26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr DUTHIE presented a petition from certain citizens of Australia showing that there is a crisis in education in Australia; that a transformation of the classroom situation is necessary, where children will have reasonable freedom to develop as selfreliant, independent individuals and where they can learn to function as members of a democratic community; that proper preparation for school and thorough guidance there, by qualified teachers, are crucial to a proper education for Australia’s children; that the present rate of teacher training is far below the requirement determined by the Martin Report which shows that 75% additional teachers in government schools alone will be required by 1975 compared with those in service in 1963; that to obtain maximum benefit from the education system, preschool facilities should be available to all children; that insufficient State or Federal assistance has been made available to meet these requirements; that adequate finance to meet these requirements can only be provided by the Commonwealth Government; and that there is an urgent need for a national inquiry into all aspects of Australian education. The petitioners pray that the Senate and House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will give earnest consideration, during Human Rights Year,, to this most vital matter.
Petition received and read.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister aware that the second 24,000 ton container ship built by Container Shipping Services Ltd for the Australian run has been launched in West Germany? If he is, does he not think that this would be the proper time to launch on the various trade routes of the world a Commonwealth shipping line to carry container cargo and passengers in ships built in Australian shipyards by Australian tradesmen, who are recognised as the finest shipbuilders in the world? Further does the right honourable gentleman not believe that encouragement of local shipbuilding is an urgent defence security measure?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport will answer the question.
– 1 was delighted to hear the honourable member refer in such glowing terms to the quality of Australian workmanship in the shipbuilding yards of this country. There is no doubt that the quality of workmanship in the Australian shipyards has been and continues to be very high. At the same time, as the honourable member will be aware, the concern of the Australian Government, at a time of change in shipping, must necessarily be to ensure that every possible economy is passed on to the consumers of goods, whom the members of this House represent, as well as to the producers of goods, who are necessarily interested in the amount of freight that is added to the cost of the goods they sell. There is no doubt that as the introduction of new forms of cargo handling brings to shipping a chance of automation and improved turn around in ports there is the possibility of a reduction in both the element of labour involved in the cargo handling and the time spent in transporting goods from one destination to another. Accordingly, the container method of transportation, the vehicular deck ships, Scandia ships and the new Pad ships all provide alternative ways of transporting cargo, and will improve the economies of freight in various trades around the Australian coast and on runs between Australia and overseas countries.
As the honourable member will also be aware, the Australian Government is entering into a partnership with the Associated Container Transportation Ltd group to operate one container vessel for trade between the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia. I hope that in the future it might be possible for the ships being used by Australian shipowners, not only the Government line but also private lines, to be constructed by Australian shipbuilding yards. For this to come about it is necessary for the yards themselves to demonstrate that they are able to compete in termS of the price of the ships so that it might be possible for the amortisation of the capital investment not to be necessarily so great that it needs to be passed on in the terms of trade. I can assure the honourable member that the Government is well aware that the shipbuilding industry in Australia is vital to our future. The Government feels that it is also necessary to make sure that Australia will have the opportunity to participate in this new form of shipping, and that is why this vessel is being built in Bremen.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that agreement has been reached between the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government on leases for off-shore oil exploration off the New South Wales coast? Can the Minister indicate to the House when he will be in a position to announce the incentives for exploration for oil in Australia?
– The Commonwealth Government did agree some weeks ago to a request from the New South Wales Government on off-shore oil leases. I am not sure whether the State Government has made an announcement yet, but certainly from the Commonwealth’s point of view there were a number of points about which we had been concerned. These have all been cleared up, and I believe that the State Government either has made an announcement or is in a position to make one. So far as incentives are concerned, the honourable, member will realise that this is a matter of policy. The Commonwealth Government has had the matter under study for some time and when a decision is made it will be announced.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral what efforts have been made to secure the return from the United States of the 4-year-old son of the well known television singer Kathy Lloyd. Is it a fact that the child was taken out of the country by his father a year and a day ago in breach of the Migration Act and in contempt of a court order under the Matrimonial Causes Act? Has the lack of action or success in this case been due to a refusal by his Department, by the Treasury or by the Department of Immigration to authorise the expenditure of funds to implement these two Acts passed by this Parliament, or is it due to gaps and deficiencies in the Acts passed by the Parliament or in treaties negotiated by the Government?
– It is a fact that Kathy Lloyd, or Mrs Lipton, as she is, did see me about the possibility of obtaining the return of her small son from America. I had some study of this made by the Department, and I will come to the results of that in a moment. I also got in touch with Mr McCaw, the Attorney-General of New South Wales, who was dealing with Mr Allan, the Commissioner of, Police, to see whether the State should take action. The position was that an order for custody had been made in her favour which gave access to her husband. On one, occasion when he appeared to take access he in fact took the child to Mascot and left for America. This was a breach of the New South Wales Crimes Act, and in fact a ; warrant for his arrest had been issued at the time Miss Lloyd came to see me. One of the questions considered was whether extradition proceedings should be put into force against him. This question was studied by us;
The matter could have been but was not treated, by way of criminal proceeding, as a breach of section 62 of the. Migration Act. This would not have led to, the possiblity of extradition because it does not give rise to an extraditable offence or procedure vis-a-vis the United States of America. But there was this other offence against the Crimes Act which was extraditable. The general principle, which has been followed in these cases - this is not an isolated case - is that unless some crime affecting the public is involved public moneys are not spent on sending police and other officers to foreign countries to obtain extradition. This was the policy followed by the Commonwealth and the State. But this was not really the final determinative factor in this case, although the cost would have been of the order of $2,000 or $3,000.
– Are custody offences extraditable?
– No, but abduction offences are, broadly. When I use the term abduction’ I am speaking in layman’s language. The difficulty was that if Mr Lipton had been extradited it would not have led to the return of the child. which was what Mrs Lipton wanted. Apparently Mr Lipton is an American citizen and he is residing in America. The mere bringing back to Australia of the father to answer a criminal charge would not have produced the result Mrs Lipton wanted. Both the New South Wales Attorney-General and I found ourselves with no means of achieving eventually the return of the child.
»r GIBBS - Is the Minister for Health aware that salt marsh mosquitoes frequently reach plague proportions in south-east Queensland? is he aware also that these pests almost certainly carry disease, including an epidemic form of acute arthritis? In view of their probable threat to health and the great personal discomfort which they cause, will he confer with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation with a view to achieving the early control of the mosquitoes?
-^1 have heard of these mosquitoes and I believe that they are of a particular nuisance value, particularly in the hatching season. I have been informed by officers of my Department that they are not known to be a disease vector, but in the light of the honourable members question this may be open to debate. I have no direct control over the activities of the CSIRO but I will consult my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science, who has heard the question. No doubt he will go into the matter.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether he has any information about a recent debate in the United States Senate concerning the signing of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. If the Minister is aware of the situation, the discussions that took place and the decision to ratify the agreement, will he inform the House whether this Government has completed its deliberations and whether it intends to make an early announcement about its attitude? Will the Australian Government ratify the agreement?
-The latter part of the question is out of. order; it relates to a matter of policy.
– 1 have not seen the text of the debate in the United States Senate but the Government has had under close consideration for some time and is continuing to examine all aspects of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. As has been said before, in principle we believe that some treaty of this kind is’ desirable. We are examining matters related to various safeguards, both for industrial and defence purposes.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In the distribution of finance for the period 1969-74 under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act is it proposed, contrary to reports, that expenditure on rural roads other than highways, trunk roads and main roads, as defined in the old Act, should be increased by 5% in each year of the 5-year period? Is it true that in New South Wales class 3 roads include an estimated 10,000 miles of main roads which were formerly not financed from the 40% allocation? If so, how does this situation affect the proposal that there should be an increment in the other rural roads sector and will it mean that there will be an increase in the amount spent on State highways in New South Wales over the 5-year period?
– In his statement to the Premiers at his meeting with them last week to discuss the Commonwealth’s financial allocations for roads in the 1969-74 quinquennium the Prime Minister said that it was the Government’s intention that the other rural roads sector, which previously had been fairly loosely defined in the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act, would receive a 5% per annum increase over the amount allocated for this purpose in 1968-69, that being the final year of the past quinquennial allocation. It is also true that the other rural roads area has been redefined in terms of road classes specified within the reports of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. For each of the States it may well be necessary for roads presently defined as ‘other rural’ roads to be brought within the new Bureau of Roads classes and consequently within the definitions proposed for inclusion in the coming legislation. The latter part of the question related to a proposed increase in expenditure on State highways. In this regard, as the honourable gentleman will be aware, it is the Commonwealth’s intention to allocate money in three defined areas. It is possible that in terms of the new classes highways should come within classes 1 and 2. However, it is also possible that in terms of the definitions of road classes, some highways which pass through principal urban communities may be in the nature of expressways or throughways and that some of the expenditure may well be included under classes 6 and 7. However, in terms of definition of classes this is a matter which needs to be worked out in greater detail by officials of the Commonwealth and the respective States.
-I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. The Minister will recall that earlier this year 14 people, 9 of whom were Jews, were hanged in Iraq and that the hangings were condemned universally as barbarous judicial murders. What action has the Australian Government taken to have this matter raised in the United Nations Commission for Human Rights?
– The House will be aware that the Government protested in strong terms about the execution of those people in Iraq. As far as I am aware the Government has not taken any action to make any further protest but our views on this deplorable act are well known.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. lt concerns British container cargo freight rates throughout Australia. I preface my question by explaining that the impression that I gained from news articles and from the statement made by the Minister for Trade and Industry on 23 February 1967 was that feeder services would be established between the three terminal ports of Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle, and other ports, and that the freight of these feeder services was to be absorbed in the overall freight rate which meant, according to my impression, a single Australian freight rate for all ports. Quite recently, I was in formed that this idea had been scrubbed and that other than terminal ports now will have to pay what is described as a differential freight rate.
-Order! The preface to ‘ the honourable member’s question is far too long. I ask him to direct his question.
– I am finishing it now.. 1 have to explain the question,. Mr Speaker, in order to get a clear answer. This latest decision, if it is true, is most unpalatable., and disturbing as far as north Queensland is concerned. Will the Minister please advise me as to the true present position?
– Initially, direct container : services are to be provided to only three principal Australian ports. As the honourable gentleman’s preamble specified, these are Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle. In addition, feeder services are to be provided initially for cargoes from Brisbane, Newcastle and Adelaide. As to the future, it is the intention that feeder services will be extended to other ports around Australia. At that time, no doubt, it might be possible to provide for the expected standard freight rate to apply for container cargo shipped on these container vessels from all ports around the Australian coast.
However, I think that it is necessary to recognise also that the freight rate that has been established for container cargoes on the sea leg is identical with the freight rate ‘ established for conventional Vessels. This means that for all cargoes ‘transported on - the sea leg originating from any port around : Australia the same standard’ freight rate - will continue to remain payable. For the ports of north Queensland’ and other outports such as those in Tasmania; a conventional service will continue to. be provided and it will operate at the standard freight rate agreed upon with the Australia and ‘ London Tonnage Committee..
As to the future, I have no doubt that., further discussions and developments may enable the establishment of .container feeder services to these outports as well as conventional services. It must be .recognised, how- , ever, that this new container service is only. , just now being introduced,. It, will take time before container services by the new container ships can be provided in the full way and to the full extent that is envisaged ultimately. None of the outports around Australia will be penalised in any way if they continue to use those services that are presently available, even if the cargoes are not shipped in containers by those vessels.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question supplementary to that asked him by the honourable member for Reid. Was the Government’s protest about the secret trials and public executions in Iraq cabled to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and therefore would not be thereby inscribed on the agenda of any of the United Nations organs? I ask him also: Has the Government raised this matter with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights whose charter covers inquiries into and reports upon such atrocities?
– As the honourable gentleman will be aware, this matter occurred before I took over the portfolio of External Affairs. I will treat his question as being on notice and I will get him a detailed reply.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that medical practitioners are receiving a great number of inquiries regarding inoculation against Hong Kong influenza? One practitioner in my electorate, for instance, claims to have received 200 telephone calls. Is the Minister in a position to inform the House regarding the availability and distribution of the relevant vaccine by and on behalf of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories?
– I am aware that medical practitioners have had large numbers of inquiries about the influenza vaccine and I would just like to say that the Government and the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories are conscious of the importance of ensuring adequate supplies. But I would like to put this matter in perspective because it does seem that the public has formed the impression that this Hong Kong strain is a most virulent form of influenza. This, of course, is not the case. Reports to the World Health Organisation from many countries which have ex perienced it have shown that it is a clinically mild form of influenza. In other words, it is probably less serious than the ‘flu that we have lived with for a very long time. That having been said, I would remind the honourable gentleman of what I said in the House in the last sitting week, that the Director of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories has advised medical practitioners that the appropriate time for vaccination is between 1st March and the end of May.
Coming finally to the honourable gentleman’s question, I point out that 900,000 doses of vaccine have so far been distributed in Australia by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. By 1st April it is expected that there will be available 900,000 doses in single dose containers and 1 million doses in multiple dose containers, and thereafter the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories expects to produce 250,000 to 300,000 doses a week. One of the reasons why individual medical practitioners are finding it difficult to get the vaccine at the present moment is that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories is, quite properly, as a result of the Government’s decision to make the vaccine available as a pharmaceutical benefit to pensioners, stockpiling it so it can be available for that purpose as from 1st April. Finally, I notice that the Director of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories is reported as saying that all medical practitioners should be able to obtain the supplies they need by the middle of April.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. I refer to certain reports that a Commonwealth public servant, Mr Murray Sime, of the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s Office, Sydney, has been penalised by the Commonwealth Public Service Board for being associated with the organisation of an anti-conscription demonstration of Sydney university students recently and that the Public Service Board has slashed his salary by $585 and directed that the penalty be recorded on his file for 10 years, making an effective penalty of nearly $6,000 spread over the next 10 years. Are these reports correct? If so, does the Prime Minister not agree that Mr Sime’s alleged offence was trivial, that the penalty imposed was out of all proportion to the offence and, indeed, that crimials c convicted of serious offences in the Supreme Court are frequently dealt with with more compassion and tolerance than have been shown Mr Sime? Is it true that in imposing this excessively harsh penalty the Commonwealth Public Service Board is seeking by duress to force Mr Sime into resigning, as well as aiming at intimidating public servants generally? Finally, will the Prime Minister intervene in this matter to see that justice is provided for Mr Sime?
– Any charge that would be laid against a member of the Public Service in any department would be laid by the head of that department, and the penalty then imposed would be imposed either by the department or by the Public Service Board. That is the. proper practice . which has always been followed in the disciplining of public servants. As I understand this matter - and I do not pretend to have studied it deeply - this was the procedure which was followed in this case. I do not propose for a moment to comment on the propriety or impropriety or to make any kind of comment at all on the Public Service Board carrying out its proper statutory authority given to it by this Parliament for dealing with public servants. I am not prepared, having said that, to say that I believe, from what I know of the matter, that the offence in question was trivial. But I would add to that that it is quite likely, as I understand it, that the man in question may appeal to the Public Service Appeal Board, and in that case I think it might prejudice his case if any further discussion on it were held. It is now going through the proper courses of Public Service action, and whatever the final result may be of Public Service procedures, the answer to the last part of the honourable member’s question is no, I would not intervene.
– I also ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the Public Service. I refer to the matter known as the Hoffmann affair. As this Parliament is interested in the morale and integrity of the Commonwealth Public Service, and as the Public Service Board is the supreme authority under the Parliament for the appointment and retrenchment of staff, I ask: Was Mr Hoffmann’s work with the Department of
Customs and Excise checked to ensure that there were no serious errors in addition to the one which precipitated his departure from the Department? Was a dismissal certificate issued by the Public Service Board in Hoffmann’s case, and was the dismissal decision confirmed by an Appeal Board? If so, did the Minister for Customs and Excise or the Chief Officer of the Department exceed his authority i in enabling the officer to resign? Finally, have either. ‘Mr or Mrs Hoffmann committed any breach of the Public Service’ Act or’ security regulation’s by issuing statements which have been published in the Australian Press?
– I have been informed by the Permanent Head *>f the Department of Customs and’ Excise that1 !a’ close investigation was made of the1 activities of the bylaw branch and that nd evidence at all appeared that there had been any previous misdemeanour on the part 0I Mr Hoffmann. Tn answer to the second part of the question, yes, a dismissal notice was issued by the Department and was, on appeal, upheld by the Appeal Board, of the- Public Service. In answer to the third part.pf the question, the Minister for Customs, and Excise, as is the case with other Ministers, does not have the authority to ^decide , whether a public servant should resign, or should be dismissed or should be fined , or should be punished in some other way. . That is the prerogative of the Public Service Board and, in. fact, the Minister took no action in this whatsoever, other.,. than forwarding on to his Department a letter sent to him by Mr Hoffmann, forwarding it without comment. In the case of the Chief Officer of the Department, he, tpo, did not in any way exceed his authority. What ,he did was act in accordance with a. Public Service Board instruction which had been issued and made public in, I think, May 1964, or around about that date, stating that if an officer was charged and submitted his resignation before disciplinary processes had been finished, then that resignation should be sent to the Public Service Board Inspector for consideration by the Public Service Board. That was what happened in this case, and the Public’ Service Board accepted the resignation. In reply to the last part of the question, I have had no indication that this is so.
– Would the Treasurer outline the purposes, as he sees them, of the new type of security to be known as certificates of deposit? What is their likely effect on interest structures generally? Does the negotiability of the security lend itself to a practice which is known as bond washing, by reason of a non-taxable capital gain accruing to some investors and a tax deductible loss attaching to some other investors? Will the new security impact in any way on stamp duties collected by the States?
– I think it would take me too long to give a summary of the purposes which we hope to achieve by the new transferable certificates of deposit. But the House will know that approval was given to the Australian Resources Development Bank to issue transferable certificates of deposit and it has turned out to be remarkably successful and is an obvious development in being able to mobilise long term capital for the development of Australian resources by Australians.
The honourable gentleman will also know that there is an inter-company market in Australia that at times operates to the extent of something like $ 1,000m. Also there is a short term market where securities to the value of about $530m are traded. The former are to a considerable extent outside the monetary system and therefore outside the control of the Reserve Bank. It is felt that if some of these moneys can be brought within the banking system they will be subject to much closer control by the Reserve Bank than would otherwise be possible.
The third question asked by the honourable gentleman was whether this new type of certificate of deposit security was susceptible to bond washing or rebate washing in the same way as bonds. No, that will not happen because as is known rebate washing only occurred when there was a 10c in the $1 rebate. On this occasion no rebate is in fact possible.
Speaking in general terms, I think that this indicates pretty clearly the way in which the Australian money market is in fact maturing. It does give people the opportunities to deposit money for up to 2 years for a somewhat greater rate of interest. In both the Treasury and the Reserve Bank we do not think this will have a significant or even a substantial impact on Commonwealth bonds.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. Is he aware of complaints that the Lamb Industry Panel which was set up to report on the impact, if any, of imports of New Zealand lamb is not fully representative of lamb producing interests? Has the Panel met and if so, what was the outcome of the meeting?
– The Lamb Industry Panel, which I have formally informed the House 1 had set up, was chosen after full consultation with industry organisations. It is fully representative of people actually engaged in the production of fat lambs. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard the list of members of the Panel:
Mr J. L. Shute, O.B.E. ; Chairman, Aus* tralian Meat Board
Mr P. D. A. Wright; Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, producer representative of the Meat Board. Fat lamb producer
Mr F. J. Horwood O.B.E. ; Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, producer representative of the Meat Board. Fat lamb producer
Mr R. Langfield ; Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, producer representative of the Meat Board. Fat lamb producer
Mr C. J. Burgin ; Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, member of the Joint Lamb Committee. Fat lamb producer
Mr T. N. Lawson ; Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, nominee, Chairman of the Joint Lamb Committee. Fat lamb producer
Mr P. J. Anderson ; Exporters representative of the Meat Board
Mr F. N. Giles - First Assistant Secretary, Department of Primary Industry
Mr G. F. Johnson ; Assistant Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry
The list indicates that all the members of of the Panel are fat lamb producers themselves except the Chairman of the Australian Meat Board; the exporters’ representative of the Meat Board; the First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Primary industry; the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry; and Mr Hughes, an Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers Council producer representative of the Meat Board. The others are themselves fat lamb producers.
The Panel had its first meeting in Melbourne last Friday. There has been a subsequent announcement by the Chairman of the Panel, Mr Shute, that the Panel considered information on Jamb imports and trends in prices and yardings in the Australian market. He said that arrangements have been made for members to be kept fully informed on these matters on a regular basis.
Only occasional, very small shipments of lamb have arrived since last October, so the Panel has no immediate problem before it. Tt will meet again on 8th April in Sydney. Arrangements are in existence to enable the Panel to be called together at. short notice should circumstances require it.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister in the absence of the Minister for Defence. What would be the cost to Australia if the order to purchase the twenty-four Fill planes from the United States of America was cancelled? Has any consideration been given to this course of action? If not, why not?
– The Minister for Defence is away from the House this week and I do nol believe that the honourable member would expect me to have the sort of figures which he has suggested I might give him. I would, therefore, ask him to put the question on notice so that that part can be answered by the Minister for Defence. For the rest, I am assured by the Minister for Defence that the military advice tendered to him is that this aircraft will do what the Air Board wishes it to do and therefore will be a considerable accretion to Australia’s defence capacity.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Is it correct that the United Kingdom associates the Union Jack with governmental promotion programmes and private firm advertisements on export markets? Does he agree that frequently the Union Jack has been a hallmark of quality production? ls it a fact that this Government’s policy is that the Australian national flag should not be used for advertising purposes? If so, will the Prime Minister review that policy with a view to permitting the use of the flag in the advertisement of Australian products overseas, bearing in mind the need further to promote aggressively Australian exports?
-] am not aware of the policy of Great Britain in regard to the use of the Union Jack in this way. For a considerable number of years, T understand, it has been the Australian Government’s practice to encourage the use of the Australian flag by citizens in all possible ways but to discourage its use for advertising purposes. However, the matter having been raised by the honourable member, I will have a closer examination made of it.
– The Prime Minister will recall that, when referring to the Hoffmann affair, he said in effect: ‘Surely the Opposition does not oppose our doing a little bit of counter-intelligence’. I now ask ‘ the Prime Minister whether there has been brought to the notice of the Government any other occasion when intelligence operations have been conducted against Australia within Australia. If so, why have no prosecutions been launched by the Government against persons threatening the security of this nation?
– Without in any way departing from the established practice of neither confirming nor denying matters concerning security, it does seem that the honourable member may have a slightly short memory; otherwise he could perhaps remember the case of espionage which was discovered when Mr Petrov defected.
– Ha, ha.
– There was no prosecution.
– Order! The honourable member for East Sydney has asked his question. He will cease interjecting.
– Honourable members opposite do not like this. The honourable member might also, if he casts his mind back, remember another occasion when Mr Skripov, who had been committing acts of espionage, was sent back as persona non grata.
– There was no prosecution.
– I am being interrupted again by the Leader of the Opposition who does not appear to like these matters being brought out but, in fact, i am refreshing the memory of the honourable member for East Sydney.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. 1 ask whether the Minister’s attention has been drawn to the recent raid by officers of the Department of Customs and Excise on the home of Miss Daphne Mayo, a constituent of mine who resides in the Brisbane suburb of Highgate Hill. Has the Minister made inquiries to ascertain whether permission for such an extreme measure as the invasion of the home of an individual is vested in only the most senior men in each State? If he has and if, as has been suggested, these warrants are authorised by persons other than the very top men, will he discuss this matter with his colleague in another place in order to have the present dangerous and unpalatable regulations amended?
– My attention has been drawn to a report of a raid upon the home of Miss Daphne Mayo in Brisbane. It appears that the raid was carried out by the Department of Customs and Excise upon the receipt of information concerning prohibited imports. Upon investigation it appeared that the information was false and the Collector of Customs personally, on behalf of the Department, subsequently wrote to Miss Mayo explaining the circumstances of the raid and apologising for the action that had been taken. The information given to me by the Department of Customs and Excise is that, in contrast to the Press report, there was no breaking down of doors as alleged and indeed the full raid lasted for only 20 minutes in all. As I have explained, the Collector of Customs has apologised in person to Miss Mayo for any unfortunate position in which she may have found herself. In answer to the latter part of the honourable member’s question, I point out that Customs officers generally are not given authority to raid premises. The authority is given only to a select number of officers, who are called investigation officers. I will raise that part of the honourable member’s question with my colleague in another place to ensure that the appointments are appropriate.
– Will the Prime Minister consider amalgamating Qantas Airways Ltd and Trans-Australia Airlines? Why is it necessary for these two giants to have separate buildings and a duplication of everything that goes with the general running of an airline? Is the Prime Minister aware that when Ansett Transport Industries Ltd took over Australian National Airways Pty Ltd only one management was provided to look after the organisation that resulted from the merger?
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation to answer the question.
– Under the two airline policy, which has been accepted by the Parliament, which has been in operation for some years now and which will continue for the life of the agreement until 1977, a system that allows competition between Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia exists. They operate in free and complete competition on the major trunk routes. For administrative purposes, it is essential that both organisations have their own headquarters and their own separate staffs. Indeed, they could not function in any other way. The Australian system should be compared with the systems in other countries. The fact that in recent weeks 1 have had inquiries from other countries wishing to study our system, perhaps with a view to adopting it in the future, vindicates the policy of the Government.
– by leave - At the outset I would like to make it clear that this is an interim statement relating to an air accident and follows an undertaking I gave to the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), who represented the Opposition, that if a report by the Air Safety Investigation Branch of my Department was not completed and in my hands for presentation to the Parliament by today I would issue an interim statement.
Mr Speaker, honourable members will recall that, on 31st December 1968, a Viscount 720 aircraft VH-RMQ, operated by MacRobertson Miller Airlines, was involved in an accident some 28 miles south of Port Hedland, Western Australia. The aircraft was providing a regular, public transport service from Perth to Port Hedland and all twenty-six persons on board lost their lives. I have already expressed the sympathy of the Australian Government to the relatives of passengers and crew killed in this accident and I am sure that every member in this House would wish to support that expression. The Air Safety Investigation Branch of my Department immediately commenced an investigation of this tragic accident and this is still continuing at the present time. As a result of information already received, however, the DirectorGeneral has taken several precautions in respect of other Viscount aircraft operating in this country. In seeking leave to make this statement I have anticipated that honourable members will be interested to learn something of the progress of the investigation and of the measures taken to safeguard the travelling public in this country. The statement will also have meaning in relation to my announced decision that I did not consider a board of accident inquiry to be necessary as it was unlikely that such a board could add to the knowledge of the circumstances and causes of the accident already being produced.
The accident occurred at 11.34 a.m. western standard time when the aircraft had reached a height of approximately 7,200 ft in its descent towards Port Hedland. At this point in time the starboard wing, outboard of the inner engine, separated from the remainder of the aircraft. There was no useful warning to the flight crew of this catastrophic event and, of course, they were unable to exercise any control over the aircraft beyond this point. The induced abnormal loads then caused other components of the aircraft to break away and these were scattered over a distance in excess of 1 mile in fairly open flat terrain. The fuselage remained relatively intact, however, until it was severely broken up by impact with the ground and an intense ground fire then occurred. Within the first 3 days of the investigation the Air Safety Investigation Branch team established that the in-flight separation of the wing was the result of a gross reduction in wing strength due to the presence of a fatigue crack in the lower spar boom. This discovery underlined the wisdom of the Director-General’s action, taken on the night of the accident, in grounding all of the earlier 700 series Viscount aircraft then operating in Australia. Particulars of this fatigue crack were immediately relayed to the Air Registration Board and the British Aircraft Corporation in the United Kingdom and a reduction of 40% in tha permissible life of inner spar booms was specified for all aircraft having the same type of spar as VH-RMQ wherever those aircraft were operating throughout the world. The certificates of airworthiness of Viscounts in Australia, having this particular type of spar, remain suspended.
In its further investigation the Air Safety Investigation Branch has carried out a great deal of analytical and experimental work designed to ascertain why a fatigue crack should have developed to the point of inducing a catastrophic failure in this spar boom after only 8,090 flights when, at that time, the safe life prescribed for this components by the manufacturer was 11,400 nights. In this work the investigators have been assisted by the Aeronautical Research Laboratories and the Defence Standards Laboratories in Melbourne, both of which scientific organisations are under the control of my colleague the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson). Also, a structure expert from the investigating team has spent some 4 weeks in the United Kingdom for consultation with the aircraft manufacturer and other relevant organisations in that country. A considerable amount of work remains to be done before firm conclusions can be drawn but the investigation has established the existence of a significant irregularity in the fit of a bush in the attachment hole where the fatigue crack originated. These bushes, or steel linings,, are inserted in the many bolt holes in the spar boom to improve the fatigue life of the boom by an
Interference fit which induces a local preload and eliminates fretting in the aluminium alloy spar. In this particular hole the fitting of the bush is normally an integral part of the manufacture of the boom in the United Kingdom. ft appears that the end of this bush was flared or ‘belled’ before final insertion so that it broached metal from the walls of the hole during .insertion and scoured out the anodised surface of the hole as well as an anti-corrosion compound, which is introduced at this stage. In this way all of the measures intended to increase the resistance to. fatigue cracking from the hole were eliminated. It would be reasonable to assume that these circumstances offer an explanation of the .premature fatigue failure at this point but the final conclusions must wait on the results of further experimental work about to be undertaken by the manufacturer in the United Kingdom. In this work the found condition of. the. particular spar hole in VH-RMQ will be reproduced in a number pf test specimens and these will be subjected to comparative fatigue tests in order to assess the actual fatigue life of a component assembled in this way. I would not expect that the results of these further experiments will become available to us here in Australia for some months yet.
There does not seem to be any ready explanation as to how this particular bush became deformed before insertion in the spar fitted to VH-RMQ but the characteristics of the deformation are such as to convince the investigators that it did not occur during the normal production of bushes of this sort. The deformation seems to have arisen from the application of tools and procedures not normally associated either with the production of bushes or with their installation in spar booms. Since the production of this particular spar boom took place some 6 years ago the questions of how, where or why this deformation took place, seem unlikely now to be solved. The characteristics of the bush, however, are so unusual as to generate confidence in the belief that a similar condition does not exist in other Viscount aircraft. The situation, however, has been further safeguarded by the action of the Director-General in suspending the certificates pf airworthiness for all Viscounts in Australia which carry spar booms of material similar to those of VH-RMQ.
Sir Donald Anderson has also given very earnest consideration to -the potential significance of these findings in respect of the later model Viscount aircraft in this country. These aircraft have spar booms manufactured to different dimensions and from different material so that there is a greater resistance to fatigue cracking. Although it was concluded by the DirectorGeneral and by the Air Registration Board in the United Kingdom’ that, there was no feature of the evidence uncovered in the VH-RMQ investigation which, of itself, would justify any action in respect of these later model aircraft, the British Aircraft Corporation and the Air Registration Board, as a precautionary measure, have decided that they should examine, the bolt, holes in some of the booms from these aircraft which . have nearly completed their prescribed lives. In this context they have reduced the maximum, permissible life of these booms to 90%, of the figures previously specified. This examination of holes, in these booms is ..going on in the United Kingdom at this time and the airworthiness officers of my Department are maintaining a close liaison with the manufacturer.
I am satisfied that the precautions already taken by the Director-General’ to safeguard the Australian travelling public are proper and adequate having regard to the information which is available.’ I am satisfied also that the investigation of- the VH-RMQ accident and the consideration of its further relevance, both in this country and in the United Kingdom, are proceeding as quickly as possible. In due course I propose to table a report on the investigation of this accident for the information of honourable members and I am sure that this report will reflect the great skill and care ‘which the Department’s Air Safety Investigation Branch has once again brought to bear in pursuit of its task. One had to see, as I did, to believe how destructive were the forces of impact and ground fire in this accident. I am sure that any honourable member who could have seen, what I did would have refused to believe that any useful or reliable conclusions could be drawn from an examination of this wreckage. However, air safety investigation in this country has achieved a worldwide reputation for efficiency and the reliability of results and what has already been achieved in relation to this accident indicates that this reputation is not unjustified. Honourable members can therefore be assured that the processes of investigation are being utilised to their utmost to achieve their primary objective of promotion of the safety of future operations.
I present the following paper:
Aircraft Accident- -Ministerral Statement, 18 March 1.969.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– I move:
All honourable members would wish to convey their sympathy to the relatives of the passengers and crew killed in this accident. Nobody in this place is happy to hear about an accident of any kind, irrespective of loss of life, but where twenty-six people lose their lives- r
– I rise to order. What is the position now? Will we have a debate On this matter and vote on the amendment?
– This is no concern of the Chair. The standing orders have been complied with so far. It is not my responsibility to interpret the motives of the Opposition.
– Where twentysix people lose their lives in an accident it is not good enough for the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) to make a statement some 7 weeks after the accident - he made it on 21st February - that the Government does not intend to hold a full inquiry into the accident because, it says, sufficient information is available and because the inquiry by the Air Safety Investigation Branch has not been concluded. We on this side of the House were greatly concerned to read in various newspapers in various diluted forms statements that the whole matter would be washed up and that there would not be a public inquiry.
Let me make my position clear. I am not in any way attacking officers of the Department of Civil Aviation for the way in which they are conducting their investigations into this matter. I believe that they are doing their work honestly and sincerely in an effort to make a factual report. But where an accident has occurred resulting in the loss of twenty-six lives there should be nothing short of a public judicial inquiry. There must be a full investigation of this accident.
The Opposition wants to put the amendment to a vote. We want the House to decide whether a full inquiry should be held. This is an opinion which the House is entitled to express. We realise that under the legislation the Minister cannot make a decision until he receives a report from the Air Safety Investigation Branch. Nevertheless, this House is entitled to express its wishes to the Minister. We want . a full judicial inquiry similar to the inquiries conducted in relation to the Winton disaster, the Botany Bay disaster and the accident at Mackay.
There is something wrong when in an aircraft tested as safe for 11,400 flights a spar breaks and the wing falls off after 8,090 flights, resulting in twenty-six people being killed. This is a matter that cannot be treated lightly. Only one thing can bring out all the facts to the satisfaction of everybody, and that is a full and public inquiry. In his statement the Minister said:
A considerable amount of work remains to be done. … lt appears that the end of this bush was flared or ‘belled’ before final insertion so that it broached metal from the walls of tha hole during insertion and scoured out the anodised surface of the hole as well as an anti-corrosion compound, which is introduced at this stage. In this way all of the measures intended to increase the resistance to fatigue cracking from the bole were eliminated.
I do not profess to know a lot about engineering but I know one thing: This sounds as if in the assembly of the particular section of this aircraft a team of boilermakers was engaged working with drifts. I do not want to discourage my friend the honourable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr Curtin) by talking about boilermakers in that way, but it is a fact that boilermakers work with clearance holes where a drift is quite satisfactory to pull pieces of metal into line. But when you are dealing with machined joints, as in the case of aircraft, it is not good enough to have somebody hoe into them with a hammer. That is the impression I gained - that this bush was forced into the hole. Surely some explanation is due from the manufacturer.
The public is entitled to an explanation of what happened on this occasion. Why was this aircraft allowed to make 8,090 flights? Why was maintenance carried out on it? Why were the faults not discovered when the aircraft was being serviced? These are questions that should be answered at a public judicial inquiry. It is no good the Department saying: ‘This is what happened: The hole was flared or belled and the anti-corrosion material scraped off or forced off.’ We want a much fuller explanation of what took place during the construction of this aircraft. Why were these faults not discovered when maintenance was carried out on the aircraft over the years? Why have these investigations not been carried out sooner? Have other aircraft of this model been checked and have similar faults been discovered in them? Why was the wing spar structure of other series of this model of aircraft changed? Why was a different type of metal and spar used in other series? It must be obvious that the manufacturer thought there was some structural weakness in the first series of aircraft manufactured. We know that the first series of a model to come off the assembly line is not the same as the final series of that model. We know that each new series of a model is better than its predecessor - it has been modernised; new ideas have been incorporated. Why was the spar changed in the new series?
– It will be clearly set out in the report.
– We want these things set out so that they may be closely examined by everybody interested. Do not forget that twenty-six people lost their lives in, this accident. Their relatives are entitled publicly to ask whether the manufacturer has been negligent. The Minister’s statement, part of which I have read, indicates clearly that there has been negligence on the part of the manufacturer. I do not know whether the operator of the aircraft has been negligent in operating the aircraft for 8,090 flights without discovering the fault. I do not think that it should be allowed to be buried in a departmental inquiry. Only a public inquiry can clear the people who are involved, I am not casting any aspersions at this time. I am not making an attack on the airline operator concerned. I want the facts brought out. The airline operator is just as much entitled to have the opportunity to prove that he has not been negligent as the people who have lost their relatives in this accident are entitled to prove that the manufacturer and the operator of this aircraft have been negligent. We want a public inquiry so that these matters can. be investigated and so that, if need be, all of these things can be brought out. These are the basic reasons why we want something done about this matter. To hush it up by a departmental inquiry is not good enough. For example, the Minister for Civil Aviation said in his report - I am trying to locate it exactly - that the material in the 756 series was changed. Why it was changed has not been explained in the report.
– There is no report yet.
– there is no report yet?
– How does the Minister know about the material change then? Has he seen the report from which he can make a firm decision that no public inquiry will be held? I have here the statement made by the Minister . in Melbourne on 21st December. It was circulated to all honourable members in the. usual manner. At that stage the Minister said that he was quite satisfied that the cause of the accident was clear cut and that the reasons why the aircraft had crashed were such that he did not propose to hold an inquiry. That is not good enough for us. We, want this whole matter aired publicly so that the relatives of the deceased persons will have the opportunity of questioning .publicly various people involved including the .manufacturer and the operator of the airline. They will be questioned. If that is done the relatives will be able to be satisfied that there has been no negligence on the part of anyone. Yet, in ray humble opinion, it is clear from reading page 3 of the Minister’s circulated statement that there has been negligence on the part of the manufacturer. I want to know whether this negligence has continued through to the operator.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). In doing so, 1 indicate my support for the amendment. I support it wholeheartedly because I feel that whenever a major air disaster occurs in Australia a full judicial inquiry ought to be held and members of the Department of Civil Aviation, the manufacturer or anybody else connected with the aircraft concerned should bc cross-examined so that the full facts and the truth as to what exactly happened on the occasion in question may bc determined. No doubt exists in my mind that from the outset the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) and his Department set out to whitewash the whole of this affair.
– That is completely untrue.
– Within days of the accident, the Minister claimed that there would bc no inquiry into this disaster. We want to know why. The Minister. I feel, must give to the Austraiian people answers on many matters. The main matter is whether or not the aircraft that crashed was airworthy and whether it ought to have been operating in the north west of Western Australia, where the accident occurred. Some of the worst flying conditions in Australia are encountered in that area. It is natural that if aircraft are flying in turbulence certain extra strains will be put on them. On this occasion, extra strain was put on the aircraft with the result that the wing spar broke. The aircraft crashed. People were killed. We want to know what really happened. The only way that we will know this is if a full inquiry is held.
The Minister has stated to the Parliament already that no inquiry will be held because he has seen the report. If . he has had the opportunity of looking at the report, it ought to have been made available to members of Parliament so that we also might have looked at it even before we decided to debate the statement that has been made to the Parliament today by the Minister. After all, the Minister has before him the evidence from his Department. We have never seen it. Under the Air Navigation Regulations, the Minister has the power to decide whether it is in the public interest that an inquiry should be held. There is no doubt about that fact, lt is in the public interest; it is as much in the interests of certain individuals and probably the airline -company concerned. We want this whole matter brought to light. We want this done by a judicial inquiry.
Let us look at what happened. The Minister has stated already that all the bushes in the aircraft had frayed edges. How long had this condition been present? We also know that at certain periods aircraft are magnafluxed. Parts are X-rayed to detect whether any metal fatigue is present. When was the last time this aircraft was magnafluxed? Was this section of the aircraft, about which we have heard, done or not? If it was not done, why was it not done? Certain parts of an aircraft cannot be mag.nafluxed. We want to know the answers to these questions. The Australian people wish to know the answers. The Minister has never given the answers to any of these matters. I do not know whether the answers are contained in the report. At least, we want to know the answers.
I refer to the other matter about which we want an answer. The Minister stated that the aircraft had made 8,090 flights. This looks to me to be purely and simply the number of times that the aircraft has taken off and landed. I feel that consideration ought to be given to the sort of weather an aircraft flies through and the amount of turbulence involved. A great many of us do fly. We know that when an aircraft runs into turbulence a great deal of strain is put on the wing spars. Has this any great effect on an aircraft? If it has, we ought to know. We do not want a count of the number of landings and take-offs that an aircraft has. Consideration ought to be given to the period that an aircraft has been . flying. Another matter we are interested in is whether this was the original spar or the original wing of the aircraft or whether these had been cannibalised. This is the term used in the trade when material is taken off the scrap heap and the part concerned is put in an aircraft. We want to know these things. I think that the Australian people are entitled to know them.
We do not want the Minister to come into the Parliament and try to whitewash the whole affair by telling the Australian people that he will not hold an inquiry. People lost their lives as a result of this disaster. In fact, twenty-six people were killed. Their relations are entitled to know the full facts of the accident. The Australian people are entitled to know the full facts of the accident. The Minister is responsible to this Parliament for his Department. I think that the Parliament is entitled to investigate his Department. On many occasions in this Parliament I have given examples to support my feeling that the Department of Civil Aviation is not carrying out the investigations that it should concerning Australian airline operators to see that they perform maintenance procedures correctly. Previous reports of inquiries have shown that the Department has been lax. If it has been lax at various times, we want to know whether it has been lax on this occasion. Has it allowed persons within the Department to whom certain powers have been delegated to conduct these investigations of the aircraft not to perform their tasks? Have these people been carrying out these investigations? The Australian people want to know the answers.
We want to know other things as well. The helicopter disasters that have occurred have proved, I think, that the investigation officers of the Department of Civil Aviation have not been carrying out their routine checks to see that helicopter maintenance requirements have been performed properly. The Department maintains that it is still doing this as far as aircraft flying in Australia at the present time are concerned. The Minister ought to have a full investigation. The Government owes this to the Australian people. It owes it to those concerned to see that a full investigation is held so that the Department of Civil Aviation and others involved can be crossexamined by people who are interested in flying operations in Australia.
We want to know, for instance, the estimated time it takes this metal fatigue, this cancer, or whatever we call it, to get a hold and to grow to the extent that it weakens the structure of die wing spar. We are entitled to know this. Surely there has been an investigation by engineers of the alloys which make up these wing spars and the period of time it takes for the cancer to eat through the wing spar. We want to know these things, and I think it is up to the Government to let the Parliament know. We know that the 700 series have been grounded as a result of this disaster and it is significant, I suppose, that the majority of these 700 series aircraft belong to TransAustralia Airlines and that these have been forced out of service. I believe they were going to be phased out by- TAA anyway. But 1 am also led to believe that the metal used in- the 832 series aircraft that are now being flown by Ansett-ANA is of the same composition as is used in the -756 Viscount series. If this is so, why is the 832 Viscount series not grounded? The Minister has to answer these questions. r think the amendment’ that has been pro posed by the Opposition : on this occasion warrants the consideration of the Parliament. 1 think we should all give a great deal of consideration to the fact that there ought to be a public inquiry, that there ought to be an investigation of this disaster, because, after all, we do not want to see any more such occurrences. It is unfortunate that in the last few. years we have had disasters in which lives have been lost. If we do not bring out into the open the causes of these disasters how will the people of Australia have confidence in flying in the aircraft that we have operating? I support the amendment that has been moved by the honourable member for Newcastle. 1 think it is a good amendment, and that the Government ought to accept it because it has a responsibility, as I have stated previously, not only to the Parliament but also to the Australian people.
- Mr Deputy Speaker-
Motion (by Mr Whitlam) proposed:
That the question be now put.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I received the call before the Leader of the Opposition (Mr
Whitlam) moved that the question be now put.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The motion that the question be now put may be proposed at any stage.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 32
Majority . . 36
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr Killen) put:
That the debate be now adjourned. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Debate adjourned.
-I have received advice from the Prime Minister that he has appointed Mr Fox to be a member of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House in the place of the Hon. P. J. Nixon.
-I desire to inform the House that, on 18th February, a delegation from the Commonwealth Parliament attended the opening of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. The President of the Senate, who led the delegation, presented a pair of bookends for the table of the Council. The following resolution was agreed to unanimously by the Council:
We, the Members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, in Council assembled, express our thanks to the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia for the beautiful and functional gift of bookends which they have this day presented to the Council.
The presence of your Delegation at the opening of this re-constituted Council and the gift which we have received are accepted as marks of esteem and of the continuing regard of the parent legislature for the welfare of our humble institution.
We reciprocate your warm greetings and expressions of goodwill and look to the continuation of the friendly association that has always existed between our respective Houses.
-I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) proposing that a matter of definite public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
Statements by Ministers on matters relating to the resignation of Mr C. C. Hoffmann.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– Three persons and three persons only are responsible for the fact that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has become central to what has become known as the Hoffmann affair. They are the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Minister for Customs arid Excise (Senator Scott) and Mrs Hoffmann herself. The suppressions of Senator Scott, the digressions of the Prime Minister and the confessions of Mrs Hoffmann have combined to produce and expose a sorry and disturbing situation. At the outset of this affair, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was only marginally involved. Only a remarkable combination of ministerial incompetence and arrogance could have dragged it into the limelight. There was never any justification for Senator Scott to avoid answering plain questions plainly, necessitating repeated questioning about the involvement of Security. There was never any justification for the Prime Minister to assert that questions about the running of the Department of Customs and Excise were a plot to denigrate Security. There was never any justification for Mrs Hoffmann to tell the whole ludicrous story of her activities and to hold Security up to ridicule: Ironically, each of these persons has claimed that their wish is to protect Security. They have each claimed to be acting patriotically. Who will protect Security from its protectors?
At all times since this affair began to gain public, notoriety, the central question has been- whether or not there has been corruption, misconduct or impropriety within the Customs Department and the Department of Trade and Industry. It has been established that Mr G. C. Hoffmann was allowed to resign after having been dismissed for ‘improper conduct’; that Mr J. F. O’Brien resigned before he could be dismissed from the Department of Trade and Industry. Members have asked and they are entitled to know whether there was any connection between these two events and between .these two individuals and whether the Comptroller-General of Customs did in fact circularise his officers stating that major frauds and conspiracies’ had been uncovered in the Department in the previous. 18 months. We have .sought to establish whether and why a special investigations sub-section was established in his central office last year. We have sought to establish the ramifications of the statement by the Minister for Customs, obtained from him after 3 days of questioning in the Senate:
I am aware that in the last 12 months the payment of a large amount of money as customs duty has been evaded by people bringing goods into this country. I am aware that the officers concerned have been charged and I am aware that the people who have evaded the duty will be prosecuted.
Ministers have acted as if they were taken by surprise, yet at least since last November the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and the Minister for Customs have been involved in the affair up to the hilt. The discovery of Mr Hoffmann’s misconduct was itself only a by-product of the vendetta of the Deputy Prime Minister against Maxwell Newton and, through him, against the Treasurer. In a search for the source of leakage of information going to Newton about tariffs, the Deputy Prime Minister set the Commonwealth Police first on Treasury and then on officers of his own Department, including J. F. O’Brien. It was in the course of these investigations that the Commonwealth Police - not Security - turned up the documents which showed that Mr Hoffmann had issued a false import by-law. The irony of the situation is that this is the same Maxwell Newton whom the Deputy Prime Minister sought publicly to blacken with the most pejorative description he could utter - a paid Japanese agent. One could not imagine matters of more legitimate public and parliamentary concern than these matters relating to the integrity of the Public Service. Yet in his first fatuous effort to quell questioning, the Prime Minister alleges, first that this is a plot to denigrate Security and then it is an attempt ‘to pillory and persecute one man’.
In one respect only did Security impinge on these matters. Mr Hoffmann’s dismissal from the Department had been gazetted on 14th November, yet it was subsequently learnt that he had been permitted to resign, thus avoiding all the penalties associated with dismissal. This, to put it at its lowest, seemed lenient treatment for an officer guilty of improper conduct. On 28th January Mr Eric Walsh, in an article in the Sydney ‘Daily Mirror’ and in the Adelaide ‘Daily News’ of 13th February wrote:
But, without notice, the man whose dismissal had been doubly established, was reinstated and allowed to resign - with a clean record. . . . Sit Charles Spry intervened in the case of the dismissed public servant because the activities, reputation and secrecy of his organisation were suddenly and unexpectedly threatened … (his wife) won his reinstatement and resignation with a clear record by threatening to expose ASIO’s activities within the embassy of a friendly country’.
This at least had a certain plausibility. If it is true, it is amazing that the Minister for Customs and Excise did not reject it at once and that the Prime Minister did not immediately instruct him to do so. Failing a denial, it would have been incredible had it not been raised in the Parliament. When the’ Parliament assembled Senator Scott insisted, for a whole sitting week, on treating questions about this aspect of the matter as questions ofsecurity. In fact, the question of ASIO’spossible intervention was not a security matter at all. It was an administrative matter calling into question the propriety of that Minister’s own conduct. To cloud the issue of his own responsibility, he tried to duck under the security cover. In this effort he received powerful support from the Prime Minister. At the end of the first week of the session, there were still twenty unanswered questions on the Senate notice paper covering all aspects of the affair. In the intervening weekend the Prime Minister held a press conference at Brisbane Airport and alleged that all the questions that had been asked and all the questions that were stilt to be answered were just part of a ‘conspiracy to denigrate ASIO’. If the Prime Minister planned to involve ASIO centrally and directly in this matter, he succeeded, and I believe he did so intend. His motives were obvious. Questions on security are not answered and invoking security is a ready-made ploy for avoiding answering perfectly legitimate questions on any embarrassing topic. We have seen it invoked about the F111 We see it invoked about Pine Gap. Now we are seeing it used to hinder and confuse inquiries into allegations about the Department of Customs and Excise and the Department of Trade and Industry.
In fact the Prime Minister did gratuitously depart from the convention that questions about security willbe answered neither yes nor no. On two occasions in answer to a question from the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) and then to me, he volunteered: 1 am satisfied that ASIO has not exceeded its charter’. Thus he has provided a yardstick as to what he regards and will presumably regard in the future as being proper activities for ASIO. And only 2 days after he had provided this guidance, Mrs Hoffmann herself revealed in detail and in length the activities which the Prime Minister considers are within the charter of ASIO. The Prime Minister has not expressly admitted the truth of the statements. Rather he has gone further. He has said:
If they arc true, then it indicates Mrs Hoffmann was, because of a revealed case of attempted espionage and bribery against Australia’s interest engaged in counter-espionage, which is within the charter of ASIO.
That is, far from denying or condemning such activities, he holds them up as praiseworthy, patriotic and obligatory. And as for Senator Scott, he rushes in to assert the truth of Mrs Hoffmann’s statements and claimed that they established the truth of his own statements.
The Prime Minister’s attitude is the most disturbing of all. The standards of security, the standards which it observes, the standards which it meets, are necessarily of concern to all Austrlaians. These standards will be the standards which the Prime Minister of the day observes and sets. ASIO enjoys a uniquely privileged position in our society and in our system. Alone of all departments or sections receiving and spending the taxpayers’ money, there is no parliamentary accountability. It is answerable to the Prime Minister, yet the Prime Minister is not answerable for it to the Parliament. Parliament exercises no control whatsoever over the efficiency or integrity of this group of Commonwealth employees. This constitutes a unique variation from the rules and conventions of our system. I am not canvassing the reasons for this or contesting its necessity but these are facts.
There is a further unique quality attaching to the activities of ASIO - the power it has over the lives and careers of thousands of Australians. No public servant can be promoted in the face of an unfavourable ASIO report. No immigrant can be naturalised in the face .of an unfavourable
ASIO report. No intending migrant can be reunited with his family in the face of an unfavourable ASIO report. Against such reports there is no appeal. There is indeed in most cases no opportunity to know whether there is any report at all. Thus both in its privileges and its powers Security is a unique organisation. There is only one contervailing check to ensure that these privileges and powers are not abused by the corrupt or the incompetent, and that is the vigilance of the Prime Minister and the standards which he is willing to insist shall be observed. The Prime Minister has made it clear that as far as he is concerned Security need not be unduly bothered or bound by its charter - the Act of 1956 and the directive of 1949 - but that it can involve itself in any activity it chooses, irrespective of the competence of its operators or the relevance of their activities to security.
Mrs Hoffmann was chosen, according to her own story, for no other reason than that her husband was approached by a Japanese official to provide confidential information on trade matters. What were the tests of her competence or her discretion? Her competence may be judged from her own story. Her discretion may he judged from the fact that that story was published. And what was her brief? It was, in her own words, ‘to copy anything that seemed important’. She then proceeded, according to her own story, to copy any material she could lay her hand on. She says she had no idea of the value of any of the material1 that she purloined. Most of it, she says, was related to trade matters. And when she had completed her 3 years work at the Japanese Embassy, she v/as invited by ASIO to continue at the Indonesian Embassy and the United Arab Republic Embassy.
If this universal brief that anything that seems important is to be the new charter for ASIO - the Prime Minister implies that it is - then what industry, what office in Australia is to be held free from its activities? It is perfectly proper that the Australian Government should equip itself wilh the best and most reliable commercial and industrial intelligence. What on earth has the gathering of such intelligence to do with ASIO? What special competence has any of its operatives to ‘obtain, collate and evaluate’ this kind of intelligence, to quote its charter?
Now this is the nub of the whole matter as far as it effects the Security Organisation. We would not permit, in any other branch of the Public Service, the standards of competence or integrity that Mrs Hoffmann reveals, yet in this branch of the Public Service alone we are bereft of all the normal or, indeed, of any, checks on competence or efficiency. The present Prime Minister has made it plain that, far from wishing to apply the stringent rules that only he is in a position to apply, he will condone any activity at all in the name of security and indeed will encourage it in the name of patriotism. He has given the Security Organisation a blank cheque.
Of course there is no difficulty in anticipating the Prime Minister’s reply. We have already heard it. It is that any criticism of the Security Service’s activities is an attempt to denigrate the Service. But does this not point up the whole difference between the Security Organisation and any other part of the Public Service and emphasise the very special nature of the Prime Minister’s responsibilities? Any other public servant can be tested by normal yardsticks; Ministers can be held responsible by normal conventions. Condign punishment upon any other public servant is not held to derogate from the integrity of the Service as a whole. In this case offending public servants have been punished. Only public servants employed by ASIO enjoy immunity. Security is a powerful and privileged instrument. Its proper use depends upon the Prime Minister, and the standards and safeguards he is prepared to apply. The present Prime Minister shows no disposition to apply basic standards of efficiency, propriety or legality.
– Mr Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitiam) started his disquisition by saying that he felt sure there were three persons who had been mainly responsible for involving the question of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in the discussion of the Hoffmann affair. This was the only point he made during the whole of his speech on which I could agree with him, but I would not agree with him as to who those three persons were. The three persons, in my view, were Mr Eric Walsh, who is a journalist, Senator Cavanagh, who took the matter up in another place and, it appears, an aide who is close indeed to the Leader of the Opposition himself and who by some strange mischance, if it was a mischance, happened to see or intercept a letter which was alleged to have been addressed to me, to take a copy of it and either to destroy it or to see that it was not sent to me. These are the three, Mr Speaker, who I would say were responsible for this’ matter of ASIO being brought into the debate.
But let us look at the suggestion that it was quite wrong for me to suggest that these matters had overtones of left wing attempts to denigrate ASIO. Of course, it is quite clear, and the Leader of the Opposition knows it is quite clear, that in saying that I was not speaking about questions concerning the administration of the Department of Customs and Excise, nor questions concerning the administration. of the Department of Trade and Industry but what appeared then, and still appears to me, to be an attempt to ask numerous questions concerning security - not other matters, but security - which the Leader of the Opposition knows should not be answered and which he has said would not be answered if he were in this place. Knowing that, these questions were asked.
Let us have a look at. them. Let us have a look at the list of questions to which I was referring when 1 said ‘ that I believed that there were overtones of a left wing attempt to denigrate ASIO. ‘They - or the ones that I am going tq quote - are all in the name of Senator Cavanagh, a man who, and I make this clear to be fair, is not as far as I know an actual security risk but is the sort of person who should not be allowed into an important defence establishment and who was barred from that establishment by a previous Labor administration. These are the questions to which I am referring. The first was to ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General:
As stated in the article, by Eric Walsh, is the Security headquarters in Melbourne fitted with poison gas to prevent unauthorised entry? If so, where is such gas manufactured and does its presence or would its use’ create any dangers to innocent citizens?
The next question was asked of the Minister representing the Attorney-General and was as follows:
Is the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation agent, referred to in the Press article by Eric Walsh, who poses as an employee of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and appears to make a full-time job of penetrating the Labor Party and mixing regularly with a fixed group of Labor mcn, who are unaware of his true occupation, paid a salary out of the annual allocation of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department or the Security special allocation?
That is an interesting question, Mr Speaker, if you put your mind to it I cannot imagine who the Security man would be, or which faction is lighting against which; but this is another matter directed towards security. On the notice paper of the same day we have a further question directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister as follows:
As stated in a Press article by Eric Walsh, were two Government agents appointed to shadow an Asian visitor to an overseas conference held in Canberra? ls it practice to shadow guests invited to your country? Is it usual to permit entry to Australia of foreigners whose political views or activities justify the appointment of agents to shadow them?
Yet another question was asked, as follows:
Having, by telegram, informed the Prime Minister of my intention to seek a statement on a Press article by Eric Walsh in the Adelaide ‘News’ of J 3th February, will the Prime Minister now make a statement on the allegations in the article that by Government arrangement a theft from the embassy of a friendly power was committed? Were the stolen documents unrelated to security? As stated, was the thief able, on the threat of exposure, to blackmail the Government into overriding a decision of the Appeals Board appointed under the Public Service Act?
These questions were all placed on the notice paper in another place and they were followed by a debate in another place either that night or the next in which the chief participants were Senator Cavanagh, Senator Wheeldon, Senator Keeffe, Senator Murphy and Senator Cohen. The purport of that debate- those who wish to read it can see it clearly - was all seeking to suggest that the Security Service was acting improperly in all these aspects. Now, Mr Speaker, is it not reasonable and right for me to say with that evidence before me that I believe that these actions had overtones of left wing attempts to denigrate Security? If the Leader of the Opposition had taken the trouble to read what in fact I said at the Press interview in Brisbane he would have seen that the answers I gave were related to all these matters and to what appears and appeared to be a deliberate and organised attempt to denigrate Security.
We follow to the next suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition and that is that questions relating to the administration of the Department of Customs and Excise, to the procedures by which Mr Hoffmann was allowed to resign and to the other matters that he has raised were not answered and that, in refusing to answer them, I said they were related to Security and would not be answered. This is completely and utterly untrue, as the record will show. There may well have been- I have not counted them - twenty questions on the notice paper at the end of the first week, but, if there were, that twenty would have been answered in the next week. I believe that there has rarely been an occasion on which questions of this kind in such numbers have been so accurately and completely answered as they have been in this instance when the questions have related to the administration of the Department of Customs and Excise and the Department of Trade and Industry. The record is in Hansard. In the answers to questions asking how it came about that Mr Hoffmann was allowed to resign, chapter and verse of the Public Service regulations and the Public Service Board’s practices were provided. In addition, all the other information which could properly be given and which did not have to do with the activities of Security was supplied.
In the third matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition he alleges that I have condoned and supported the Security Service going outside its charter. Mr Speaker, what is the charter of the Security Service? The Leader of the Opposition might have let us know himself. The Security Service is charged with ‘obtaining, correlating and evaluating intelligence relevant to security’ and ‘security’ means the protection of the Commonwealth from acts of espionage whether directed from within the Commonwealth or not’. Is there any suggestion that it is wrong for Security to attempt to protect this country against acts of espionage? Is not counter-espionage clearly within its charter? Of course it is. and of course it needs to be. I have not, and I will not now, in accordance with the practice that has always been followed, either deny or confirm anything that is in Mrs Hoffmann’s story, but let us take a hypothetical case and apply the standards that the Leader . of the Opposition apparently would apply to the operations of Security. Let us suppose that somebody employed in an embassy comes to the Prime Minister or to somebody else and says: People inside this, embassy by bribery, by espionage or in some other way are securing information of great military importance and’ they are securing it from somebody in a position of great trust’. Would the Leader of the Opposition then say: ‘We cannot do anything about it. We must not seek to discover who it is. We must not ask to see whether there are any copies of documents signed by this person in., a position of great trust, because that would be a terrible thing for us to do’. If that is the attitude he would adopt, I suggest it. would not be conducive to the protection of Australia.
Great play has been made by the Leader of the Opposition in this present hypothetical case of the suggestion that the matters were concerned with commercial espionage. Surely it must be obvious to everyone in this House that if,, in a hypothetical case, somebody from a foreign embassy approached a public servant and sought to suborn or bribe him in order to get information which is not public but which is confidential and secret, he is committing or attempting to commit, an act of espionage. No matter how small or how insignificant the information so sought to be obtained may be, if a public servant falls for that approach he can in the future be blackmailed into providing further secrets and more important secrets. The significant fact is that if a public servant is approached and allows himself to be suborned and bribed, he is then in the hands of those to whose blandishments he falls. In such a case would it not be necessary, this having occurred, to seek to see whether other public servants had been sp approached and whether other information was being provided to agents of some other embassy in Australia? Of course it would. It is of the essence of counter-espionage to discover whether information is being supplied and the sources from which it comes, and no apology whatever need be made for taking action of that kind.
A great deal of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition really did- not deal with questions of ASIO. But one aspect does give me a considerable amount of interest. If the story written by Mrs Hoffmann is right - I do not say whether it is, but if it is- right - then the Leader- of the Opposition was in possession of a letter that had been written to me. Perhaps he was not; perhaps his aides were in possession of it and did not tell him. However, according to Mrs Hoffmann’s hypothetical- story, he was in possession of information’ that 8 years ago a particular embassy had, approached a particular public servant -in Australia and had sought to bribe him. Yet he did nothing at all about.it. If he knew. that, or if his aides knew it, he “ permitted Senator Cavanagh and the other senators to blow up the incident that had happened 8 years ago, despite the fact that he should have known - at least he should’ have been told - -that he had a letter saying, that this might embarrass some foreign power, in this instance one. of our biggest trading partners. If this is so, he was thoroughly irresponsible to allow this left wing attack- I repeat that, on the evidence, it was. a left wing attack - to be launched for what one can only assume to be rather obscure political reasons, in spite of some warnings that what he had been told might be so. .
If anything has emerged, from all these incidents, I believe it. is, tb.is: Firstly, every question that has been asked about the circumstances surrounding -the resignation of Mr Hoffmann .has been answered. Secondly, it is completely untrue for the Leader of the Opposition to say that this gave .Mr Hoffmann, great advantages. It gave him no pecuniary advantages, at all, and that information has been given in answer to a question. Thirdly, the full facts concerning what Mr Hoffmann did, insofar as they can be ascertained, have been made available to the Parliament.’ Fourthly, the Parliament has been told- I have told it on assurances from the heads of all the departments concerned - that ASIO did not interfere in the Hoffmann case, as was alleged. Fifthly, Mr Speaker, it is all nonsense.
-Order! The right honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) made two points in his reply to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I would suggest that the Prime Minister regarded these two points as being most important in the matter now before the House. First of all, he dealt with a series of questions that appeared on the notice paper and which anyone in this House could have read for himself. The Prime Minister said that these questions had been asked by what he was pleased to refer to as the left wing supporters of the Australian Labor Party. But it is not unusual that questions should be asked about a matter of this importance, since the Press of this country was also seeking information.
Secondly, the Prime Minister referred to the fact that some of the questions had been asked by Senator Cavanagh. He went on to point out that Senator Cavanagh had been refused admission to a defence establishment during the office of a Labor government. He did not, of course, refer to the fact that every member of this Parliament has been refused entry to an establishment. I asked only last week in this House whether it would be possible for members of this Parliament to visit Pine Gap, and the answer by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fair-hall) was an emphatic no. Surely the Prime Minister is not suggesting that every member of this Parliament is also a security risk, because this is what one would naturally assume from the reply given by the Minister for Defence. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister endeavoured to smear Senator Cavanagh merely because he was sufficiently Informed on this matter and believed that certain facts ought to be brought to light. The answers to these questions were also sought by the Press of this country.
I want to refer briefly to two matters arising from the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition. The first is the Prime Minister’s statement in this House that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation had not exceeded its charter in the Hoffmann case. The second is the Prime Minister’s refusal to confirm or deny any matters affecting ASIO. On the first matter, it must be pointed out that the charter of ASIO is an extremely limited one. It is a much more limited charter than, for example, the charter defining the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States. The American CIA has very much wider and more sweeping powers than have ever been given to ASIO. I would also like to refer to an answer given by Sir Robert Menzies in this House on 13th September 1955. In reply to a question on the functions of ASIO, Sir Robert defined them as follows:
The task of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is the defence of the Commonwealth and its Territories from external and internal dangers arising from attempts at espionage and sabotage, or from actions of persons and organisations, whether directed from within or without the country, which may be judged to be subversive of the security of Australia.
This statement by Sir Robert defines the tasks of ASIO as they had been envisaged by the Chifley Government, which founded the Organisation. It also defines the functions of ASIO during its infant years under the Menzies Government. There was never the slightest doubt in Sir Robert Menzies’ mind about the purpose of ASIO. In this House on 2nd December 1953 he said quite clearly that the business of the Security Service of Australia was to counter the efforts of foreign spies. Sir Robert went on:
Let us make no mistake. The Communist enemy does not stand on punctilio in these matters. Ha finds out what he can, where he can and how he can.
There was no doubt in Sir Robert’s mind that the function of ASIO was to counter subversion, espionage and sabotage from Communism. This was his interpretation of the ASIO charter. In 1956 the functions of ASIO were enshrined in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act. Section 5 of this Act states quite explicitly that the basic function of the Organisation is to obtain, correlate and evaluate intelligence relevant to security. This sets a very precise statutory limitation on the functions of ASIO. Sub-section (2.) of section 5 goes further and states with similar precision that it is not the function of ASIO to carry out or enforce measures for security within a department of State or authority of the Commonwealth. These are the rigidly defined functions of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Quite clearly, any breach of these limitations constitutes a breach of the ASIO charter. The present Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) has always been at great pains in this House to stress the limitations imposed on the operations of ASIO. In this House on 6th June last year the Minister said he proposed to conduct the Security Service in accordance with the Act that established it. That is, the Minister said the Service would be conducted having regard to the security of Australia in relation to espionage, sabotage and subversion. He continued:
I am sure it is directing its efforts to those matter and as long as I have control of it 1 will continue to direct its efforts to those matters.
This was an admirable expression of the limitations of ASIO and how the Service should act. Unfortunately, as I intend to show, this stringent direction has not always applied to the activities of the Service. In another statement to the House on 28th November last year the Attorney-General elaborated his conception of the functions of ASIO. He said that certain people who were enemies of Australia did not like the activities of ASIO. He continued:
Those people against whom ASIO directs its activities are enemies of Australia.
The honourable gentleman said quite clearly that ASIO was designed to protect Australia from its enemies. In essence, this was the same as Sir Robert Menzies’ insistence that ASIO was intended to protect Australia from the Communist enemy. It is impossible to reconcile the repeated statements in this House about ASIO with the events that have become public in the past few weeks. In this House on 4th March the Prime Minister was questioned about allegations that an Australian woman employed in the Japanese Embassy in Canberra had carried on activities there on behalf of ASIO. The Prime Minister said be was satisfied that ASIO had not exceeded its charter in these matters. After a detailed account by this woman had been published in the Press, the Prime Minister made a statement on 8th March. He said that if Mrs Hoffmann’s published story was true, then as a result of attempted espionage and bribery against Australia’s interest, Mrs Hoffmann engaged in counter-espionage in Australia’s interests. How can this statement be reconciled with the charter of ASIO and with statements made in this House by the Attorney-General?
The Minister said that ASIO’s activities were directed at the enemies of Australia. In what sense is Japan an enemy of Australia? The Minister has said repeatedly that ASIO is directed to the protection of Australia’s security. He has never claimed that it exists to protect Australia’s commercial interests. Such a function is explicitly excluded by the Act. Yet the Prime Minister claims that counter-espionage in Australia’s interests is not a violation of the ASIO charter. Quite clearly, the activities in which Mrs Hoffmann was engaged were not of a security nature. Mrs Hoffmann claimed that because of an approach to her husband by the Japanese to obtain commercial information she engaged in purloining documents from the Japanese Embassy for ASIO’s scrutiny. There is not the slightest indication at any point in these transactions that Australia’s security was affected or that the ASIO activity was directed against an enemy of Australia. The Prime Minister gave the game away when he used the term ‘Australia’s interests’. He should know that interests, by which he means commercial interests, are completely outside the Act and the ASIO charter as it has always been defined in this House. Quite clearly, the ASIO charter has been exceeded despite the assurance of the Prime Minister that it had not been exceeded.
The second point I would like to refer to is the Prime Minister’s adoption of the formula to neither confirm nor deny allegations against ASIO. The Prime Minister says that this has been the practice of successive governments, and to a degree this is true. However, it should be pointed out that the late Mr Chifley, who first used this formula, also placed a very important qualification upon it. Mr Chifley said that he would not answer questions about ASIO unless they involved matters of public interest. He made a very important exception to the formula, which the Prime Minister has parroted repeatedly inside and outside this House.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I have listened attentively to the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard).
Running through it was a continuous thread. It was a studied and continuous attack upon the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. From the outset the Government has said that the imputation and purpose of the Australian Labor Party here and in another place has been to try to reduce to an invidious reputation this Organisation which, as the honourable member conceded, was set up under its present charter by a Labor Government. This is an organisation which has,I think, a duplicate in every other country. I do not know of anyone who attacks the existence of this Organisation. This attack by the Labor Party is upon the integrity of ASIO and the charter within which it is supposed to work. To try consciously, deliberately and repeatedly to denigrate an institution upon which we depend and upon which previous governments have depended for vital information contributes nothing to the well being of this country. There is little more that I can say about the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
I turn now to the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) who, immediately he commenced to speak, named three people who were responsible for involving ASIO in this matter. I was one of the three he named. His speech was delivered with great vigour and fluency. Running through it were such words as integrity’ and ‘propriety’. Then the honourable member referred to me. Within minutes of opening up against this background of great honesty, integrity and propriety he said that I, pursuing a certain Mr Newton, had set Commonwealth police first on the Treasury and then upon my own Department and that in the course of this they came upon the activities of Mr O’Brien. That statement is alie - an invented lie. I have never approached the Commonwealth police in my life to take any action at all. In this simple statement about me the speech of the Leader of the Opposition is exposed for what it is. It is 100% an invention. The rest of the speech can be evaluated by that test. This statement was made within the procedures and under the privilege of Parliament and it must have been said with reckless malice to harm me in some way. I repeat without any equivocation that there is no foundation to that statement at all.
In the course of his speech the Leader of the Opposition said that ASIO involves itself in any issue that it pleases. This is in complete denial of what the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has said. The Prime Minister said with complete honesty that ASIO has a charter within which it works and that it has no general discretion to do whatever it pleases. Surely this statement by the Leader of the Opposition is consistent with the line that the Labor Party has taken in both Houses and which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition took - that ASIO is bad and a dangerous institution. A dangerous institution - that is the message that comes through. Not only this Government but this country depends upon ASIO, which carries out its activities in invidious circumstances. Surely honourable members who are privileged to speak openly while employees of ASIO are not. so privileged would do better to devote themselves to the defence of this Organisation instead of making reckless and untrue attacks upon it.
The Leader of the Opposition, as I recollect in his speech, referred to only one witness to verify his statements - a Mrs Hoffmann. I do not know whether Mrs Hoffmann was engaged in any security activities at all, but let us take it on her say-so that she was. Mrs Hoffmann is reported to have said:I was engaged in activities. I did it only for patriotic reasons.’ She said:I was inspired’ - not paid - ‘only by patriotic reasons to work with the secret agencies of government.’ She then told her story to the Press. Those of us who live in this atmosphere would probably feel that she was paid for the story which she gave to the Press. I do not know whether she was or not, but there is all the evidence that she was. Irrespective of whether or not she was paid she said: ‘For patriotic reasons I involved myself with a secret agency.’ She then disclosed her story. This is the witness produced by the Leader of the Opposition. I suggest that this is not a witness to which one can attach any importance at all.
What we are witnessing today is just the latest section of a serial from the Leader of the Opposition who has been seeking to find some issue, not relevant to the policy of his Party but relevant to the snatching of some passing publicity, on which to attack the Government. It is an attempt to seize upon something that can be calculated to arouse the interest of the public for the time being and to make it the issue of the day. The first issue in the serial dealt with the Great Barrier Reef. The second was an attack on the Government’s foreign investment policy - not a propounding of Labor’s policy but an attack. The next part of the serial was an attack on the Prime Minister for having the temerity to choose as his Ministers the men whom he wanted, and as part of that, an attack upon the men he had chosen. The men who had just been appointed to the Ministry were denigrated at the very first opportunity the Leader of the Opposition had. Not only is this pretty poor form; it is pretty poor politics. Are there not any great issues that the Labor Party is concerned about? The answer is no. Is the Labor Party completely content with industrial issues? Is it completely content with the economic issues in this country? Is it completely content with the defence issues?
Another part of the serial concerned the Fill aircraft. We had the sad experience a week or two ago of a reference to the latest crash of the Fill aircraft. I could not find a Labor man who was not laughing because there had been an Fill crash - to the discomfiture of the Government, as honourable members opposite saw it. The Leader of the Opposition has placed himself in such a position over the Fill aircraft that, if he became Prime Minister, he could not do what this Government has done, that is, act upon the advice of its best experts. He has poured contempt upon the Government for accepting the advice of its best experts. He has poured contempt upon the Government for relying upon ASIO. Where will he be if he ever becomes the Prime Minister of this country? Will he not rely on the advice of his experts? Will he disband our Security Service? This is the cheapest kind of political publicity I have ever seen. I repeat that the Labor Party will get nowhere until it is found to be standing in this House day after day propounding the policies which its followers expect it to propound.
Mr DALY (Grayndler) [5.01- If I had not been present in the chamber I would not have believed that the speaker who preceded me in the debate was the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party (Mr McEwen). The right honourable gentleman said that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) had made certain statements designed recklessly and maliciously to harm him. Is this the same gentleman who, with reckless abandon and malice, destroyed any chance the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) had of becoming Prime Minister of this country? Was this suave gentlemanly person whom we -heard today the man who not long ago said: ‘I will lead my Party out of the Government if the Treasurer is elected Prime Minister’? Were not those actions and statements reckless and malicious? Today, in a dignified manner - butter would not melt in his mouth! - he claimed that the Leader of the Opposition had maliciously tried to destroy his integrity. I wonder what Mr Max Newton thought of that statement. I wonder what the BIG organisation - the Basic Industries Group - thought of it. No wonder the Treasurer did not enter the chamber to hear those wonderful words of respect which the Deputy Prime Minister directed about him towards people in this place.
Did you ever hear such a speech from the Deputy Prime Minister? He started with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and finished with the Fill - this in a debate about security and the Hoffmanns. He said that Mrs Hoffmann was not a good witness. Yet this is the woman employed by ASIO to protect the security of this country. If the Deputy Prime Minister thinks that the lady who was employed in all the secret activities of ASIO is not a good witness, this in itself is sufficient justification for the Opposition’s bringing to the light of day all of the facts relating to the Hoffmanns and all those associated with them. The Minister asked whether the Opposition was interested in defence and security. Of course it is, but it is interested in other things also - things that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Deputy Prime Minister do not want it to be interested in. We on this side are interested in investigating the muddling, skulduggery and inefficiency of Ministers. This is a matter of equal importance with matters relating to defence and other things.
I do not have time to go into all these matters fully, but it is interesting to note that although the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have dismissed our charges as being of no importance they are uncertain as to what is going on in matters affecting the security of this country. I have listened to Government supporters endeavouring to brand this attack as a left wing plot. Would anybody say that Senator Kennelly was founder of the left wing of the Labor Party in the Senate? Would anybody say that the ‘Daily Mirror’ is a leading left wing organ? Would anybody say. that Mr Max Newton, a former associate of the Treasurer, is involved with the ‘Left Wing’? Nobody could justify such claims. Would anybody say that the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) was party to a left wing plot? He has pointed to the difference in, the treatment accorded to one of his constituents and that accorded to Hoffmann and others.
All that has come to light in this business is ministerial incompetence. The answers that have been given to questions have been misleading. The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have blundered into the House, trying to hide the real facts from the light of day; Not since the debate on the use of VIP aircraft have we been so misled or has the integrity of the Government been so questioned.
– Give us some examples. : Mr DALY - The honourable member for Evans talks a lot. I have only 10 minutes in which to make my contribution to the debate. I cannot afford to waste time on the honourable member. The employment by ASIO of the Hoffmanns as security agents reminds me of ‘Hugh and I Spy’, the comedy screened on television by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Anybody who has read Mrs Hoffmann’s story will agree that she was not competent to do the job of a security agent, whatever it is. The Prime Minister has said that he cannot say anything about what went on in ASIO, but one of the people employed in this organisation, which is responsible to the Prime Minister, has, in a dozen pages in all the newspapers of the country, told every secret that she knows. Was it not magnificent when she said that in her maternity frock she struggled out of the Japanese Embassy with volumes of documents? She carried them under a huge maternity frock and subsequently passed them over in Kingston Post Office. What a mysterious place. There a man pretending to fill out a telegram form was given the documents produced from beneath her frock. If I was associated with an embassy I would never again employ a woman wearing a maternity frock. Thanks to Mrs Hoffmann’s revelations, every woman wearing a maternity frock to work at an embassy will be suspected of being a security risk and an agent of ASIO. Did you ever hear anything so silly?
Mrs Hoffmann’s story is fantastic. In her newspaper revelations she states:
He gave me a small, pink feeding bowl for the baby. Also he presented a posy of.. flowers from his wife. .It was my sole gratuity from
She was referring to her ASIO contact. I hope they were not red flowers. How awful for a security agent to receive red flowers. Mrs Hoffmann also states:
The day I felt guilty about spying.
I do not think this women could screen a fly yet here she was spying for ASIO. She states:
I slipped all the copies I had made under my frock.
Also: . , 1 would say something like: ‘We have to go to the butchers today, you know. Would- you ring them for me and give (hem an order?
That was the secret message,. ,as my colleagues will know, given to the, next ASIO contact, that she had documents in Japanese, which nobody could understand, taken from the trade section, which affected the security- of this country. Is it not a colossal joke? Yet the Government claims that ours is an attack on Security. If the person who employed Mrs -.Hoffmann in Security has not been sacked it is a public scandal.
Let us look at another angle-. If everything Mrs Hoffmann says is true - we have no reason to doubt her-what value has she been in the security of this country? No wonder the Government claims this is a left wing plot. No wonder it claims that the Labor Party is seeking to discredit ASIO. These are the easy ways out for the Government. We have shown the type of people whom ASIO is paying. We have read Mrs Hoffmann’s accounts of her spying. Anybody who has read her story- I am sure that the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) will agree with me - will conclude that it reads like Offenbach’s Tales from Hoffman’, including all the comedy, mystery and pathos, but not written to music. This is the kind of person whom the Government is employing as a spy. I know that Ministers will claim that the Opposition is seeking to denigrate ASIO. But ASIO should be subject to some scrutiny from time to time. The future of public servants is dependent on ASIO. A security file is kept on every public servant. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, no migrant may enter the country unless he has been scrutinised by ASIO. No public servant can be promoted at home or abroad unless he has been scrutinised. ASIO takes photographs of boys in demonstrations, to be used against them later. The independence and future security of thousands of people are bound up with ASIO.
The public might well be concerned when the Hoffmanns and others get jobs with ASIO and later sell at the maximum price to the Press, and all who will buy, the very secrets which the Government says we cannot discuss. The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister may say what they like, but the public is not convinced that this is a left wing plot to discredit ASIO. The public realises that there is substance in our arguments. The Government has buried Hoffmann in a good job with good security and it is trying to bury our attack because it realises that there is muddling, skulduggery and inefficiency in the Government. That is why the Government seeks to impute false motives in the Labor Party’s raising of this issue.
I congratulate Senator Cavanagh and other senators for bringing this matter forward. This has been a very enlightening exercise. I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition and other honourable members who have raised this matter. The public is indebted to the Labor Party for demonstrating what this Government is doing. Under the guise of security the Government is using some people totally unfitted for the task and with no appreciation of their responsibility to this country or to the organisation to which they belong.
– It is rather curious to recall that a little more than a week ago the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) was calling for the recall of Parliament from recess in order to debate this matter.
– When did I say that?
– If he was correctly reported in the newspapers the honourable gentleman was calling for the recall of Parliament. What has happened? He has felt obliged to raise the matter in some form now Parliament has resumed. We are engaged in a debate upon a topic which calls for no action and in which merely general reference is made to statements by some Ministers. He asked that statements made by Ministers on the Hoffmann case be discussed. The Leader of the Opposition does not mention even who they are. What has happened? If the Prime Minister is reported correctly by the Press, he has described what was called for by the Leader of the Opposition as a ridiculous and ludicrous request. If this is all it was for, I suggest that the description is a very apt one. Indeed, the Opposition itself does not believe very strongly in the request because Opposition speakers, as the debate progresses, are continuing the debate by clowning the matter. There is in fact nothing in the matter of urgency to answer. Very little has been put forward contrary to good government on this side and what has been put forward has been answered. I would like to use my time, therefore, to refer to some aspects of the matter which may be worth some comment.
It is an odd fact that Mr and Mrs Hoffmann have been members of the Australian Labor Party. One might wonder perhaps about the drift and direction of their activities and the use which has been made of them by the Opposition. But it is more curious than that. We are told that after Mr Hoffmann was dismissed Mrs Hoffmann wrote a letter to the Prime Minister. She wanted to seek some mitigation of the punishment meted out to her husband for his offence. There is nothing wrong or unusual about that, except that the letter never reached the Prime Minister. It was intercepted in some fashion. It appears that an officer on the staff of the Leader of the Opposition received the letter. He had a copy of it. It appears, if one can believe reports again in the Press, that Mr Eric Walsh received a copy of lt. The Hoffmanns retained a copy of it. But the person to whom it was addressed, the Prime Minister, has never received the letter or a copy of it.
So, the office of the Leader of the Opposition has a copy of it. Mr Eric Walsh, who writes this article on which the attack launched originally in another place was based, has a copy of it. The Prime Minister does not have it. But it is even more curious than that because the attack in this article in the Press, which was taken up in the other place, was that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation had brought pressure to bear in order to get Mr Hoffmann reinstated wrongly. This was the attack. This is not borne out by the letter which came into the possession of the office of the Leader of the Opposition, apparently a copy of which was with Mr Eric Walsh, and which was in the possession of the Hoffmanns. The basis of the attack is not borne out by the letter. Of course, the Prime Minister does not have a copy of the letter written to him. It never reached him. Yet, this entirely false case was allowed to be put forward in the other place, and truly by the left wing, by Senator Cavanagh, Senator Wheeldon and so on. Perhaps the kindest thing to say is that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing, otherwise this was known to be a false case put against the Government in the other place. It has been shown now that in fact no pressure whatever was brought by ASIO in this matter.
We come to the position of ASIO itself. Its charter or its constitution under the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1956 has been referred to. We know that it is for the protection of the security of Australia. It is to obtain, correlate and evaluate, intelligence relevant to security. It is an intelligence gathering organisation. It operates by way of intelligence or counter-intelligence. The ‘security’ of. Australia , refers to: .
That is what ASIO is constituted for; that is in fact what it does. The difficulty is that it has to operate away from the public gaze, or . it cannot operate at all. Bring all its activities out into public discussion and we must abolish it. It could not operate effectively. Therefore, any suggestion which is made against it in this place is made with the knowledge that the Government will not be in a position either to affirm or to deny the suggestion. This procedure can be used only in order to attack and to reduce the authority or the standing of the organisation.
When we look back over the first two weeks of the sitting in this place this year, we find that we discussed matters of some real significance to Australia. There was the defence statement made by the Prime Minister. Overseas investment in Australia and the policy in this regard was discussed. The appointment of Ministers was discussed although one might have thought that this matter was introduced a little early, as these Ministers had had no opportunity: to prove themselves, and that it was introduced a little unfairly. Nevertheless it. is. a matter which cannot be said to be unimportant. But what happened in this fortnight in the other place? We find there a kind of. Alice in Wonderland atmosphere with this attack upon the Security Service of the nation. This Security Service in fact is badly needed in Australia. It is highly regarded by other Security Services. The Services of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Russia would regard it reasonably highly. It is an efficient Service. I do not say that, being staffed by human beings, mistakes are never made or that there are never inadequacies. This would be too much to expect. But it is a Security Service of which 1 think we can be reasonably proud. 1 would say that its record too in some of the things which have been revealed as a result of its activities proves the effectiveness of its operations. I have no time to go into these matters. One recalls the Petrov case and the Skripov case. In the main, where it is effective, the results of what it is doing are not known generally. Therefore, it cannot be given credit, and one cannot discuss it even where it would be entitled to credit. However, no doubt exists about the need for our Security Service. Even where the United States or the United Kingdom are giving us confidential information, if we were the one area in the world .where anyone wishing to get that information could come and get it without the interposition of any intelligence organisation, the result would be that we simply would not be given any confidential information. It is necessary to have a security service and to support it. As I have indicated before, the actions of those who seek to detract from it or have its activities restricted and of those who would seek- to destroy it can only be pleasing to the enemies of Australia against whom its activities would be directed.
The incident which has been made the subject of this debate happened 8 years ago. It is not one for which the present Government could possibly be called to account, whatever version of the facts one wanted to accept. A version has been published in the Press by Mrs Hoffmann as to what her activities were. One cannot accept that that would be the story or the whole story or even part of the story if the facts were investigated from all angles. Yet, what is it that the Opposition does accept? Does it accept that her story is correct? Does it accept that in fact the Japanese Embassy was seeking to persuade someone to give confidential information from a Department in return for some payment? Is that what the Opposition accepts as the correct story? If so, does the Opposition think that ASIO should have taken no action or no step about it? What does the Opposition say? What should ASIO have done if it believed that to be the position? It would seem that the Opposition would restrict the activities of ASIO and prevent it from any attempt to protect Australia. Indeed the Opposition seems to be more concerned about the sensitivities of the Japanese than it is about the interests of Australia.
The Japanese themselves have treated this rather in a humorous way, referring to the fact that in future they will be careful about employing women wearing maternity dresses sufficient to cover enough documents to fill a bath tub. That is their reaction. But it is not the reaction of the Opposition. It treats this matter with such sensitivity for the Japanese that it is greatly concerned with this having occurred, if it occurred, in accordance with what is said by Mrs Hoffman. I suggest that it would be much better rather if the Opposition paid attention to the interests of Australia in this matter.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, one of the more disappointing performers in this place is the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen). On a major matter such as this, he attempts to escape the issues by hiding behind cheap abuse. He could not get even the simplest facts straight. He said here a few minutes ago - all honourable members heard him - .that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) had asked that Parliament be recalled. The Leader of the Opposition had asked for no such thing. Even when the simplest, most straightforward facts are readily available to him - if he cares for facts - he is wrong. How can we rely upon him to exercise proper judgment about security reports or anything else? I think this is the finest example of his unreliability. The constant theme all this afternoon, of course, has been that we are trying to denigrate the Security Organisation, that, we want to prejudice its efficiency and so on. How can we prejudice the standing or efficiency of an organisation which is completely invisible? The people who are visible are the Ministers, and they are the ones with whom we are concerned today.
This is not so much an attack upon the Security Organisation as a deep concern about the way in which the Government administers its great powers and the way in which the Security Organisation itself works. For instance, during the debate the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) read out something which he said was the charter of the Security Organisation. He could not even read all that out, although the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) did a moment ago. Why did he leave out from its charter that it was supposed to look into sabotage and subversion? ls it that the Government has something to bide about the way it is using the Security Service? Every time when this comes up honourable members opposite say that we do not care about the defence of Australia and that we do not care about the security of Australia. That is a miserable political gimmick if ever there was one because the question that is before us today is where ministerial responsibilities lie. What is the Minister here for? First of all, it is to show that he knows what goes on. The essence of ministerial responsibility is to demonstrate that he knows what goes on in his department, and that he knows what goes on around him. The next reason is to keep Parliament informed, and in instances like this perhaps not so much informed as assured. The Ministry is the pipeline from the public to the Public Service and on all these counts I believe the present Ministry is falling down. When we come to the question of security - and that is only part of this debate - the two people principally responsible for protecting us and the community in general from any abuses of the security power are the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General, neither of whom on any of their known and exposed performances has demonstrated any great capacity to do that.
For instance, today the Prime Minister was asked about Mr Murray Sime. He is a public servant whose case is causing a great deal of public concern, to the Public Service, to the newspapers and to this Parliament. The Prime Minister said that he was not going to interfere. But he is the last protector, he is the court of last resort, and he does not care. The Attorney-General has shown the same incapacity to know what he is talking about. A year or so back we had some secondary school students up here. One should go back to the record and read the balderdash the Attorney-General had to say about kiddies of 16 or 17 - the absolute limits of his political and parliamentary responsibility, as far as I can tell. Of course, we listened to the Prime Minister this afternoon, and what did he demonstrate? He took a slight hypothetical case which, in my view, demonstrated that he has no ethics; ministerial, international or national.
What we should have done in this instance, of course, was to deny that Australia would even do anything such as was alleged by Mrs Hoffmann. Every embassy in this country must be deeply concerned about its Australian employees. When we go back to the beginnings of it, what should have been done? An embassy official is supposed to have telephoned one of our officials. Our official went off and told his bosses. What should happen then? Should we have even suggested that we would put spies into an embassy? Of course we should not. That shows the lowest grade of ethics one could imagine. The Government should immediately have asked that the person responsible for that kind of approach leave the country. Is that not the technical diplomatic way in which this should be done? In all instances of this kind, take them point by point in large or in small, the Ministry is exposed as being incompetent and incapable of handling such matters. This is a country notable for its loyalty and its steadfastness. But somehow we will have to find some way in which an organisa tion as powerful and as important as the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is answerable in parliamentary fashion.
There must be some way °in which this can be done. We have never even searched for it. Of course, honourable members opposite say: ‘They are all so good. The people in security do not need any watching.’ Who is going to watch them? Who is going to watch the watchers? Who is going to watch the Attorney-General when he goes off to Pine Gap? Who is going to watch him when he is in the opposition after the next election? Of course, he then will be removed from his great authority and will have lost all this great loyalty and integrity, as will have the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen). The powers of ASIO are considerable. In the last 15 or 16 years 500 people, two or three of whom I know personally, have been refused naturalisation - one or two of them being quite as loyal and as decent Australians as anybody in this House. Of course, we know the capacity of ASIO to be wrong. We know the value of its information. Two or three years ago - T think it was in 1966 - in the case of Mrs Michaelis down in Sydney, the Security Organisation found out that she belonged to the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. And it costs us S3m or thereabouts per annum to find .this out.
Back in 1951 the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, produced a list in this House of people who were known to be Communists, or so he said. A day or so later he had to withdraw it all. So we find that on the question of information we cannot rely upon ASIO, and w,e cannot rely on the standards of judgment that are exercised by honourable members opposite. They are the last people to rely upon. We know that in these matters they bring no ethics, they bring no sense of responsibility and they bring no sense of what is necessary in the Australian community.
But also this afternoon we are debating the way in which the Public Service Board carries out its functions. Mr Hoffmann had been lucky. Mr Hoffmann had committed a serious breach - I suppose, in a way - of his duty. It was in any sense almost a crime. So Mr Hoffmann was punished, he was dismissed and he was allowed to be reinstated. The Prime Minister said the other day: ‘But surely the supporters of the Labor
Party would not mind this sort of thing?’ We would not mind that sort of thing if it were the regular procedure of this Government. What happens to the postman who makes a mistake? Does he get the same sort of treatment? What happened to the 88 people who are mentioned in the Annual Report of the Public Service Board? Did they get the same sort of treatment? Does Mr Murray Sime get the same sort of treatment? Of course he. does not. This is the way in which the Public Service Board exercises its responsibility. If it is arbitrary, if it is capricious, if it acts by chance and if it shows favouritism then it is wrong. It is undemocratic. And this is where the Ministry is responsible.
The Prime Minister is technically the Minister responsible for the Public Service Board. He ought to be deeply concerned about these things, and that is what we are debating here this afternoon. Is the Public Service Board, in the way it carries out these procedures, treating every person with equal justice? Is the Public Service Act correct? Is Mr Murray Sime - to quote an instance - receiving the same treatment as Mr Hoffmann? Does the postman get the same treatment as the top man in the Public Service? It is apparent that he does not, and that ought to concern every person here, whether he be a supporter of the Liberal Party, the Labor Party, the Country Party or even the Democratic Labor Party. It ought to concern every member of this Parliament that the charter it imposes upon important public instrumentalities is carried out with integrity and with no favouritism. It seems to us in this instance that in the Hoffmann case at least some kind of favouritism was displayed.
On the question of security, a week or so ago we heard the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) say that no member of this Parliament would be allowed to visit Pine Gap. 1 have no doubt the Minister for Defence will be able to visit Pine Gap. In what way has the Minister for Defence shown that he has any greater integrity, any more loyalty or any greater capacity to be a decent and dinkum Australian than any other member of this House? I am astonished . that honourable members opposite should sit and allow themselves to be treated in this way, with none of them capable of being trusted to visit Pine Gap, none of them to be trusted with security service information and none of them to be trusted at all, whether they sit on the left or the right. So this afternoon we are challenging some of the fundamental principles upon which the Australian Government is based, ministerial responsibility in the first instance, and. in the second instance, the rights of citizens to know absolutely what they are charged with and how security and other, matters of such a nature are administered in this country. Where does the money go? FrOm time to time there is concern over allegations of approaches to citizens to try: to do something for security. We know, not whether they are true or whether they are false, but they have certainly spread a smear over the whole democratic processes of this country. That is what is being debated here this afternoon, not whether, it is left wing, right wing, security, defence or anything else. Most, members of, this House are basically decent.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– After that remarkable speech from the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), I want to begin on a mild note of flattery. I want to say to the honourable gentleman that if he could suck as well as he can blow he would have the whole of Sydney Harbour up here inside a week. I have never listened to a more irresponsible speech from the honourable gentleman in all the years I have known him. Let me tell him it has got some pretty solid competition as I look back.
The honourable member for Wills, of course, has been consistent with the case presented by the Opposition this afternoon. What is that case? I will tell the House what the case is. This urgency motion this afternoon is nothing but a cheap device by the Australian Labor Party to divert public attention from the ruinous influences that are wrecking the Australian Labor Party today. The Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr McEwen) asked, I thought with a remarkable sense 1 of restraint, whether, so far as the great industrial issues were concerned, the Labor Party was not interested? That question waa posed by my right honourable friend. Is the Australian Labor Party interested in industrial issues or is it not? In recent weeks we have heard nothing on these matters from members of the Labor Party. This device this afternoon shows the paucity of the Labor Party’s intellect in contemporary times. On the last occasion when the Opposition introduced an urgency motion I said that if the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) spoke to me kindly 1 would’ go over there and give him a hand, because I am bound to say this about the way in which he is leading the Opposition today: He is certainly not leading it towards the promised land.
When I listened to the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) this afternoon he did not give me the impression, as he turned round and looked at his Leader, that he was saying to himself: There is my dear, beloved leader. I must flash him a benign smile.’ I say that this urgency motion is a device to divert attention from the ruinous influences that are wrecking the Labor Party. Honourable members opposite did not mention Mr Harradine. They did not mention what happened between the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the Australian Workers Union. They do not want to hear anything about the conflict that will face them in a few months at the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party. There was not a word said about this. Honourable members opposite have two indictments presented against them. They have the indictment that they have no capacity to think in terms of Australia as a nation, and they have a complete unwillingness to face up to the problems that beset them internally.
The Leader of the Opposition began this afternoon by saying that security is only marginally involved. The House will recall that this was the term he used. The honourable gentleman said that security impinges on this matter just here and there. Then what did he do? For 15 minutes he sneered his way through a speech which was aimed at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Is this marginally involving security? Is this impinging on one spot here and there? That was his performance. I ask honourable members to look at the record tomorrow ki cold print, separated by 24 hours from his appalling performance today, and come to a reasoned judgment as to whether or not in the honourable gentleman’s mind his speech was marginally concerned with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, lt was a sneering performance at ASIO. He deserves to be told that. The people of Australia deserve to understand. 1 am just wandering whether or not the pressures to which the honourable gentleman is subjected at the present time are not proving a little too much for him. I think he needs something of a holiday, because there was a mild note of hysteria in his speech this afternoon. He even got down to referring to Mr Maxwell Newton, as though Mr Maxwell Newton has anything to do with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation or with the Hoffmann affair.
The honourable member for Wills faithfully followed his leader on this path of irresponsibility. He charged the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) and he twitted the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). Let me say this to the honourable gentleman without any rancour but on the basis of the friendship we have had over the years: If he thinks that the Attorney-General or the Prime Minister of this country at any time will be so irresponsible in relation to security affairs, then I say to him that the people of this country will be at the barricades. The Attorney-General is a responsible officer of the Crown and the Prime Minister is the leader of the Government. Are these the sort of observations which the honourable member for Wills wants to make about people in high places? I say to him that he is not merely astray; he is irresponsible.
– Do you trust them?
– I am delighted to bear that the honourable member for Wills does. I hope that everybody understands that, because this afternoon all that the honourable member did in his speech was to attack the Attorney-General. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the Prime Minister’s reluctance to give any information about ASIO. This attitude is a matter of history. It should not shock anybody. This practice was observed by Mr Chifley, and by Mr Curtin before him. It was also observed by Dr Evatt when he was a member of this place. Does the Leader of the Opposition now despise the former leaders of the Australian Labor Party? Does he reject the high authority of Dr Evatt in this matter when he said:
To all intents and purposes the Director-General of Security is free from ministerial direction.
It is not the Attorney-General saying this. It is not the Prime Minister saying this. This is what the former leader of the Australian Labor Party said. He said that the Director-General of Security is free from ministerial direction. Do honourable members opposite challenge that? No. They are silent when the heat is on. Do they challenge the authority of Mr Chifley in this respect, when he said:
I am certain that no gaps will be left in our security measures. As the honourable member knows, it ls not usual to discuss the detailed activities of a’ security service.
If the honourable member for Wills now says that he challenges that statement, let him get up and say so. Let him say: T reject what Mr Chifley said in this respect, and I reject the views of the former, right honourable member for Barton, Dr Evatt”.
– I said it was a Labor government.
– Listen to the gem that has fallen from the brilliant mind of the honourable member for East Sydney. He said: ‘It was a Labour government’. I will take the honourable gentleman’s argument on that point. If it was good enough for a Labour government to do it, with greater strength it is good enough for this Government to do it. It is a matter of history and tradition. The activities of the Security Service of this country are not to be peddled around the countryside for every Tom, Dick and Harry.
– The honourable member for East Sydney would look well in a maternity dress.
– At least we would not have to build on him very much. But quite apart from the political authority that has been reached in this matter, there is a high authority on the judicial officers. For example, Lord Parker in the House of Lords had this to say:
Those who are responsible for the national security must be the sole judges of what the national security requires. It would be obviously undesirable that such matters should be made the subject of evidence in a court of law or otherwise discussed in public.
It is strange in all of this discussion about ASIO that we never hear any lamenting coming from the members of the Labor Party about the massive treachery of certain people over the years. I have never heard them complain about Fuchs or Pontecorvo or Alan Nunn May or Greenglass or the Rosenbergs or any of those. I have no comment at all. But’ when an opportunity is presented to attack ASIO honourable members opposite will attack it, and will do so with alacrity. I say this to honourable gentlemen opposite: Their performance this afternoon certainly convinced every person who heard it that they are bereft of national policies. I say to them as far as the next election is concerned: ‘Watch out! You are in for a greater hiding than you got on the last occasion.’
– Order! The discussion is now concluded.
Bill1 presented by Mr McEwen, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to seek the approval of the Parliament for the ratifica-tion by Australia of the International Sugar Agreement, 1968. It may ;be helpful to honourable members if I. briefly outline the background to the Sugar Conference heM in Geneva last year at which this new Agreement was negotiated. Because of the nature of the world sugar trade it has been accepted for many years that some form of regulation of supplies on to the so-called residual or free market is essentia] if sugar producers are to obtain reasonable and stable returns for their output. Most countries produce sugar either .in the form of beet or cane and over forty countries are engaged in the export trade. Harsh experience has shown that in the absence of international’ arrangements there will be chaos in the market to the detriment of producers.
I need hardly emphasise that most producers are in developing countries and the economic and political stability of many of these countries depends on stable and predictable foreign exchange earnings from the sale of sugar. The first International Sugar Agreement was negotiated in 1937 and subsequently renewed in 1953 and 1958. These earlier agreements worked reasonably well until the breach in relations between the United. States of America and Cuba in 1960. At that time Cuba lost its preferred position in the United States market. Cuba is the world’s largest exporter of sugar and held an export quota entitlement in the United States market totalling about 3 million metric tons. The embargo on trade between Cuba and the United States meant that this Cuban sugar had to find new market outlets. The new situation could not be accommodated within the provisions of the then current International Sugar Agreement and its economic provisions were therefore suspended in 1961. Since that lime there have been some dramatic changes in the world sugar trade.
In late 1963 and early .1964 there was a short period when prices rose to extremely high levels in world markets due primarily to poor crops in Cuba. In fact, the London price rose above £Stg 100 per long ton in November 1963. Since the end of 1964, however, prices have been at very low levels and for the last 3 years have averaged less than £Stg 20 a ton delivered London. During the 1960’s. and following the negotiations of our Trade Treaty with that country, the Japanese market has been opened up for Australian sugar. Last year our industry sold over 540,000 long tons to Japan compared with sporadic shipments of around 50,000 tons before the Trade Treaty was signed. Over the same period there has also been a large expansion of the Australian industry wilh production rising from 1.38- million long tons in 1961 to the record level of 2.7 million tons in 1968. The decision to expand was taken by the industry itself after an exhaustive inquiry by a committee of inquiry set up by the Queensland Government.
I have always supported the expansion programme which got under way in 1963 and I am now more than ever convinced that it was right. The- expansion programme created some major difficulties for both the canegrowers and the mills. The real problem was that although a significant proportion of the total crop was guaranteed market outlets at reasonable prices, an ever increasing proportion could only be sold in the so-called free market at very low prices. It may be of interest to honourable members if I identify the various categories of markets supplied by the Australian industry. First, there is the domestic market of about 670,000 long tons which is completely reserved to the local’ industry at highly remunerative prices mutually agreed by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments. This arrangement has operated for nearly 45 years and, quite properly, has been endorsed by Governments of all political persuasions. Secondly, the industry enjoys a negotiated price quota under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. This Agreement was recently reviewed in London and the Australian industry is assured access to the United Kingdom market for 335,000 long Ions until 1974 at a negotiated price of £Stg 43.10.0 a ton and this price will be reviewed in 1971. Thirdly, there is our hard won quota entitlement into the United States market. In 1960 we had no such quota. Today, after considerable effort, we enjoy a quota entitlement of 140,000 long tons and last year, in fact, partly due to a short fall by others we supplied 177,000 tons to that market. The f.o.b. return on sales to the United States market is about 6.5c per lb or the equivalent of about £Stg 65 a ton delivered London.
We have also gained the opportunity of supplying the refined sugar requirements of the Allied Forces in South Vietnam. We have already shipped, or have under contract, 20,000 tons under this arrangement. The high price export opportunities provided by the United States must be preserved. In fact, we must never let up trying to get our quota into that market improved. Finally, all the sugar not sold in the three markets already mentioned must bc disposed of in the residual or free market. This is the sugar covered by the new International Sugar Agreement. Why is the new Sugar Agreement so important to Australia? The answer really is simple. The proportion of local production sold on the free market has risen from less than one-third before the planned expansion to nearly 60% in 1968. Moreover, as 1 have already mentioned, the free market price has been at disastrously low levels since 1964.
The effect of these developments has been that the pooled returns to the industry - the average return per ton of sugar from all markets - have fallen sharply in recent years and, in fact, have only been maintained above subsistence levels because of substantial financial assistance extended to the industry by the Commonwealth Government in 1966 and 1967. The sugar industry can be justifiably proud of its recent achievements. It has reacted to the pressures of constantly changing technology as reflected in new varietal strains of cane, mechanical harvesting and loading of cane, improved processes in mills and better storage and bulk handling facilities. Moreover, the industry itself has financed the basic research and met the costs of the capital installations required for the efficient handling of sugar. Obviously the industry has no wish to be a supplicant for aid nor does the Commonwealth Government wish to be in the business of providing financial assistance to this industry. In the circumstances of the last 2 or 3 years, however, there was no practical alternative but for the Commonwealth to provide loan finance on special repayment terms and to spare no effort in negotiating a new International Sugar Agreement which would raise world prices to more reasonable levels.
This is the background against which the Australian delegations went to the International Sugar Conferences in 1965 and 1968. I can say that these were the most difficult and most protracted negotiations with which I have ever been associated. However, our efforts were ultimately successful and it is a matter of considerable personal satisfaction to me to present the new Agreement to the Parliament. The Agreement is a most complex document and I have asked my Department to prepare a paper which provides a layman’s interpretation of its main provisions. This paper, I understand, has been circulated with the sole purpose of helping honourable members comprehend the essential elements of the Agreement. Accordingly, I do not propose today to elaborate at any great length on the detailed provisions of the Agreement.
The basic objective of the Agreement ls to maintain stable prices for sugar - prices which will be remunerative to producers but which will protect the consumers against exploitation. The mechanism by which this objective is to be achieved will be by way of regulating supplies onto the market by export quotas. The Agreement itself will be administered by the Sugar Council, comprising representatives of all member governments.
Article 40 sets out the .basic export tonnages which have been established with respect to individual exporting countries or, in some cases; ‘groups’ of countries. Although these basic export tonnages do not in themselves create export entitlements as such, they do represent the basis on which permissible exports from each country are determined. The individual basic export tonnages have a basis in historical performance but they were not in the strict sense of the word negotiated. In the course of the Conference it was agreed that the quantity of sugar coming onto the market must be strictly limited if better and more stable prices were to prevail: However, within this overall limit, every exporter wanted the biggest possible allocation for itself.
In these circumstances, ; it was necessary to have recourse to an independent referee and for this purpose the1 services of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Dr Prebisch, were enlisted. The tonnages listed in article 40 represent Dr Prebisch’s judgment of the essential needs of individual countries. I suppose that no one country is really satisfied with the particular tonnage allocated to it but exporters have accepted their individual quotas in the general interest of reaching agreement. Actual quotas at any particular time are determined under the provisions of articles 48 and 49 of the Agreement where a rather elaborate mechanism or formula’ is spelt out for the purpose. These provisions introduce a considerable degree of automaticity into the determination of quota levels. However, the Sugar Council may, by special vote, vary the quota levels derived under the formula. In addition to their actual quotas, exporting countries with available supplies of sugar will be eligible to share in any shortfalls which may be redistributed when the prevailing market price is above- US31/2c per lb.
Honourable members will note that the formula set out in these articles is designed to exert upward pressure on prices until a level of US4c per lb or about £Stg41 per ton is reached. When prices are below US4c per lb quotas in effect will only be 90% of basic export tonnages unless the Council decides otherwise. But when prices go beyond US4c per lb quotas will be increased in order to preserve price stability. When prices rise above 4 3/4 c per lb reserves of sugar held for the purpose will be progressively released on to the market in order to dampen down upward pressure on prices.
The final negotiations commenced on 23rd September, and between that date and the entry into force of the Agreement on 1st January this year the London price rose from £Stg17 10s a ton to £Stg31 a ton. This movement in prices demonstrated that the mere existence of an agreement was already favourably influencing the market. The price has continued to rise since the beginning of the year and now stands at £Stg37 a ton. In fact the world price is approaching the level at which quotas may be liberalised. I think that this is a quite remarkable achievement. It is certainly a practical demonstration of the value of this new Agreement. The full benefits of the new Agreement will become evident this year; the higher prices will be reflected in returns from the 1969 crop soon to be harvested. When the price objective of 4c is achieved, it is estimated that the returns to the sugar industry in Queensland and northern New South Wales will be increased by as much as $40m annually.
I believe that all honourable members will welcome the greatly improved financial prospects of this great Australian industry. The new International Sugar Agreement will restore order and predictability in the market, which has been singularly missing since 1961. There are some difficulties yet to be overcome. Regrettably the European Economic Community and its member states, which as a unit could be significant exporters in the future, have yet to accede to the Agreement. But provision has been made for a basic export tonnage for the EEC totalling 300,000 tons a year. On the basis of recent performance this is reasonable and I earnestly hope that the Community will shortly join or at least observe the disciplines accepted by all other exporters. It is also true that the United States has yet to accept the Agreement. Although it would be most desirable for the United States to be a member, its participation is less important because its imports are covered by domestic legislation and are outside the scope of the Agreement. The United States is not an exporter of sugar.
I should like to take this opportunity publicly to thank all members of the Australian delegations who gave me their wholehearted support in the course of the long and difficult negotiations which date back to 1965. All sections of the sugar industry were represented and consulted at all stages of the negotiations. There were representatives of the Australian Cane Growers Council, the Australian Sugar Producers Association, the Sugar Board and its marketing agent, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. In particular, I should like to thank the representatives of the Queensland State Government. Sir Frank Nicklin was with me in 1965. The late Mr Jack Pizzey, former Premier, was with me in early 1968, and the present Premier, Mr BjelkePetersen, was with me in the last and successful session in September and October 1968. When I had to return to Australia in May of last year to be Acting Prime Minister for a period I was replaced, as leader of the Australian delegation, by my colleague, Mr Anthony, the Minister for Primary Industry. He also played his part. Finally I should not like to conclude without mentioning the senior officers from my Department and the Department of Primary Industry and I mention the constant presence of the Queensland Agent-General in London, Sir Alan Summerville. These persons worked really hard over this period of years to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion.
As the responsible Commonwealth Minister, I was very pleased to work for and with the industry in our joint efforts to obtain a new International Sugar Agreement. I am satisfied that this Agreement offers the industry the prospect and reality of many stable and prosperous years ahead. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
Does the honourable member claim that he has been misrepresented?
– I do indeed. The newspaper Australian’ this morning contains an article headed ‘Australia “Must do More for Its Troops” ‘. It refers to a meeting I attended at the University of Melbourne yesterday. It contains a number pf inaccuracies, and I wish to correct one of them. It states:
Mr Jess said returned servicemen from World War II could enjoy the fringe benefits of housing loans, soldier settlements, education reestablishment programmes but only the housing loan was available to Vietnam veterans.
I did not say that. I did make the point that the benefits obtained by the returned soldier from World War II were much wider than those received by the veterans from Vietnam. I did not stipulate that the loan from the War Service Homes Division was the only benefit available to Vietnam veterans. I know. there are others.
Debate resumed from 6 March (vide page 539), on motion by Dr Forbes:’
That the House take note of the following’ paper: Home Care Programme for the Aged - Ministerial Statement, 26 February 1969.
– It is quite apparent that this is election year. Generally there is no other reason why the Government shows any interest in the aged, the sick and the needy. The record of the Government shows that only when its political future is threatened does it bestir itself from its lethargy and its neglect of age and invalid pensioners. Only then does it provide a morsel from the rich man’s table for the relief of the distress of the people in the community who are suffering. Thus, it is only , reasonable to say that if this were not election year the meagre contribution for the needy announced by the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) would have been stillborn.
The Gorton Government likes to project itself as a welfare government. This contention would be ludicrous and amusing if it were not so serious. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in his first major speech on 13th February 1968 said:
No nation can be great unless it seeks not only, materially to progress but also to take care of the weaker within it, the aged within it and the ill’ within it.
On another occasion he said:
I am not to be taken as saying ‘1 believe in the complete welfare State and handouts all along the line’, but I would like to ‘see ‘ real misfortune overcome.
The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), the retired rebel and former advocate of a revolutionary change in welfare legislation by the Government, had this, to say in the House of Representatives on 28th August 1968:
These pious sentiments would, one would think, be giving expression to the hopes and aspirations of all Australians, for a better deal for those in need, for the sick and for the aged.
Our hopes were further’ raised by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon): The ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 4th ‘ February 1969 reported as follows:
The Federal Treasurer, Mr William McMahon, was off to a flying start in- the 1969 election campaign wilh his glowing account of economic progress at the Perth Chamber of .Commerce meeting yesterday.
The tone of his whole speech yesterday which” reviewed the Australian economy was one of bubbling optimism . . .
The way Mr McMahon told it Australia had never had it so good and he produced the figures to prove it.
To any reasonable Australian, these comments by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Social Services would indicate a new deal for age and invalid pensioners and for all those in need. The comments of the Minister for Health “also held out the same hope. The Treasurer’s statement unreservedly indicated that, the economy was booming and could afford the expenditure, but perhaps Mr Askin was right when he said that the Treasurer prefers. statistics to the welfare of the people. But’ what is the result? Have our hopes beep fulfilled? Has the Government met its obligations?
– No. ‘ ‘
– That is a sensible answer. A study of the measures proposed by the Minister for Health, which naturally must be accepted - we must be grateful even for minor contributions towards the relief of the distressed and the needy - proves that the Liberal Ministers speak one way and act another. That comment applies to all honourable members on the Government side. The announcement by the Minister for Health shows that this Government, which has been in office for 20 years, has opened its dusty welfare cupboard and from a back shelf has taken a few small skeletons to hand to the needy in the guise of a major advance in welfare administration. The Government has, as I shall show later, given the very least to the most deserving. It has followed the time worn and well known pattern of providing the least possible expenditure that will bring the maximum number of votes.
The very words of the Minister that the offer is directed to the development of a comprehensive programme for the care of the aged, particularly the frail aged, shows that the Government is still willing to discriminate amongst those most in need. Instead of a dynamic contribution towards the solution of this great problem of welfare, instead of a real effort to fulfil the promises of the Prime Minister and others to develop the welfare state, we find that the Government has laboured nobly and brought forth a mouse. To use the Prime Minister’s own words, it is ‘a morsel of the frugal comfort to which the old and the sick are entitled’.
I now wish to say a few words about the proposals announced by the Minister for Health. Before doing so, let me say that the Australian Labor Party does not oppose the proposals. We feel that anything that will1 in any way assist the aged, the invalid and the needy is to be welcomed. What we do say, however, is that if the economy is as prosperous as the Treasurer has said it is the Government can well afford to provide adequately for this section of society and enable these people to share in the affluence and prosperity of Australia. Unfortunately it cannot be said that these measures will enable them to do so. A very reluctant Government is giving only the very minimum. Let us look at a few of the proposals. The Minister in his statement said that the proposals were directed towards the development of a comprehensive programme for the care of the aged, particularly the frail aged, in their own homes. Here again is discrimination.
Provision is made for Commonwealth expenditure of $1,250,000 a year on a $1 for $1 basis for the home care programme. This includes nursing services, housekeeping, home help services, senior citizen services and paramedical services. Provision is made for the development of the housekeeper and home help services and the sum of $500,000 a year is offered on a $1 for $1 matching basis with State expenditure, the allocation being in proportion to population. The programme includes the development of senior citizen centres and the employment qf welfare officers at senior citizen centres. The sum of $500,000 is offered for the development and maintenance of senior citizen centres and grants will be made for approved capital expenditure on the basis of onethird from the Commonwealth, one-third from the State and one-third from community effort or local authorities. For approved centres the Commonwealth will pay half the salary of the welfare officer, who must be a qualified social worker or a person with similar qualifications.
No subsidy is provided for the meals on wheels service, but senior citizen centres are expected to assist in the development and operation of the service. Expenditure for equipment will be available from the grant. For paramedical services provided for aged persons in their own homes, assistance will be given to the States up to a limit of $250,000 on a $1 for $1 basis, allocated according to population. The Minister said that that was the full extent of the contribution, but community participation was to be encouraged. He mentioned that the Commonwealth was contributing $5m over a period of 5 years to provide more beds in State nursing homes. He concluded his speech with this stipulation:
This offer is made on trie conditions that the additional beds so provided will be used only for the sick aged of little means hi genuine need of nursing home care and that the States help significantly with the problem of ensuring that nursing home beds in State and other institutions are allocated to the best advantage.
Again we see the. vicious discrimination in the application of a means test and a sorting out of the sick aged, the very sick aged and those of very little means. Every aged and invalid person, under this Government’s administration, has very little means.
Having had a look at the provisions that were announced, let us look at several other aspects of the proposals. Just how many age and invalid pensioners will benefit from this measure? That is a fair question. The most recent figures available indicate that there are 689,000 age pensioners and 115,000 invalid pensioners, making a total of 904,000, in Australia. The expenditure by the Commonwealth under this scheme will total $1,250,000.
– That is about one meat pie for each.
– Yes, one pie for each - chicken feed. The Government does not say and, like poverty in Australia, has no idea what it is and gives no indication of just how many people will come within its definition of the aged, particularly the frail aged. If we apply it to all the age and invalid pensioners, it means that the Government’s consideration of welfare on a Commonwealth basis is worth at the maximum, in round figures, only Si a year each. In this time of affluence, wealth and a booming economy pensioners are worth only $1 a week for their welfare. We have no guarantee that the contribution will ever be increased. This has been a pattern followed by the Government in other legislation where, following the introduction of a benefit, it has never been increased or, in other cases, has remained stationary for years. I quote a few examples. The guardian’s allowance that was introduced on 14th October 1965 at $4 has remained unchanged ever since. The first child allowance for pensioners has not been changed from $1.50 since 1961. The funeral benefit has not been changed since 1945. It was $20 at that date. It is now 24 years since the maternity allowances have been changed. Will pensioners have to wait for 24 years or 10 years before this meagre contribution is increased by the Government? I suppose it all depends on how many elections we can work into the next few years. Is this measure to follow the same pattern as previous legislation?
Another factor is that the benefits are limited to what the States can afford. The home care programme is on a $1 for $1 basis. To start with, this means that it will be limited to what the States can provide, and already they are having difficulty in meeting their obligations in regard to hospitals, health and other services. In regard to senior citizen centres, the Commonwealth will meet only one-third, leaving the balance to the State and community effort of local authorities. The paramedical services are on a $1 for $1 basis. The very method adopted in making the payments to the States means, in effect, that if the States lack the capacity to spend on this important human problem the aged and the sick will be as badly off as ever. Under the Constitution - I remind the Minister for Social Services of this - it is the full responsibility of the Commonwealth to care for the aged and invalid. It is therefore distressing to find the Liberal-Country Party Government sidestepping its obligations and passing the buck to the States, knowing full well that in some cases the States will be unable to find the money and thus the Commonwealth contribution will be limited.
This kind of welfare is nothing more than a gimmick. The Commonwealth Government is to be condemned for its niggardly approach to this great problem in a time of great wealth and prosperity, according to Government spokesmen. To read the Minister’s statement, one would think that the Government was embarking upon and opening up a new field of endeavour. Nothing, of course, is further from the truth. Senior citizen centres, staffed by welfare officers, were provided by the Laborcontrolled Sydney City Council many years ago.
– It was in 1958.
– Yes, in 1958. The Meals on Wheels service was established by Labor in various suburban areas of the Commonwealth many years ago.
– Oh no.
-Order! The honourable member for Griffith will cease interjecting. I understand that he is to speak next in this debate. I suggest that he restrain himself.
– I can understand his distress because he knows I am giving him too much to answer. Labor thinking and action is years ahead of the Liberal approach to this problem, and now, years after Labor has led the way in doing what the Commonwealth Government should have pioneered, the Minister presents this proposal as though he had received an inspiration from heaven. For years local government organisations, particularly in New South Wales, have catered for the aged in the way I have mentioned, thus saving the Commonwealth money and effort. Belatedly, however, we welcome this niggardly recognition of their work and hope that it will assist them to further provide for those so much in need.
The Government cannot escape being condemned for the discrimination which it has brought to social welfare legislation in Australia. It discriminates between married and single pensioners in regard to the benefit paid and permissible income. The nursing home scheme, which the Minister mentioned, providing for $2 a day if you can walk and $5 if you cannot, was rightly described by one paper as stupid and cruel discrimination in the delicate area of the care of the old and the sick. I will cite one or two instances in the hope that the discrimination in favour of the frail aged in this proposal will not apply. Let us have a look at what the ‘Daily Mirror’ had to say on 15th January 1969. In an article headed ‘$2 a Day If You Can Walk; $5 If You Can’t’ it poses the question: ‘Do we really care what happens to these old people?’ I will answer that. The Government does not give a hang, except in an election year. The article goes on to say:
A one-legged man died five days after being refused the Commonwealth Government’s $5 a day nursing home grant on the ground that he was too healthy.
This is the discrimination. It goes on:
The man, aged 55, was partly paralysed. He suffered from terminal cancer and lived in a wheel chair.
But he was ineligible for the subsidy, a benefit of the last Budget, because the Department nf Health ruled he was not an ‘intensive care* case.
– Turn it over and do not mutilate it. You are a mutilator.
-Order! The honourable member for Maribyrnong will cease interjecting. I remind the honourable member for Leichhardt that 1 do not think his colleague wants any assistance from him during this speech.
– The article mentions another case. I will mention it quickly, as my time is running out due to interjections from honourable members opposite. The article continues:
A patient of Cabrini Convalescent Home, Westmead, he died on January 6.
Others refused the increased grant included a stroke victim with a paralysed arm and leg, a blind and partly deaf man of 86 who broke his thigh, a 75-year-old woman with Parkinson’s disease, and a man with serious heart trouble who cannot move without help.
They are just a few examples of the social legislation of this Government and the discrimination that has applied. 1 would like to know from the Government whether there are sections of the aged and the frail aged who are not frail enough and who will be discriminated against like that, despite all their suffering. It is all right for Government members to say that it will be all right. We on this side of the Parliament know from practical experience that such is not the case with Government legislation. Under this proposal this discrimination may well continue, lt does discriminate in words, if nothing else, between the aged and the frail aged. I would like the bright young member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron), who is to speak next, to give me a definition of an aged person and a frail aged person, particularly when they are both about 86 years of age. This proposal will undoubtedly perpetuate the unfairness, the unhappiness and the injustices applying to other benefits given to aged and invalid pensioners in other discriminatory legislation introduced by this Government. I would like to hear the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver) say a few words later too in his usual way.
I now wish to conclude with a few comments in regard to the speech of the Minister for Social Services. He was very enthusiastic about the proposal. It is a good Bill, he said, in a way somewhat like the old rebel of the past. He said it is part of an overall scheme for a better life for the aged. I may have been impressed by the Minister’s statement if his record was not so damaging. This is the Minister who, when on the back bench, was going to remove the means test, end discrimination, eliminate injustices and revolutionise social service benefits in Australia.
– And he finished up giving pensioners a $1 a week increase.
– Yes. On his way to the Ministry he expressed the highest motives and ideals in regard to this problem. For some months now he has been a Minister. The high hopes have vanished. He has not brought one new thought to social service legislation, except a $1 increase in the age pension. Abolition pf the means test has been forgotten and he now rushes to the defence of Ministers introducing legislation years behind its time, outdated in thinking and providing the bare minimum of what is required. More in sorrow than in anger I regret that this champion of social justice has now retired; otherwise, he could not so enthusiastically have endorsed these proposals. I conclude by saying that this proposal is welcomed but will provide only the very minimum. People in want, people who are sick and people who have served this country well, our pioneers, the aged and the invalids deserve a share in a prosperous Australia. They are entitled to the comforts and the security that an affluent society can and should provide. That is why the Opposition criticises this legislation. We assure the Australian people that whilst we have accepted it the Labor Party will give real social justice to them on its election as the government towards, the end of this year.
Mr DONALD CAMERON (Griffith) t8.21] - In speaking to the statement made by the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) my mind turns to the words uttered by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) when introducing the first Gorton Budget last August. The Treasurer said:
The Government has placed the objective of helping the aged, the sick and the needy in the forefront of its domestic programmes.
I remind the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) that well over a billion dollars a year is spent on age, invalid and widows’, pensions, child endowment, medical, hospital and pharmaceutical benefits, and other health services. The honourable member virtually challenged this Government to define the term ‘frail aged’. I suggest that in the honourable member we have, a classic example of a frail aged person, particularly in the light of the arguments which he put forward. 1 had intended not to be party political tonight, but I point out that for the past 20 minutes we have listened to a bombardment of distorted facts presented for the purpose of politicking. I had hoped that the honourable member for Grayndler would deal with the Minister’s statement in an objective manner and that rather than criticise it he would put forward constructive ideas.
The Australian Labor Party has been elected to office on only three occasions in the last half century, yet it claims to be the champion of social services. Honourable members will recall that in the 1930s it was a Labor government which lowered the pension. It is my hope that under our present Prime Minister, John Gorton, Australia will become the leading nation in the care of the aged, the sick and the needy. He recognises the humanities and is determined to conquer the hardships associated with the twilight years - a phenomenon which bypasses only the very affluent. As things stand at present, those devoid of an able and devoted family can only buy their way out of this hardship. The establishment of the Cabinet Welfare Committee under the leadership of the Minister for Health is indicative of the importance the Prime Minister attaches to this challenge of care for the aged. But, this view, my hope and my faith are not such as to prevent my being critical of the approach applied to the care for the aged.
I hope that the Government is not embarking upon a course of patchwork legislation: It is fair to ask: On what information did the Government or the respective State governments base their determination that the area of greatest need is as set out in the statement at present under discussion? I do not suggest that it is not, because I, like every other member of this Parliament and the various State parliaments, have never had the benefit of studying the findings of a factual survey. The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) is present in the chamber tonight; he is in a position to recommend the kind of survey that is required to equip the Government with accurate unemotional information so that it may professionally assess the areas of need, and furthermore, gain an estimation of the money required to alleviate the hardship.
In claiming that health and the methods employed in caring for health constitute one of the most rapidly changing facets of this modern age, I cite as an example the change in the last 15 years in the average length of time spent in the Royal Brisbane Hospital by admitted patients. In 1954 the average was 14.72 days; in 1957 it was 14.07 days; in 1959 it was 12.71 days; in 1962 it was 11.89 . days; in 1964 it was 10.96 days and in 1968 it was 9.52 days. On the average, people spent 50% more time in hospital 15 years ago than they do today. These figures cover all age groups but it is reasonable to maintain that the aged would constitute a big percentage of those included. It is evident that people are spending more time convalescing at home than ever before; this fact was recognised by the introduction of the Home Nursing Subsidy Act 1956. But was the anticipation of this fact only lucky guess work? We spend millions of dollars on feasibility studies before we spend thousands in the sphere of national development, but we avoid spending a dollar in the search of fact prior to spending billions on social services. This is not right, and I urge that we utilise persons trained in the social scences to ascertain the areas of need.
Another matter that is causing me concern is the adherence to the principle of the Commonwealth providing the States with assistance on a $1 for St matching basis. Certainly we can point to areas of success but I recall the fine words expressed by our Prime Minister when he said:
No nation can tie great unless it seeks not only materially to progress but also to take care of the weaker within it, the aged within it and the ill within it.
I wonder whether I am being unreasonable or too idealistic to demand 100% or even 99% success in every venture of assistance upon which we embark. I refer specifically to the Blue Nursing Service which is run by the Methodist Church. In Queensland, its headquarters lie in the suburb of West End, one of the twenty-five suburbs which make up my electorate of Griffith which is situated on the south side of the Brisbane River. This organisation has almost twenty centres stretching from Cairns in the very north to Coolangatta on the southern border and as far west as Mount Isa. It is principally a mobile service which is engaged in home nursing, and it is well respected for its work by all sections of the community. Last year it made 351,000 visits to 12,797 patients.
Last year, under the Si for SI formula, the Government benevolently granted an increase in the Commonwealth subsidy payable under the Home Nursing Subsidy Act 1956. As the Minister for Health is aware, under this arrangement this organisation is eligible for $2,600 per annum in respect of each sister engaged full time on home nursing. But this assistance is being severely limited by virtue of the fact that the Queensland Government now gives only $1,100 per sister per year. This was increased recently by $200, the previous figure being $900. The increase announced in the 1968-69 Budget counts for naught, and I wonder how many, of the words in the Minister’s statement count for naught.’ The limitations imposed precluded the Blue Nursing Service from receiving $97,000 in 1967-68 and $132,000 in .1968-69. This is almost one-third of its total expenditure for a year. 1 suggest this means that 132,000 more calls could have been made by this organisation, because by relating expenditure over the- year to the number of calls made we find that the cost of a call works out at almost $1. Is the Government holding back, to the extent of one-third of its potential, an organisation which is prepared to do this work? I suggest that this is an unnecessary imposition.
We could spend trie rest of the year discussing Federal and State financial arrangements but it would not assist the Blue Nursing Service and dozens of other organisations placed in a ‘Similar position. In many respects it is highly desirable that the Commonwealth should take the initiative in the field of social services. One readily recalls the callous attitude of both Labor and non-Labor governments in Queensland towards the plight of deserted wives prior to our intervention and assistance some months back. On the other hand, here we are covering ourselves with glory for our humanitarian approach to’ these problems, but we are putting up only half the money for the proposals, and in the case of the $Um that can be spent in assisting senior citizens’ centres ‘ we are providing only one-third.
I return to the plight of the’ Blue Nursing Service in relation to Which we can be patronising by using such phrases as ‘the situation is of concern’ or ‘we regret we cannot help any further’. But this is not confronting the problem. We are forcing the States to toe the line in our relief of conscience by saying that this amount is available for this and that but we do nothing to assist the States to raise the finance to meet our proposals. I am convinced, or almost convinced, that the time has arrived for us to go in boots and all to finance fully those things we recognise as being essential to social welfare. Alternatively we should keep out altogether and leave the States to decide their own areas of assistance and priorities. But we must decide.
The acknowledgment of senior citizen centres by practical financial aid is one of the greatest things that could have happened to this group. As one who worked for an organisation which had an office in the hall owned and used, by the Fortitude Valley Senior Citizens Club in Brisbane I feel certain that I have witnessed at first hand, more than has any other member of this Parliament, the activities of organisations of this type. These senior citizen clubs become an integral part of the lives of these persons. To witness the concert parties, the community singing and the card games and, most importantly, the comradeship provided by these centres is te become a believer in the important part they play in the community. The latter years of life can be lonely years. I salute every individual in the nation who voluntarily assists in the running of these clubs, sometimes at great personal expense.
I have always had the greatest admiration for Unilever (Australia) Pty Ltd and would like to draw to the attention of honourable members the scheme which the company operates for looking after its aged and retired employees. The company gave considerable thought to the position of retired employees. Its conclusion was that there is much more to retirement than the provision of a retirement benefit, which is available to every Unilever employee. The company concluded also that there is more to retirement than pre-retirement counselling. It has been found in many cases that when employees retire from organisations they receive their traditional send-off. When they walk through the door of the office or the factory gate they sever all contact with the employer with whom they may have spent most of their working life or, at best, they maintain a casual association with the employer which becomes increasingly casual as the years go by. In such cases the former employer generally feels that having provided a retirement benefit, if there is a retirement benefit, he has discharged his responsibility. Unilever believed this attitude to be wrong. It believed that an employer should have a continuing interest in the happiness and wellbeing of retired employees. I hope that tonight some employers listening to the debate might take note of this proposal.
Unilever’s attitude has developed to the extent that the company now takes the view that although retired employees may have reached the end of their active working life .they are still members of the company family with the right to remain within the family circle of the business they helped to create and expand. In short, they still belong. This view extends to the widows of men who worked for the company and who retired or who died during service.
In order to take this continuing interest contact has to be established and maintained. It was decided that this would be done through the medium of what came to be known as the Retirement Association. It is modelled on the lines of a similar organisation conducted by the company in the United Kingdom. It was established about 9 years ago with the purpose of renewing and maintaining contact with all retired employees and their widows in Australia. It does this by means of visitors who have volunteered for this work and who are retired employees of Unilever or widows of employees. The duty of a visitor is to visit every retired Unilever employee or widow of an employee who is known to be ill at home or in hospital, or simply lonely. A visitor visits within his district every retired company employee on his or her birthday and every widow of a company employee over the age of 60 years on her birthday. A visitor visits any retired employee who celebrates a golden or diamend wedding anniversary.
The difficulty which had to be overcome when deciding who should visit the retired employees and widows was that of ensuring communion between the visitor and the person visited. It was clear that the purpose of the Association would be defeated unless a common bond existed between the two parties. It was the need to solve this problem that led to the appointment originally of retired employees and, subsequently, widows as visitors. There are approximately sixty visitors throughout Australia and generally they are chosen from among the younger more able-bodied retired employees. But age is no bar. The important qualifications are that the visitor is a good mixer and a volunteer.
The first step is for the visitor to make his initial call and renew his acquaintance with the pensioner. On this occasion he explains in detail the objects of the Association. If the visitor is married he is encouraged to take his wife with him on visits because it has been found that a couple creates a better climate. When making visits the visitor generally takes with him a small gift. The cost of the gift and his travelling expenses are met by the company. When the visit is to mark the occasion of a birthday or similar celebration the Association forwards a small gift.
After each visit the visitor forwards a confidential report to the Association. By this means the company is made aware of the circumstances of its retired employees. Generally the reports tell how pleased the pensioner was about the visit but from time to time complaints and problems are reported. In such cases assistance is provided for the people concerned. The scheme works very well and I commend it to other employers. I congratulate Unilever on what it has done for its retired employees. For centuries man has been giving the best years of his life to commerce. It is time we discarded the attitude that when a person is no longer able to work he should be relegated to the scrap heap.
I offer a little criticism of the failure to provide assistance for the meals on wheels service. A few minutes ago we heard the honourable member for Grayndler claim that the Australian Labor Party was instrumental in introducing into Australia this great service. I think he was a little unfair to the various church groups and other, charitable organisations which were active in this field many years before any Labor dominated council stepped in. I recall that in Queensland long before 1958 the Presbyterian Church was engaged in this service, using volunteer labour. I believe that the honourable member for Grayndler has done a disservice to many people by his statement. ‘
I am a little perturbed by the statement that expenditure on equipment for meals on wheels services may be included in the subsidy for senior citizen centres. Many of these centres do not have their own quarters. They hire halls. In such, cases their facilities for preparing, food are limited. I do not understand fully the reasoning behind the Government’s attitude on this matter. Perhaps it is a cheap way of getting out of a service which I believe is a necessity. In the Bulimba area of my electorate a meals on wheels service was recently set up and it is doing an excellent job. A similar service has been established in West End. But these services will not get any assistance because they were not established under the auspices of a senior citizen centre. Very few clubs are able to provide a meals on wheels service.’ This offer to senior citizen centres is very restricted and in my electorate will do no good for the people.
I hope that the Minister’ for Social Services, who is in the chamber; will strongly advocate a more realistic approach to the problems of these organisations, which year in and year out give so much to so many people and at times provide their only contact with the outside world. The honourable member for Grayndler sought a distinction between frail aged and aged. I do not think he was serious. Many of the people who take advantage, of the meals on wheels service can be classified as frail aged because in many ways they are unable to help themselves. On the other .hand, many aged persons are quite capable of providing their meals and looking after themselves generally. I trust that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Lynch), who, is at the table, will note some of the points I have made and will pass them on to the Government because I believe that there is plenty of room for improvement.
- Mr Speaker, like the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) who has just resumed his seat, I will be a little critical of this scheme toe. In debating as we are the ministerial statement on the home care programme for the aged, which was presented to this House by the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) on 26th February 1969, I want to quote too the first part of his statement which reads:
I wish to announce details of the Commonwealth’s offer to State governments directed to the development of a comprehensive programme for the care of the aged, particularly the frail aged, in their own homes. This home care programme will comprise a most important part of the comprehensive health and social welfare scheme that the Commonwealth is developing to assist the needy in our community.
Assisting the aged, particularly the frail aged, assisting the sick and injured, assisting the poverty stricken, assisting the bed ridden - assisting all these people who need assistance and who are unable to assist themselves - is a worthy act at any time. There are thousands of people in this country who come into the categories that I have just mentioned. For these reasons, one commends the thought behind the scheme although, as 1 said before, I am a little doubtful of its implementation.
The first query on the first scheme that I wish to raise with the Minister is: What are the means that he will use to identify those who are in the greatest need? Will this operation take place per medium of a means test? As general agreement on the scheme has been reached between the Commonwealth Government and the State governments, surely a method has been arrived at as to overall obligations under this measure. We are told by the Minister that the States have submitted a programme which the Commonwealth Government has accepted. I therefore suggest that it would be interesting for members of this House to know the full extent of the programme that has been submitted by the States. T say this because I have some serious misgivings about the current facilities for the aged and for the helpless. I have some serious misgivings about the role that local government will have to play in this scheme. I have some serious misgivings about senior citizen organisations particularly those over which councils have no control and those that also are under no obligation to State governments.
The wording of the statement sounds good. The details on the implementation of the scheme are non existent at the moment and details are the essential which every member desires to know. Already I have had inquiries from committees responsible for the operation of senior citizens clubs seeking information relative to their standing under the proposals envisaged in this scheme. The words in the Minister’s statement sound grand, as I said before, but they give no guidance to the answers to the queries posed to me by the people whom I have mentioned. As I said’ previously, unattached organisations, as many senior citizen clubs are, are very anxious to know their position as too are the centres receiving subsidies.
In relation to senior citizen organisations, the Minister said:
The Commonwealth considers it essential that welfare officers be employed at senior citizen centres to ensure the development, co-ordination and continuing provision of the most appropriate welfare services to meet the needs of the aged in the areas served by the centres.
Many of these centres are run by auxiliaries, or they are maintained from funds raised by efforts of their members. They are in the main social clubs, as the honourable member for Griffith said. The president, the secretary and the committee are elected by the vote of the members of the club. Therefore, I ask: Are these people to be superseded by a welfare officer who, by the way, may be a person who has little or no knowledge of local conditions or of local people? Will the club or centre come under State domination or council domination? Will the welfare officer be responsible to the club, the council or the State? Someone must assume authority over the actions of the welfare officer. Who is it to be? The Minister’s statement does not tell us. The Minister says further: 1 do not wish to imply that the centres will directly provide for services. On the contrary these may be provided by a variety of organisations, the stimulation and co-ordination of which will be a major part of the welfare officer’s activities.
In relation to this statement, I ask: What constitutes the variety of organisations to which the Minister refers? What will be the authority of the welfare officer over these organisations to create this stimulation and co-ordination which the Minister says will be a major part of the activities of the welfare officer? In relation to senior citizen centres I ask further for a clarification of the remarks that follow those I have quoted. The Minister continues:
To assist meet the costs of development and maintenance of senior citizen centres, the Commonwealth has offered to the States $500,000 a year. Firstly, this grant will be available towards approved capital expenditure on senior citizen centres, the apportionment of the cost to be on the basis of one third Commonwealth, one third State and one third local authority and/or community effort.
Does the Minister imply that capital expenditure will mean the building of centres and that councils will be expected to pay one third of the cost or that the community will be required to do this? These are the questions that I am being asked. I would like an answer to them in order to enable me to tell my constituents what these statements mean.
I make mention too of the reference that the Minister makes to “approved centres’. Does this mean that only senior citizen centres approved by State governments will be considered for this grant? If this is so, are there certain regulations and certain specifications laid down or to be laid down by the Commonwealth Government and the State governments that these centres will have to comply with before they are eligible for the grant? In addition, who will meet the other half of the salary of the welfare officer - the council, the State or the community? Is the Minister aware that qualified social workers or their equivalents are almost impossible to obtain and - I will point out, Mr Speaker, how this thing snowballs - if extra staff is to be employed, as it will be required, who will meet this expense in this regard?
I go further. Referring to senior citizen clubs again I make the point that included in the tremendous task that the welfare officer is expected to carry is the overall organisation of the home care programme. Therefore, I think it is pertinent to ask: How will this situation dovetail in with the home care organisation already being conducted by a large number of municipalities, and will the meagre handout that the councils receive from a State government be increased to meet the additional demands that this legislation will certainly make upon them? I ask these questions and I think that the questions that I have raised must be answered and answered clearly. It is not my intention to go into local government finances except in relation to the scheme that we have before us. Suffice it is to say however that local government finances are strained to the utmost and so too arc the pockets of the ratepayers in trying to meet the great increase in rates that is prevailing currently.
One can only view an operation of this kind as a sort of Commonwealth move to remove from its shoulders the responsibility of care for the aged by means of indirect taxation. It will mean that we will need to pay more out of our pockets. Pensioners in particular are saying this. The Commonwealth is shifting the responsibility for what has been apparent in our midst for the last decade or more - in fact, I would say for the last 40 years - onto the shoulders of ratepayers and pensioners who, in the main, are the only members of senior citizen centres. It is shifting the responsibility also onto the councils. I say again that the community is being asked to bear the expense of this measure which is rightly a national responsibility and, without denial, the responsibility of this Government.
In my opening remarks, I indicated that any measure that lifts even a small portion of the burden from the shoulders of the under-privileged is worthy of commendation. However I am a little sceptical that in this scheme a burden is being placed on the shoulders of the under-privileged insofar as senior citizen centres are concerned. I fear greatly that this scheme -will give rise to a system of discrimination. It is reasonable to assume that the. more affluent suburbs or municipalities will be able to finance, support and maintain to a much higher level all the provisions that this scheme embraces thus securing privileges far beyond the scope that the working class municipalities and suburbs can offer or even hope to afford. I refer to such suburbs as
Footscray. Williamstown and Sunshine in my electorate. Whilst discrimination may not occur intentionally, I say that it is inherent in schemes of this kind and that discrimination of this kind can be avoided at the national level only. Piecemeal schemes like this really cannot succeed. In relation to paramedical services the Minister said that these will include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropody and the associated social work services.
Are these paramedical services to be carried out in the homes - most probably that is the desire - and will the welfare officer be expected to cope with this also? If not, does the Minister place any limit on the number of persons who will most certainly have to be employed in a capacity df this kind. Further, if this treatment is not done in the homes will it be done in the centres? There is nothing to indicate what is going to happen in this regard. As I said before, this scheme sounds grand but it is the end result that counts, and having in mind what has occurred in Footscray, my home town, since home help was first introduced in 1958, I am of the opinion that the ramifications of this scheme will be far beyond the financial resources of most municipalities. The Minister in his concluding remarks said this:
The Government recognises the importance of community participation in the proposed home care programme and therefore wants to see the State Governments play their rightful part, the municipalities play theirs and perhaps most importantly of nil the voluntary agencies and groups bring their enthusiasm and experience into the programme.
In referring to the voluntary agencies the Minister again stresses the fact that he expects the genera] public - who are already highly taxed in the State government field, the local government field and the Commonwealth government field - to pay the piper. At the expense of repetition let me tell the Minister that the wage-earners and pensioners in my electorate are already bearing a lot of burdens they can ill-afford to bear. The facts and figures I now place before the House will reveal this. They will reveal also, as I said before, the inherent dangers in schemes of this nature. I have here a statement which I secured from the
City of Footscray. In the year 1958 when we first started off there was no government grant. Home help services cost the householders $180 and the Council $810. In 1959 we had a staff of three working in the City of Footscray and the receipt from householders was $924, the government grant was $3,402 and the expenditure by the Council was $4,550. The net cost to the. Council was $224, representing a proportion of the rate revenue of .002%.
In 1968 we had a staff of forty working in the City of Footscray - in fact, there are over forty working now- on this home help service. The amount: received from the householders was $10;841. This is what I referred to as indirect taxation because these householders are ratepayers as well. The government grant was $14,951, the overall expenditure was $40,553, and the net cost to the Council was $14,761, or 1% of the rate revenue. In 1966 the percentage of the total cost paid, by the householder for this scheme was 17.59%. In 1967 it was 21.85% - it is on the rise all the time. As I said, the number of employees in this home help service in 1968 was forty. The average number of cases helped during the quarter - this is expectant mothers, confinement cases, mothers with young children and the elderly and the infirm - amounted to 127. Those 40 people could account for only three patients each. With 40 helpers and 127 patients it works out at a little over three persons per helper and it is costing all that money to maintain them. The Council receives from the State Government 72.5c per hour and that has to cover holiday pay, sick pay and superannuation. In actual fact, to cover the cost the Footscray Council would need to receive something like $1:60 to break even. Now, this is the burden that the ratepayers and the Council are carrying to support home. help services in the City of Footscray. I have some figures here which I do not desire to go right into because they are too numerous to read, but they refer to the expenditure and income of various municipalities throughout - Melbourne for the year ended 30th December 1967. With the concurrence of the House I will have them incorporated in Hansard.
CITY OF BOX HILL HOME HELP SERVICE
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 March 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690318_reps_26_hor62/>.