence. 1 think the honorable member for Mackellar disgraces his place in this Parliament by attempting to traduce such a person. If he wants to interfere ‘ in the” ballots of the New South Wales Teachers Federation, let bini go out and campaign for his people. That would no doubt guarantee the return of their opponents. 1 am speaking now merely because’ I have known Mr. Lewis and his colleagues for a long time. Some hold right wing views, some hold left wing views and some have no politics at all. But the New South Wales Teachers Federation is a very worthy representative of the great body of trade unionism in Australia. I do not think it does any credit to the Parliament or to the honorable member himself that he should attempt to traduce it here.
– It comes ill from the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) to start criticising other people or suggesting that suspicion should be cast on them. May I suggest to the honorable member that the next time he wants to visit the task force in South Vietnam and learn about its dispositions and what it is doing it is not justifiable then to try to visit Hanoi immediately afterwards.
– I had to go there first. The honorable member has it back to front.
– I am merely suggesting to the honorable member that if he wants to free himself from suspicion he should not repeat that performance.
.- Mr. Speaker, I have been in this Parliament a long while. One of the things I have ne«r failed to regret is that honorable members who freely associate with each other, irrespective of party affiliations, have no nesiation on the eve of an election in endeavouring to fasten on fellow members a guilt by . association.
– Who started it?
– The honorable member lor Oxley started this.
– He made no reference whatever to the question of association with Communists or Communism.
– He made some insin.rations.
– An entirely different matter.
– He has been at it.
– I am prepared to bring the Postmaster-General back to earth if he wants to raise that sort of thing. Let ma say that the fastening of guilt by association is altogether regrettable. The question of guilt by association tonight was raised in the first instance by the honorable mem ner for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and tn .he second instance by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns). One of the most pleasurable experiences I have had while a member of this Parliament for nearly 30 years has come from the frequent opportunity to associate with men and women of every type of political thought and ideology. When I have been abroad I have associated with men and women of every race and creed. If I were to be branded as a disloyal Australian Because I have met Fascists, Communists, Buddhists, Confucianists. Catholics or Masons it would be a very sorry state of affairs indeed.
I had the opportunity to go abroad in 1962 and I met for perhaps the third occasion, but for perhaps the longest occasion, a very gracious lady. If I were to be as dirty as the honorable member for Mackellar or the honorable member for Lilley I would endeavour to fasten on tin! very gracious lady a guilt by association. I would remind honorable members opposite who are giggling and laughing and think themselves funny that the very gracious lady on one occasion was presented with a pair of beautiful Arab ponies by no less than Khrushchev and Bulganin. Any attempt to fasten any guilt by association because of that would be a very filthy thing indeed.
I remind honorable members that there are all sorts of members of the human race. I have associated even with criminals and have visited Pentridge gaol over various periods of my life and have met my less fortunate fellow men. I have said: “There but for the grace of God go I, Reg Pollard “. I think honorable members do a filthy thing in this Parliament when they attempt to brand people for something that, in their minds, is altogether dirty, wicked and filthy. I have associated with Communists. I have met Fascists. I have met all sorts of people. I have met many Liberals and many excellent people. I think we get down to a very low level indeed when we adopt the tactics to which I have referred.
I remind the honorable member for Lilley that if he wants to practise guilt by association he should read a report of the Australian Wool Board a few years ago. He will find therein a statement that members of the Board - all good Australians who have done great things for their country, and who have endeavoured to improve our trading relations with people throughout the world - met in conference the emissaries of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics who were interested in the wool industry. Would he fasten on to any member of the Wool Board a guilt by association? They even had afternoon tea together. More recently the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Dr. Coombs, visited Peking for the purpose, I suppose, of sounding out the financial stability and credit worthiness of the Chinese Com munists. I have no doubt that members of the medical fraternity have frequently been to Moscow in an endeavour to find better ways of treating the various ills of mankind. 1 dare say that many of them have been Communist sympathisers. But that is their business. To brand them as disloyal and unpatriotic Australians would be too bad. Where does this sort of thing land us?
More recently I read that members of the Australian Wheat Board met the agents of the Peking Communist governmental organisations in Hong Kong. They did not go to Peking that time. How can those members be branded with a guilt by association? I only wish that members of Parliament would cease this rubbish, particularly on the eve of an election.
– Have a good talk to your side.
– Because of the Minister’s ignorance and because he has so much to say, let me remind him that the party with which he is associated announced in the Press of Australia and in the Parliament five, six or seven years ago that it had agreed to license two private trading banks to operate as savings banks. I think this is pretty fair political comment and I remind the Minister of the occasion. It is clean economics. The privilege then afforded to the trading banks had been exclusively in the hands of the various State Governments and the Commonwealth Government. In addition, that political party agreed to liberate a considerable amount of special deposits for utilisation by the banking system. In the Melbourne “ Age “, I believe - I speak subject to correction - and in the other daily newspapers it was announced that this privilege was worth at least £5 million per annum to the private banking institutions. Speaking in terms of presentday currency values, that is the equivalent of probably £A10 million. In other words, in decimal currency, S20 million was handed over by the people opposite to their friends in the political sphere of this country.
– What are you trying to prove?
– I am fastening the guilt by association in the handling of the moneys of this country, the handling of the economy of this country. I will make bold to say that I suspect that when you open your bags for donations for the forthcoming election campaign the private banking systems of Australia will contribute a pretty handsome part of their ill-gotten gains. That is fair political comment. It may be highly flavoured, but nevertheless it is factual - and it is no reflection on your private characters. But now you try to brand men in one political party while in the higher ranks of the aristocracy - of course many honorable members opposite are now trying to interject. They do not like this at all.
– I do not mind.
– lt must be irritating. I have not much more to say, but 1 will continue to speak for as long as I can, and the mere I say the less you will like it. Of course it was noticeable tonight that honorable members opposite were like a pack of wolves when somebody on this side had something to say. The giggling idiot from Ballarat had some comments to make.
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is not fair. I withdraw it unequivocally. The honorable member will go back to Ballarat and serve slops over the bar counter at the weekend. Honorable members opposite want to smear people and he has been one of the worst of the smearers. But he will be serving slops over the bar at the weekend in Craig’s Hotel. How does he like that one? Perhaps 1 should withdraw the word “ slops “ and say that he will be serving good Carlton ale or something else. Honorable members opposite started this and I hope they are enjoying it. Obviously they are disliking it, but they will not put me off my track because I am not prepared to be put off. I hope they thoroughly enjoy what I have to say. I hope they will get off dirty political smears and guilt by association. Of course there is no guilt by association in serving beer over the counter in Ballarat, is there?
.When the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) rose I thought he was going to commence with some good solid sense, but I think he missed the point at issue. I think the honorable member for Watson (Mr.
Cope) also missed the point at issue. I do not think anybody on this side would deny that at certain times in business and in politics one has to come in contact with Communists. But there is a big difference between coming in contact with Communists in matters relating to the workings of a nation or the duties of a Minister, and supporting Communists and their politics. We know that even the Labour Party now realises this. We know that at every one of their Wednesday Caucus meetings for the last six or eight months members of the Labour Party have done practically nothing but discuss certain people and complain about certain people, who, by association with Communists, are bringing the Party into disrepute. I think I can name a number of honorable members of the Labour Party who make these complaints and whom I admire, and who, I am sure, protest as strongly as we do about Communists - and the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin), who is trying to interject, would be one of them.
But to prove our point it is not necessary” for us to quote anybody on this side of the House or to quote anybody else except members of the Opposition themselves. If there had been notice of this debate I am sure it would have been possible for every member on the Government side to spend 10 minutes reciting what has been said in support of our arguments by various members of the Labour Party, both inside the Parliament and outside of it.
We know that the Opposition is particularly concerned at this moment. We know that it had a survey conducted in Victoria at considerable expense by the four leading public relations firms. We know what those firms said, that the members of the Labour Party were on a dying horse and that the leader of the Labour Party was not very popular with the people, and that the people themselves were not terribly keen on the association of members of the Labour Party, intentionally or unintentionally, with the Communist Party, or on the seeming support of the Communist Party by sections of the Labour Party.
From time to time we have heard about the Australian and New Zealand Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament. For convenience it is referred to as the A.N.Z. Peace Corps. One minute it is banned by the leaders of the Labour Party. The next minute, when left wing pressure becomes strong enough, it is back in again and then the word goes out: “ All right, chaps, you can go out on Saturday and attend the meeting”. Then some members of the left wing happen to be away cooking up some trouble and the attitude changes again. It is terribly difficult for us on this side to keep up with the policy of the Labour Party.
We also know that there have been two other surveys carried out in Queensland. 1 am sure the Parliament is most grateful to the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) for expending his own efforts, time, money and talents to ascertain how the Labour Party stands in one area of Queensland. Nobody on this side was responsible for making the information public, but somehow the whole matter was leaked to the Press and now we all know exactly what the honorable member for Dawson found out. We know that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) had a survey conducted. The information did not come to us direct but we read about it in the newspapers, ls it that somebody from the Communist Party associating with one of these gallant lads has made this information public so as to bring about the ruin of what was once a great and noble party? The Labour Party is certainly in danger of being ruined and of becoming one of the minority parties of this country. We all realise that there are many men who have worked genuinely in the interests of Labour for years, alongside the honorable member for Lalor. They were loyal comrades of the honorable member for Lalor. Have they deserted him or has he deserted them? I think perhaps he could look at himself in the mirror and come up with an answer.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has been one of those in the forefront of the Labour Party, Mr. Speaker. You will recall his magnificent trips to Victoria, when he was said to be going down there to fight Communist control on the question of unity tickets. We were told that he was going to take on the Communist group in Victoria. But what happened on those occasions? Nothing. The venture turned out a complete squib and he simply came back again. We recall the state- ment about the Victorian executive, in which he said that if the Labour Party spent as much time fighting the Communists in Victoria as they spent fighting the Democratic Labour Party they would have better candidates and be a better Party.
Now I see that the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) is about to attack me as being a Nazi or a Fascist or something else. Why does he not attack the Deputy Leader of the Opposition? After all, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said these things quite frankly. Then there is the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) who is on the executive of the Labour Party along with my friend from Hindmarsh. He obtained full page coverage in the Australian “ when he wrote of the weaknesses of the Labour Party and of how the Communist Party is and has been endeavouring to use it. Why does not the honorable member for Hindmarsh attack the honorable member for Fremantle?
In Victoria Mr. Bob Holt, an excellent and outstanding Labour man, as I am sure the honorable member for Lalor would agree, resigned from the Labour Party because of the Communist influences that were being brought to bear. I know that honorable members opposite who are trying to interject would deny this, but this is what Mr. Bob Holt said, lt honorable members opposite doubt it then let them ask him. Now we have the case of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson), a loyal man who has stood for all the best Labour principles as the normal Labour voter understands them. But the honorable member associated with a certain organisation. 1 am not saying that it is of great importance but at least one can say that it is not intent only on attacking the Labour Party. It occasionally prods the Government. But what does the Labour Party say? It says: “ You are in a proscribed organisation “. The Labour Party does not bother to look at the organisation, but proscribes it within a matter of minutes. The Labour Party gave the honorable member an ultimatum to get out or else. The honorable member, being a man of character - a type of man who is lacking, perhaps, on the Opposition side at this time - said: “ I have the right of free association under the Labour Party platform “. He contends, as 1 contend, that if the Labour Party can proscribe this organisation tomorrow then it can proscribe the Masons; it can proscribe any body. If the Labour Party becomes the Government is this what it wants to do? But the Labour Party does not proscribe any Communist organisations. The proscription of any Communist organisation by the Labour Party during the Chifley regime has been lifted in the period since the Labour Party was last in office. As the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) said-
– Does the honorable member think babies are found under cabbage bushes?
– The honorable member for Oxley is not in his seat at the moment, and I would not bother to reply if he were. The honorable member for Wills admitted tonight that he was at this conference in Queensland supporting a common policy with members of the Communist Party. The honorable member for Oxley, who is not in his seat, freely admits that he takes part in marches in Queensland supporting the policies of what was a Communist dominated organisation - and I believe it still is. But he is not expelled from the Labour Party. He is not proscribed. He is not-
– I am too valuable.
– That is a matter of opinion, and 1 do not think the honorable member could find two members on the Opposition side who would agree with him on it. If I may, Mr. Speaker, 1 would like to say through you to the honorable member for Oxley that if there is one man I admire on the Opposition side it is the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith who, I understand, on one notable occasion dealt with the honorable member as I arn sure most honorable members on this side and the majority of honorable members on the Opposition side would like to deal with him.
.- This evening we all joined to pay respect to you, Mr. Speaker, on your long occupancy of the position of Speaker of this House. There were speeches which said that all members in this Parliament work together in the best interests of Australia. Those words were expressed at the dinner tonight and that feeling was apparent. Now certain honorable members want to ring the Red jingle bells to divert attention from the real issues in the coming election struggle. There are election battles on the horizon and many honorable members are fearful that they will lose their seats. Many of them have involved themselves in personalities. I am of the opinion - and have been of this opinion for many years - that in this political struggle we have to fight on policies and not engage in personalities. I have tried to keep the struggle at this level. As a matter of fact, I had a struggle in the courts recently with a newspaper, and “ Hansard “ was combed to see what personal attacks I had made on individuals. It was found that I had made only two personal attacks. One was against Sir Robert Menzies and the other was against Sir Frank Packer. I have apologised for both personal attacks and I will do my utmost not to make any personal reference to any individual during debates. 1 do not say that I will achieve that, but 1 do say I will do my utmost not to make personal attacks on individuals.
It is important that we deal with policies and not personalities. What is the thing that this Government should be looking at? This Government - supported by the back benchers on the Government side - is responsible for selling out Australia’s assets. It has sold more and more of Australia to overseas investment. We know that there has been a deficit on our current account of some $5,600 million since this Government came to power. The Government has allowed indiscriminate overseas investment to take over more and more control of Australian assets. This Government says: “Let us send our men to the north to defend our heritage.” Yet day by day the Government is selling our heritage to overseas investment - to American investors and to British investors. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) has said that we lose a little of our heritage every year. This is one of the many things it has done that this Government is hoping that the Australian people will not become aware of.
Government supporters have made attacks on the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden). The honorable member for Oxley has proved himself to be a courageous young fighter in this House. He showed courage and determination when he defeated a sitting minister in the Menzies.McEwen Government, and since then he has increased his majority at the last Federal election - more than any other honorable member on this side of the House. This is the record of the young member for Oxley. He has shown outstanding courage. An attack was made by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) against my colleague, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns).
– The honorable member for Oxley started it.
– Honorable members opposite should listen to what I am saying. The honorable member for Lilley made a personal attack against the honorable member for Yarra. The honorable member for Lilley implied that the honorable member for Yarra had made contact only with Wilfred Burchett in Cambodia. But let us look at the record of the people met by the honorable member for Yarra and by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) on their overseas visits. For instance, the honorable member for Yarra met President Sukarno in Indonesia and the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr. Malik. In Singapore he met the Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and the Foreign Minister. He met the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. He met Pote Sarasin in Thailand. He met the Prime Minister of Laos, Prince Souvanna Phouma and the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the South Vietnam Government.
These are distinguished people in Asia and all have some influence in that area. They must have had some respect for the honorable member for Yarra to make their time available to him. Incidentally, while in Cambodia, the honorable member for Yarra was given a State dinner by the Head of State. Then, of course, he spoke to Wilfred Burchett. But let me tell honorable members what he said to Wilfred Burchett. Upon his return the honorable member for Yarra came to me and said: “ 1 told Burchett that if the National Liberation Front wanted to talk at the conference table it would have to drop this proposal for the withdrawal of all American troops before peace negotiations were entered into.” He said this to me immediately on his return. And what has happened? We find that after Wilfred Burchett contacted the Chairman of the National Liberation Front - as published in Australian newspapers - it has now been stated that the National Liberation Front is prepared to enter into peace negotiations without insisting on the prior withdrawal of American troops and installations. I am not trying to say that this came about only through the influence of the honorable member for Yarra, but I tell the House what he told me, upon his return, he had said.
Honorable members on this side of the House say that we have to talk to all sections of the people if we want to bring peace to Vietnam. There should be no smearing of, or innuendoes about, the honorable members for Yarra and Wills. They made a contribution to Australia’s efforts to bring peace in that troubled area. They did not lake either side. They went to the area and tried to bring sanity to bear.
I challenge honorable members on the Government side about their policy of trade with China. We know that the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) has said: “ I do not stand for trade with China “. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) does not stand for it. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) does not stand for trade with China. Does the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) stand for trade with Red China? Where does he stand? He does not stand for trade with China. Nor does the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay). Nor does the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin). Nor does the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin). Nor does the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs). Nor does the honorable member for Lilley. Nor does the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston). Nor does the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess). We find that there is a wide division in the views of honorable members on the Government side. We find that all these honorable members, back bench members on the Government side, say: “We do not stand for trade with China. Wc do not want to send our wheat to China.” But the front bench on the Government side says: “We must trade with China “. The honorable member for Chisholm has said - it is on record in “ Hansard “ - that the money in the pockets of the Country Party is bloodstained. So we find a wide divergence of opinion, a division in the Government’s ranks. No doubt there are many honorable members on the Government side other than those whom I have mentioned who are opposed to trading with China. The members of the Country Party say: “ We want to trade with China “. The majority of the back benchers of the Liberal Party say: “ No trade with China “. But the Ministers on the front bench say: “We must trade with China”. There is certainly a division in the Government’s ranks. Let us be quite clear about this. If any of the honorable members on the Government side whom I have named does not agree with what I have said, let him stand up and say that I have misquoted him. 1 repeat that the members on the Government side whom I have named say that we should not trade with China.
We of the Labour Party have consistently said that we should trade with all countries, that trade is the bastion of our de fence. We have advocated the building up of a basis for good will, because what is needed in this world is the breaking down of barriers, not the building of barriers. We do not believe in hatred; we want to encourage tolerance and understanding between the nations of the world. We do not want to see the hatred and the fear that this Government has been engendering. We believe that the more intercourse there is between the peoples of the world, the better it will be for the peace of the world. Surely we should be encouraging tolerance and understanding, not indulging in smears and innuendoes.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.22 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
am asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Who are the members of the school science teaching committees whose convenors his predecessor named in his answer to me on the 25th August 1964?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The function of the Advisory Committees to which the question refers is to recommend priorities among groups of independent secondary schools in each State in the allocation of Commonwealth grants for science laboratories and equipment. The convenors of these Committees were not asked to provide the names of the members of their Committees. Some time ago the Committees completed their recommendations for allocation of the amounts available to 30th June 1968.
Compulsory X-ray Surveys. (Question No. 2028.)
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
In its November 1965 Report, the National
Radiation Advisory Committee recommended that Commonwealth and State Authorities in determining policy in relation to compulsory chest X-ray surveys should take into account certain considerations.
These included - “Every effort should be made to exclude pregnant women from mass miniature surveys.
If alternative diagnostic procedures are inconclusive, pregnant women should be listed as special cases for suitable X-ray examination at an appropriate time.
Radiation workers may be exempted from compulsory mass miniature X-ray surveys, if they so desire, but should be required to submit to alternative diagnostic tests which may include an appropriate X-ray examination, if medical opinion deems it necessary.”
These recommendations have been considered by the National Tuberculosis Advisory Council which includes all State Directors of Tuberculosis, and all States have accepted them.
The Commonwealth, of course, has a direct control over these matters onlywithin its own territories, and in these areas, I am informed that the recommendations are fully implemented. With regard to the States,I understand that the recommendations have either been implemented or active steps are being taken to do so. It is understood that a new pamphlet containing the information is being prepared by the Victorian Department of Health.
Tidbinbilla Fauna Reserve. (Question No. 2002.)
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The amounts paid by the Commonwealth were agreed upon between the Commonwealth and the landholders concerned in accordance with the relevant legislation and the lease agreements. Negotiations have not yet been completed in all cases.
n asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
y asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What are the latest figures available of the population of (a) Thailand; (b) Laos; (c) Cambodia; and (d) North Vietnam?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows - (a), (b) and (c) Thailand: 30.6 million as of mid-1965; Laos: 2.00 million as of mid-1964; Cambodia: 6.1 million as of mid-1965 (Source: Economic Survey of Asia and the Far East 1965: U.N. Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East).
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Seymour, (e) the Shire of Huntly, (f) the Shire of Kyneton, (s) the Shire of Marong, (h) the Shire of Strathfieldsaye?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1. (a) 49 residences and 19 other properties
S residences and 8 other properties.
General rates are not paid in respect of properties used solely for Commonwealth purposes. However, amounts certified by my Department for payment in lieu of general rates (excluding charges for water and sewerage services) for the year 1965-66 are as follows -
In addition to these payments, it is understood that (he Department of the Army pays an annual sum of $7,000 to the Shire of Seymour as a contribution towards the maintenance of access roads to Defence establishments.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions -
t. - This afternoon, in reply to a question without notice from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), I said that I would obtain detailed information about radioactive fallout in the rain in Melbourne.
One of the responsibilities of the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee, established in 1957 under the chairmanship of Professor E. W. Titterton, is to monitor the fallout over Australia caused by nuclear tests conducted overseas.
The National Radiation Advisory Committee, at present under the chairmanship of Professor F. C. Courtice, was appointed in 1957 to advise the Government on matters concerning the effects of ionising radiation on the Australian community.
The Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee has maintained a continuous monitoring of fallout and employs a number of programmes to suit prevailing requirements. The major monitoring effort is directed at the surveillance of long-lived radioactive debris in the environment including Strontium 90 and Caesium 137. Recently the monitoring was extended to detect and measure any fresh fallout from the French tests.
I am advised by Professor Courtice, who has been in consultation with Professor Titterton, that in measurements of radioactivity in samples obtained from this network of fallout stations, the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee has shown that there is some fallout in the rain in Melbourne as well as in other parts of Australia resulting from the French tests. The level of radioactivity however is, I am informed, far below that which would lead to any significant hazard to the health of the Australian population. This is in conformity with the conclusions reached by the National Radiation Advisory Committee In its report of November, 1965, to the Government.
When a complete analysis of the results of the measurements of fallout arising from the French tests has been made the National Radiation Advisory Committee will report in detail.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 October 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19661019_reps_25_hor53/>.