26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m.. and read prayers.
-I have to inform the House that I have this day issued a writ for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Gwydir in the State of New South Wales to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Mr Archibald Ian Allan. The dates in connection with the election were fixed as follows: Date of nomination, Friday, 16th May 1969; date of polling, Saturday, 7th June 1969; and date of return of writ, on or before Friday, 4th July 1969.
Mr WHITTORN presented from certain residents of the State of Victoria a petition showing that because of uncontrolled slaughter of kangaroos for commercial purposes, Australia’s largest marsupial faces the danger of becoming extinct; as a tourist attraction the kangaroo is worth a limitless amount of revenue to this country; and future generations of this country have a right to see these unique animals alive.
The petitioners humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government place a complete ban on the export and local sale of kangaroo meat and fur products; and that the establishment of a Commonwealth body to control kangaroos be formed immediately.
Petition received and read.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. The right honourable gentleman will be aware that tourism plays a major role in the individual economies of many countries. 1 ask him whether he will consult with his colleague the Minister for the Interior with a view to producing more films similar to the film From the Tropics to the Snow’ for display overseas as an attraction for tourists to visit Australia.
– I am sure that the honourable gentleman’s question is a constructive suggestion. I know that my colleague the
Minister for the Interior, within whose jurisdiction the Australian News and Information Bureau operates, is quite active in having still and movie pictures in both colour and black and white for use in promoting Australia, particularly overseas. The function of tourism has become increasingly important, ft has been attended to by the Department of Trade and Industry and formerly by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. There is no special portfolio for tourism, but my colleague Senator Wright, who is the Minister for Works, is nominated as the Minister assisting me in regard tq tourism. In fact, he operates almost independently of me. I have an ultimate responsibility for it, but with the aid of officers of the Department of Trade and Industry who are specialising in the field of tourism Senator Wright is conducting the Government functions in this regard. But I will consult with the Minister for the Interior on the point that the honourable gentleman has raised.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the seriousness of the drought problem being experienced in Queensland at the present moment, the Government has arrived at any decision regarding the request for assistance from the Queensland State Government.
– Yes, Mr Speaker, the drought in Queensland is assuming, and indeed I think it could be said to have reached, a serious state and we have decided tha’ wc are prepared to. meet the full cost of drought relief for 1968-69 in excess of a sum of $4m, which we will be meeting SI for $1. This places during this year a limit of S2m on the amount that will be required from the Queensland Government, that is, for ordinary relief measures. We have also acceded to a request by the Queensland Government that non-starving stock which are being moved out of areas where there is no food left to slaughter should be eligible for freight rebates to be paid for their movement. We have, also suggested to them that at the beginning of the next financial year, 1969-70, we should confer concerning any further measures according to the situation which may exist in Queensland at that time. We have suggested to the Queensland Government that we are prepared to facilitate through the
Australian Wheat Board a supply of wheat on credit terms in the same way as it has been supplied in other States, which from memory is 12 months credit and interest rates of some 43/4%, or of that order. It has also been decided to throw open the Shoalwater area, which is held by the Commonwealth, for such assistance as it may provide in additional food being available for stock.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. Is he aware that many special duties officers who are promoted from the lower deck are receiving ess pay than they would have received if they had remained as sailors and been promoted to chief petty officers? Does not the Minister feel that this will destroy the incentive for sailors to seek promotion to officer rank? Is the Minister happy with this position?
– I certainly am concerned about the position, which has been correctly set out in the honourable member’s question. This problem falls into two parts. Firstly, it is brought about by level of pay for the officer structure in the forces, but particularly is it brought about by the impact of group pay, which has meant that many chief petty officers have had their pay considerably increased. It has also meant that the SD officers, or those officers promoted from the ranks, have had their pay considerably reduced in relation to the chief petty officers whose pay has been increased. Promotion from the lower deck to the upper is very important to the Navy and the SD officers who are promoted from the lower deck to the upper deck are a very important part of the officer corps of the Navy. Indeed, 20% of our officers are former SD officers. Because this present position is inclined to destroy the incentive for people to seek promotion from the lower deck to the upper deck, I can assure the honourable member for Leichhardt that the Naval Board and the Government are particularly concerned about the matter.
– I address a question to the Attorney-General. I refer to a speech which I made in the House on 27th March, when I presented a comparison of
United States and Australian penalties for possession and peddling of dangerous narcotic drugs. Since Australian penalties for these offences are comparatively light and there is an apparent reluctance on the part of the courts to invoke the already lenient maximum penalties, will the AttorneyGeneral seek to include penalties as one of the terms of reference of the committee which the Prime Minister, with commendable foresight, set up under the control of the Minister for Customs and Excise to investigate this ever increasing nation destroying practice? If this is done an authoritative message might be given to the States that some of them are approaching this matter in an extraordinarily lenient fashion.
– I point out to the honourable member that when comparatively recently we passed the Narcotic Drugs Act, honouring our obligations under the Convention, we gave fairly close consideration to the matter of maximum penalties. There had been discussions on the subject with the States. In that Act we fixed a maximum penalty upon indictment of 10 years imprisonment with a fine of $4,000 as an alternative or cumulative punishment. The penalty upon summary conviction was, I think, 2 years imprisonment or a fine of $2,000. This would be one of the rare cases where we fixed a penalty of 2 years imprisonment upon summary conviction. I. could not say that this level of penalty would be generally agreed to by the States. There is a diversity of view, but the penalties we fixed probably represented the maximum consensus of opinion. The penalties werein line with current and modern penalties in force in the United Kingdom. They would be lower than some penalties in force in America. However, they are substantial penalties.
We have been reviewing the law in the Australian Capital Territory as far as this matter is concerned. At present the law does not cover the growing of these drugs and we had prepared an ordinance to amend, the law. But quite recently two decisions of the House of Lords have raised fresh legal difficulties, and we are now reconsidering the ordinance to cover those difficulties. As for the committee to which the honourable member has referred, itis a bit late to change its terms of reference, because ft has already met. The committee of Ministers has been preparing a report for our next and probably final meeting on Monday of next week. It is rather late to introduce into the terms of reference the matter suggested by the honourable member. 1 can assure the honourable gentleman that i will informally raise it. I will be attending the conference on Monday.
– Has the
Attorney-General received and considered the reasons for judgment given by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration on 25th February last in the case of Kevin Moore v. The Australian Transport Workers Union? Does the AttorneyGeneral recognise the urgency arising in the matter outlined in the judgment because already at least one Federal union finds that its members are threatened by a State court should those members, registered al both the State and Federal levels, continue to observe the rules of the Federal body? Will the Attorney-General hasten towards giving effect to the recommendations of the judgment at page 77 and place the matter before the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General at the earliest possible date and in so doing pay close attention to the present difficult situation in Western Australia?
– I receive reasons for judgment in all these cases but I must admit that I have not as yet given close study to the particular case to which the honourable member has referred. However, in view of the honourable member’s question I will study these reasons, and if anything emerges from that study I will write to him about the matters which he has raised.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. It follows his announcement yesterday dealing with the agreement reached between the Commonwealth and State Governments on deliveries of wheat for the 1969-70 harvest and the proposed first advance. Is he aware that the expected storage capacity in Victoria will be only about 50 million bushels while the expected quota for that State for the $1.10 a bushel first payment is approximately 65 million bushels? As the first advance will be paid only on the wheat delivered to the handling authority, and any excess wheat will have to be stored on the farm at a cost far in excess of what it would be if sufficient storage was available at railway sidings, I ask: Whose responsibility is it to erect storages? What moneys will be used for this purpose? Has the Commonwealth ever lent money for this purpose? Finally, has any approach been made to the Commonwealth to assist in this emergency?
– lt is the responsibility of the State, primarily of the bulk handling authority - in the case of Victoria the Grain Elevators Board - to provide arrangements for the storage, financing and handling of wheat. The Australian Wheat Board is having continuing consultations with such authorities with a view to providing emergency storage for the forthcoming harvest. Victoria has, I am told, permanent storage for 67.5 million bushels. The actual amount of storage that will be required this year will depend on the amount of carryover, and we have no accurate estimate of that as yet. The Commonwealth on one occasion, in 1.955, provided emergency funds of $7m for the provision of storage, but that is the only occasion on which finance has been provided for this purpose, As I have said, it is primarily the responsibility of the State to finance the handling and storage of wheat, and jio request has been made to the Commonwealth for assistance.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister which would have particular appeal to him as a former Minister for the Navy. It concerns the proposal that the Commonwealth should commemorate the bi-centenary of Captain Cook’s sighting of our eastern coast by establishing a national maritime museum in the Sydney Customs House opposite the landing site of the First Fleet. In answer to a question by the honourable member for Warringah 18 months ago the late Prime Minister said the suggestion was certainly full of interest and would be carefully studied. I ask the right honourable gentleman whether a decision has been made on this subject and when it will be announced.
– J remember the proposition which, I think, was initially pat forward by the State Government of New South Wales - although 1 may be wrong on that - that there should be a nautical museum established at Commonwealth expense as a memorial to the bi-centenary of Captain Cook’s arriving. There has been no decision taken by the Commonwealth to do this. Should a decision be taken to do it I would certainly announce it at the first appropriate opportunity, but at this stage I would not hold out great hope that that would be done. Neither would 1 say that it would be impossible.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Has he read of the discovery by Dr Bornstein of Monash University of ‘ a new means of helping sufferers from diabetes? Is this one of the greatest discoveries in the field of health ever made in Australia? ls it true that a considerable sum of money is required to develop this discovery before it can be made fully available to patients and that other countries could carry on this development in such a way that Australia might lose the benefits of this research? Could the Government consider making a special grant available, to develop the research work in this field, either to Monash University or to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories?
– Mr Speaker, I have read of the discoveries made by Professor Bornstein and his team at Monash University in thi& field in discovering a drug which, I think, is ACG and which does appear to offer quite exciting prospects for the treatment of diabetes. . There are undoubtedly some years of further research required before we would reach the stage where commercial manufacture of this drug would become possible.
Professor Bornstein himself has been receiving financial assistance from the Commonwealth through the National Health and Medical Research Council for a number of years and 1 expect that the question of further financial assistance to enable this to be further pushed forward in Australia will be under discussion between him and the National Health and Medical Research Council or him and the Commonwealth Government in the immediate future. Cer tainly, the Commonwealth will continue to take an interest in the development of this drug, and, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no suggestion that Professor Bornstein or his team is likely to give any rights to any overseas countries to manufacture this drug and to curry out the further research required.
– I ask the Minister for Health: ls it correct that he neither requires nor expects his Department to take any interest in or keep any records of the incidence of leprosy amongst Australian Aboriginals? ls it also difficult to obtain information relative to leprosy from State departments? If the Minister denies that this is so, why have not answers been given to questions No. 841 and No. 842 which 1 placed on notice on 9th October of last year?
– All I would say in answer to the question of the honourable gentleman is that 1 reiterate what I have already said to him in reply to a question on notice. The control of leprosy in Western Australia is the responsibility of the Western Australian Government. I have before me on my desk at the present moment, and I am considering currently, a reply in precisely those terms to the honourable gentleman’s question.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has been briefed with up to the minute information on the Biafra calamity. ls- he conversant with the horrifying film records being shown by relief agencies and the informative article in the latest issue of the ‘Readers Digest’ which sears the conscience surely of every reader? I ask: Is the Government prepared to set all hesitancy aside and send an urgent appeal to the British Government to intervene in a positive manner to stop the genocide occurring in the Nigeria-Biafra catastrophe which apparently is being sustained by arms and assistance from nations beyond the parties of the dispute?
- Mr Speaker, we are receiving through our High Commissioner in Nigeria and other sources information on the progress of the tragic Biafran-Nigerian dispute. Indeed, we have on occasions sought to take some small initiatives in this matter. Our own High Commissioner in Kenya went to Addis Ababa some time ago to attend a meeting of the Organisation of African States, if that is the correct description, and make an appeal to both sides for a cease fire, but unfortunately-
– African Unity.
– Well, the Organisation of African Unity. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful. I have discussed this matter also with the Prime Minister of Great Britain during the Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference and he, I know, is doing all that he can do to seek to see that this tragic situation is concluded, indeed, he has, as you know, recently paid a personal visit to the area to see what he could do and has been in correspondence with me about it. I do not see that we can do anything much more than in fact is being done.
– I ask the Minister for Defence: What stage has the reorganisation of the Department of Defence reached? What inter-Service committees have been abolished? What joint staff arrangments have been made to replace them? What success has the Minister had in recruiting trained mathematical analysts for the reorganised Department?
– I am happy to tell the honourable gentleman that the reorganisation within the Department of Defence to which he draws attention is fairly well advanced. I am also happy to tell him that there are coming forward a number of thoroughly suitable people to take over the new positions that have been created for scientific and other research and so on. The question hardly lends itself to a dissertation at this time and I do not carry sufficient detail in my mind. I will get him a written reply.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Immigration a question. Does the decision of the Security Council of 29th May 1968 prevent the entry of holders of Rhodesian passports to other countries save on humanitarian grounds? If the British Government accepts Rhodes scholars from Rhodesia at Oxford
University under these grounds, why does the Australian Government not accept Rotary exchange students to. Australia on the same grounds? Furthermore, why did the Government refuse entry to Australia of four Rhodesian women golfers for a championship meeting when they all held British or South African passports? Does the Government know that the international golf authorities are considering a refusal to allow any country to be host country for international meetings if golfers are excluded from that country for political reasons? Why is the Australian Government taking such vindictive action beyond the call of duty on matters appertaining to sport and education when the Security Council has no legal authority in internal matters such as Rhodesia’s dispute with Britain?
– Let me first say in response to the honourable gentleman’s question that the Australian Government has not taken vindictive action. I think this must be made clear. The attitude of the Australian Government was determined after the most thoroughgoing examination of all the situation that exists. There was a resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations. This was examined closely by the Government. The decisions relating to the resolution of the Security Council were announced at the appropriate time. I have forgotten the exact date, although the honourable gentleman mentioned it in his question. Since then all decisions that have been taken have been taken by me with the benefit of interdepartmental consideration. I must say that I am grateful to those people who have helped me to make decisions, which at all times are difficult, especially in relation to these matters. The resolution specifically related to those persons who were the holders of South Rhodesian passports. They were not to be admitted into any country except on humanitarian grounds. We have been doing that and sonic people have been admitted on humanitarian grounds. So far as specific organisations are concerned, such as sporting organisations which the honourable gentleman referred to, the Government considered that it was within the general’ tenor of the United Nations resolution that those people should not be given authority to come to Australia. This decision was taken in accordance with the tenor of the resolution and I am bound to say now, as I said when I commenced, that there was no vindictive element at all. Indeed there was regret on the part of those taking the decision and certainly on my part.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a supplementary question. I support his decision referred to in the question without notice by the honourable member for Chisholm though 1 certainly do not support his decisions referred to in questions upon notice in my name. I ask: When was this interdepartmental committee to which he referred set up? What matters is it empowered to advise upon - trade, immigration and so on - pursuant to the United Nations resolutions of December 1966 and May 1968?
– I believe that I did not use the term ‘interdepartmental’ committee’. That is the basis of the question. I. said that there was interdepartmental discussion and consultation for which I was grateful. Interdepartmental consultation and discussion occur when an issue arises upon which I need the assistance of that consultation.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Industry explain the measures that have been implemented to safeguard Australian lamb producers against the dangers of New Zealand lamb importations? Has a panel been established to watch the interests of Australian producers continuously? If so, how is the panel constituted? Is it a fact that approximately 3,500 lamb carcasses only have been imported during the last 6 months? Is the method of determining these figures completely reliable?
– The panel which 1 appointed to watch the importation of lamb from New Zealand has as its chairman Mr Shute, the Chairman of the Australian Meat Board, and as members one or two members of the Meat Board. A very experienced officer of the Department of Primary Industry, Mr Giles, is on the panel and there are also representatives of primary industry organisations which concern themselves with meat. These representatives are acceptable to the organisations and I think that almost without exception they are producers of fat lambs. They are very experienced men.
Their charter is to familiarise themselves with the whole issue, to watch carefully the degree of importation of New Zealand lamb, to try to anticipate what may come in, and to report to me on the circumstances and whether, in the opinion of the panel, the importation that is occurring or is likely to occur will be seriously prejudicial to the Australian lamb industry.
If I may divert for a moment, there was much more concern about the importation of peas and beans from New Zealand. In that case 1 appointed a similar panel and persuaded the New Zealand Government to join in that panel. I am about to issue a statement which will indicate that the operation of the pea and bean panel has been so successful that there has been unanimous agreement upon the degree of importation of peas and beans from New Zealand, and agreement upon non-disturbance of the market and upon other issues. This is the way in which I expect the lamb panel will operate.
T am sorry to say that I do not carry in my mind the quantities of lamb that have been imported recently, but importations were heaviest last winter. They have been really very light during the last 6 months. In January I think less than half a ton of lamb meat was imported. In February or March - I forget which - about 22 tons of lamb meat were imported. I have kept myself abreast of this. It turns out that of that quantity 21 tons were what is known as neck trimmings of a value of about 4c per lb. This meat was used probably for the production of pet food. That degree of importation carries no threat whatever to the Australian lamb industry. The situation is being watched very carefully and I can assure the honourable member for Riverina, and all the other honourable members who have been concerned, that what I have promised will be carried out; that is, we will watch the situation carefully and if there is any serious threat to the Australian lamb industry I will have recourse to our rights under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement and will take protective measures.
– I desire, to ask a question of the Minister for Trade and Industry arising from a previous question. Is fi not also true that during recent years shoes and textiles have been imported at a vastly increasing rate? Is it not also true that these imports are as menancing to the Australian economy as is the import of a few lambs?
– I think the first point I should make in reply to the honourable member’s question is that Australia, being the twelfth greatest trading nation in the world in terms of international trade, must never take the attitude that we will not accept imports, if we expect other countries to accept our exports. The point is not to exclude imports but to ensure that imports are not seriously damaging to our own industry. This is the Government’s policy. This is what will be done. 1 have referred to the establishment of an industry panel to watch the interests of the growers of peas and beans and also to an industry panel to watch the interests of fat lamb producers. I think that 35 or 37 industry panels have been established to advise the Minister for Trade and Industry as to the consequences which arise or are likely to arise regarding the import of various items. I know that industry panels are watching the interests of the footwear and textile trades.
– My question, which is addressed to the Treasurer, concerns the Income Tax Assessment Act. Has the right honourable gentleman or any senior officers of his Department ever acknowledged that many provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act arc difficult to follow, confusing and somewhat ambiguous? If this acknowledgment has ever been made by the right honourable gentleman, would he be prepared to concede that a technically qualified committee of review could well undertake a complete survey of the present Income Tax Assessment Act?
– 1 have never publicly conceded that the Income Tax Acts are difficult of interpretation and might be inconsistent. But I can sympathise on the question which the honourable member has asked, because I have very great difficulty in understanding the Acts and sometimes when a question is asked I have to make an investigation. On at least two occasions we have had inquiries into the Income Tax Assess- ment Act and the Income Tax Act. and where we thought it desirable we have attempted to make changes. I will look at the question and consult with my officials and, if necessary, with the Government. If we think that it is advisable that there should be another inquiry the Government will make up its mind on what it thinks is the wise thing to do.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Has a board been established in Perth to inquire into the alleged overprescription by doctors of some of the restricted antibiotics, such as Chloromycetin and other drugs? Is action contemplated against doctors who refuse to divulge details about patients’ illnesses on the ground that the secrets of their patients are threatened by the Commonwealth inquiry? ls it a fact that many doctors regard Chloromycetin as being more effective than penicillin in many cases? Is it also a fact that this drug is cheaper to the patient than penicillin? Is this inquiry considered by many doctors as a threat to their freedom to treat patients and a threat to doctorpatient confidence?
– My Department’s interest in drugs, of course, comes about as a result of its responsibilities for administering that part of the National Health Act which relates to pharmaceutical1 benefits. Pharmaceutical benefits are listed under regulations in relation to particular quantities and many of them have conditions attached to them - the so-called SP or special purpose prescribing. One of the functions carried out by officers of my Department is a continuous process of ensuring that regulations made in relation to pharmaceutical benefits and prescribing under them are observed.
For many years now information has been taken out by my Department in relation to prescribing habits. Where it emerges that regulations might not be observed a process of visiting has gone on by departmental1 officers to the doctors concerned. As far as 1 am aware the matter to which the honourable gentleman is referring in regard to the drug Chloromycetin is part and parcel of that process. There is no question of a board being set up. It so happens that Chloromycetin is a drug which is heavily restricted as a pharmaceutical benefit.
– The honourable gentleman asks why. It is because of a recommendation by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee on the advice of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee.
– But why?
-Order! The Minister is answering the question.
– The. Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee is not required to give reasons for its decisions. But even the most elementary inquiries in relation to this drug would disclose to honourable members that in certain cases it has very dangerous side effects indeed. I will inquire further into the particular matter that the honourable gentleman raised.. But I would imagine that the visiting that is being done and the inquiries that are being made of doctors that the honourable gentleman refers to are no different from the normal programme of visiting which has been going on in relation to the pharmaceutical benefits scheme for about 5 years and is designed to ensure that the provisions of the National Heaton Act and the regulations made under an Act of this Parliament are observed.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Is he aware of the fact that the South Australian Government has commenced work on the pipeline from the Polda Basin to Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula? In view of the vital importance of this water supply to the farmers and residents in the Kimba area, will he give favourable consideration to making a special grant to the South Australian Government in order to speed up this project?
– The project to which the honourable gentleman refers was looked at by the Commonwealth Government in association with a number of other projects which were put up to us for inclusion in the national water resources development programme. All told, I believe, some thirtytwo projects were put to us and through the officers of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and my own Department a priority list was produced. The project to which the honourable gentleman refers was not’ included in the shorter list because’ it was felt’ that the return from this project would : be lower than returns from some other projects.
The honourable gentleman will realise that there was a limit to the Government’s offer to increase contributions to States for water conservation. We said that we would spend about $50m and we. have made announcements of contributions slightly in excess of that amount to be made to State governments over a period of 5 years. A pipeline project was .included. A sum of $6m has been made available to the South Australian Government for a pipeline from Tailem Bend . to . Keith, but. 1 inform the honourable gentleman that the other project did not rate.,as high in priority and therefore was not included . in the scheme.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. What is Australia’s attitude to the proposal of U Thant’s representative that in parts of West Irian the Indonesian methods of consultation should be supplemented by a proper election? Is the pursuit of natives to. the. Papua and New Guinea border by Indonesian forces, armed with machine guns and mortars, related to crime in West Irian or to the crushing of dissent from Indonesia’s attitudes to West Irian’s future?
- Dr Ortiz Sanz, the representative of U Thant, and- the Indonesian Government, I think, are in agreement about the proposed method of taking the act of self determination. I think the honourable member will appreciate that if there is to be a method of having an expression of view by the people it should be uniform throughout the area. Otherwise- there would be considerable difficulty, first of all, in weighing the value olof a voting system adopted in one district and a consultation result obtained in another district. What sort of relative value would you give to decisions taken where one was by a majority vote? In the second place, I think it will be apparent that disputes could arise internally as to which districts should have their decision recorded by vote and which should be dealt with by way of consultation. As far as I am aware Dr Ortiz Sanz has accepted this view and he has agreed that the act of self determination by consultation as proposed by the Indonesian Government would be acceptable.
As to the second part of the honourable gentleman’s question, I am not aware of the precise reasons of all the people who want to cross the border. In a camp near the place where the last incident took place there has been a concentration of refugees who for various reasons have wanted to get away from West Irian. I understand that the Indonesian armed patrol which visited the camp created a panic there. 1 am not sure of the exact reasons why the patrol visited the camp; they have not been disclosed. But certainly people fled from the camp in panic and crossed the border, and an attempt was made to get them to go back. One must realise that any situation on the borders of two countries is a matter of extreme sensitivity. One has to be careful to respect the rights of each of the countries which has jurisdiction. We have been given the best assurances that we could obtain from the Indonesian Government that for ils part it will do its best to prevent any repetition of the kind of incident that occurred recently. So long as the Indonesian Government pursues this policy and does its best, obviously we can only await the outcome.
by leave - In my Budget Speech for 1968-69 1. referred to the Government’s decision in principle to introduce a scheme of drought bonds in order to assist people deriving the bulk of their income from grazing sheep and cattle in arid areas to set aside funds as a provision against drought, fire or flood. The amounts invested in drought bonds were to be deductible in the assessment of taxable income and were to earn interest. 1 mentioned that legislation to give effect to the scheme would be introduced when the details had been settled. The Government has now decided the main principles of the drought bonds scheme and has authorised me to announce these. It is at present envisaged that the necessary legislation will be introduced early in the forthcoming Budget sittings of Parliament. In the meantime, it will be useful to people interested in investing in drought bonds to have an indication of the manner in which the scheme will operate.
Graziers will be eligible for a tax deduction in an income year in respect of subscriptions to drought bonds where at least 90% of their gross farm receipts in that income year is derived from grazing sheep and beef cattle. The annual deduction will be limited to 20% of gross receipts from grazing sheep and beef cattle in the relevant income year. There will be an overall limit of §50,000 on the total value of bonds which may be held by any one person. While there will be no restriction on the purchase of drought bonds by any person, only those persons fulfilling the conditions mentioned will be eligible for tax deductions in respect of their subscriptions. In the case of farming partnerships, deductions for subscriptions to drought bonds will be available to each individual partner after taking into account his share of the partnership income. The scheme will not. however, extend to trust estates in receipt of income from grazing sheep and beef cattle.
The general intention of the scheme is that graziers fulfilling the conditions mentioned will be able, in good years, to invest in these securities. They will receive a tax deduction for the amount of their investment, which will be available to them as a reserve in times of drought, fire or flood. In any of these events, they will be able to redeem their bonds, the proceeds of which will then become taxable as part of assessable income in the year in which they are redeemed, lt is intended that drought bonds will be on sale continuously, in annual series running from 1st September to 3 1st August in the following year. The first series will probably come on sale on 1st October 1969, if the necessary legislation has been passed in time for this. Generally, the tax deduction for a particular income year will relate to drought bonds purchased in a period of 12 months ending 2 months after the end of that income year. This means that a grazier will have the opportunity to purchase bonds during July and August, and to claim deductions for those bonds in his return for the preceding income year. He will therefore be able, if he desires, to determine with some accuracy his eligibility for a deduction for the income year before making his investment in drought bonds.
The Government is, however, anxious that graziers should be able to take advantage of the scheme as soon as possible. A transitional provision, relating to the first series only, will therefore give subscribers the opportunity to claim a tax deduction for the income year 1968-69 in respect of bonds purchased between 1st October and 31st December 1969. The bonds will be issued with a maturity of 10 years and the first series will carry an interest rate of 3% . They will be issued in amounts of $100 and will be in the form of inscribed stock only. Bonds will not be transferable, although a special facility will be available for the purchaser of a farming property to obtain a tax deduction for an equivalent amount of drought bonds if the vendor agrees to dispose of them. The rate of interest payable on the bonds has been fixed at a comparatively low level for two reasons. Firstly, when the taxation benefits available to eligible graziers are taken into account, the effective return from the bonds wilt in most cases be considerably higher than the nominal interest rate payable. Secondly, the bonds are not intended to be purchased as an investment by persons who are outside the scope of the scheme and a high coupon rate would not therefore be appropriate.
The interest rate applying to further series of bonds will be fixed with regard to the general level of interest rates applying at the time of issue. The issue of the bonds in annual series will provide an opportunity to review the interest rate as well as other terms and conditions attaching to the bonds. Redemption of the bonds will’ be allowed in certain circumstances other than drought, fire or flood, subject to certain conditions. Where drought bonds are redeemed for any other purpose the subscriber will be liable to pay the amount of tax which he saved in the year of subscription by reason of his purchase of drought bonds, in such cases the proceeds of his bonds will be paid to him net of the amount of tax saved.
Redemption of bonds on account of drought will be permitted where the area in which the property of the subscriber is located has received inadequate rainfall over a sufficient period to have suffered a significant adverse effect on the normal pattern of production and has been declared a drought area for this purpose by the Minister for Primary Industry. The pre cise details of such declarations and the manner in which they will be publicised have yet to be settled. Redemption of bonds in the case of fire or flood, will be allowed subject to the subscriber satisfying the Commissioner of Taxation that he has suffered substantial loss of pastures or livestock from one of these causes. :
When, bonds are redeemed on account pf drought, fire or flood, there will be no limit to the amount of bonds .which may be redeemed. Redemptions,, will be permitted during the period of drought, or following a claim of loss because pf fire or flood, and for twelve months, after , the end of the drought or the occurrence of the fire or flood. When bonds are,. purchased in excess of the amount eligible for a tax deduction, redemption of the excess subscriptions will be permitted. Redemption: will also be permitted on maturity of the bonds and in cases of serious financial1 hardship. The redemption of drought,;. bond holdings for which a deduction has been, allowed will be required where a taxpayer ceases to carry on a business which qualifies him for a deduction - for example, on death, retirement or change of occupation - and in the event of bankruptcy or liquidation.
The bonds will be issued against an Australian Loan Council borrowing programme and the approval of the Loan Council to the terms of issue of each series will be required. Proceeds from sale of the bonds will be taken by the Commonwealth and will be separated from borrowings made under normal Loan Council ‘ Borrowing programmes. The Loan Council at its recent meeting agreed to these procedures.
– by leaveThe Opposition welcomes the announcement by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) but would point out that the Government has taken 8 months to make’ a decision on this matter, which was foreshadowed in the last Budget. We have been told that the Government hopes to be able to introduce the necessary legislation during this session. The important point is that the bonds will not be available until 1st October. One wonders what has been happening in the last 8 months. When the monsoon rains failed to come in Queensland in December, January and February it must have been obvious that the drought would be serious. In these circumstances it is difficult to understand why preparation of the necessary legislation was not accelerated.
One question that springs to mind is: Where will the small grazier in a drought stricken area find the money to invest in drought bonds? Remember that to a large extent his cattle and sheep have been wiped out by this drought and the succession of droughts in the last 10 years. Some properties have experienced four major droughts in the last 10 years. The scheme is, of course, an admirable one and will be of considerable benefit, particularly to large property holders who have finance to invest in drought bonds, but the Government should give some consideration to the position of the small property owner who may not have finance to invest in bonds. One cannot imagine a grazier seeking to borrow money from a bank in order to invest in these bonds. He may or may not be granted the loan, but it is difficult to imagine that a private bank would allow him to borrow money to invest in the bonds if he is already seriously in debt, as many smaller graziers are.
One of the features of the scheme which I do not like is the provision that at least 90% of the gross receipts - I assume these are cash receipts - must be derived from grazing sheep and beef cattle. Most sheep farmers in Australia run mixed farms. There are large areas of Australia where wheat is grown in rotation with wool. In a serious drought year the gross receipts of smaller graziers from wool and beef cattle may be less than 90% of the total receipts. This would make those property owners ineligible to participate in the scheme. This point may be clarified when the legislation is introduced. It is an important point, particularly in areas where there is arable land and a certain amount of grain is grown. My main concern, however, is for the grazier who has been hit by drought and may not have the money to participate in the scheme. If long term finance was available from the Commonwealth Development Bank or the Reserve Bank this would provide an excellent opportunity for such graziers to participate.
The Opposition sees good in any scheme which will minimise the hardship caused by drought. We look forward to the legislation being implemented. I hope the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) can bring the legislation into the Parliament before we rise at the end of this sessional period. Although, as I understand the Minister’s statement, investors will be able to claim tax deductions in the year 1968-69 if they invest before 1st October, I still say that the sooner the legislation is introduced the better, because then the whole scheme can be made viable. After all, the purpose is to help the smaller grazier. It is not absentee owners or big companies such as insurance companies which invest in properties that are in difficulties. I realise that the fixing of an upper limit of $50,000 will spread the benefit over as many smaller farmers as possible. I have no argument against the scheme itself. 1 think it is a good one. But I do suggest that the smaller man who finds himself in difficulties through no fault of his own should be given every assistance to enable him to invest in these drought bonds.
-I have received the following message from the Senate:
The Senate transmits to the House of Representatives the following resolution: It was agreed to by the Senate on Tuesday, 29th April 1969, namely, that the. Senate is of the opinion that the embargo on the export of merinos should not be removed at this time, and that the embargo should remain in force until a majority of those persons affected shall decide by referendum or other fair means in favour of removing or relaxing the embargo.
– As Chairman I present the 107th Report of the Public Accounts Committee which relates to subscriber trunk dialling facilties or STD. I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Honourable members will recall, that in the onehundredandfifth report which was presented on 20th March, your Committee stated that as part of its inquiry into the report of the AuditorGeneral for the financial year 1967-68 it had examined subscriber trunk dialling facilities. Because of the importance of that matter, however, your Committee decided to report separately upon it.
The evidence taken on this matter shows that since1959 the Government has adopted a telephone policy framed on a long term basis to meet the expansion of Australia and to confer progressively the benefits of new and improved techniques and modern equipment on the users of telephone services. A basic feature of that policy has been the provision of facilities which would enable nationwide subscriber to subscriber dialling. The evidence indicated that considerable progress had been made in the development of these facilities by 1968.
Prior to the introduction of STD in 1962 it was recognised during interdepartmental discussions that the availability of these facilities would offer scope for their unauthorised use in Commonwealth Departments. It had also been recognised however, that if Commonwealth departments were not prepared to use STD facilities because of their possible misuse, the confidence of business and privatesubscribers in these facilities could be undermined. It had therefore been decided, as a general principle, that access to trunk dialling equipment from Commonwealth department services should not be restricted. At the same time the Postmaster-General’s Department was prepared to apply restrictive devices to any subscriber services when specifically requested to do so.
Although STD was introduced in 1962 it was not until 1967 that the Department of the Treasury issued a circular to all departments informing them that while all reasonable precautions must be taken to prevent unauthorised and wasteful use of telephones, there should be no unnecessary impairment of their full and proper use for the performance of public business. Your Committee believes that a useful purpose would have been served if such a circular had been issued immediately prior to the introduction of STD in 1962.
In 1967-68 the Auditor-General’s office reached the conclusion that substantial misuse of telephone facilities could occur in departments and in June 1968 it suggested to the Department of the Treasury that an inter-departmental committee should be established to evolve a model set of instructions relating to the control of STD. The Treasury proceeded to arrange for the establishment of such a committee and also requested departments to attempt an analysis of theirtelephone accounts to enable the isolation of the factors that had contributed to increased financial allocations for telephone purposes.
The evidence taken by your Committee from the departments which it examined revealed significant differences in office instructions relating to the control of telephone facilities. In particular there was no evidence to suggest that departments apply controls through supervision to the private use of telephones for local calls or the use of telephones before or after normal working hours or during lunchtime recesses. The improper use of telephones in any of these circumstances can, however, prove costly.
In view of the differences in departmental practice that were discovered, and the wider based differences discovered by the audit review in 1967-68 your Committee believes that a full scale review of departmental instructions and practices should be. undertaken by the interdepartmental committee and that the committee should (hen evolve a model set ofinstructions relating to the control of telephone,facilities, including STD, for the guidance of departments.
The evidence takenby your Committee also highlighted the problems of telephone cost control that arise in buildings occupied by two or more departments. We believe that these problems, which have evidently been accentuated following the in roduction of STD should be given close attention by the interdepartmental committee.
I commend the report to honourable members.
– by leave- Looking at the matter from the point of view of an ordinary citizen who has a great deal to do with Commonwealthdepartments,I regret anything that would prevent officers of those departments acting with speed in dealing with the cases thatI bring before them. It is very important that they should have the capacity to dial a person directly and deal with matters that come before them, even at the lowest level of Public Service activity. It is my belief that the subscriber trunk dialling system is not being as extensively used as it ought to be. This is not due to any technical incapacity but rather to the cost, which places it beyond the reach of the ordinary telephone user. I would think that it ought to be part of our democratic procedures that telephone charges be reduced and that in fact, if we could reduce the cost of STD services as a result of the technical achievement of it, we would be achieving the objectives that the Committee has brought before the House. I believe that ought to be the objective as far as we are concerned.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) agreed to:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 13 May, at 2.30 p.m.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) - by leave - agreed to:
That the following paragraphs be inserted in the resolution of. appointment of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise: (5a) That the Chairman of the Committee may from time to time appoint another member of the Committee to be Deputy Chairman, and that the member so appointed act as Chairman of the Committee at any time when the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the Committee. (5b) That the Deputy Chairman, when acting as Chairman, have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of votes, also have a casting vole.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr McMahon, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
On 21st November last in a statement to the house I informed honourable members of the Government’s intention to introduce legislation during this session to provide for non-contributory units, within specified limits, in the Commonwealth superannuation scheme and also to reduce the degree of tapering in eligibility for pension benefits under the scheme. This Bill gives effect to the proposals I then outlined.
In my statement of last November I explained that the Government had given careful consideration to the position of members of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund who, at later stages of their public service careers, become entitled to take up additional units of superannuation pension but, because the fortnightly contributions involved are then so high, find it difficult or impossible to do so. The problem arises from the nature of the Commonwealth superannuation scheme itself. Being a benefit purchase scheme it requires the employee’s full share of the cost of additional pension entitlements taken up to be met by the officer over the remainder of his career, however short that may be. Thus while additional units of pension entitlement attracted by increases in salary are relatively inexpensive in terms of increased fortnightly contributions when an officer is still young, they become increasingly costly as the officer nears retirement.
Not infrequently the cost of taking up additional unit entitlements at later ages more than exceeds - sometimes by a wide margin - the increase in salary that gives rise to the entitlement. Officers in the lower levels of Commonwealth employment are affected just as much as those in the higher grades. In fact, because of the tapering of superannuation pension entitlements above a salary of $6,630 a year, the effect can be even more pronounced at the lower levels. On the other hand, the effect of increased instalment deductions for taxation consequent on salary increases bears more heavily at the higher salary levels. Honourable members will be aware that the Commonwealth contributes to the Superannuation Fund concurrently with the payment of benefits rather than at the time that the officer contributes. The standard amount of the Commonwealth’s contribution for each unit of pension payable to a retired officer is $65 a year or $1.25 a week. When an officer finds it necessary to forgo additional pension entitlement because of the cost of contributing for that entitlement, the Commonwealth at present in effect makes a saving at his expense. The officer in respect of whom this saving is made is usually one who has spent his working life in the service of the Commonwealth.
The provision for non-contributory units in the Bill will relieve this situation. The overall effect of the Bill will be to make it possible for officers, subject to meeting certain requirements, to take up part of their unit entitlements on a non-contributory basis if they choose to do so. These noncontributory units will, of course, carry a lower rate of pension than contributory units. The standard value of a noncontributory unit will be $65 a year, or fivesevenths of the standard value attaching to a contributory unit - $91 a year - the fivesevenths representing the Commonwealth’s share of each contributory unit of superannuation pension payment. Eligibility to take up a unit on a non-contributory basis will be subject to two main tests. The first is that at the time he makes the election to take up the unit on a non-contributory basis the number of units for which he is contributing must be not less than one-half of his full unit entitlement, as defined in the Bill, at that time. This will ensure that the officer must have already made a reasonable minimum contribution himself towards providing for a post-retirement pension. The second test is that, if he were to contribute for the unit at the time when he seeks to take it up as a non-contributory unit, his total fortnightly contribution rate would be in excess of 1% of his salary for superannuation purposes or, as expressed in the Bill, his fortnightly rate of contributions would exceed three-one thousand and fortieths of his annual salary for superannuation purposes.
The Bill also provides that at the time the officer makes the election to take up a unit on a non-contributory basis the number of units for which he is contributing must be not less than what was his full unit entitlement when he first became a contributor to the Fund. This provision will ensure that a late entrant to the Fund, who must expect to pay higher contributions because of his right to qualify for pension benefits on a basis similar to that applying to an entrant at an early age, will not benefit unduly by having an immediate right to take up part of his initial entitlement on a non-contributory basis. All non-contributory units will be age 65 units, that is their standard value of $65 a year per unit will be payable on retirement at age 65. This will be so even though all the officer’s contributory units have been taken up on the basis of retirement at age 60. To give the age 60 contributor the right to take up noncontributory units on an age 60 basis would give rise to anomalous and unfair situations. To ensure consistency with existing provisions relating to contributory units, the effect of an election by an age 60 contributor to take up a non-contributory unit will be to make him thereafter an age 65 contributor for all future contributory units he may take up. At the same time, the Bill preserves the right of an age 65 contributor, who has not previously exercised his option under the Act to change all his age 65 contributor units to age 60 contributory units, to exercise that option notwithstanding that he already has some noncontributory units.
Contributing on an age 65 basis does not preclude an officer from retiring voluntarily on pension at any time after he attains age 60. If he exercises that right he has the choice of either accepting an actuarially reduced pension or, alternatively, paying in a lump sum to increase the pension either partly or to its full age 65 value. Comparable provisions will apply to noncontributory units. On retirement after age 60 but before age 65, other than on account of invalidity, the pension value of each noncontributory unit will be five-sevenths of the value that would have attached to the unit if it had been taken up as a contributory age 65 unit. Similarly, the lump sum payable in this situation to increase pension attributable to non-contributory units will be five-sevenths of the lump sum payable in respect of comparable contributory units.
In the event of an officer being retired on invalidity grounds the full pension value of $65 for each non-contributory unit will be payable. In all cases the widow’s benefit attaching to an officer’s non-contributory units will be five-eighths or one-half of the pension payable to the officer in respect of those units according to whether the widow’s benefit, in respect of the officer’s contributory units is five-eighths or one-half.
So as to give a necessary element of flexibility to the non-contributory provisions, an officer will be able, subject to meeting the various tests, to take up on a noncontributory basis at any time a unit for which he has previously declined to contribute. This flexibility is missing from the provision in the present Act covering the taking up of previously rejected units on a contributory basis; such units can at present only he taken up in conjunction with the taking up of additional unit entitlements flowing from a salary increase or change in the salary point at which the provision relating to tapering of pension entitlements begins to operate. There is no substantial reason for this restriction and, as consistency between the contributory and noncontributory provision is desirable, the Bill provides for removal of the existing restriction. The requirement that an officer, who elects to take up a previously rejected unit on a contributory basis, must satisfy the Superannuation Board as to his physical and mental fitness is, however, retained. Because the Fund itself is not involved this requirement will not apply to noncontributory units.
The Bill also provides that certain officers will have the right to elect, within a period of 6 months of the dale of commencement of the legislation or within such further period as the Superannuation Board allows, to convert a limited number of existing contributory units to non-contributory units. Officers. who will be able so to elect will be those who are able to meet the various tests of eligibility for non-contributory units as at the date of commencement of the legislation. The units that can be converted will be limited to those the obligation to contribute to which came into existence on or after the date the officer attained age 40 years - the age from which contributions to additional entitlements become optional -and those held by the officer immediately before the date of commencement of the legislation.
There are two provisions of a transitional nature to which I should refer. The first will safeguard the position of a person whose eligiblity to convert rejected units to noncontributory units ceases shortly after the commencement of the legislation and who fails to elect while still eligible because, for example, he does not immediately become aware of. or is not able promptly to exercise, his rights under the new legislation. The Bill gives such a person the right to make one election which is retrospective to a time, on or after the date of commencement, at which the person is eligible to take up noncontributory units. The second provision covers a person who, only because he fails to pass the necessary medical examination, is not able to take up on a contributory basis any of his rejected units as at the date of commencement so as to enable htm to meet the 7i% of salary test applying to eligibility for non-contributory units even though he meets the other tests. Such a person will qualify for the non-contributory units to which he would have been entitled had he passed the medical examination.
These are the main features of the noncontributory unit arrangements. Other provisions in the Bill, which are essentially of a machinery nature to adapt the noncontributory unit arrangements to the existing contributory scheme and to other provisions in the principal Act, can be explained during the committee stage. As I mentioned earlier, the Bill also provides for reduction in the tapering of benefits in the scheme. At present, the unit entitlement of an officer with a salary of up to $6,630 per annum provides, if all the units are taken up on a contributory basis, a pension equal to approximately 70% of salary. Above that salary, however, there is a tapering of unit entitlements which results in a maximum pension of approximately 50% of salary for officers at the highest level. The change in the unit scale formula being made by the Bill will reduce the tapering by half by increasing the latter percentage to approximately 60%. As provided in the Bill the non-contributory units provisions and the reduction in tapering will come into operation as from the date of royal assent.
The Government believes that the noncontributory arrangements will be warmly welcomed by contributors to the Superannuation Fund as they will meet a problem that has been a source of increasing concern both to the Government and to Public Service organisations. 1 commend the Bill to honourable members.
– May I suggest that it would help the debate if the Treasurer were to supply us with a few hypothetical examples showing how the unit arrangements will work.
– I will try to get the hypothetical examples for the honourable member, but in any event should he wish to have explanations of any part of the Bill I will make officials available to him.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the consideration of Order of the Day No. J, Government Business, being continued until 3 p.m.
That grievances be noted.
– In the last few years particularly, the people of Australia have become more and more conservation conscious; Whilst we in this Parliament have not had petitions about the Great Barrier Reef, we have in this session alone had numerous petitions from people in all parts of Australia requesting that action be taken for the preservation of some of our natural flora and fauna, more particularly kangaroos. The aspect of conservation about which I wish to. speak this morning relates to the Reef, our assets and especially our beaches. In recent times much activity in the mining of our beaches for minerals has been carried out, especially along the northern coast of New South Wales and the Queensland coast, and permission to do so has been granted by the relevant State governments under certain conditions.
The particular area to which I wish to refer is at the lower end of my electorate of Wide Bay on the present boundaries. The area belongs ‘to the Commonwealth and is known as the Double Island Lighthouse Reserve. It is at the east of the Cooloola sand mass. Being a lighthouse reserve, it remains under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Australia and not the Queensland Government. Several applications have been made for mining rights in the area, which includes the Cooloola sand reserve. These have been vigorously opposed by conservationists in the Noosa area, assisted by other conservation conscious people throughout Queensland. It is believed that the mineral sands extend through the area of Double Island to Fraser Island.
Applications were made some time ago for permission to mine the Double Island lighthouse reserve. Double Island is a geographical misnomer in that it is not actually an island but is an area that is joined to the mainland. From a distance its two highest peaks appear to be islands and so it was given the name of Double Island. After long talks with conservationists the then Minister for the Interior, the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), decided that under certain conditions approval would be given for mining in this area. An extensive report on the conditions was prepared by Mr Coaldrake of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Brisbane. 1 pay a tribute to him for the work that he has done. I believe that Mr Coaldrake. who is himself a noted conservationist approached the matter with the view that as nothing was being done it might be possible to get something done by allowing sand miners into the area provided they complied with certain conditions that would ensure the retention of stability in the area. It is not so much the mining of the actual beaches that concerns conservationists generally but a disturbance of the high dunes behind the beaches. In some places nature is eroding the dunes, but any disturbance by animals or persons, and by rain and wind as in cyclonic conditions could cause the sand masses to move.
I have been disturbed by rumours that the Commonwealth Government is about to hand over this lighthouse reserve to the Queensland Government. I am perturbed at this suggestion because I should hope that the conditions laid down by the Commonwealth in respect of sand mining would be observed. On 18th March I put on notice the following question to the Minister for the Interior:
The reason why 1 am disturbed that the area might be returned to Queensland is that the Queensland Government has a different attitude altogether to the Commonwealth on this matter. In this respect I refer particularly to Fraser Island, which is a continuation of this beach and which is the largest sand island in the world. I mentioned a little earlier the Great Barrier Reef and the nationwide support for its preservation and protection, particularly against drilling. Fraser Island, which is about 50 miles south of Lady Elliot Island - the last coral island of the Great Barrier Reef - is about 77 miles long, has a maximum width of 16 miles and rises 790 feet above sea level. Fraser Island has, over a period of time, been made available for -‘mining: leases. Leases have been granted, although none has yet been worked. There have been dredging leases and special mining leases as well as permits to prospect.
To my way of thinking the State Government’s attitude is to sell anything for which it can obtain a quick dollar. It has no regard for national assets.’ As I said, Fraser Island is a sand island. It has been shown that’ ‘any disturbance of this sand could destroy some of the greatest natural features of the island. Whilst the island is over 700 -feet above sea- level it contains a number of ‘ fresh water lakes. This is unique on- a sand- island. Lake McKenzie, which is 300 feet above sea level, is one of the largest lakes. Normally when it rains the water seeps through the sand, which acts as a sponge, but the fresh water lakes on this island retain the water. Geologists, like Dr Whitehouse, suggest that an accumulation, of peat, ash from bush ferns and . decayed plant life has formed an impervious surface over the sand which enables the water to be held. It is quite likely that any disturbance . of the sand in the vicinity of the lakes will result in the destruction of the lakes.
Most of Fraser Island is under the control of the Queensland Forestry Department which, I must say, generally is conservation conscious. If, however, the Mines Department says that a lease should be granted the Forestry Department must provide good reasons for refusing permission to mine in the area. With national parks, 6f course, permission is never granted but because most of Fraser Island is under the control of the Forestry Department the Government has not seen fit to declare any part of the island as a national park. A number of areas have been set aside as beauty spots but beauty spots are to be included in mining leases. The Queensland Government has adopted an irresponsible attitude and this is one of the reasons why I am apprehensive about the handing over of the lighthouse reserve on Double Island to the Queensland Government for the purposes of granting mining leases.
The Commonwealth Government has undertaken a considerable amount of research into beach conservation. In the
Snowy Mountains work has been done in connection with the stabilisation of areas of vegetation in order to protect areas which are subject to erosion. This type of knowhow should be applied to our beaches for their protection. It is only when areas like the Gold Coast are affected by erosion that action is taken. I believe that the resources of the State Government are not sufficient., I suggest that , more Commonwealth assistance should be given.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. …
– -In following the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen). I. should like to speak on a completely different subject, lt concerns probably 95% of the population of Australia, particularly the younger people, some 240 of whom,] have spoken to in the last 3$ months.. They are people who have not had the advantage of a university education, who have not .had the money or perhaps the qualifications to go to university but who, nevertheless, fulfil a very active role in the community and are probably the backbone of the community.. These are the young people who are growing up. I should like also to speak on behalf of 95% of the university students in Australian universities who have convictions and, set ideas about government policy, foreign policy, their own education, careers, hopes arid aspirations for the future, but who are not given to attempting publicly to sway public opinion by militancy, by subversion, oy at times corruption, by violence and by tangling with the police. These are students who are going through university, who are attempting a varying degree of courses with a view, to going into the world later, and who. are putting their education to a common cause and using it to earn a few dollars and penis. 1 shall mention to the House a rather disgraceful incident that took place in Adelaide 21 to 3 weeks ago. This was on the same night as a violent demonstration which took place outside the Department of Labour and National Service Office in Currie Street, Adelaide, where some 300 students mixed it, so to speak, with the ‘ South Australian police force. I have testimonies from three of those students who say it was their aim to encourage, to intimidate and to attempt to catch the police force and members of the foi ice force in a compromising position, ney were hoping particularly to have the police shown throwing fists and using truncheons. I should like to compliment members of the South Australian police force on their behaviour during this first university protest - this anti-Vietnam war, anti-conscription demonstration. I congratulate them for the tolerance and leniency that they showed in handling what was not a cross-section of university students, what was not a representation of the young people of Australia today, what was not the university as a whole, but those who constitute the 5% who are disenchanted and some who were not of that 5% and who are not university students. I would like to show my contempt and disgust for the way in which they went about their proceedings.
This is strengthened still more by what they did that night to the Regional Director of the Department of Labour and National Service in South Australia, Mr Bill Sharpe. Mr Sharp is a man who has given long and valuable service to the Commonwealth. As I say. he is the Regional Director of the Department in South Australia. In the last month he has had to stomach insult after insult from this rat-bag organisation - the Students for Democratic Action and also the Students for Democratic Society. On this night, 115 of these people blanketed Mr Sharpe’s house in the metropolitan area of Adelaide. Let us not forget that Mr Sharpe is not a politician. He is a public servant executing his duty as all would agree he would have to do. These people blanketed his house and turned two loudspeakers on to his front door from a distance of 35 feet and carried on a trade for 2i hours. This unreasonable action is not typically Australian. I do not think it is usual for this sort of thing to take place in Australia today. I, along with most other people, particularly the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay), deplore this sort of action because we know that five of the participants in this incident were paid up members of the Communist Party. I feel sorry for Mr Sharpe and his family. Let me say at the same time that the dealings I have had with Mr Sharpe have been complimentary.
I want to talk about a matter which is important. Four weeks ago, al the beginning of April, there was a university protest demonstration on the 15th floor of the Australian Mutual Provident Society’s building in King William Street, Adelaide. Some 24 or 25 students attended. They sat on the floor in front of the counter. They occupied all the sitting space. There were 9 people waiting to see members of Parliament, and of these 9 people, 5 were elderly folk who needed a seat. The students’ attitude and conduct were disgraceful. The placards which they displayed bore true testimony of what I am also going to say. I refer to the sending of photos, pamphlets and pictures through the post to 13-year olds, showing babies with bayonets sticking out of their backs. On the occasion of this demonstration in the AMP building two American business men were in Adelaide to see a member of Parliament at a particular time. When the Americans stepped out of the lift all they could see was a huge sign in front of them which said: ‘Stop the war in Vietnam’ or ‘Conscription must go’ or ‘Down with Gorton’ or something like that.
Regardless of the view held - and I admit that the minority has an entitlement to hold its own view - is it right and reasonable that intellectuals - people who have such a militant complacency towards student activation - should occupy pretty well the whole of the 15th floor of the AMP building in Adelaide, should impede parliamentarians in their duty and should prevent the public from seeing parliamentarians or in fact from taking rest and comfort on the settees and couches that are provided for them? But most important of all, the impression it leaves I do not think is good. I suggest to the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) or to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) that on all parliamentary office floors in Australia, university students, when they are more than six in number and providing that they do not have a definite appointment, should not be allowed inside the actual precincts of the parliamentary offices. The students who were involved in the demonstration in the AMP building got around the matter by saying that they were going to see two well-known left wing South
Australian members of Parliament. Of course the Commonwealth Police were absolutely powerless to do anything.
I should now like to refer to a violent rally which was held in Adelaide 2 weeks ago and which some 300 students attended. I have already complimented the South Australian police force on its moderation in handling this rally. I think that 1 speak for the whole of South Australia when I say that. But this rally was not so much a demonstration of student thinking or student thought towards a particular political principle or policy - in this case, Vietnam; it was an attempt, as the Minister for Education said recently in Adelaide, to tear down established practices, to tear down law and order and tear down authority, and in their place to substitute nothing.
– That is the typical comment which I expect to hear from the honourable member for Wilmot.
– What are you talking about? 1 am on your side.
– I am sorry, I misunderstood the honourable member. There were 300 students at this rally. Recently at a student meeting I was asked by some 120 students what I would do if J were placed in their position. Yesterday I noted in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ that the Police Commissioner in South Australia, Brigadier McKinna, gave a very complimentary and well worded address on how to get your point of view across without impeding the public. In South Australia today there are the SDA Students for Democratic Action and this bogus left wing Communist organisation - Students for Democratic Society whose propaganda is swallowed hook, line and sinker by some. One leading radio station in Adelaide next day flew the Vietcong banner outside the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Three of the members of these organisations were arrested, and 2 days later they were seen protesting in Sydney. They were able to convince a sizeable section of the population that they were earnest in their endeavours. The point I want to make is that the very great majority of university students want to dissociate themselves entirely from the militant, irresponsible, stupid actions of this small minority. Is it not unfair and some what ironic that the good actions which the majority of students- undertake receive virtually no publicity in the Australian Press today, yet the militant actions of a verbal diarrhoea few receive front page publicity on almost every occasion? If the House wants proof of Communist subversion in universities then I, and probably also the honourable member for ‘Boothby, will be very happy to supply- it. >
– As I have a matter of national importance to raise I do not propose to spend a great deal of time on the subject brought to the attention of the Parliament by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Andrew Jones). I make only passing reference to it and say. that I do not know why he does not join the police force. He is a selfconfessed pimp on a conscript soldier in uniform - ‘ -
– Order! 1 again remind the honourable member for Grayndler of the Standing Orders of this House.
– 1 say that he dobbed in a conscript soldier in uniform, who was working in the course of democracy to have a member of the Australian Labor Party elected to Parliament. Today he is attacking the freedoms of the people and complimenting the police force. I would not say that he is an undercover policeman. I think he is working for the police force, and it is beyond me why he does not put on the uniform. Having said so much, 1 will keep in mind the honourable member’s speech and deal with it more’ extensively later, lt is unfortunate that such a young member of Parliament, who thinks he’ has a great future, spends so much of his’ time dobbing in people instead of concentrating on carrying out Parliamentary work. I think that this is somewhat unfortunate both for the Parliament and for him. I suggest that in the few- months he has left to him in the Parliament he should reform and express himself in this Parliament more in keeping with the responsibility of a national representative.
At the risk of offending probably some of my own colleagues as well as other honourable members, let me. say that I believe we are in what appears to be an academic and intellectual age, and that changes have been proposed in many things in that atmosphere. This applies particularly to the question of the tariff protection policy in this country. Therefore today I wish to direct a few remarks to what I consider to be an excellent address which was recently given to the Australian Chamber of Manufactures by none other than the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen). I am pleased that the address was given. I do not wish to praise the Minister unduly, but he clearly dispelled certain doubts which must have been in the minds of the manufacturing industries regarding certain recommendations which were recently made by the Tariff Board. As honourable members know, it has been suggested that the basis of Australian tariff protection should be changed and that certain ceilings should be placed on protection. A . number of other radical moves and suggestions have been made. The matters raised iri the Tariff Board report have caused concern for the huge number of people who are employed by manufacturing industries and the people who own them. Therefore I ‘ shall refer to the speech made by the Minister for Trade and Industry in which there are a number of important parts. I wish to quote these parts briefly. The Minister said:
As pari of this policy of growth I want in turn to say something direct and positive on Tariff policy.
In the course of his speech the Minister outlined the tremendous contribution that manufacturing industry has made to the development of this country. He went on to say:
I and others have stated many times our intention to give adequate protection to Australian industry.
The Minister said:
Our principle is to ensure that there is adequate support for economic and efficient industry which on those terms is judged to be worthy of protection.
The speech of course covered a number of matters and I mention those two or three points in particular because they are of tremendous importance in view of recent Tariff Board reports. The Minister said, according to the copy of his speech that 1 have been given:
Tariff policy is the responsibility of Government, both in general and in relation to every single decision.
I am in agreement with that point of view because if this were not the case 1 believe that changes in protection could be made to the detriment of industries. The Minister went on to make this important comment:
That is a very important statement. He went on to say:
The Government has to decide, in each case, whether or not it should accept the Board’s conclusions and implement them. The Government cannot, and will not, run away from this decision of hand it over to someone else. The Government will decide, and accept the responsibility for its decisions.
The Minister then dealt with the important suggestion that there should be a limit to protection on Australian industries, which everyone who believes in the protection of Australian industries should oppose. To my mind there should be no level, provided the industry is recognised as being one that can add to the development of this country. The Minister said:
The appropriate level of protection in any particular case can only be determined on the basis of a careful consideration of all the facts relevant to that particular industry. There can be no question of any pre-determined upper limit to the level of protection which might be justified.
I believe that is a sound approach to a very great national problem. He went on to say:
We know from experience, that completely unforeseen circumstances, quite outside Australia and entirely beyond our control can overnight change radically the level of protection required.
I say to the Minister for Trade and Industry that 1 believe he has undoubtedly set a practical approach to this problem. He went on to say.
But this by no way means that the Tariff Board or the Government should ever regard any particular level of protection as an upper limit beyond which industry cannot be regarded as economic or efficient. Similarly there can be no particular level of protection which an industry can regard as its inherent right. The level of protection and industry needs must be determined on the basis of a careful assessment of all the facts including the effects on other industries and the economy as a whole.
I have dealt somewhat elaborately with this speech because I. believe it is one that requires some elaboration in view of the important statements that were made. The Australian Labor Party with a fundamental background of having established and protected Australian industries has more than a passing interest in maintaining those industries on an economic level and at the same time maintaining the policy which this Party made famous, if i may use the term, at the time when Mr Scullin was Prime Minister of this country.It is interesting to note that Australian manufacturing industries today employ 28% of the work force. In addition, it is estimated that indirectly the employment of 50% of the work force is due to the manufacturing industries. Also 1,300,000 people are employed in manufacturing industries. It is estimated that about 318,000 people are employed in the building and construction industries. The value of the production of our factories is $6,887m or about 30% of the gross national product.I am one who believes that we should expect our workers to be paid a reasonable and adequate wage. The Labor Party believes that we should maintain a high standard of living, full employment, an expanding economy and a continually expanding immigration programme. It believes that workers are entitled to such conditions as long service leave and annual holidays. It believes in national industries and asserts that we ought to manufacture our goods and employ our own capital where possible in these industries. I believe that if industries are to fulfill these obligations to the Australian community they are entitled, as the Deputy Prime Minister has stated, to complete protection by any government in the interests of the people concerned and of this country.
It is not protection in many cases that is causing prices to rise but the excess profits that are made sometimes by those who control the distribution of goods. It is the responsibility of government to control excess profits by imposing an excess profits tax if necessary or some form of price control. But our own people are entitled to be employed in our industries. I am not concerned about what has happened to employment in Japan and other nations. This is the responsibility of their governments. I resent the Japanese and others - particularly the Japanese - coming to Australia and telling us that this should be a primary producing country and that they should produce all the secondary goods of the world.
Therefore todayI join with those who support a strong policy of protection for manufacturing industries.I join also in the sentiments expressed by the Minister for Trade and Industry.I am pleased to see that he has not wilted in the face of terrific pressure at stages to alter a policy which we know has served this country well. Before the Tariff Board there are complaints about or inquiries into matters which are impinging on the prospects of the manufacture of certain Australian products. I say again that I join with those who seek to protect Australian industry. I am pleased that the Deputy Prime Minister has made this statement and I say that the policy enunciated, outlined and founded by the Labor Party in the- days of the Scullin Government is one that has served this country and its people well, particularly in the war years and later. I hope that any government of this country will continue that policy in the face of what I consider to be academic and intellectual arguments against the real practical politics of maintaining industries, employing the people and also maintaining a high standard of living.
– I wish to express my concern and what I believe to be general concern in the community at the number of near violent demonstrations taking place in Australia at the moment and to have a look at their origins and those, who in my view, control and manipulate these demonstrations. The guide lines for this Australia wide anarchist type activity by students and other professional agitators was conceivedand laid down at a so-called anti-war activist conference held in Sydney over the Australia Day weekend in. January 1967. It was decided at this conference that anti-conscription groups should be formed in high schools; that a central organisation of ‘peace-minded high school students’ should be set up; that all kinds of anti-establishment activity should be encouraged among students; that students should be encouraged to challenge conservative aspects of school discipline’, to campaign for ‘elementary civil rights in schools’, and produce and distribute ‘antiwar news sheets’; and that they should seek aid and guidance from university students.
University student groups organised forums of secondary school students during August last year to discuss the political activisation of such students. It also issued a news sheet entitled ‘Tabloid Underground’ in high schools. In South Australia just recently we have seen evidence of similar news sheets with names such as ‘Grass Roots’ and ‘Student Underground’. All of them are examples of student Trotskyism, which aims to transform society by permanent revolution. The ‘Centre for Democratic Action’ was set up in Carlton, Melbourne, last year also to serve as a general organising centre for the protest movement. Organisations affiliated with this centre include the ‘Students for Democratic Society’, the ‘Draft Resistance Movement’, the ‘Vietnam Co-ordinating Committee’, the Vietnam Study Group’, and so on. It can be seen, therefore, that the secondary school student groups operate within the structure of the general protest movement and of the radical university student movement.
A later development in Melbourne was the distribution in secondary schools and technical colleges of a Communist inspired pamphlet entitled ‘Evade the Draft: Refuse to Register’. The authors of this pamphlet are two young men. One is only a 17-year- old boy named Adrian Desaily, and the other is Mr Max Ogden.
The Conscientious Objectors Discussion Group which was set up early in 1968 by Max Ogden and a D. Files, the president of the Draft Resistance Movement, sent posters advertising its activities to the headmasters of about 400 Victorian secondary schools with a request that such posters be displayed to students. In Sydney another organisation called the Secondary School Students for International Tolerance and Equality was set up. In May 1968 we saw evidence of its activities when, with assistance from the Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament, the Communist front organisation known as the Union of Australian Women, the Young Socialist League of Australia and the protest movement Save Our Sons, it staged a students peace ride to Canberra, which was referred to in this House.
– Do you say they are Communists?
– I arn dealing with those who control these movements, and I say they are Communists.
– They control themselves.
– Prior to this, in April 1968, another organisation, the High School Students Against the War in Vietnam was set up in Sydney. These bodies are Trotskyist and come under Trotskyist influence. The new organisation was doubtless formed to compete’ with the organisation called the Secondary School Students for International Tolerance and Equality. The new body produces a journal entitled Student Underground*, and a newsletter at the address of Resistance and Vietnam Action Campaign. [Quorum formed.] I think it should be placed on record that this is apparently a sensitive area in the mind of the honourable member for Will’s (Mr Bryant). 1 was not attacking him or his Party. I was anxious to have recorded in Hansard the results of some research I have done over the last 2 or 3 years on student demonstrations. It is all material which has appeared in newspapers and which places without any doubt the blame for the activation of student demonstrations. If my comments are offensive to the honourable member for Wills, then I am sorry. Unfortunately 1 will1 not have sufficient time to deal with much of the information which 1 have collected over this period of time. At least some of it will, have been recorded in Hansard and the reaction of the honourable member for Wills ‘ will have been recorded.
I think I had reached the stage where I was dealing with Mr Bob Gould and his Third World Bookshop in Sydney, which prints and distributes all this Trotskyist material. A conference of young people was held last October at a camp near the Jenolan Caves in New South Wales. This meeting was for the purpose of discussing Communism and guerilla warfare tactics. Some twenty-five students attended, and more of these camps and activities are planned for the future. Unfortunately the honourable member for Wills has succeeded in making it impossible for me to deliver the material which I have, so in the time that is left to me I will deal with an incident which occurred in this House the week before last and which 1 very sincerely deplore. The tactics that were displayed and supported by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) are, to my mind, totally deplorable. They are symptomatic of what is happening in society today. So as to be accurate .1 will quote from Hansard of 16th April what the honourable member for Reid said. 1 put it to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and to the House that the whole purpose of these demonstrations and riots is to discredit the police force.
– Ha, hal Oh dear!
– 1 do not know whether the honourable member for Wills is laughing because he agrees with me or because he disagrees. But this is what I believe to be the purpose of the riots and demonstrations. 1 want to place on record what was said in this House in a recent adjournment debate by the honourable member for Reid, because it is something that should be known by the people who live in this country. The honourable member for Reid, referring to a demonstration which took place in Sydney a couple of weeks ago and at which he was present, had this to say:
They were extended for about 23 to 30 yards in front of the Wentwortb Hotel where there was a conference of international bankers. I saw a group of brutal sadists, with Fascist mentality - I use that term advisedly - young thugs with police uniforms on, barging in amongst the young students to push them back.
These are the words which the honourable member for Reid used in this place. I wish to dissociate myself from them.
– You were not there.
– 1 was here.
– You were not in Sydney.
– I wish to dissociate myself from the remarks and sentiments of the honourable member for Reid. I will take the opportunity at a later date to deliver to the House the material which I have been working on for the last 2 years.
– I can reduce the mental efforts of the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). I am surprised to know that it took him 2 years to gather the information which he has. He could have gone down to the offices of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and obtained the prepared files. That would have saved him a lot of time spent in research. The honourable member for Boothby is emerging in a true McCarthyist fashion. 1 would say he has taken the title from the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). The honourable member for Boothby must be going through a particular school, not a guerilla warfare school but a McCarthyism school, because he has shot to the front in the short time that he has been in the Parliament. The real truth is that these boys are demonstrating against unjust laws. They are demonstrating against the Government’s support of the Vietnam war in which 34,000 United States boys have been killed and over 2,000 Australian boys have been killed or wounded. In my opinion these demonstrators are exemplifying true Australian nationalism, with a greater love for their own people than any honourable member on the opposite side of this House. I want to refer briefly to something which was attributed to me . by the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin). I. can hear the empty vessel rattling over there now.
– 1 rise to a point of order.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member for Mitchell will resume his seat.. The honourable member for Hunter will observe the Standing Orders. I ask him to withdraw the remark he made about the honourable member for Mitchell.
– I withdraw the remark, but honourable members will agree that I was extremely provoked the other night in your absence, Mr Deputy Speaker. During the debate on defence installations the honourable member for Mitchell, as recorded at page 1468 of Hansard, said that in the past month I had been seen four times in Kings Hall speaking to the Third Secretary of the Russian Embassy. My recollection is that it is about seven times since the commencement of this Parliament.- 1 extend courtesy to all foreign embassy officials when they are in Parliament House. We would never see the honourable member for Mitchell speaking to any of them because they would not be bothered talking to him. He did not tell the Parliament about a; former Minister for Air who went to Moscow immediately after he was defeated in an election. No one on this side of the House would be so low as to suggest that that former member of the Ministry went, to Moscow to impart secrets to the Russians. It would be wicked to make such a suggestion. We protected his good name and no one raised the matter. But Mr Osborne, who is now chief of staff of the Liberal Party in New South Wales, was in Moscow a few days before 1 arrived there in 1962 after attending an international conference.
– He is not under suspicion.
– lt is a pity that the honourable, member allows his mind to put others under suspicion. My purpose in rising in this grievance debate is to refer to the exorbitant costs involved in obtaining a divorce in. Australia today, particularly in New South Wales. It is high time that this national Government did’ all that it can to reduce these costs and. to modify our divorce laws. Some legal men must get a great feast from the unfortunate marriages that break up. Iri New South Wales the number of divorces last year mounted to 13,000. The estimated cost of a cheap divorce in that State is from $300 to $500.. So if we take 13,000 divorces at $500 we gel an amount of $6. 5m. This amount is being paid in costs to legal eagles. We have members of the legal profession on this side of the House, and it is an honour to have them in our Party. But is it any wonder that the honourable member for Moreton sought to enter the legal profession soon after he became a member of this Parliament?
The number of divorces is growing each year. Divorce is affecting our society like a plague. The Parliament seems to take little or no notice of this social problem. Honourable members should be concerned with the need to reduce the number of unfortunate marriages which finish on the rocks. Divorce strikes recklessly at all sections of the community, irrespective of age, status or position. The recent Eskell- Armstrong legal battle in Sydney is a shining example. A marriage of 30 or 40 years can break up as easily as a marriage of mixed up teenagers. Sometimes we become closely associated with divorce when it strikes at close friends or relatives. There is a growing wave of protest in our community against the high cost of obtaining a divorce and the Divorce Law Reform
Society is to be commended for its great and sustained interest in this alarming social problem.
The high cost of divorce is one problem. The delays in the finalisation of divorce suits and the inhumanity of the process are other problems. The necessity to line up outside a divorce’ court and then to go in and appear before a ‘judge wearing a wig and gown puts people in such a mental and nervous state that they cannot relax, act normally and state their case as clearly as they would iri other circumstances. The Divorce Law Reform Society recommends -^-1 support its recommendation - the introduction of family courts in which there would be no barristers or solicitors. In such a forum those present .would be the couple concerned, a judge -and marriage guidance counsellors. ; ,
Unscrupulous lawyers are referred to in a recent book written by Michael Zander. The title of the book is ‘Lawyers and the Public Interest’ and I commend it to honourable members. It states that a cheap divorce costs from $300 to $500. I suppose that this refers to : simple undefended divorce cases. Can anyone in this House tell me what it is that causes the cost of a simple undefended divorce case to mount to such an exorbitant figure? In an expensive case, which I suppose is one that is contested, the sky is the limit. The parties would have to write a blank cheque for their lawyers, who insist on being paid before they take up the case. I understand that in a divorce case that commenced recently before the courts in Sydney, allegedly due to a disagreement over access to the children, and which has not yet been finalised the costs have spiralled to $33,000. Is it any wonder that the honourable member for Moreton took up law?
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended 1 was appealing to the Government to try to do something to reduce the high cost of divorce. It is generally recognised that the minimum cost of a divorce is about $500. A further $500 is usually added to the account when access to children of the marriage is in dispute. Another $500 is usually added if maintenance is in dispute and a further $500 is added if the property settlement is disputed. Constituents who are in difficulties over the cost of divorce are reluctant to approach their parliamentary representatives. One woman of whom I know has had to pay $276, and is only half way through her divorce. When she discovered that she could not meet the full cost of divorcing her husband she had to decline to go any further in the matter. She is a woman of poor means. She was talked into divorcing her husband by a solicitor who knew of her financial plight, as he had handled maintenance proceedings on her behalf several times before talking her into proceeding for a divorce.
In another case a very poor constituent of mine was asked by a solicitor to pay $700 for a mere undefended divorce case. Social workers and others hold the view that hundreds of couples live in a private hell because they cannot afford the high cost of not loving. The greatest tragedy in these circumstances is the suffering of the children of such marriages, who could not and did not ask to be brought into the world. Theirs is a heritage of hate and distrust which in many cases leaves them psychologically affected well into adult life. Their young lives are dashed against the rocks in the seconds that it takes to dissolve a marriage. In my opinion the divorce courts are turning out a race of financial and emotional cripples who will spend the remainder of their lives trying to recover.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– During the years that 1 have been a member of this Parliament I have noticed that whenever an honourable member says something that most other honourable members consider not in the best interests of Australia a debate ensues and people contradict the arguments originally advanced. The debate on the issue may last for several hours. This sort of thing happens every so often. But if an honourable member says something that is in the best interests of this country nothing more is done about it. No commendations How from honourable members. This afternoon I intend to change the pattern by saying how pleased I was to hear the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) a few days ago make what I considered to be the best statement that 1 have heard for a long time. The honourable gentleman, answering a question on 17th April about student demonstrations, said:
Honourable members should be aware of what is happening at the present time.
He was alerting the Parliament to what is happening. He continued;
A philosophy is being developed to the effect that one way in which to change the law is to disobey it systematically.
He further said:
No matter how sincere some people may bc in adopting a deliberate policy of disobeying the law and ‘being prepared to take the consequences, one of the consequences which must flow is to bring the law into contempt and to reduce respect for it. The people who will benefit from this are not the decent people in the community, whom the law protects and whom the police protect, but those who are cunning, those who are brutal, and those who have a plan or a point of view to advance which is not acceptable to the majority. These are the only people who will benefit front erosion of respect for the law and the rule of law. 1 believe that to have been one of the best statements made in this House for a long time. We must remember that these things are happening in the community. We know that most university students are young men and women of the highest calibre but we know that some of them have been led along the wrong road regarding Australia’s part in world affairs and the things which the people of this country stand for. Most people do not stand for what is being said and done by this minority of students. The students who act in this way must be led by somebody. You do not have demonstrations in country districts. The boys who work on the farms do not get together to demonstrate. Demonstrations occur only where these young people congregate in cities and universities. As I have said, the students who act in this way must bo receiving instructions. Does anybody think for a moment that these young men and women would get together of their own accord and demonstrate, saying that so much is wrong with our society? Of course they would not. They are called together. They are told what to do. Their actions in heeding the advice given to them are pretty grim. Every member of this Parliament should read carefully the remarks of the Attorney-General. All Australians should know what is happening.
Having said that, let me now say that I did not agree with the views expressed by the Attorney-General in answering a question that I asked about the Australian flag. On 15th April 1 asked the AttorneyGeneral:
Does the Attorney-General contemplate introducing legislation that will provide an appropriate penalty for the act of burning or attempting to burn our national flag? If not, will he give the subject further consideration, for the Australian people honour the flag, and H must not be degraded by anyone under any circumstances?
In his reply the Attorney-General said, among other things: . . respect for our flag depends much more on the feelings and the sentiments of the Australian people than on any law which we might pass.
The sentiments of the Australian people are to honour the flag. Our flag will be honoured in this country or elsewhere in the world only if we stand for the principles that have made this country great. This is why we honour the flag. The AttorneyGeneral has implied that we should leave the matter of honouring the flag to the people; if they wish to burn the flag it is just too bad. I do not support this view. Would anybody suggest that we should take the same attitude towards murder? All people are opposed to murder; they do not want anybody to commit murder. We do nor wait until it is committed; we have a penalty which serves as a deterrent.
Our flag has been protected in many a well fought battle. Men have laid down their lives for it. Legislation should be enacted to provide a stiff penalty for anybody who burns or attempts to burn the flag. This would be a deterrent to young people who may not have any regard for the flag and may, without careful thought, try to burn it. The flag is a sacred thing. Leaving out of consideration Christmas Day and the Easter period, in my opinion the three greatest days in our calendar are Australia Day, Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. How many of our people regard these days as occasions for a holiday instead of as a holiday for a great occasion? Disregard for these things is increasing all the time. On Anzac Day some people even placed a notice on a Cenotaph stating that we should outlaw war and not glorify it. Anzac Day does not glorify war. We observe Anzac Day in order to give thanks for the men who were ready and willing to lay down their lives so that we may today, and for centuries to come, I hope, live in peaceful occupancy of this great free country.
People take things for granted. At a meeting which I attended not long ago a lady said: ‘My boy should have a good education, lt is his birthright.’ I think every boy should have a good education but. as 1 said al the time and as I repeat here, it is rot to say that this is a person’s birth right. The right to :a:n education was won fOr us by men who were prepared to lay down their lives. If - those men had not been prepared to lay down their lives we would not have this- ‘Parliament and we would not have good schools in this country. As for young people ‘ having the right to a good education, let vis give honour where it is due - to the people who made these things possible. No words of mine can add to their fame. Nor for as long as gratitude holds a place in the hearts of men must we allow our forgetfulness to detract from their renown. People in Australia are taking many things for granted. I know that interest in Anzac Day is dwindling. People attend the morning . service and then rush away to a football match or some other sport. This is a great national day on which Australia celebrates its attainment of nationhood. 1 believe our memory of it should always remain.
– What about Light-hour day?
-One Labor member asks ‘What about Eight-hour Day?’ All I can say to him is that our future and even our present have been ‘made possible only by the sacrifice of the men we honour on Anzac Day. Nothing has been gained by any individual or nation except by sacrifice. The sacrifice of these men should be recognised on Anzac Day in greater measure than it is today. No one should say that Anzac Day is a day on which we glorify War. This is completely wrong. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) continues to interject. He does not believe in what I am saying but the Australian people believe in it because 1 am talking about our national heritage. We must give thanks to the men to whom we owe so much. They have given us in this Parliament the chance to speak in freedom.
While our flag flies all Australians can stand beneath its folds in the knowledge that they remain free.
– It is ironic that I should follow the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) in this debate. In the Second World War we shared the experience of being prisoners of war of the Japanese. We both made our individual contributions towards defeating the Japanese fascists, and in many ways 1 have respect for the honourable member. But he seems to have forgotten the crimes that he saw committed in the last war, particularly in prisoner of war camps. He seems now to think that we should condone the brutality in Vietnam, that we should accept the bombing with napalm of women and children in that country, that we supported the most powerful nation on earth in its attempts to bomb out of existence one of the most backward peasant nations on this earth. This is where I differ from the honourable member for Mallee.
The honourable member argues against demonstrations. In common with other honourable members on the other side, he cannot understand why the youth of this nation is disturbed. He cannot understand why the young people should insist on demonstrating.
– They are disobeying the law.
– The honourable member replies that they are disobeying the law. He quoted the remarks of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) to the effect that the people who are demonstrating are not the decent people in the community. Of course, Socrates was not a decent person in his community! Of course, Jesus of Nazareth was not a decent person!
– Christ disobeyed the law.
-Yes. He broke the law of the land in his time. Of course, Mahatma Gandhi was not a decent person because he disobeyed the law of his day! Martin Niemoller, who opposed Nazi Germany, was not a decent person either. Of course Chief Albert Luthuli was not a decent person either! Yet he received the Nobel Peace Prize but he has lived in prisons, or under special surveillance, under the repres sive laws of South Africa. Martin Luther King was likewise not a decent person because he opposed the laws of the land! We on this side of the House believe that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Injustice is being done to the young men of this country. Many of them are being conscripted against their wishes for overseas service.
Before the suspension of the sitting the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) said how disturbed he was that as a member of this House he had to associate with the presence in this chamber of the honourable member for Reid. He said he wanted to dissociate himself from the remarks I had made about witnessing the brutality of young thugs - and I use the word advisedly - in police uniforms making sadistic attacks on university students in Sydney recently. He stated that the students wanted to destroy the police force and to discredit the police force. What he and other honourable members opposite do not understand - nor do they want to understand - is that these young students are demonstrating peacefully, non-violently, against the conscription of 20-year olds and the sending of them into this bottomless pit of Vietnam.
The old men of this Government - and even the young men of the Government of military age - are conscripting these 20- year olds and sending them to the jungles of Vietnam but they have not the moral courage to go there themselves. In this brutal conflict in Vietnam the so-called civilised nations of Australia and the United States are using napalm against women and children. They have dropped more bombs on little Vietnam than they ever dropped on the whole of Europe during World War II. Our young men who have studied the Nuremburg trials and the crimes committed during the Second World War have said: ‘We have a conscience and we want to speak out against this war in Vietnam and demonstrate against it. We have the moral right to stand up against it.’ It is about time that we in this Parliament showed them some respect. They are the great men of our era. Men of the calibre of Bill White who hold themselves out as conscientious objectors have the courage to go to gaol for their beliefs. We should be proud of men like Simon Townsend and
John Zarb. We should be proud that they are Australians and have the courage to stand up for their rights. . I rose today to speak not on the question of student demonstrations or of Vietnam. I rose to speak on the Government’s homes savings grant scheme. This scheme was introduced as a political gimmick in 1963. It was propounded by Sir Robert Menzies to persuade’ young people to vote for the government of the day. The scheme provided that if a couple saved $1,500 over a- period of 3 years they would be given $500 by the Commonwealth Government. The maximum amount that they could spend on a house and land and remain eligible for the grant was fixed ‘at that time at: $14,000. In 1967 it was increased to $15,000. At the present time in the metropolitan area df Sydney, and I have no doubt in other capital cities, it is practically impossible for a young couple to buy a block of land and a home for less than $15,000. I represent a working class suburb in which real estate values are not as high as those in the electorates of many honourable members opposite. Yet it is difficult to. buy a block of land for less than $5,000 in my electorate. Recently a young man informed, me he had paid $4,870 for a block of land. Because the value of this man’s house and his block of land exceeds $15,000 by a few dollars, it was indicated that he would be excluded from receiving a homes savings grant under the Act. I have put forward to the authorities the contention that the Valuer-General valuation of his block of land is only $3,300 but that, because of land speculators, he was forced to pay $4,870 for it. The authorities would not take into consideration the Valuer-General’s valuation. He has been excluded from receiving the benefits of the Act.
Something is crook if the applications of electors of honourable members on the Government side in the Sydney metropolitan area are being accepted. The minimum cost of a block of land in the metropolitan area of Sydney, particularly in the areas encompassed by the new electorate for which the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) will stand at the next Federal election, is between $7,000 and $8,000. A home must then be built on this land. The value of that home must not exceed $15,000 which is the maximum level beyond which no payment is made under the Homes Savings Grant Act, I ask the Government to increase the maximum value of home and land combined beyond $15,000 to allow young men and women who are building’ homes to obtain the benefit of this grant. It is more ‘than time that the grant’ was increased. This -amount was set at $500 in 1963. Inflation is galloping in this country. It is about time -that the amount was lifted to $750 or, probably better, up to $1,000.
The Government should face up to ‘ its responsibility. Action is long overdue. The Government should stop using these political gimmicks. I ask the Government to give serious consideration to raising the maximum level that attracts’ a’ grant above $i 5,000. I ask the Government to increase the’ value of the grant’ from $500 to ari amount I have suggested.’ I ask the Government to give serious consideration to this problem. , .
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.’
-Does’ the honourable member for Mallee claim to have been misrepresented?
– Grossly,’ Mr ‘ Speaker. I will explain it. The honourable member for Reid has used one of. the. oldest political tricks., He said that I. said,, when quoting, People who demonstrate are not the decent people in the community’. He went on to build his case up by stating that a lot of very good people perhaps ‘had demonstrated.
– What, did ,the honourable member say? ,,’..i; . .,
– I will ‘tell the House what I said. I was reading:’ There’ is no doubt about what I said. I quoted from what the Attorney-General said as reported at page 1218 of .Hansard of. Thursday, 17th April 1969. Let me read what he said:
The people who will benefit from this are not the decent people in the community.
That is what the Attorney-General said. It is a completely different thing. One statement refers to people who demonstrate-
-Order! The honourable member shall not debate the. question.
– The other statement deals with people who benefit.
– Mr Speaker, I think that this is the first time in this House that three honourable members, ex-AIF Malaya, have stood up one after the other in a debate. I congratulate the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) on the sentiments that he expressed. - 1 sympathise with the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). He has not recovered from the rigours of the campaign in which he took a very excellent part. He does not realise that he was then a member of a police force fighting on behalf of the freedoms of which he is so proud now. He does not realise that if he and others with him had not taken the action that they took at that time he would not be able to denigrate now the police force and get away with it. But I hope that he will realise that. I hope that he will recover mentally. Some people took a longer time than others.
– Order! The honourable member shall not cast any aspersions upon another honourable member.
– I hope that he will-
– Mr Speaker, I ask that the honourable member for Chisholm withdraw those remarks; they are offensive to me.
– No, I am not inclined to ask the honourable member to withdraw the remarks. He was expressing a wish. He was not saying that that was so.
Speaker, if I have offended the honourable member for Reid by anything that I have said, I point out that I have great respect for him as the soldier that he was and I therefore withdraw it. 1 hope that he will some day hear the words of those who did not return:
When you go home, tell them of us and say, For their tomorrow we gave our today. lt is because of that and because of the sentiments that were expressed by the honourable member for Mallee and by other honourable members in this House that I wish to take up another question dealing with much the same problem. I support the Government one hundred per cent in the action that it has taken in sending Australian troops to Vietnam.
– The old reactionary.
– Empty vessels make the most sound.
-Order! I remind the honourable member for Hunter that he has spoken already in this debate. He is interjecting continually. If he pursues this course further, I will have to deal with him.
– I support the Government. Those who have been lucky enough to survive two world wars, as I have said before, do not find any enjoyment in the fact that we in this day and age still have to ask members of the younger generation to stand up for the security of Australia and for the freedom of the free world. In sending these troops to Vietnam, the Government is taking action to defend the security of South East Asia in the present and Australia in the future.
If any of the disbelievers on the other side of the House want to read something. I remind them that I have asked them on several occasions that they read Mao Tsetung’s ‘Blueprint for World Conquest’ published in 1953. If they still say that that is too long ago, will they read the articles in the ‘Peking Review’ in September 1965 by Lin Piao, now acknowledged as the successor to Mao Tse-tung, expounding the same theory. If those honourable members do not believe in the domino theory - and there are a number of so-called intellectuals hiding behind the shelter of the university cloisters who do not believe in that theory - I would ask them to read a pamphlet recently published by the Vietcong themselves expressing item for item the domino theory and what they will do after they have taken over Vietnam.
Finally, if these honourable members do not believe the truth about what is going on in the Paris Conference and the danger in the action that is being taken by the Hanoi authorities, I indicate that I. have here in my hand a very interesting document entitled: ‘Directives of the Politbureau on Peace Negotiations and Party Objectives and Actions’, lt was published some time ago, but only recently in Vietnamese in Saigon. I do not know of any other copy around in Canberra. It sets out what the Vietnamese would do in the peace negotiations, why they would go into them and how, in the meantime, they would build up supplies and ammunition on the road down the Ho Chi Minh trail. Set out clearly are all the reasons why the peace negotiations are not progressing and the dangers of being led astray by thinking that the Communists still do not believe that everything comes out of the barrel of a gun or that any means justifies the end. That being so, 1 hope that every member of this Parliament, and particularly the Government, will support up to 100% the troops whom we have asked to go to Vietnam in the interests of our ultimate security.
Mr Speaker, we are not doing this. As I have said before, through questions, we are betraying them by assisting the enemy to obtain supplies, equipment and ammunition. We are doing this by allowing Polish ships to go on regular runs to Haiphong and then come to Australia to pick up back loading at cut rates. I was told, when first I asked about this question, that we had no authority to stop Polish ships coming here because of the International Navigation Treaty. When I pointed out to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) that Poland had not signed that Treaty, he investigated the matter and found that I was correct. The excuse then comes up that they are only tramps and that they are rather difficult to stop, but that if they were on a regular run the Government would have another look at the position.
The Minister can find out that they are on a regular run as easily as I can. 1 found out that they are on a regular run. 1. know the sailings, when they are supposed to sail from the Baltic ports, when they arrive in Singapore, when they go to Haiphong and, within 2 or 3 days, when they are due here to pick up back loading at cut rates. Why cannot the Government find this out? J can find out what they are off-loading in Haiphong. I say without fear of any contradiction that it is not only food supplies and clothing but arms, ammunition and other equipment which are being used against Australian troops. Therefore, if we support this action without getting up and making all the protests that we can, we are supporting a Government that is betraying Australian troops that it has sent into the field and promised to give 100% backing.
As one who was in Malaya and Singapore, on the receiving end of the scrap iron sent to Japan, I protest as strongly as 1 can at the Government’s failure to take any action. 1 do not know why it does not lake action. The Minister has now come into the House. He gave me the first excuse, but it was wrong. Poland has not signed the treaty. He gave me a second excuse, as I have just said. He said it was not on a regular run. He can find out the regular run for himself as easily as I can. 1 say that the Government has no right to send troops to Vietnam and allow this sort of betrayal to go on behind their backs. Why send them there if the Government intends to stab them in the back by assisting the enemy to get; arms and munitions with which to cause casualties? This is utterly reprehensible and I hope the Government will take another look at it and take speedy steps to stop it.
– I wish to raise a matter of national importance and of major importance to the electorate of Newcastle, lt is the question of Federal interest and intervention in the development of the ports of this country. Continually we hear Ministers make statements in this place to the effect that Australia has balance of trade problems, that we must do this or that and that we must encourage foreign investment in Australia to help solve our balance of payments problems. Trade is the sole responsibility of the Commonwealth. There is only one way that a maritime nation can trade and that is through its ports. The Government, like Pontius Pilate, continually washes its hands of any responsibility for the financing of the development of Australian ports. The time is long overdue for the Government to make a clear and concise statement on its position. What does it propose to do to implement a planned campaign that will improve ports throughout Australia?
It is admitted that the State governments are responsible for the construction and the operation of ports. We accept that position, but we must also accept that the Commonwealth Government is the controller of the nation’s finances. The State governments do not have the finance and they do not have the means of raising sufficient money to enable them to carry out the development that is needed. In the limited time available to me I will deal only with ports. In recent months the Premier of New South Wales has announced that his Government proposes to spend $75m on the development of Botany Bay as a major port in New South Wales. The need for this development was created by the congestion that now exists in the port of Sydney. Within the last month the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd announced that it would spend SI 50m on expanding the section of its works at Port Kembla. The Premier followed this by announcing that it would cost between S50m and S60m to expand Port Kembla to keep pace with the requirements of the company. A statement was made some time ago by the Premier that it would cost roughly $ 18.5m to deepen the port of Newcastle to 40 feet.
These are major developments. It is obvious that the New South Wales Government cannot meet this expenditure out of the finance that is available to it. These developments can be undertaken only if the Federal Government gives some assistance. I want to quote from an answer given by the Premier of New South Wales to a question asked by the member for Waratah in the State Parliament, Mr Sam Jones, on 18th March 1969. He asked what the Government proposed to do and when did it expect to commence the deepening of the port of Newcastle to 40 feet. The Premier included a lot of dressing and padding in his reply, setting out what had happened previously, but I shall give that part of his answer which relates to the matters that should concern the Commonwealth Government. In his reply the Premier said:
One of the problems facing the Government is that the Loan Council is not exactly generous in fixing borrowing limits. New South Wales needs a lot of loan money for works of this sort, not to mention education, hospitals and so on. 1 assure the honourable member that the Government recognises the importance of harbour improvement both at Newcastle and at Port Kembla, where a great deal of work is also needed. The Government will use all the money available for this purpose that it can get ite hands on. When J go to Canberra next June to argue the case for more realistic loan limits 1 shall be glad to put forward this sort of argument, which is a strong one not only in the interests of the people of Newcastle and Port Kembla, and the State; it is also very definitely in the national interest. 1 shall have great pleasure in doing the best I can along those lines.
As the Premier said, one problem facing his Government is that the Australian Loan Council is not exactly generous in fixing borrowing limits. This unfortunate position has existed for a considerable time. Not only should the Commonwealth Government be more realistic and more practical in making loan allocations for port developments throughout the Commonwealth; it should also be making grants. When the Government was in dire electoral straits in 1962 and 1963, it made some direct grants to the Government of New South Wales for the development of coal loading facilities and for the development of the ports themselves. In this way it gave some real and material assistance for the development of ports. Yesterday a statement was made by Sir Edward Warren. He is the Chairman of Coal and Allied (Sales) Pty Ltd and is the leading figure in the coal mining industry in New South Wales, if not in Australia, today. It is important to keep in mind just what this gentleman had to say. I do not always agree with him industrially, but I agree with him on these aspects of national development, which is the concern and the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. Sir Edward Warren has just announced that a new coal mine will be opened in the Newcastle district at West Wallsend, which is in the electorate of the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James).
– lt could not be in a belter electorate.
– 1 agree. It will cost $9m and it will produce some 600,000 tons of coal a year. Those facts are incidental to the point I am making. The real crux of the matter is contained in the statement made by Sir Edward Warren. A newspaper reported his statement in this way:
Sir Edward said the rising demands of the coal export trade made it essential that the New South Wales Government give urgent attention to the need for increased depths at New South Wales coal ports to bring them into line with world standard requirements for large bulk carrier shipments. …
At Port Kembla, Sydney and Newcastle, new coal shiploading installations have been constructed to speed up the shipment of coal.
Australia has since become a major supplier to Japan, and in 1968 exported 38.7% of Japan’s imports of coal.
With new contracts recently signed and others in prospect, it is clear the coal handling capacities of New South Wales ports will have to be substantially increased.
A target depth of 45 feet should be set to accommodate ships of 70,000 to 100,000 tons which are now entering the international coal trade. . . .
New South Wales will be placed at a serious disadvantage through the higher freight costs applying to the ships up to 40,000 tons now being used.
The main competitors for New South Wales in the Japanese market are from Queensland and North America, where major works are being undertaken to deepen the harbours and approach channels. . . .
The Federal United States budget includes a proposed appropriation of $6,100,000 for the continued deepening of the 14-mile Thimble Shoal Channel in Chesapeake Bay at Hampton Roads from 40 to 45 feet.
The new Neptune coal terminals at Vancouver (Canada) have been developed at a cost of $7m, and an extra $5m is to be spent on a rail loop for unit trains, a big storage area and ship-loading equipment.
The point is that the Governments of Canada and the United States of America are prepared to spend money to assist their industries to develop and to win trade agreements with other countries. It is time that our Government gave serious consideration to the provision of a similar type of assistance for the States in Australia. There should be a planned. Commonwealth programme of port development throughout Australia in order to promote trade. States should not be expected to meet this financial commitment. Just as we have a planned 5-year road programme to which the Commonwealth Government makes a substantial contribution, there should likewise be a planned port development programme to which the Government makes a substantial contribution. Just as this Parliament is responsible for the construction and development of airports throughout Australia it likewise should be responsible for the development of shipping ports throughout Australia.
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I was faced with a similar situation not long ago when t had only 4 minutes to speak on the important question that justice is nonexistent in Australia without money. Although I spoke for only 4 minutes I received a tremendous number of letters from people who had been charged extortionate fees for litigation. Since that occasion the Bar Association has increased its fees considerably. I suppose that of all the precious ingredients of democracy, law is the main ingredient; yet here in Australia we cannot get justice unless we have money, and money in a big way. Without any reference to any court or any authority the higher echelon, as it likes to be described, of the law, increases salaries and does npt apply to anyone or do anything. The position is getting out of hand. When I walked out of this chamber after making my celebrated 4-minute speech a person trained as a barrister but who has not practised as a barrister said: ‘Les, everything you said was all right, but it has been going on since the sixteenth century and you have not very much chance of altering the position.’
– He was right, Les.
-Order! I remind the honourable member for Hunter that this ks not the first time during this debate that one honourable member has addressed another honourable member by his Christian name.
– Dickens tried to alter the situation in the last century. But if we plug away at it we will ultimately prove how unjust, how unreal and how undemocratic is the process of law as related to charges and fees. I have a document in which the Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draftsmen was directed to appear in court because the employers feared that there might be a stoppage. The employers’ costs in this matter amounted to a mere $1,104. The learned counsel appeared in count for 1 hour 20 minutes and his fee was $180. For a conference his fee was $65. When the Association applied to the Industrial Court to have the costs taxed the charge was reduced to $806. lt is about time that we took the legal profession out of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and let both sides state the facts, so cutting down on the costs of litigation.
– Order! It is now 3 p.m. and the extended time for the grievance debate has expired. I put the question:
That grievances be noted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-I remind the House that during the course of the last debate on three occasions the Christian names of honourable members were called across the chamber. There is no need for me to remind honourable members that this is not in accordance with the dignity of the chamber andI request honourable members to refrain from this practice within the House. However, I commend it to them outside the House.
Bill presented by Mr Fairbairn, and read afirst time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. This Bill is one of four concerned with grants which have been announced recently under the national water resources development programme. The Government has offered a grant of up to $6m under the programme to the State of South Australia to accelerate the completion of the Tailem Bend to Keith pipeline scheme. The national water resources development programme was announced by the late Prime Minister, Mr Holt, in his policy speech in November 1966. Under the programme the Government proposed to make available about$50m for selected water conservation projects in the States, over and above the States’ own . rural water conservation programmes. Honourable members will recall that the Parliament has already legislated to provide up to $20m to Queensland to build the Fairbairn Dam on the Nogoa River, and up to 43.6m to Victoria for salinity reduction works on the Murray River. The form of this Bill is similar to that legislation.
Under the Federal Constitution responsibility for the assessment, development and control of water resources rests primarily with the State governments, and the programmes of water conservation being undertaken by the States bear ample testimony to their recognition of the need to develop and make available as much water as possible for use in rural areas and in towns and cities. However, following on the successful Commonwealth-State co-operation in the accelerated programmes of water resources measurement, to which the Commonwealth is making a significant financial contribution, the Commonwealth Government decided that an acceleration of the national effort in water conservation works was called for. The Government therefore established this programme, which will result in a substantial increase in capital expenditure on rural water development works.
The State Premiers were invited to submit proposals for consideration under the programme, and in due course We received submissions from all States of the Commonwealth, involving altogether thirty-two projects with an estimated total cost approaching $300m. A number of questions have been asked from time to time, and various inferences have been made regarding the selection of projects for detailed study by the Commonwealth, and I think I should outline briefly what was done in this connection.
In view of the large number of projects submitted it was decided that detailed examination should be limited to the projects which, on the basis of preliminary study, appeared most likely to be found suitable for inclusion in the programme. We were dealing with projects which, although differing in nature and scope, had the common objective of expanding primary production, and we were concerned with the relative merits of these projects from a national point of view. On this basisit was considered reasonable to make our initial selection on the basis of determination of what might be called a crude rateof return, which is simply the estimated net increment in value of annual production at full development, expressed as a percentage of the total capital cost. The time factor of course has an important influence on the results of economic studies, but based on the information supplied, it appeared that omission of the consideration of the effects of time was not likely to have any serious effect on the ranking of the projects under consideration.
The so-called short list of projects selected for closer examination, which I announced on 16th May 1968, was compiled on the above basis with two minor variations - the King and Mitchell River projects in Victoria, which were very similar in nature and scope, were grouped for comparative studies and the CressyLongford scheme in Tasmania, which was not quite next in rank, was selected for further study in the belief that unless such studies showed up an unexpected anomaly, a small contribution by the Commonwealth would be worth considering in the light of the importance placed by the State on what will represent the first community irrigation scheme in Tasmania. I do not propose to make any further reference to other projects at this stage as they will be dealt with in subsequent legislation. Two projects, the Booroorban domestic and stock water supply scheme in New South Wales and the Mitchell River Dam in Victoria, which were included in the short list, have not been included in the programme. I will make further reference to these when dealing with legislation in connection with the Gwydir River and King River projects respectively.
I have referred above to the crude rate of return. I do not . propose to quote the actual figures as their validity as an absolute measure of economic worth is modified by the simplifying assumptions made. As mentioned above, however, I believe that the process adopted was a reasonable and satisfactory one in the circumstances. The South Australian Government initially submitted two projects for consideration under the programme, and at a later stage submitted a further eight projects but without supporting details. No order of priority was indicated by the State Government. The Tailem Bend to Keith pipeline scheme was selected on the basis outlined above, and detailed studies confirmed the general validity of the State submission.
The entire scheme involves the construction of a trunk main from Tailem Bend to Keith over a distance of 86 miles, roughly paralleling that section of the Adelaide to Melbourne railway line, together with branch mains and storage tanks. The scheme is designed to provide a reticulated stock and domestic water supply to an area of approximately 2,800 square miles of farming and grazing country as well as serving thirteen townships en route. The scheme is estimated to cost $14m.
The scheme was commenced in 1963-64, and by June 1968 over $4,200,000 had been spent on about 50 miles of trunk main and associated works. At the date of acceptance by the State of the Commonwealth’s offer some $9m remained to be spent. Under the State’s original programme, completion of the works associ ated with rural reticulation would take many years. However, the Commonwealth’s contribution of $6m is expected to be sufficient to accelerate the completion of the rural branch mains and reticulation to property boundaries. Reticulation within property boundaries will be the responsibility of individual land holders. It is now anticipated that the entire scheme will be completed by 19,73. The main economic activity in the project area is merino wool growing. Some cropping is also undertaken. Further development, and even existing production, is hampered by inadequate water supplies. There are no surface resources, and underground resources, where available, are often very inferior in quality. A more detailed description of the project is given in the notes that have been compiled for distribution to honourable members.
I turn now to the Bill itself, which generally follows the pattern of measures granting financial assistance to the States, and which as I have already indicated is substantially similar to the Acts making grants to Queensland and Victoria under the national water programme. The works themselves, in respect of which a Commonwealth grant is payable, are described in the Schedule to the Bill, and provision is made in section 5 for the Schedule to be varied if this appears desirable in terms of the objectives of the legislation. It will be noted that the Schedule includes all the works involved in the scheme. However, as I have already indicated the purpose of the Commonwealth grant is to enable early construction of the reticulation through the branch mains to the rural areas. The inclusion of the entire project in the Schedule avoids the necessity for special costing procedures which would be necessary if the grants were applied to a particular phase of the work.
Provision for non-repayable grants is made in section 4 of the Bill. Section 6 sets out requirements in connection with the implementation of the project, and covers the provision of information requested by the Minister, Ministerial approval of the works, and approval by the Minister of contracts in excess of $500,000. Requirements for information in respect of expenditure are set out in Section 7, and the usual provision for the Treasurer to make advance payments, and for repay- : ments of over-payments, is made in sections 8 and 9. I have pleasure in commending the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Luchetti) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 17 April (vide page 1252), on motion by Mr Snedden:
That the Bill be now read a second time. “ Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh) [3.12]- This is a Bill to do several things, the most important being to grant to migrants coming to Australia, who fall within certain categories of qualifications, the right to secure Australian citizenship in 3 years instead of having to wait the normal 5-year period. It also changes the definitions of nationality, from being a British subject and Australian citizen to being an Australian citizen having the status of a British subject. In broad terms the Opposition agrees with the provisions of the Bill, although we have, as 1 will indicate, some misgivings about one aspect of it. I hope that in due course the departmental officials will reconsider this matter and, if need be or if they feel the same as we do about it, bring down some modification of the matter at a subsequent date.
I am pleased to say - and the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) and his predecessors have also indicated their pleasure - that in Australia we are in the unique political position of having no real basic difference between the parties on the broad principles of the immigration policy. This ought to be, and no doubt if used properly abroad could be, one of the strongest elements for securing the kind of recruitment which we hope to get in other countries. Migrants and intending migrants from other countries know, or they would know if they were apprised of the facts, that no matter what change of Government might occur iri Australia in the future, the status pf migrants will never change; the real status of migrants will be the same. Migrants will always be welcomed to this country. No matter which government is in office, migrants will always be afforded every opportunity of melting into the Australian community. I use the word ‘melting’ not as one of my original terms’, but because I heard it used recently by the Minister at an official function. I had never heard the term used before, but I can think of no better term than migrants melting into our Australian community. This is what we want to see happen. We want to see our migrants from abroad literally melt into the Australian community. I think it is a better term than assimilate’ or ‘integrate’. It is a term that ought to be used more freely in the future to describe our feelings towards migrants.
The Department of Immigration is, undoubtedly, nol just one of the most efficient Departments, but the most efficient department in the Commonwealth. T am. repeating something that I have said time and time again. I do this for the benefit of those who did not hear what I said on previous occasions and those who did not perhaps read in the newspaper the glaring headlines that did not appear on what I said on those occasions. The Department of Immigration deals with human beings and, as of needbe, it is a Department that always shows a remarkable understanding . of human hopes and aspirations. It shows an understanding of all the wishes of .human beings. The Department does not treat human beings as simply pawns on a. political chessboard, It treats human beings, as people who love, who fear, who have anxieties and who have ambitions and aspirations. It does what it can to meet these desires which in some cases concern human frailties but in the main concern human strength.
I have never known of a case in which I have put up a proposition . for. the reconsideration of a decision that has been in my own honest opinion properly based, that has not been acceded to. In constituency work one is often required to put forward propositions on’ behalf of constituents that in one’s own mind do not meet one’s own standards in the tests that have to be applied. But one still has to follow through such cases in the hope that there may be some other aspect that is not known but which, if discovered, may alter the decision. But when I have . been, personally satisfied in my own mind that a decision was wrongly based and when I .have been able to state a proper case, these matters have been always reconsidered and favourably so.
I must pay a tribute to the present occupant of the position of administrative bead and the ministerial head of the Department of Immigration. The present Minister, like his predecessors, has shown a very good, kindly and understanding view of human beings. He knows that a father or a mother separated from the rest of the family in another country naturally wants to join them. The present Minister, like his predecessors right back to the time when the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) was Minister for Immigration, is willing always to stretch every possible point to try to meet the wishes of those people. This is how it ought to be. The former head of the Department, Sir Tasman Heyes did likewise and so does the present head. We want migrants to know when they come to Australia that they have come to a country in which the citizens will welcome them with open arms as people who can help us to help them. There is no doubt that the great migration programme that has gone on in Australia over the last 20 years has had a dramatic effect on the Australian way of life. The Australian way of life is something that is constantly changing, and changing for the better. The habits, customs and traditions that were commonplace 20 years ago have almost disappeared and given way to better habits and traditions.
Whilst I am not a person who indulges unduly in wine I nevertheless see great advantage in following the edict of the Bible to take a little wine for thy stomach’s sake. The migrants have taught us to do this. One can now go into a restaurant and see nearly every diner drinking wine with his or her meal. I am pleased to say that the diners drink in moderation in many cases. One would not have seen this 30 years ago. Then one could have gone into the best restaurant in Australia and a person who had a glass of wine in front of him would have been looked upon as an alcoholic.
– He would be regarded as a plonk artist - or a wongo as my honourable and gallant friend, the member for Boothby has said. But this is only on the social side. In many ways migrants havebrought to us cultures, traditions and customs that are good and enjoyable. Some of the enjoyable customs that they have brought with them were followed in Australia before they came. I do not know whether the migrants have made these customs any more enjoyable than they were, but they have brought traditions and cultures that we never had previously or knew about. In turn they are quite generous in praising some of the things that they have learned from us.
I am a little disturbed, as I said in perhaps a rather clumsy way when I last spoke about this aspect of the new Bill, that the Bill allows a person from another country to secure citizenship in 3 years in a way that makes it impossible to revoke that naturalisation in the event of some serious crime being committed by that person during the abridged period. Provision is made in the Bill for a citizen from a Commonwealth country to be given Australian citizenship as a right after 5 years, provided - and this is the proviso that I am concerned with - he has not committed any crime for which he could be deported. It seems to me that this is a very desirable provision.I cannot see why we ought not keep some escape section in the Act so that we would have the same right to deport a migrant as is now given to us in the case of migrants from Commonwealth countries.
I have talked with one of the officers of the Department of Immigration and it was pointed out to me firstly that a person from a Commonwealth country can make an application for Australian citizenship or be registered for Australian citizenship after living in the country for a year. This person has to stay in Australia for only 5 years in order to get citizenship as a right. This is well enough but it does not really overcome my objection, especially since I also learned - I was not aware of this and I think something ought to be done in the future to deal with it - that when an applicant for naturalisation fills in his form he is not required to answer any questions relating to previous criminal offences.
I would like to see in naturalisation forms a question, which a person would be required to answer, as to whether he had previous criminal convictions in this country or in any other country, and the stipulation that in the event of him rendering a false answer to that question the Department would have the right to declare the naturalisation null and void. I believe this ought to be done. I am well aware too that the Department does make its own investigations into the criminal records of people who apply for naturalisation. As far as 1 am aware the Department makes quite exhaustive inquiries into a person’s record before naturalisation is granted. This explains why there is such a delay between the date of application and the actual date of granting naturalisation.I have known the Department to invoke the right to hold an inquiry in camera and presided over by an arbitrator to determine whether a person who applied for naturalisation ought to be granted naturalisation even though that person had no convictions of a criminal nature. I refer to the classic case of Elefteriou. Although he had been charged several times with procuring and with other offences that are not normally committed by Australian people he had never been convicted. He had alwaysbeen able to secure an acquittal in the courts, but the Department of Immigration was so convinced that he was guilty that it called for a private inquiry which was presided over by Sir Edward Morgan, a retired judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. In spite of the fact that Elefteriou had been acquitted in the courts, that inquiry found that he was not a person who ought to be granted naturalisation.
– It was not as to naturalisation but as to whether he ought to be deported.
– No, it was as to naturalisation, because it was the application for naturalisation which forced the Department of Immigration to decide whether he would be naturalised. If the naturalisation was refused only on the ground of his criminal record, then the logical thing to do would have been to deport him. This inquiry did not arise from any initial action by the Department. It arose from something that he himself initiated, namely, an application to become a naturalised Australian citizen. It was then that the inquiry was held.
I can understand the reticence of the Minister for Immigration when he says that his Department will still give provisional naturalisation. That is not naturalisation at all. It is of no use to anybody to say to him: ‘Yes, we will naturalise you but we retain the right to take your naturalisation away for almost any reason, disclosed or undisclosed’. This is a logical position to take up, but this is not what I asked for and it is not what I ask for now. If naturalisation is given to a person after 3 years and it is found that between the end of the accelerated period arid the normal 5-year period the person has committed a serious criminal offence, thenonly in respect of that offence shouldthe accelerated naturalisation be treated as provisional. I believe that the Australian people would want this sort of protection. I do not believe that any migrant would oppose this provision, for the obvious reason that the only person adversely affected by such a provisional stipulation would be a migrant who committed a serious criminal offence. In that case neither the migrant nor Australian citizens already here or born here would want any protection extended to him.
The Opposition will not move an amendment to this Bill at this stage. We will support it and let it go through with not very much debate. It is probably not a contentious matter. As the official Opposition spokesman on immigration matters I have had channelled into my., office literally scores of letters per month- I will not be rhetorical and say thousands, or hundreds - through the office of the Leader of the Opposition, and also from other sources, which related to the matters I have already referred to. I could name other people who were involved in cases similar to that of Elefteriou. Perhaps I should not have mentioned Elefteriou, but since I have already done so I can do no further damage by again referring to him. I have the names of other people who have committed criminal offences after 3 years and before the end of 5 years residence in Australia who, if they were able to qualify for naturalisation within the accelerated period, could have got it but they could not have been deported thereafter for the offences they had committed. Because of the large number of cases I have had mentioned to me and the number of letters I have received from people supporting the stand which I have taken, perhaps clumsily - three of them were migrants- I believe that what I have said does merit Some consideration. On the other hand I do not know why a person from Malta or Cyprus should have to wait for 12 months for the right to be registered. Frankly I cannot understand why they should not be put into the same category as migrants from the United Kingdom. 1 understand that they have to wait 12 months whereas UK migrants only have to wait only 6 months.
– Twelve months.
– Twelve months, is it?
– I think it is 6 months for voting purposes.
– I am obliged to the Minister for that information. Therefore there is nothing valid in the point I was about to make, so I will not pursue it. As an Australian citizen who is proud of Australia, who came from people born in some other country, and who is Australian to the bootheels, I am delighted to know that the Government has decided to drop this nonsense about British subjects. This does not mean that I do not have a high regard for the country from which my forebears came, lt simply means that I am Australian before I am anything else. I think that the migrants who come to this country will remain Italians, or Greeks, or Yugoslavs first but that their children will be Australians before they will be anything else, in the same way as I am an Australian before I am a Scotsman. I am pleased to see that the Government has taken this step. It was more than I could expect the Government to do, because usually on a matter such as this the Government becomes quite jingoistic and likes to follow the attitude of its former great leader who would proudly declare that he was British to the bootheels and would make quite foolish remarks about the Queen as she passed by. That is all nonsense and personally 1 do not stand for it. I think the Minister for Immigration stated the position quite succinctly when he said that migrants coming to this country do not mind being Australian citizens but they are not able to comprehend why on becoming Australian citizens they are also citizens of what since childhood they have regarded as being a foreign country. It is for that reason that we on this side of the House applaud the action of the Government in making this alteration to the Act.
I conclude my remarks by stating what I said at the beginning of my speech - that Australia is the best country in the world to which to migrate. There is no other country that can offer migrants the future that this country can offer. The economic future of this country is guaranteed by a political stability born of the bi-partisan policy of the Australian political1 system. This country guarantees to everybody the right to be a citizen. It guarantees civil rights . and liberties, which cannot be guaranteed in any other country. For that reason Australia should always remain properly presented to the people in other parts of the world, as the best country to migrate to.
Although I may be deviating slightly from the terms of the Bill, as I am praising the Minister for Immigration 1 know that you will not mind, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am pleased to note that the Minister is doing something to give assisted passages to female migrants. Australia needs more women. It is a very urgent need and it should be treated accordingly. I am pleased to note that the Government has at long last recognised that men and women have an equal value. Women are as necessary as men are. The Opposition is pleased to know that this need is being looked at. Now that I have said that, Mr Deputy Speaker, you probably will have guessed that we are not going to take the Bill into committee or to have a long debate. We will allow the Bill to go through without opposition, applauding most of what is contained in it, but expressing some misgivings about one or two minor matters. 1 hope that in due course the Minister will see fit to have these matters looked at. Perhaps an understanding can be reached between us that will1 meet the points 1 have raised.
– by leave - The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has said that he will not ask that the Bill be considered in committee. I should like to tell him that I am about to circulate an amendment. It is of a technical nature, and 1 willi provide copies of it to the honourable member and to all honourable members. It will be necessary to go into cora*mittee so that it may be dealt with.
– I want to deal with some aspects of the Bill now before the House, and I do not propose to canvass the immigration policy and the administration of that policy in the manner in which the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has just done. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) in introducing the Citizenship Bill which is now being debated informed the House that many of the changes contemplated by the Bill are consequential upon a growing sense of our Australian nationality. There is no doubt that there is a growing sense of Australian nationality amongst the people of this country. The introduction of legislation designed to reflect this attitude is to be commended. To understand the significance of some of the proposals now being debated and to ascertain whether they fully reflect the aspirations of the people of this country it is necessary to make an analysis of the events which preceded and succeeded the introduction of the law now in operation.
The Australian people first acquired a separate national status on 26th January 1949 when the Nationality and Citizenship Act came into operation. The legislation recognised a fundamental change which by then had taken place in the relationship between Great Britain and what was then the emerging Commonwealth of Nations. Until the end of World War II the status of British nationality was common to all parts of Her Majesty’s dominions. This common status was defined by a cumbersome and not fully successful process of trying to keep the laws of the independent countries of the Commonwealth in line with one another, but the system of the common code, as it was called, finally failed. In 1945 the Australian Government considered the question of legislation to provide for Australian citizenship but deferred action when it received advice that similar legislation was being prepared in Canada. In 1946 the Canadian Government amended the Canadian Citizenship Act. In moving the second reading of the Bill in the Canadian House of Commons, the Secretary of State, Mr Paul Martin, stressed that ‘the time had come when Canada, having matured into full nationhood, should give her people the right of being able to designate themselves as Canadian citizens’. A similar right that was al that time conferred on Australians is now. in this legislation, being reaffirmed and reinforced. In outlining the basic objectives of the Canadian legislation, the Secretary of State went on to say:
By this Bill we are seeking to make (he status of Canadian citizenship a paramount national status to persons -ho are Canadian-,.
This legislative action by Canada fundamentally altered the basis of the common status by formally rejecting the common code. For Canadians, British nationality ceased to depend upon the common code. It was a derived status depending upon the provisions embodied in the law of Canada. This law further provided that a citizen of other Commonwealth countries had in Canada the status of a British subject or Commonwealth citizen. Following the enactment of this Canadian legislation, a conference of Commonwealth representatives was convened in London. This conference considered a draft scheme drawn up by the United Kingdom Government. The essential features of this scheme were: . . that each of the countries shall, by its legislation, determine who are its citizens, shall define those citizens to be British subjects and shall recognise as British subjects the citizens of other Commonwealth countries. .
This proposal became known as the system of the common clause. Citizenship of a Commonwealth country was thus a matter to be created at the discretion of the particular country concerned. The recognition of a person as a citizen was also to confer upon him the status of a British subject. British nationality ceased to be the common status produced from a real or pretended common code. It was made to depend upon the expressed municipal provisions embodied in the laws of Commonwealth countries. The creation of a local citizenship in each Commonwealth country meant, in the case of the United Kingdom, a fundamental departure from past practice. Under its municipal law prior to 1948, it conferred no national status other than that of British subject. By section I of the British Nationality Act of 1948 the concept of United Kingdom citizenship was created. Every such citizen was declared to have the status of a British subject. He was not declared not to bc a British subject.
Australia then introduced the common clause into its nationality and Citizenship Act. It adopted the same basis of the common status and created the concept of the local Australian citizenship. The term foreign country’ was given the same meaning as under the United Kingdom law. It is interesting to note that the common status of being a British subject is, under the law now in operation in Australia, derived from Australian citizenship. At the time when Australian citizenship was created, a distinction was drawn between nationality and citizenship. That distinction has now almost ceased to exist. Nationality and citizenship are, for all practical purposes, synonymous. Nationality has been defined as that quality or character which arises from the fact of a person belonging to a nation. It is a term often used to denote a primary local connection between an individual and a state. Citizenship may be similarly defined. Rights and privileges are conferred upon nationals or citizens which are not conferred upon non-nationals or non-citizens. Nationality or citizenship is also a pre-condition of certain international activity.
I applaud the decision to give primacy to the expression ‘Australian citizen’. I do, however, question the manner in which this objective is sought to be achieved. Either no amendment to the law was necessary or more far reaching alterations should have been incorporated in the Bill. Under the existing law a person who is an Australian citizen is by virtue of that citizenship a British subject. His status as a British subject has derived from bis Australian citizenship. His primary link with Australia is his Australian citizenship. It is interesting to note that the United Kingdom, under its Nationality Act of 1948, did not declare its citizens to be, by virtue of United Kingdom citizenship, British subjects, but declared such citizens to have the status of British subjects. Although Australia followed by introducing the common code, it varied the wording so as to declare an Australian citizen to be a British subject rather than to confer upon him the status of a British subject, as is perhaps now to be done.
This Bill now proposes to substitute the wording then adopted with the form of words used in the United Kingdom legislation in 1948. Why did Australia not adopt the clause adopted by other countries of the Commonwealth? Was it thought that there was a significant distinction between being a British subject and having the status of British subject? The term ‘status’ has, however, been defined as a condition attached by law to a person which confers, affects or limits the legal1 capacity of exercising some power which under other circumstances he could not or could exercise without restriction. If this is so there may be no distinction between being a British subject and having the status of a British subject. If there is a distinction, are Australians to be prejudiced by ceasing to be British subjects and to have instead the status of British subjects? If there is no distinction why is it necessary to change the law? The reason, we are told, is that in the period since 1949 there has been a considerable change in the usage and understanding of the term ‘British’. The term ‘British’ is now used to signify matters pertaining to the United Kingdom only. If this is so, as 1 believe it to be, why do we continue to use the term in our legislation describing rights pertaining to Canadians, New Zealanders and citizens of other Commonwealth countries as deriving from their status as British subjects?
What is the meaning of the words ‘the status of a British subject’? Do they mean that as Australians we are to have the status of United Kingdom citizens? Of course not. Section 7 of the Act now in force confers this status upon citizens not merely of Aus: tralia and other Commonwealth countries but of former Commonwealth countries like South Africa and Ireland and confers the status on the citizens of countries that have never been members of the Commonwealth. The use of the term ‘British subject’ to describe citizens of such a wide variety of countries is not apt. The common status of British nationality has become a form without a substance. The nature and understanding of the preferential links with other countries should not be distorted by the use of inappropriate terminology. Consideration should be given to the abandonment of a description which has now become a fiction. If we can continue to give to the phrase ‘British subject’ an artificial meaning it will foster misunderstandings between Australian citizens and citizens of the United Kingdom, who use the term British’ to describe things pertaining to the United Kingdom. To suggest mis is not to advocate the abandonment of a preferential position given to the citizens of those countries, both Commonwealth and non.monwealth, nominated in clause 6 of the Bill amending section 7 of the Act.
Whereas previously people fell into one of two categories - either they were foreigners or they were British subjects - they now fall into three categories. They are Australian citizens, aliens or noncitizen non-aliens. So far as Australia is concerned the rights and privileges of persons falling into each of these categories depend upon Australian law, not on the law of the countries of which they may be citizens or nationals. This triple category classification is desirable. By having two categories of persons who are not Australian citizens it enables favoured nation treatment to be available to the citizens of some countries. The countries to whose citizens this favoured nation treatment is available are listed in the Bill. The list is not limited to Commonwealth countries. It includes South Africa. The list may be added to by regulation. The Bill contains so criteria to be used in determining the other countries to which, by regulation, the favoured nation treatment may be declared to apply. The law does not appear to give authority for the deletion by regulation of the countries specifically listed, yet there may come a time when, in the case of one country or another, it becomes desirable to remove its citizens from the category of those entitled to favoured nation treatment.
I support the concept of conferring favoured nation treatment on the citizens of prescribed countries. I am, however, opposed to the idea of conferring upon the citizens of prescribed countries the status of British subjects, especially in view of the fact that a prescribed country need not be a present member of the Commonwealth and, indeed, may not necessarily at any time have had any connection with Great Britain or the Commonwealth. The time has come when favoured nation treatment should be extended on the basis of Australia’s current relations with other countries. If we include South Africa and Ireland - no longer Commonwealth countries - could we not confer favoured nation treatment on the citizens of the United States who seek Australian citizenship? The United States has British origins; uses the common law as the basis of its legal system; is a parliamentary democracy; is an English speaking country; and is our greatest ally. The citizens of countries given special treatment are given it because of the courtesy and comity between them and Australia which facilitates mobility of citizens to the mutual advantage of the citizens and of the countries. Where this courtesy and comity exist,- where close relationships and understandings exist, favoured nation status should be conferred so that either special or mutual privileges may be conferred upon the citizens of such countries.
As the law is now evolving in Australia different civil and political rights are attached to those who are citizens of Australia, those who are citizens of prescribed countries and those who are categorised as aliens. These rights are derived directly from the laws of Australia. The extent to which the citizen of a prescribed country is in a favoured position compared with that of an alien depends upon Australian law and not on the law of the country of which he is a citizen. The Minister in his second reading speech emphasised that we are dealing only with the status of people under our own law. lt was originally hoped that the favoured position in which the citizens of prescribed countries were placed would be based upon some form of reciprocity and between each of those countries and Australia. This hope has not been realised. Although the possession of full rights by residents of many countries is coming increasingly to depend exclusively upon local citizenship, the citizen of a prescribed country still remains in a favoured position.
In Australia some of the rights and privileges conferred upon citizens of prescribed countries are to be found by an examination of the conditions under which citizenship of Australia may be acquired. These conditions depend upon our own law. Being a country of immigration, this law recognises a wide variety of grounds upon which citizenship may be acquired. These grounds include birth, descent, registration, naturalisation and incorporation of territory. The Bill now being debated proposes to include a sixth ground - that of notification.
Acquisition of citizenship by registration and by notification is not available to aliens. It is a right available to citizens of prescribed countries. In the past, few citizens of prescribed countries have applied for citizenship by registration for they have had nothing material to gain by becoming Australian citizens. The acquisition of Australian citizenship by citizens of prescribed countries should be facilitated. However, the time may be approaching when we should seriously consider the desirability of the right to vote and the right to hold public office being made to depend exclusively upon Australian citizenship. Political privilege and responsibility should stem from a recognised and formal link between the individual and the country. If the law were altered in this direction the rights and privileges of those non-citizen residents in Australia at the time of the alteration should, of course, be preserved and in no way prejudiced. These and other rights should arise out of that sense of belonging and attachment that exists for those who are Australian citizens.
I now turn to the question of multiple nationality or plural citizenship. Some countries legislate against the permanent enjoyment of dual status; others legislate only partially against duality, whilst others permit it. Australia falls into the second category. Under present law we have legislated only partially against duality. The citizenship laws of the United Kingdom and New Zealand are more permissive in their attitude towards dual citizenship. With increased mobility of people between one country and another one individual may find himself associated with one country by birth, another by parentage and a third by long residence. Australia being a country of immigration is properly liberal in its definition of the grounds upon which Australian citizenship may be acquired. It is strangely narrow in its attitude towards dual citizenship.
Dual citizenship may arise in a number of cases. The most usual case is where a United Kingdom citizen becomes an Australian citizen by registration. He does not. lose United Kingdom citizenship by such registration and is not required to give up United Kingdom citizenship as a condition of such registration.
Another case of dual citizenship is where a child born in Australia of a United Kingdom citizen is a United Kingdom citizen by descent and an Australian citizen by birth. By contrast, Australian citizenship is lost by voluntary acquisition of another citizenship whether in another part of the Commonwealth or in one of the countries whose citizens are given a favoured position under Australian citizenship law. Being a country of immigration, why is it that we have set our face against plural citizenship even within the Commonwealth? The Hague Conventions on Citizenship and Nationality recognised the existence of dual citizenship, and since those Conventions there have been many changes in the world resulting from increased mobility of people and there is a stronger case now than formerly for recognising the concept of dual citizenship. As a consequence of our attitude one Australian citizen can be adversely affected when compared with another Australian citizen who has a dual citizenship.
The United Kingdom Commonwealth Immigration Act has, to a limited extent, had the effect of assimilating the position of Australian and other. Commonwealth citizens to that of aliens. Many Australians go to the United Kingdom to study, to work and to gain valuable experience in many fields of endeavour. When these people return to Australia this country benefits from their skills and the abilities that they have acquired or improved. The current United Kingdom legislation imposes obligations and restraints upon Australian citizens who are not also United Kingdom citizens. Yet if they decide to free themselves of these obligations and restraints by becoming United Kingdom citizens - whilst nevertheless retaining an intention to return to Australia - they immediately cease to be Australian citizens. It is true that they can, subject to the Minister’s discretion, quite easily regain Australian citizenship. It is, however, unreasonable that they should be forced to consider surrendering their Australian citizenship in order to be assured of the right to stay in the United Kingdom so that they will have the maximum number of job and training opportunities available to them. If they do apply for United Kingdom citizenship to assure themselves of the availability of these opportunities their automatic loss of Australian citizenship may affect their domicil’e and thereby affect their personal and property rights as well as the Australian Government’s taxing rights. Indeed, if the principle of the nationality of claims which requires a person to have the same nationality or citizenship at the time of a claim arising as at the time of submilting that claim, in circumstances where one country takes up the claim of the citizen, has any validity, the fact that we do not recognise dual citizenship can prejudice Australian citizens in assuring them of the maintenance of their property rights.
So many Australian citizens now have come from other countries or spent time in other countries that this aspect of the effect of a narrow attitude on dual citizenship should be taken into account. I suggest that we should do as New Zealand has done. We should broaden the circumstances in which we permit plural citizenship. In New Zealand the voluntary acquisition of another citizenship may produce loss of New Zealand citizenship - it does not automatically produce such a loss - and then only where the citizenship acquired is that of a foreign country. If the citizenship acquired is that of a Commonwealth country there is no automatic or discretionary loss of New Zealand citizenship. A New Zealand citizen cannot be deprived of New Zealand citizenship merely because of his acquisition of the citizenship of another country which is included among the nonalien or favoured countries listed in the New Zealand legislation. I suggest that an Australian citizen should not be automatically deprived of his citizenship on acquiring the citizenship of another country, whether it be of a foreign country or non-alien country. In those cases where an Australian acquires the citizenship of a nonalien or favoured nation he should not, by virtue of that acquisition, be deprived of his Australian citizenship either automatically or as a result of ministerial discretion. We confer Australian citizenship on the citizens of favoured nations without requiring them to renounce the allegiance of other citizenships. In many cases their acquisition of a new citizenship does not, by the law of their original country, deprive them of that citizenship. They are then the citizens of two countries. In view of the large migrant flow from the United Kingdom it is important that the second generation Australians of United Kingdom origin be not placed at a disadvantage, as compared with those who are first generation Australians in going to the United Kingdom for whatever purpose. We should continue by our laws to develop and to maintain the closest ties with countries of the Commonwealth and those others upon which we confer a special relationship. I support the Bill, but
I urge the Government to give consideration to the further amendment of the law to incorporate the suggestions that I have made.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I did not intend to interpose in this debate. What 1 have to say probably would be more appropriate to the Committee stage of the Bill. But I wish to make some observations, as I have listened to the debate that has proceeded from the speech made by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) who introduced this Bill. The Statute of Westminster of 1931 changed everything in regard to British citizenship.
The Statute of Westminster described all the component parts of the British Commonwealth as it was known then as independent nations owing allegiance to one sovereign. But the sovereign ceased to hold sway in this country. It was George V who was King of England at the time. He became King of Australia as well as King of England. The Prime Minister - two Prime Ministers back - Sir Robert Menzies, described this conception as having something of a theological quality because it divided the sovereignty and the monarchy. The Monarch became King of Australia, King of England, King of New Zealand and so forth. It was a device which was necessary in order to preserve the Commonwealth.
Sir Robert Menzies never became reconciled to this idea. When World War II broke out, he said: ‘When Britain is at war, Australia is at war’. The Australian Labor Party did not accept that idea at all. When the Curtin Government was faced with the need to declare war on Japan following the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbour, the Australian Government by arrangement with the British Government declared war on Japan 20 minutes before Britain declared war on Japan. We asserted our right to act as an independent part of the Commonwealth. Canada had declared war on Germany separately from Britain. Canada declared war separately on Japan as Australia did later on. From that time on, there has been a complete separation not only in the matter of the powers of the monarch but also in regard to the question of citizenship.
We are citizens of Australia. We owe allegiance to Australia. We owe allegiance to the Australian flag. Nobody can serve under two flags. I reject this whole conception of dual nationality because where does it lead one? It leads one into all sorts of difficulties and. ultimately, into disaster. To plead that Australians going to England should have a right to dual citizenship is, no matter how honest the proponents of the idea may be and no matter how eloquently they may state their case, to plead for favourable treatment of white citizens against black citizens. Britain cannot concede dual citizenship to the people of Australia without conceding it to the people of the West Indies and many other places.
Where does that lead ultimately? There will be pleas for dual, triple or quadruple citizenship. Will we have any control over our immigration laws? Can we determine then to preserve the homogeneity of our people or are we to consider the privileges of a few? 1 refer to those who happen to go away for some reason or another and then want to preserve their rights of Australian citizenship and to have the advantages of United Kingdom citizenship as well. I think everybody should stand by his own citizenship. There are nations that never recognise the right of their own born citizens to change their allegiance. Greece is one. Russia is another. Yugoslavia, is another also.
– And America?
– No. The Americans are like the British. An American can go where he likes. The Americans say: ‘If you wish to change your nationality and to adopt another citizenship, we will not hold it against you if you come back to your own country’. We have young Greeks born of Australian parents who, when they go back to Greece, are told that they must serve in the Greek forces. A similar situation has arisen regarding Italians. If we are to have dual citizenship arrangements, we will endanger those people who are born here and who, whilst they regard with great reverence and respect the heritage which they have because of their parents and because of the traditions that go with their lineage, still want to be Australians first. They do not want to be disqualified from holding that Australian citizenship when they go abroad. I see nothing wrong with a person acknowledging the fact that: I am an Australian citizen. I am proud of all our ancestors and their blood. But 1 want to be nothing but an Australian.’ I think that the Minister is quite right in rejecting proposals regarding dual citizenship. I know of Australians who have gone to America, surrendered their Australian citizenship and, on coming back again to Australia, renewed their Australian citizenship. That arrangement could exist in regard to people who go to Britain or anywhere else.
I want to say just a few other things about this Bill. I do not like the idea of shortening the period to be served to qualify for naturalisation purposes. Under the old Act before World War II there was a tradition that anybody who served in time of war under a British commander could have that period of service regarded as service within the 5-year period required for naturalisation provided that he spent the last year in residence in Australia. It was under that section of the old Act that we were able to naturalise 600 Polish soldiers who had fought alongside Australians in Tobruk. We were able to bring them here by promising to recognise them as Australians. We met difficulties in persuading a number of Australian people to accept the Poles because hostile feeling existed against them in Britain and Scotland. We had the happy thought of bringing out the men who had fought alongside the Rats of Tobruk. They were accepted here. In some States they were accepted immediately by returned servicemen’s organisations. That was particularly true in Tasmania and Western Australia. But they were not acceptable in Victoria to the members of the returned servicemen’s organisations there.
I think that our gift of naturalisation is so great and so valuable that it should not be lightly regarded. If it is necessary to attract all sorts of good people to Australia from all countries I do not think that we should cheapen the value of our citizenship by making it available too easily to a lot of people who want it. I said that it was 1931 that changed everything. It was the declaration at Westminster that changed it all. The whole idea of the change of status was not accepted readily in Australia. It was not accepted here even in time of war. When a former Minister for External Affairs, Dr Evatt, wished to implement the remaining portions of the Statute of Westminster there was opposition to the effect that we were selling out the Empire and that we were doing something to destroy the solidarity of the Commonwealth. What we felt we were doing was entrenching that solidarity. The Bill says that we change the status of an Australian citizen by ceasing to describe an Australian as a person of British nationality and Australian citizenship. Then we substitute the words ‘Australian citizenship and the status of British subject’. I see no reason to talk about the status of British subject. I agree with the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson), who asked: What is the meaning of this terminology? What is the status of British subject? There ls no such thing as a British subject any more. In the British Act a person is described as a United Kingdom and Colonies citizen. The words ‘British subject’ have gone out entirely. I do not think there is anything wrong in recognising that the paramount consideration is Australian citizenship. The rest is added as if we want to make it easy for some people, who are nostalgic enough not to want any change, to accept what the Government regards as a desirable change.
At a meeting of a Commonwealth Conference some time around 194S - perhaps 1948 - when that part of Ireland called Eire had terminated its association with Britain by repealing its External Affairs Act, the question arose as to what was an Irish citizen. Again the whole question began to assume something like theological proportions. It was a former Prime Minister of Canada, Mr Saint-Laurent, and Dr Evatt who worked out a formula that would answer the question now posed by the honourable member for Sturt, who said that we are either citizens or aliens. So the question arises: What is a British subject, what is an alien and where does the Irishman fit in between the two? An Irish citizen was neither a British subject nor an alien. The solution that was found then has worked, too. I suppose anything or everything that works is acceptable, provided it does not do barm to anybody. We settled the Irish problem of citizenship and there are provisions in this legislation relating to it. 1 think those provisions, like all the provisions, are generally acceptable to the Australian people.
I want to come back to another point, and I will not detain the House for very long. In 1948 we were faced with the problem of Australian women who had married foreigners and by virtue of the act of marriage, and the act of marriage alone, ceased to be Australians. The Lyons Government decided somewhere about 1937 that this was unfair to Australian women. Although an Australian woman married to a foreigner was technically an alien, she was given the right to exercise all the powers of citizenship while she remained in Australia. I thought that was not good enough. The Canadians had already decided to establish Canadian citizenship, and 1 persuaded the Cabinet and the Parliament to amend the legislation to provide that any Australian woman who married a foreigner, whether she was in Australia or outside Australia, was not to be deprived of her nationality or her citizenship rights and that she could claim them if she went to an Australian representative abroad or if she applied to Australia. As a result, every such woman could receive an Australian passport. There were Chinese women born in Australia who had married Chinese citizens. Their husbands were killed by the Japanese or died in some other way. We made the legislation retrospective and we allowed them all to come back to Australia. It did not apply only to people of Asian blood; it applied to everybody - to those married to Italians, Germans or anyone else, whether they were of European descent or Asian descent. In that way we set a pattern. In the course of time the provision has been further liberalised and I think it has all worked for the benefit of the Australian people.
An Imperial Conference followed soon afterwards. It was at that Conference that the decision was made, in effect, to get rid of the term ‘British subject’ and to establish United Kingdom and Colonies citizenship, Australian citizenship and New Zealand citizenship. New Zealand has been mentioned. lt is a horrible example of behaviour in the immigration field. After the war when we had naturalised certain soldiers from Tobruk, Italians and Greeks, none of whom the New Zealand Government wanted, we found that the newly naturalised Australians who went to New Zealand were met by the immigration authorities and were told to report once a week to the local police station. The climax came when a man named Leo Buring, who made very good wines in Australia, went to New Zealand. He was naturalised on his father’s certificate when he was 7 years old and went to New Zealand when he was in his seventies. This was in the 1950s. He was told to report weekly to the police station. We protested vigorously about that. I suppose New Zealand has come into line somewhat since then, but if it has gone in for dual citizenship it is creating trouble for itself. I hope we do not create any such troubles tor ourselves.
I suppose we have in Australia as many foreign born citizens, on a percentage basis, as any country has. We have had wonderful success with our immigration scheme and we have been able to attract people so well that more migrants to Australia have become Australian citizens than migrants to America have become American citizens. Only about 6% of the people who come here, or 10% if the British are included, go back to their country of origin. Any scheme that can attract and hold 90% of those who come here is a very successful scheme. We want more people and 1 think we should encourage them by making citizenship easier to obtain, but not so easy that it will be regarded less seriously than it should be.
There is one provision in the Bill with which I am in complete agreement, and 1 am in agreement with most of it. I refer to the provision that elderly people coming to Australia wilL not be required to submit to language tests before they are naturalised if they are over 60 years of age. 1 think that this is highly desirable. If a father goes out to work and the mother remains at home in the kitchen - with southern Europeans this is a very strong tradition - and if the father learns English and the mother does not, it is very unfair for the family that the father can become naturalised and the mother cannot. And if the mother cannot become naturalised then she cannot get a pension later on. It is the work of the family that helps the productivity of the nation and it surely provides enough money to pay all those ‘ who in a family unit are making a valuable contribution for the wellbeing of this nation. 1 am not too sure about the provisions in the proposed new Part II of the Act relating to the status of British subjects. 1 shall listen to the debate with interest and perhaps at the Committee stage I shall intervene again. If it is intended to treat these people a little more humanely than they have been treated in some other countries in the past, 1 am for it; but if it involves any great alteration in our restrictive immigration laws then I shall examine it closely because 1 foresee great social and industrial difficulties and other difficulties if we move too hastily in the direction in which some people would like us to move. Fortunately we are able to attract people whom we can assimilate, whom we can integrate, who will be part of our community and who willi not form hard core resistance groups that ultimately may become difficult sections of the community in our social and industrial life and particularly in war time. 1 hope there will never be another war. 1 commend the Bit1! broadly. I had no intention of speaking, but having listened to some of the remarks that had been made I thought 1 might make some contribution to the debate.
– I am pleased to have had the opportunity to speak after the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), lt is worth placing on record the tremendous amount of work that he put into our immigration programme. In fact, it would be true to say that he was the architect of our immigration scheme. In times of prejudice and narrowmindedness his efforts really got this scheme off the ground. I pay a tribute, from this side of the House, to his work. There was one small point that I should like to take up with the right honourable gentleman. I. think 1 heard him correctly. He seemed to be under the impression that it was necessary for a person to be a naturalised subject to qualify for a pension.
– Perhaps I am a little out of date on that point. 1 think that is the position.
– That is not so, because naturalisation does not have any effect on pensions. People now seek naturalisation only because they want to be Australian citizens, not because they hope to receive any financial benefit. I am quite sure that that is really the position. I should like also to place on record briefly my appreciation and the appreciation of my colleagues who comprise the Government Members Immigration Committee for the way in which the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) has sought our advice and opinions and has come to us to give us the benefit of hh views. I can see in his second reading speech evidence of the work that we have done in this Committee. In fact, the Minister’s second reading speech occupies five pages of Hansard. It is most comprehensive and I can fmd few things in it about which to be critical. I know that the Committee is pleased, as I am pleased, with the clause dealing with people of any age of unsound mind who may become Australian citizens on a parent’s certificate if the mother or father is an Australian citizen. It is worth mentioning that such a person would qualify for an invalid pension irrespective of whether or not his name was on that certificate. Another proposal is that children born outside Australia may become citizens by registration at any Australian consulate in any place in the world, on the application of either parent. This is a first class provision.
The right honourable member for Melbourne mentioned the clause dealing with persons over 60 years of age and others suffering from disabilities of speech and sight. Without having to show an adequate knowledge of the English language and the responsibilities of citizenship they will, in future, be eligible for naturalisation. I have no doubt that most honourable members can quote examples of such persons. One of my constituents who has sponsored more than fifty people for migration to Australia - all excellent citizens, and including uncles, aunts, cousins and a whole myriad of people - has been unable to become an Australian citizen himself because he does not speak our language very well. He would be a perfect candidate for naturalisation. The proposed amendment will solve tha: particular problem.
I think all honourable members like the primacy clause, lt has been talked around extensively, during the debate. Many migrants make the point that they come to Australia because they want to be Australians. They say that if they wanted to be British they would go to Britain. 1 can understand that attitude. I think that the clause dealing with children born out of wedlock is a good clause. It illustrates the compassionate way in which the Minister approaches his portfolio, but it is entirely appropriate that this should apply only to children of the mother. We would not want a situation where an Australian male could go around this world and sire children who could then become Australian citizens under this provision. The clause dealing with immunity from deportation is a provision that I should like to examine. The Government Members Immigration Committee was strongly in favour of reducing the period of residence from 5 years to 3 years. The right honourable member for Melbourne had some doubts about this. Although the Committee was strongly in favour of the provision, I should like to put forward a ‘but’. In the Act there appear to be two grounds upon which a person’s citizenship can be revoked. These appear in section 21 (a) and (b). The first relates to a person who gives false evidence in relation to the application for naturalisation. In such circumstances the Minister may revoke his citizenship. The second relates to a case in which the Minister is satisfied that it would be contrary to the public interest for the person to continue to be an Australian citizen.
It would be true to say thai Australia would be one of the three major migrant receiving countries in the world, the other two being the United States of America and Canada. I have looked at the American legislation and I would say that our Act. when it is amended, undoubtedly will be the best in the world, incorporating all (he good features of the policies of the other countries. However, we must consider the revocation of citizenship. If we make it possible for a person to become an Australian citizen after 3 years residence, possibly we will lay ourselves open to the sort of person who will deliberately come into this country and behave himself for 3 years and then become a nuisance. The Americans have a whole series of provisions relating to revocation of citizenship.
In the United States the Immigration and Nationality Act is administered by the Attorney-General. I think it is worth pointing out that we have taken the question of naturalisation away from the court room atmosphere, lt is handled through local government and the Department. In the
United States a citizen can have his citizenship revoked under two or three sections of the Act. I should like to mention them so that they will be recorded in Hansard and perhaps the Minister will look at them. The section in the American Act relating to the making of a false statement is similar to the section in our Act. In addition, in the United States a certificate of naturalisation can be revoked if it were illegally procured or procured by concealment of a material factor by wilful misrepresentation. Our Act contains a similar provision. In the United States a citizen can have his naturalisation certificate revoked if he refuses, within a period of 10 years following his naturalisation, to testify as a witness in any proceedings before a congressional committee concerning his subversive activities. I admit that the Americans seem to be excessively concerned about this question of subversion, because all the sections of the Act are built around it. Another section of the American Immigration and Nationality Act provides for revocation of citizenship:
If a person who shall have been naturalised after the effective date of this Act shall within 5 years next following such naturalisation become a member of or affiliated with any organisation, membership in or affiliation with which at the time of naturalisation would have precluded such person from naturalisation. . . .
This section in fact refers to the question of subversion, which is spelt out in the Act as follows:
The term totalitarian party’ means an organisation which advocates the establishment in the United States of a totalitarian dictatorship or totalitarianism.
Perhaps the Minister could have a look at that provision to see whether it can be incorporated in our Act to tidy it up. One section which I think is worth bringing to the Minister’s attention is that dealing with deserters, if an American citizen deserts in time of war, or if he leaves the United States deliberately to avoid any draft into the Services, the Act provides that his citizenship shall be forever revoked. He will always be incapable of holding any office of trust or of profit under the United States. I know that some people in this country have gone overseas to avoid national service. Perhaps the Minister could also look at that section in the American Act. However, in my view our Act is better than the American Act.
A few weeks ago in this House reference was made to the Canadian immigration system. I have had a look at the Canadian Immigration Act, and in my view it might be all right for Canada but I do not think it would suit Australia. The Canadians work on a points or quota system. It seems to me that if we were to apply to Australia the points system which is applied in Canada, many first rate migrants would not be able to come here. Except in two instances, I do not think there would be much advantage in incorporating in our Act anything in the Canadian Act. The period during which a person is confined in or is an inmate of any penitentiary, gaol, reformatory or prison or any asylum or hospital for mental diseases is not counted in his years of domicile in Canada. That is covered in subsection (2) of section 4 of the Canadian Act. Another subsection in the same section, which possibly could be incorporated in our Act, reads as follows:
A person concerning whom a report is made under paragraph (d) of subsection (1) of section 19 and who is found upon an inquiry under this Act to have been convicted of an offence referred to in such paragraph shall be deemed to have lost al the time of such conviction, any Canadian domicile he had acquired prior to that time.
Those are the sections of the Canadian Act at which we might look. I think it is well known that the quota system is unsatisfactory. I had a look at what would happen under this system to Australians wanting to go to America. 1 found that the quota of Australians would be 100. The quota system is totally undesirable, and no doubt the Americans would like to be quit of it. lt is also worth mentioning that none of the countries in our region should ever criticise us for our selective immigration policy. Malaysia, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Cambodia, Japan, Vietnam, Ghana, Egypt, Nigeria and a number of other countries do not allow any migration into their countries. Thailand allows in only 200 migrants in any year. I understand that migrants are not acceptable in Bunna. Even tourists are allowed to remain in the country for only 24 hours. So it would be inappropriate for our neighbours to criticise us for our immigration policy which I would say is the most generous in the world.
The Minister for Immigration has been good enough to remain in the chamber to listen to the suggestions which have been made. 1 suggest that he look at the heavy expenses in which migrants are involved when they settle in this country. In addition to these expenses a migrant has to pay off the cost of his fare to Australia. We all know how difficult it is for a person to set up a home after marriage, without having to bear the added expense of paying off the cost of a fare to Australia. I think that this tends to discourage some first rate migrant material. I hope that the Minister will have a look at that matter. Also, there is the question of the naturalisation certificate itself. On the back of the certificate there is provision for the name of the country in which the person was born. I suppose that most of us have had experience with Yugoslavs. Some persons have been bom in countries which really no longer exist, lt is aggravating lo a Croat or a Serb or a person from Slovenia to have reported on the back of his certificate that he is a Yugoslav, because he might not believe that he is a Yugoslav. I hope that the Minister will have a look at that question. Possibly a person’s place of birth, such as the nearest town or city, could be shown on the certificate.
I have not a great deal more to say. I think that the Minister’s second reading speech was such a thorough exercise that there is little I can add by way of improvement. Perhaps consideration could bc given to the questions 1 have raised concerning revocation of citizenship. I agree with the right honourable member for Melbourne that naturalisation and citizenship are things we should prize. If we are going to make it easier to obtain Australian citizenship, let us also be a little tougher as regards revocation of citizenship. Future Ministers for Immigration might not be quite as compassionate as the present Minister. I hope that the Minister will look at the matters which I have raised. I have very much pleasure in supporting the Bill in every respect.
– Taking the point which the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) made at the end of his speech in relation to recording the country of birth on the certificate, I understand from what the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) said recently either in this chamber or outside it, that this matter is being attended to. The Bill before the House proposes to amend several sections of the Nationality and Citizenship Act. The most important changes, according to the Minister for Immigration who introduced the Bill, are those which will remove any suggestion that an Australian citizen should also be a British subject. Under the provisions of the existing Act a migrant on being granted Australian citizenship also becomes a British subject. This is now to be changed even though it has been in the Act for 20 years. The proposed alterations to the Act will change the situation so that Australian citizens rather than being British subjects will have the status of a British subject.
The Minister gave us as one reason for these proposed changes that the wording in the existing Act .tends to cause confusion in the minds of some migrants from nonBritish countries, lt is suggested that they find great difficulty in appreciating the fact that naturalisation in Australia not only makes them citizens of Australia but also gives them the standing of a British subject. It could well be that the present wording does cause confusion in the minds of some people, but I suggest that if this were a major reason or the only reason for the proposed alterations, the wording now proposed will not overcome the difficulties or the problems of removing or even lessening any such confusion. In fact, in some cases it can and will I feel, even worsen the situation.
If any of those who are now confused about the position - that upon becoming Australian citizens they also become British subjects - there will be no less confusion and they may even become more confused on being told while they are not British subjects they have the status of British subjects. So I do not take a great deal of notice of the Minister’s claim that the Government is violently disturbed with the present wording of the Act, that it causes confusion and that it wishes to correct the situation. The proposed amendments may remove the confusion in the minds of some migrants but they will also certainly create confusion in the minds of others.
The real reason for this change 1 think, and also hope, is to emphasise that we are Australians first. I have no argument in that regard. I am Australian and proud of it.
However, 1 suppose that no matter what wording is used it could be expected in the particular circumstances in which the words are used they will cause some confusion and some doubts as to what is meant. After all, it must be the intention that counts most of all. The intention in this case apparently is that it is not now acceptable that an Australian citizen should also be a British subject and the Act will be amended accordingly. lt will take away the situation where naturalised Australian citizens are British subjects and they will be primarily Australian. 1 see no reason, as I said just now, for shame in that. I think we should be proud of our position.
I would like to point out that the words in the offending section of the Act - section 7 - have been there since as far back as 1948 when the Act was first introduced. In fact, 1 think the wording of the section in its present form was exactly the same at that time. Therefore it has stood the test of time and has never been altered in 20 years. Up to now there has not been any suggestion that it should be altered. The original Act, together with section 7, was introduced by a Labor government and while the Minister of today does not tell us how long this confusion has existed in the minds of migrants it must surely, if we accept his explanation, have existed for several years. Yet, no attempt has been made to amend the offending section. So it would not seem that the Government has been unduly concerned.
However, 1 feel there is another side to this proposal only to grant the status of a British subject to naturalised Australians. When the Australian Labor Party introduced the original and existing section 7 in 1948 it was strongly opposed by the LiberalCountry Party members of the day. In fact they went so far as to vote against the Bill. Some very strong and impassioned words were used by them during the debate. The debate was centred mainly on section 7 and it would do no harm to refer to some of the criticism and remarks of 1948. One cannot help but wonder what the attitude would be of some of those members if they were in this Parliament today. One cannot help but wonder also what sort of Act would have been brought down if they had been the government at the time and not the opposition.
The Acting Leader of the Liberal-Country Party Opposition at that time was Mr E. J. Harrison of Wentworth and he led for the Opposition. He said:
The key provision to this Bill is contained in clause 7 which reads:
He then read the clause. The wording of this clause is the same as the section in the existing Act today. This clause has stood for 20 years. He went on to say:
That clause determines the status of British nationality and therefore it is upon it that I propose to base my criticism.
Let us have a look at what his criticisms were. They can be found in Hansard of 18th November 1948 if honourable members want to check on them. Amongst his criticism he said this: 1 warn the country that this Bill does nothing to draw tighter the bonds of empire relationship; we are drawing further and further apart in outlook from the Mother country and it appears to me that we are veering more and more towards a policy of isolationism.
I do not think anyone would suggest that the Bill now before the House will do anything to correct or improve that situation.
A little later, as he apparently warmed up to the subject, Mr Harrison said:
This Bill reflects the views of separatists and is directed towards the liquidation of the British Empire. The Bill will destroy the principle of common British citizenship.
This was the attitude of the Leader of the Liberal-Country Party in 1948 when he was speaking against Labor’s proposition in relation to the status of British subjects. He went even further with his criticism, which cannot be claimed to be exactly tolerant, and said:
Australians will resent this attempt to deprive them of British subjecthood-
Of course, the Act did not propose to do so. Mr Harrison went on:
When we peruse this Bill we realise that it is part of a plan, a sinister plan, to liquidate the British Empire.
The next speaker from the ranks of the Liberal-Country Party Opposition on that occasion was Mr Anthony, but not the present Minister for Primary Industry. At one stage in his speech he described the Bill as smirchy and insidious and as being quite unnecessary. His concluding remarks were:
This is a measure the Parliament could do well without and its proper place is in the wastepaper basket.
The present Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) expressed very strong opposition and said amongst other things:
Indeed, I do not know what further step could be taken to sever us from the most powerful, wealthy and good people of the world and to change our status as a member of that powerful partnership to that of a small isolated people: because that is undoubtedly the fate that lies before us.
Have honourable members ever heard anything so doleful? Have you. Mr Speaker, ever heard such expressions of despondency, distaste and opposition which would not make you expect to see the complete abolition or at least substantial changes in the offending document if the people casting such reflections ever came to power?
The last Liberal-Country Party Opposition speaker on the Bill was Mr Bowden of Victoria. His main contribution was to say:
The Bill is another Mcp in the march of lime under Socialism.
He went on to say:
This measure means the breaking up of the British Empire step by step.
Mr Bowden said that after this legislation was passed Australia would practically be a foreign power. Mr Speaker, I have quoted those remarks because they fairly illustrate the attitude of the Liberal-Country Party towards the Nationality and Citizenship Act when it was introduced into this House by the man who was responsible for placing immigration to this country on a very sound footing. As a result of this thousands of people, including large numbers from the United Kingdom, were attracted to this country. It seems to me rather strange that if members of the Opposition at the time were dinkum in using such strong words of criticism and in some cases expressing such doleful opposition in 1948, they were satisfied, on becoming the government shortly afterwards, to let the matter rest. It is strange that clause 7, to which Mr Harrison took such strong exception, has been left in exactly the same form for 20 years by political parties whose members said in 1948 that it was a sinister plan to destroy the British Empire and regarded it as smirchy and insidious.
The people who heaped so much criticism on the Bill in 1948 became the Government in 1949, but they took no drastic action against the legislation. They apparently came to realise that it was good legislation and completely acceptable to them. There can be no doubt that the Minister for Immigration in 1948, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) did an extremely good job. In fact this has been agreed by all subsequent Ministers. It has always been said that Labor’s policy towards immigration was sound and sympathetic.
Amendments are proposed also to section 12, which relates to citizenship by registration, and to section IS, which relates to citizenship by naturalisation. Both are very important sections. Under section 12(1.) of the existing Act the Minister may grant a certificate to persons from certain countries - this is covered in section 7 - providing those persons satisfy certain conditions, the first of which is that they must be of full age and of full capacity. The Bill before us proposes to delete the words ‘and of full capacity’ and insert in their stead the words that he. is capable of understanding the nature of the application’. The existing Act defines the words ‘of full capacity’ as meaning ‘not being of unsound mind’.
The Minister claims that the proposed wording is more a direct requirement as to mental capacity. As I understand what he said. I cannot agree with him. I think there is a very distinct difference between the two wordings and I want to consider the circumstances in which they will be used. lt does not necessarily follow that because a person cannot understand the nature of an application he is of unsound- mind. On the other hand it would not be proved that another person was completely sane if he did understand the nature of his application. 1 imagine that the words ‘of full capacity’ were put into the legislation for the specific purpose of covering the position where a person of unsound mind did apply. It is most probable that such terms were used so that they would not be really offensive. As a matter of fact, being of unsound mind should not necessarily be a reason for refusing citizenship. Again this must depend on circumstances.
A person who was permitted to enter this country - 1 am not referring to a small child - could develop an unsound mind some years later as a result of an accident at work or elsewhere, because of economics or family worries, or for one of a number of other reasons. Alternatively, mental instability could have been present from birth. Certainly we would not wish to deny such people the right to any benefits of citizenship or the right to become citizens of this country if they so wish. If we take a sympathetic view, in some circumstances we should ensure that they become citizens and that benefits available to citizens are bestowed upon them.
Some of the requirements as to qualifications could also be waived. They could be waived in the same way as they are waived for people born in Australia in circumstances or conditions that are provided for in certain other legislation. Perhaps it is the intention of the amendment that people of unsound mind should be given an opportunity to become citizens if they wish to do so; but if that is the case, I do not see why we could not be more specific about it. In that case I would suggest that the words proposed by the Minister are unnecessary and superfluous. I would have thought that sub-sections (d) and (e) of section 12 already cover sufficiently the situation of an applicant for citizenship in determining whether he is capable of understanding the nature of his application. Subsection (d) provides that an applicant must have an adequate knowledge of the English language or otherwise have lived in Australia or New Guinea, or partly in both countries, for no less than 20 years.
Sub-section (e) lays down that an applicant must have an adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship. Surely if an applicant can properly satisfy the provisions of those two sub-sections he must be able to understand the nature of his application. On the other hand, if he is not capable of understanding the nature of his application, it is unlikely that he could satisfy the requirements of sub-section (e). The Minister in referring to the definition in the Act of the words ‘of full capacity’ as ‘not being of unsound mind’, said that it called for legal opinion to determine an appropriate interpretation. The result is that applicants must be able to understand the nature of the act of changing citizenship. I am not a legal eagle, as all honourable members know, but there seems to me to be a big difference between being of unsound mind and being able to understand the nature of an application. I can accept the reasoning that a person of unsound mind cannot satisfy the requirement of being of full capacity, but surely the fact that a person cannot understand the nature of the act of changing citizenship does not mean that he is mentally deficient.
On the other hand, it is not suggested that any person who understands the nature of an application has established for certain a sound mental capacity. For instance, I know a couple of people who would have no difficulty in proving that they understand the meaning of a change in citizenship. Nevertheless, they are denied enrolment under the Electoral Act on the grounds that they are of unsound mind. As I said earlier, I imagine that the words ‘of full capacity’ were included in the Act to cover the situation of an applicant of unsound mind. Despite legal interpretations, that is still my belief - that a person had to be of sound mind to gain citizenship. To my mind, it is a job for a medical man to determine whether an applicant is of unsound mind, and not a job for a solicitor.
It must be remembered that the proposed words ‘that he is capable of understanding the nature of the application’, will apply under section IS to aliens as well as others. Some such people, because of a lack of education, would or could find it extremely difficult to understand fully what a change of citizenship meant. While that could be a ground for rejection until an applicant obtained a better grip of the language or could understand it a little better, I would hope it would not be a ground for rejection on the basis that the applicant was a little mentally deficient. This is what I am concerned about. The Minister has said very definitely that the proposed words are a more direct statement of the requirement of mental capacity. In other words, it is a more direct requirement to show whether an applicant is of sound mind or is mentally deficient. Under the Act the Minister must be satisfied before granting citizenship. Does this mean that if the Minister is advised that an applicant does not understand the nature of the application, the Minister should reject the application on the ground that the mental capacity of the applicant is deficient?
As I said before, section 12 of the existing Act provides that an applicant for citizenship must have an adequate knowledge of the English language. If he does not have that knowledge, he must have lived in Australia or New Guinea, or both, for a continuous period of 20 years. A further provision in section 12 is that an applicant must have an adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship. The Bill before us proposes a further sub-section to the effect that the sub-sections to which 1 have just referred will have no application and will mean nothing if an applicant for citizenship has attained the age of 60 years or satisfies the Minister that he is suffering from a loss of, or from a substantial impairment of, hearing, speech or sight. The Minister has not presented an explanation of why the amendment is considered necessary or why the age should be specified as 60 years, rather than 65 or 55 years. It appears to be similar to the 5-year residence requirement - a figure taken out of a hat.
It is not the age at which a man becomes eligible for the age pension. It is not the age at which men would normally be expected to be unemployable. Certainly, if there is a very serious loss of sight an applicant could be eligible for an invalid pension, or a blind person’s pension, but this would also be the situation if an applicant were 50 years or 40 years of age, or of any other adult age. There is no provision in relation to social services. He would still be entitled to that pension. I would be appreciative if the Minister would give us an idea of why the age of 60 years was selected rather than another age. Also in respect to that proposal, I can see no provision to remove the necessity of an applicant’s being capable of understanding the nature of his application for citizenship. If an applicant is not required to have an adequate knowledge of the English language, why should we expect him to understand what an application is all about? The Act provides that the Minister can grant a certificate after he - not someone else in the Department - is satisfied that the applicant meets the requirements. So it is the Minister - and properly so - who is finally responsible.
This being the case I would like the Minister to explain how he intends to satisfy himself that the applicant is capable of understanding the nature of the application if the Minister is advised that the applicant has no knowledge of the English language and particularly no knowledge of the responsibilities of being an Australian citizen, unless of course it is intended that interpreters will be used. Perhaps I have overlooked a provision in the Bill that covers that situation, and if 1 have I hope that it will be pointed out to me. Nevertheless I am still somewhat doubtful of the wisdom of granting citizenship in cases where the persons concerned have no knowledge at all of what it means with regard to privileges and particularly with regard to responsibilities. I feel that perhaps we could be doing a disservice to some of these people by granting them citizenship when they are unaware of some of the responsibilities involved. There is an aspect of this proposal on which I would like the Minister to comment. It is linked with the Electoral Act. Clause 20 of the Bill provides that a person must be a British subject before he is entitled to enrolment. The term ‘British subject’ is to be taken out of the Nationality and Citizenship Act and the words ‘status of British subject’ inserted. Those words will be acceptable under the Electoral Act. Therefore all those people, including persons of 60 years of age, who have no knowledge of the English language, and who have no knowledge of the responsibilities of becoming citizens of Australia will be entitled to become enrolled and will in fact be expected to to become enrolled, according to my reading of the Electoral Act. The only people exempted from enrolment, are those under 21 years of age, those who have not lived in Australia for 6 months continuously or those who by this legislation, if passed, have not .the status of British subjects, are of unsound mind or are under sentence for having committed certain crimes. The exemptions will not apply to the persons who have been granted citizenship and to whom I have been referring.
Therefore I trust that the Minister will see to it that the Electoral Act is suitably amended to ensure that people who have not enrolled, or who have not voted if they have enrolled, will not be charged under the Act. I appreciate that for an alien to be granted citizenship at 60 years of age in the circumstances set out in the Bill he would most likely need to have been in Australia for 5 years. He would perhaps have a smattering of English, but that does not necessarily mean that he would have any knowledge of our legislation. There is a proposal in the Bill to amend section 15 of the Act by adding sub-section (2aaa.). This proposed sub-section provides that where a person can satisfy the Minister that he is able to read and write proficiently in the English language, the Minister may grant citizenship provided that the applicant has been resident continuously in Australia or New Guinea or both for at least 1 year immediately before the certificate is granted, and also has an aggregate residence in one country or the other of not less than 2 years. This means that the 5-year period of residence will be reduced to 3 years. In his second reading speech the Minister said in explanation of this proposal:
Cases are continually arising, however, where non-British migrants are suffering disadvantages in their employment by not being naturalised. For example, a good many people working in the Commonwealth and State public services and for local government cannot be given permanent appointments, and in consequence they miss opportunities of advancement. These are usually people who have an excellent command of English, written as well as spoken, and who exhibit all the other indications of having become integrated into the community.
The Government sees good reason not to delay the grant of citizenship to such persons provided they have the qualities which I have mentioned and they meet the other usual requirements.
I ask honourable members to cast their minds back to a debate on this subject a couple of years ago when members on this side of the House advanced the same argument as the Minister has used on this occasion. We asked then that the Act bc amended to allow citizenship to people who met the usual requirements and who were suffering the disadvantages to which the Minister now refers. That argument was rejected by the Government. The Government could see no point in it or any reason why it should be accepted, but now it has come along with a proposal which it would have the people believe is a brainchild of theirs. I would like to know how many migrants have suffered loss of permanent . appointment and subsequent advancement because of the Government’s past refusal to agree to reduce the residential qualification. I would also like to know why those people should be required to have 3 years of residence. What is so magical about a 3-year period? By the same token, what is so magical about the 5-year period which is normally required for citizenship to be granted. Why should migrants who can read and write English proficiently, who can speak it and properly understand it and who can satisfy all the other requirements for citizenship have to be resident for 3 years before they can receive citizenship? Why should they be denied opportunities for permanent employment and better positions simply because they have to wait for this 3-year period to expire? I do not know of any reason why they should, and the Minister has not given any reason for this in his second reading speech.
On 4th April 1967 we dealt with a Bill which amended the Nationality and Citizenship Act with regard to aliens called up for national service. One of the amendments for which that Bill provided was to allow those people to apply for citizenship after 2 years and 3 months of residence. They had to be in Australia 2 years before being eligible for call-up for national service, and they then had 3 months in the Army. The residential qualification was reduced from 5 years to 2 years, but only to suit the requirements of the Government. It was done simply to remove the odium which may otherwise have settled upon the Government. If it could be done in those circumstances why must there be a period of 3 years in the case of people who are proficient and fluent in the English language, who know all the responsibilities of citizenship and who can meet all the other usual requirements except that of residence? Why cannot the Government: see fit to reduce the residential qualifications in that case? I cannot see any reason why there should be a distinction.
The Minister also told us that the Government does not feel that there are sufficient grounds for a general reduction of the qualifying period of 5 years. The only reason he advanced for this was that if we were to grant early citizenship to persons and at a later stage the Department wished to deport them because they had committed a particular crime that would not be possible. But once they had been granted citizenship they could not be deported. If we are to be frightened on the score of a possible need for deportation in such a short time after citizenship is granted it does not say very much for the vetting which is carried out before these people are permitted to enter Australia, lt is certainly a poor compliment to those who are responsible for the vetting and who accept prospective migrants as being suitable potential citizens. Surely after such close scrutiny and screening as we are told is carried out of these people we should not require a residential period of 5 years to satisfy ourselves that they are acceptable as citizens of this country, provided of course that they can meet the other requirements.
It is admitted that the present Minister for Immigration is slightly more tolerant and sympathetic than was his predecessor. Sir Hubert Opperman, who was - as previous debates clearly show - strongly opposed to any relaxation of the residential qualification. The Minister’s predecessor was not even prepared to concede a point in relation to people who had such a good command of the English language and who knew the responsibilities of citizenship. I suppose that we on this side of the House can now draw some consolation from the fact that our hammering and our arguments over the years gradually are striking home and that there will be some improvements iti the Act in this regard.
– I rise to support the Bill because I believe it is a forward step in the policy of migration and integration of our new Australian citizens. I propose to be very brief in my remarks. It always amazes me that members of the Opposition feel they have to speak for all the time available to them whatever happens. They delve into history. We heard the last speaker, the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), talking of what applied 21 years ago. It is a little like comparing a babe in arms with a man who has attained his majority, because conditions were very different 21 years ago. We were dependent upon the British Navy and the British Army for protection. Today we are an independent Pacific power and an equal partner with Great Britain. That is the whole point of this Bill. We are emphasising our Australian citizenship, but we are no less emphasising thai we are still members of the British Commonwealth.
Because today we are a Pacific power with tremendous responsibilities it is important that we emphasise our Australian citizenship. It will be of tremendous help to our new citizens if we clearly define this point. A great many of them have great difficulty in understanding the implications of being a citizen of two nations, as they have felt they have been. In this country there is a growing awareness of our national individuality, our national characteristics and our nationhood. This is very important. We have built for ourselves a national image in this part of the world. It is one that stands high in those areas that are very closely associated with us in South East Asia. We are accepted as a nation within this sphere of influence. We are not considered to be Americans. We are not even considered to be Englishmen. We are Australians.
This is important in the region in which we live. It is important to our future. If we do not accept the responsibilities that go with this new nationhood, this young nationhood, we are not likely to remain an independent nation. On how we approach the people in this area will largely depend their approach to us. We are becoming a leading nation in trade and in the councils of this area. I believe that we have a unique opportunity to give a lead to many of those who are the have-nots today and who are looking to us for a lead. We must take an equal place among the nations of the world.
There are many other provisions oi the Bill on which I wish to touch but lightly. They are directed mainly at making it easier for our new citizens to become full Australian citizens with all rights. There is provision for special cases - people with special qualifications; people who are able to speak, write and understand our language: people who have taken responsible positions in this country of their adoption. These people are at a disadvantage in the Public Service and many other areas because they have not attained full citizenship. It is most important that this matter has been dealt with in the Bill because we need these people in this new nation in this era of development.
I believe that the Bill sums up and makes quite clear the progressive attitude not only of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) but of the Government towards immigration, and the attempt to assimilate as quickly and satisfactorily as possible these new citizens who have contributed and are contributing so much to this country. This is part of the programme of progress. It does not make much sense to refer to what happened or to quote speeches that were made 20-odd years ago. We must move with the times. I believe that that is exactly what this Bill makes provision for. In supporting the Bill I commend both the Minister and the Government for their very progressive attitude towards migration. Migration is increasing, and as it increases over the years it becomes more and more important that we make every effort to assimilate these people who are bringing so much to us here in this country. T have very much pleasure in supporting the Bill.
– In rising to support this legislation I also would like to commend the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) and his departmental officers for the manner in which they are administering and directing the Gorton Government’s policies in this important and significant field pf immigration. There is no doubt that we have been most fortunate in the calibre and ability of a series pf great Ministers of Immigration, not the least of whom is the present incumbent who, I believe, is the first one to be the son and brother of Scottish migrants and who, as a result, if for no other reason, has shown himself to be particularly concerned about and sensitive and sympathetic to the problems which face that very large proportion of our population who were not born in Australia - a status which I and too few other members of this chamber share. It must be noted that there is not a sufficiently large number of migrant members of the Federal or State Parliaments for them to be truly representative of the large numbers of foreign born citizens in Australia; but no doubt this situation will change as time goes by. I am very hopeful that the next member for the New South Wales electorate of Banks will be the Dutch born Liberal candidate for that seat.
There can be no doubting, Mr Speaker, that the Australian public have been very well served by the officers of the Department of Immigration as well as by the Ministers. Having been a member of the Seventh Joint Committee of Public Accounts when it investigated the Department in 1967
I commend the ninety-fourth report of the Public Accounts Committee to honourable members not only because it is a useful source of information but also so that they may find that, after a most comprehensive and exhaustive investigation of the Department of Immigration, there were no major or really serious complaints that we on either side of this House could have about the way migration into Australia has been or is being handled. It is in this historical framework, then, that we should be considering the quality of the legislation now before the House.
In his second reading speech the Minister said that the amendments contained in the Bill were necessary and desirable in the light of present day conditions. Nobody here would deny that any Bill that raises and confirms the status of Australian citizenship per se is highly desirable, though perhaps somewhat overdue. I remain concerned that certain of the international legal positions have not been confirmed; but we have in this Bill an honest and frank approach to solving many of the irregularities that have grown up around the problems of citizenship for non-Australian born Australians. Any remaining legal complications, particularly as they relate to the use of the words British subject’, will no doubt be evident to the legal minds in this House. I think the contribution of the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) confirms that. lt is not my intention to pursue this argument to any length, apart from expressing my pleasure at the Minister’s statement that wherever possible it is intended to give primacy to the expression ‘Australian citizen’. I admit to having always stated this when travelling overseas. I hope that it will not be long before the laws of the Commonwealth and of the States will be amended so that we are also Australian subjects. After all, as the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) pointed out. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of Australia and not Queen of the United Kingdom when her status is defined in Australia. Why, then, should not Australian citizens be also Australian subjects? Being no lawyer, I can see little objection to the eventual and absolute use of the description ‘Australian subject’ as well as the description ‘Australian citizen’ while still maintaining keen loyalty to the Crown, membership of the British Commonwealth and strong opposition to the call for republicanism, which is starting to grow, if only slowly, in Australia.
In this debate I am more concerned to consider the problems that face those 32,000 Australians who each year acquire their citizenship by naturalisation and renunciation of former citizenships and loyalties, as well as the quarter of a million people, approximately, who are eligible aliens, as they are known, over the age of 16 years and who have not applied for Australian citizenship. To talk about the latter point first, I believe that the Government is doing all within its power to encourage the lethargic and forgetful among these people to take out naturalisation papers. We have simplified procedures. We have the generous and most welcome assistance of local governments in making such naturalisation ceremonies less awesome. I especially commend the Sutherland Shire Council for its efforts in my own electorate in this regard. We have mobile units to provide ready information on citizenship for those not inclined to seek out the information themselves. Naturalisation promotion officers have been appointed by the Department and we have the enthusiastic efforts of good neighbour councils to ensure that all migrants wishing to avail themselves of Australian citizenship are able to do so.
If this Bill is able to streamline this procedure and achieve extra success, then so much the better. But we must never force the pace. We must never assume that it is an easy matter for all people to renounce former allegiances, for emotions run deep and regard for those things beyond the material will not always allow people to separate renunciation of what used to be from rejection of what used to be. I am strongly opposed to forcing naturalisation and I was pleased to note when the Public Accounts Committee was investigating the Department that this was the official viewpoint also. And yet here we have a paradox. On the one hand, we have the wish of people to acquire Australian citizenship and all the many benefits that attach to it, and this Bill is certainly concerned with this aspect, while, on the other hand, there are many aspects of acquired Australian citizen ship which can still disadvantage the holder of such, particularly when these people enter their former homeland which may be among those European countries which do not acknowledge loss of citizenship either fully or in part as a result of the renunciation which is part of our naturalisation ceremonies.
I have been told by the Minister that the countries where citizenship is lost following renunciation include Denmark, Finland, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United States of America. With France, citizenship is lost only by those exempt from military service or who have passed beyond the age of military service, while former Belgian citizenship is lost - 1 am told - except by persons under 45 years of age who have not completed military service, although the Minister has informed me that relief can be granted in these cases by Belgian royal decree. However, Mr Speaker, I have had occasion to make representations to the Minister on behalf of a former national of the Netherlands who acquired his Australian citizenship between the ages of 16 and 21 and therefore, along with former citizens of Austria, Germany and Italy who were also minors when acquiring Australian citizenship, does not or did not lose his former nationality under the law of these countries despite formal renunciation. This constituent of mine was seriously disadvantaged by this dual citizenship and lack of Australian primacy, and [ would like to take the opportunity of thanking the Minister for Immigration and the Australian Ambassador in The Hague for their personal efforts in sorting this matter out. lt would be beyond my rights to detail the matter involved in this case. Suffice it to say again that the young man was seriously disadvantaged by the loss of primacy of Australian citizenship in the Netherlands.
Mr Speaker, the Minister has assured me that the forms contained in clause 12 of the Bill provide the solution to this problem as it affects former nationals of Austria, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands who have taken out their Australian nationality between the ages of 16 and 21. I would appreciate having the Minister describe to the House how the contents of clause 12 of the present Bill can overcome this problem, insofar as this clause relates to the renunciation of Australian citizenship. It reads:
an Australian citizen is a national or citizen of a country other than Australia; and
that person’s nationality or citizenship was acquired … at birth, while not of full age or by reason of marriage, he may at any time after attaining the age of 21 years or after the marriage, make a declaration renouncing his Australian citizenship.
At any rate, I am appreciative of the Minister and his officers for having taken so much time in resolving the problem insofar as it can be resolved by Australian legislation alone. I can only hope, along with the Minister, that the laws of the four countries in question will accept this amendment to our citizenship laws which will allow Australian citizenship to assume primacy, lt is clearly understood that wc are, in this case, only dealing with the status of people under our own Australian laws.
Most of the other clauses in the Bill seem to have been covered by other members in the House, or clearly described by the Minister in his second reading speech. But I would like to say that I believe the 3-year residency qualification is of great significance and I look forward to seeing how this one works out. 1 found it interesting when the Minister revealed that the majority of aliens do not apply for citizenship until they have been here for 8 years or more and I can only hope that the new arrangement will be of great assistance to the migrants who have been inconvenienced by having to wait 5 years before they could assume citizenship. I could not agree with the remarks of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) that the period of 3 years has some magical content and that 5 years has some magical content also. I would point out to the honourable member that a colleague on his side of the House, the right honourable member for Melbourne, this very afternoon pointed out his clear view that the 5-year period should not be reduced in case it cheapened the value of Australian citizenship. 1 think the fact that the great majority of aliens wait 8 years surely shows that helping out those people who are particularly inconvenienced by having to wait 5 years in no way cheapens the desirability of having citizenship as far as aliens are concerned.
Before I conclude, I would just like to say how pleasing it was to hear the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) say that there is no great difference between the Government and the Opposition, which have the same regard and approach to the status of migrants, and to hear the honourable member extol the efficiency of the Department and the Minister himself. As I have said, we are indeed fortunate and we must continue to see that the welfare of all Australians, whether citizens or residents, whether Australian born or not, continue to have the opportunities that the Liberal Governments have given them for the past 20 years. I was not impressed when the honourable member for Kalgoorlie went back to 1948. The fact remains that this Government has maintained a continuing and progressive attitude towards matters of migration, and thank heaven we are not living back 21 years ago when it comes to the problems of migrants.
With all the marginal problems we come across as members, with all the problems that arise from the necessary adjustments that all migrants must make, the cold fact remains that no country in the history of the world has done as much for its migrants as has Australia, particularly in the past 20 years. There is no country in the world which provides accommodation for migrants after they have landed. There is no country which has such a continuing concern for people who visit our shores. Naturally, we cannot become complacent, nor can we ever overlook the all-important human content in any migration policy, but we have cause to be pleased with what has gone before and with the Bill before the House. We have cause to be pleased with what is continuing to be done to ensure that we remain aware and concerned in this most important and significant field of immigration. I commend Minister, Department and Bill to the House.
– After the cut and thrust of wild political debate and the raised tempers and the outcome of politics in this Parliament, it is always nice to have a relaxed discussion on an immigration Bill. Whilst there may be differences of interpretation and administration, there is general agreement, fortunately for Australia, on the broad concept of migration and the programme that was introduced by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), who spoke today. Therefore, whilst this atmosphere prevails, if reminders of the past are brought up occasionally this should not be taken as a sign of dissenting from the general programme but rather as an indication not only how the people have accepted migration but also how some members of Parliament, who viewed certain things with some dismay in the past, have changed. I notice that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden), who is sitting at the table, said when he brought the Bill in:
The Bill, Mr Speaker, proposes some changes which are fundamental lo our national status and the concept of Australian citizenship. . . .
Those words follow the remarks of a former Minister for Information and Immigration, the right honourable member for Melbourne, who said at the time of the introduction of the Bill in 1948:
This Bill is more than a cold legalistic formula, lt is a warm, pulsating document that enshrines the love of country of every genuine Australian.
Today we are all giving acceptance to those sentiments, which shows how the Parliament has progressed and how the views of members have changed. As the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) said - and I just stir the embers of the past as a reminder, and nol in any bitter way in this placid debate - there were many people who did not applaud the sentiments expressed in those days, although those sentiments are now endorsed by everyone. He mentioned the comments of the then Acting Leader of the Opposition, Sir Eric Harrison, and he might well have mentioned the then honourable member for Moreton, Mr Francis who, when this Bill was introduced, interjected and said: ‘They are pulling down the Union Jack’. They are sentiments which today seem rather wild and extravagant. I mention, Mr Speaker, that these remarks were made by some of the Minister’s and your misinformed predecessors in the Parliament. The present Minister has brought to the Parliament the same knowledge, understanding and tolerance as other Ministers for Immigration have brought. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie quoted remarks made by the Deputy Prime
Minister of today, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) who went a little further than even we might have expected. He said at that time:
Whatever grounds for complaint may have existed in regard to some of the matters mentioned
They were matters contained in the legislation: could have been ironed out in the fullness of time without driving us to the point of national suicide . . .
These remarks make interesting recalling and 1 can quite understand why the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettit) did not wish us to go back into the past in debating this matter. Other statements were made, but I do not wish to recall’ them all now. All this shows the stimulating and rather stormy entry into this Parliament of the legislation which placed the imprimatur on Australian citizenship, lt is interesting to note that Hansard is studded with dramatic and fearful predictions of what the future would hold under the immigration legislation. Today in the Parliament we still have three honourable members who at the time thought the measure was not worth supporting. 1 refer to the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann), the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), who in those days was against everything, and the Deputy Prime Minister. But you, Mr Minister, are of a much more tolerant vintage and you have an intelligent approach to this problem. I think that those who voted against the legislation at that time would now have a different approach.
To my mind the legislation now in force fulfils the ideals expressed by the former Minister for Information and Immigration. As the present Minister has said, there have been several changes to the legislation and a number of amendments which have brought it up to date. The Minister for Immigration prior to the present Minister said in 1966 in this place:
This Act is fundamental to our national status, and from it stems the concept of Australian citizenship as well as the rules under which our citizenship may be applied.
I know that I will be forgiven if I say with a little pride that the grim, horror-struck words of anguish and foreboding spoken by Sir Eric Harrison on what he saw on a dark day in Australian history in 1948 when the Bill was introduced are now merely grim reminders of another age which is a long step from our time. As the honourable member for Kalgoorlie reminded us Sir Eric Harrison said at that time: lt is part of a plan, a sinister plan to liquidate the British Empire.
I propose to turn to a few provisions of the Bill, but before doing so 1 think it is worth recalling the great contributions that immigration has made to this country. I noticed in the last quarterly statistical summary on Australian immigration issued by the Department of Immigration some very interesting figures. From October 1945 to September 1968, 2,947,000 migrants came to Australia. The number of assisted migrants was 1,437,000 and other arrivals made up the other 1,510,000. That in itself shows the tremendous number of people who have been brought to Australia. The migrants represented forty nationalities. Among them, 753,000 were below 14 years of age, and separate figures are given in respect of those aged between 15 and 59 years and for those aged 60 years and over. They show that there has been a tremendous movement of people under the scheme. It is interesting to note that from October 1945, when the number of assisted migrants was 960, the number had increased to 84,000 by 1967-68. When we look at the figures for the estimated number of births to migrant families in Australia we see that there has been a total of 4,600,000. Some of the marriage partners were migrants and some were Australians. Again, that is a tremendous number of people.
In the period from 1945 until now our population has increased from 7 million to just on 12 million. This shows that the Department of Immigration in all its sections in Australia and the Ministers and governments concerned have been responsible for what I suppose has been the greatest mass movement of people in our time. All who have participated in it, from the governments which introduced the scheme to the Ministers who gave effect to the policy and the staff in the various parts of the world who have selected the migrants and dealt with all their human problems, must take great pride in the contribution they have made to the development which has built for us a stimulating country with a future which is so great that no-one can say what it will be. I mention also that the Bill is not an easy one to debate because it is rather complicated, as some honourable members have said. It is not possible for me to go into great detail in respect of all matters associated with the measure. I wish only to address a few remarks to one or two of the major sections which I believe are of importance. 1 propose first to deal with the question of naturalisation. But before doing so let me say that I appreciate the move that has been made to use the words ‘Australian citizen’. I believe that these words are long overdue. I think the use of this expression is in keeping with our national pride. It is part of our right to be designated as Australian citizens. For that matter I wish that we had our own national anthem to stimulate this pride further. I wish that we had more Australianism in our way of life because when we see what the migrants have brought to this country from their own cultural backgrounds we realise that not only should we stimulate a great belief in Australia but also that we should stimulate a real pride in our citizenship and culture. Without reflecting on the; National Anthem, when Australians were winning events at the Olympic Games I would have liked to hear an Australian anthem played while Australian citizens were carrying their banner. The adoption of the term ‘Australian citizenship’ is to be complimented. I am pleased to see that it is now to be incorporated in the Citizenship Act. It will engender greater pride among Australians. I might add that we now have the status of Australian citizens rather than the mere position of being British subjects. There has been some dispute about this, but the fact of the matter is that we are now Australian citizens and can use that title.
I propose to deal briefly with the Bill, lt is not my intention to deal with all of it at this stage. In certain circumstances naturalisation is now to be granted to people who have had 3 years residence in Australia. I think this provision is quite desirable, but I am inclined to disagree with the right honourable member for Melbourne, although I do not like to do so, knowing that, without reflecting on anybody, he is possibly the most knowledgable man on migration in this Parliament. I sometimes wonder whether 5 years is not too long for a migrant to wait for naturalisation. This is a question which has been debated at
Citizenship Conventions and In this place. There is a broad feeling among honourable members that the qualifying period for naturalisation might be less than 5 years, but for that matter some may believe that it should be longer. No-one is able to say how the 5 years was arrived at. In some cases migrants may apply after 3 years, but if they happen to be called up for military service they may qualify for citizenship within 3 months or almost immediately. 1 see no reason why people should have to wait 5 years. It must be remembered that they have been carefully selected on the basis of their integrity, their status, their position and their capacity to integrate or assimilate. They are all judged on these factors long before they are selected to come to Australia. If that has been done, why should they then have to serve a probationary period of 5 years before being granted Australian citizenship? I do not think we would weaken the scheme if we were to allow them to take Australian citizenship after 2 or 3 years. If it can be done in special circumstances, I see no reason why the same provisions should not apply in relation to other people who might be equally good citizens, who may be employed in very menial capacities only but who would still like to be Australian citizens. I note from the information supplied by the Department that since 1945 more than 583,000 people have been naturalised. They range from Afghans to stateless people. They came from about 59 different countries. That is a large number of people. I understand also that about 240,000 people over the age of 16 years who are eligible to be naturalised have not as yet sought naturalisation. Of the migrants who come to this country 69% become naturalised. The best way to make an immigration scheme work successfully is to encourage every migrant to become naturalised and, under this Bill, to be an Australian citizen.
I would like to see the general residential qualification of 5 years for purposes of naturalisation reduced, as it has been in certain cases, apparently without affecting our immigration programme. I have no quarrel with the special provisions that are to apply in compassionate cases, in cases of hardship and in cases where people are over 60 years of age. The reduction of the qualifying period in these special cases has the support of the Opposition. A number of people have approached me about the 5 years residential qualification. It is a matter of concern to many people. The Government should consider reducing the qualifying period for all persons seeking naturalisation, as it has been reduced in certain cases.
The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie) touched on the provision that a person seeking naturalisation must be prepared to renounce allegiance to the country of his origin. On one occasion in the Parliament the Labor Party moved to have the renunciation provisions removed from the oath of allegiance to Australia, but it was defeated. We did not act on that occasion with any anti-British motives. We believed that many people who come to this country from overseas find it humiliating to be asked to renounce allegiance to their country of origin. Renunciation of allegiance is quite unnecessary because many countries do not accept it, as the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) mentioned. The Government might consider this matter. The requirement to renounce a former allegiance may cause some people to be reluctant to become naturalised. The humiliation of renouncing a former allegiance may be the reason why some people do not seek naturalisation. Such renunciation is not sought in many countries. I mention this matter in the hope that some effort might be made to abolish the act of renunciation.
Clause 6 of the Bill repeals Part II of the principal Act. Part II refers to the status of a British subject. In his second reading speech the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) gave a fairly reasonable assurance on this point. He said:
At present section 7 of the Nationality and Citizenship Act provides that a person who is a citizen of a Commonwealth country ‘shall by virtue of that citizenship . . . become a British subject’. Apart from misunderstandings which arise from Australian citizens being British subjects, it is hardly appropriate that the citizens of other Commonwealth countries - some of them republics - should be declared under Australian law to be British subjects when by the law of those countries there is no comparable provision in relation to Australian citizens.
I suggest that the Minister might clarify that statement for honourable members. As 1 see the position, this provision merely writes into the Act what is already contained in the regulations. This matter was raised by the right honourable member for Melbourne and I would like the Minister to deal with it. In his second reading speech he also said:
The re-worded sections do not alter in any way the present position of Australian citizens, citizens of other Commonwealth countries or Irish citizens other than to declare them to have the status of British subjects rather than to be British subjects.
That assurance seems reasonable. As the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) has pointed out, there appears to be no change here from what is contained in the original Act. The list of countries to which British citizenship status applies has probably been brought up to date in the Bill. I would like the Minister’s assurance on the matters I have raised because if there is to be any variation from the intention of the original Act it is an important matter. 1 commend the Government on the changes that have been made in this legislation. It is desirable that the Act be continually overhauled. I am pleased to hear that the Government is to print a consolidated Act. I thank the Minister for going to the trouble of providing honourable members with a summary of the legislation. When we are dealing with a complicated measure such as this it is important for us to have all the facts clearly before us. I am pleased that the legislation originally brought down long ago under such turbulent conditions is now accepted by all parties. It is good to hear every member in this House support our immigration programme. There may be divergence of opinions in respect of some aspects of the scheme but generally speaking honourable members collectively support the programme for the common good of Australia. I welcome the review that has taken place. Any proposals that give greater pride to Australians as well as those accepting citizenship is in keeping with the spirit of the immigration programme. Since its inception the programme has been wisely and tolerantiy administered. Australia should be grateful to the various Ministers for Immigration and officers of the Department of Immigration, at home and abroad who, in this great exercise of human relations, have so successfully carried out their tasks.
I hope that all debates on our immigration programme will take place in a nonparty atmosphere, and that all criticism of our immigration policy will be constructive. Only by a collective effort in the great mass movement of people and a tolerant understanding of the issues and problems involved can we continue to succeed in our immigration programme, which is bound up with the development of this country. 1 commend the Bill. I will have a few words to say about other clauses in the Committee stage.
– It is indeed a pleasure to follow in the debate tonight the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), whose speech was in such moderate tones. Immigration is a subject of great personal interest to all honourable members and particularly to me because in my electorate of Griffith, on the southern side of the Brisbane River, there are about 5,000 Greeks and about 2,500 people of Russian descent. My electorate is not unusual in this country today. Over the years Australia has changed greatly. 1 am particularly pleased with the humane proposal in this Bill that migrants over the age of 60 years who have not been able to learn English may obtain citizenship or, as it is more usually called, naturalisation. Let mc relate to the House a true story of something that happened in my electorate. There is in the electorate an elderly couple who are in their 70s. They arrived in this country when they were in their late 50s. Neither of them had learned English. Nothing was dearer to them than to become Australians. I arranged for this couple to meet the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) during one of his visits to Brisbane. He said that as long as the two persons understood the nature of naturalisation something could be done. I wish only that all honourable members could have seen the looks on the faces of those two happy people when they were handed certificates stating that they were Australian citizens. The proposal to make citizenship easier for persons over 60 years of age, notwithstanding their difficulties with the language, is humane.
I have one or two criticisms of the Bill. I commend the provision that children born in wedlock outside Australia to Australian women shall have the right of access to Australian citizenship by means of registration with an Australian consulate office. All honourable members know that the present system has more or less favoured the gander while letting the goose run. in that while a father has been able to register his child the mother has been discriminated against. The same system applies in the United States, but the big difference there is that the onus is on the child to make his or her way back to the United States for a period of. I think, 2 years before attaining the age of 21 years in order to retain United States citizenship. I suggest that under the present system we could have the embarrassing position in years to come whereby a person born outside this country and registered as required by the Act might want to come back to Australia at the age of 35 or 40 years. Yesterday in this House, we had a debate about the Russian writer Semenov. During that debate certain differences of opinion were expressed but there was one basic point of agreement between the members of the Labor Party and the members of the Liberal Party. Members of the Labor Party agreed that in some circumstances we have to prevent certain persons from coming to our country. However the Labor Party said it would stale the reason for its action - hence the difference. But here we are leaving ourselves wide open to a situation where a government - whether it be a Labor government, a Liberal government, or a Country Party government - believing that a certain person should not be admitted to the country, will find that its hands are completely tied. 1 strongly suggest that this particular point should be taken into account.
I realise we are drawing close to the end of this afternoon’s sitting, but I should like to raise one other point. We are slowly growing away from Britain. This is the evolution, the emergence, of Australia as a nation. We have now obtained Australian citizenship - 1 look forward to the day when there will be Australian nationality; there may be a fine line of distinction there - we must review our present ties with Britain. I suggest that the present system under which a British migrant may come to Australia and within 6 months of arrival here have the right to vote warrants the scrutiny of every member of this Parlia ment. I do not believe that I, as an Australian, should have the right to vote in Britain 6 months after my arrival there. Why should British migrants have the right to come to Australia and, without having lived here for very long, without having come to understand the philosophies of the political parties of this nation, be permitted to cast a vote for one or the other? Britain and Australia are very close, but as we draw apart in certain matters, such as citizenship, we must be consistent. J should like to see the time qualification extended to 12 months. As a parallel, I believe a.’so that Australians going to Britain should have their rights to reciprocal benefits narrowed down. Although, basically, Britain is the mother country we have come of age, and the sooner Australia gets completely onto her own two feet the belter.
I commend the Government for ils foresight in making these changes. In the present Minister we have a man who has a very wide approach to immigration. Even though I arrived here 20 years after the scheme was implemented, I believe it is very fitting that, much to the joy of many members of the Opposition, we still have with us in this Parliament the originator and architect of this very great immigration scheme which has done so much in the building up of this nation.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– I want to pay a personal tribute to the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) for the co-operation that he has given to me. I am profoundly indebted to him for his assistance over the period of his office. The Opposition case in relation to this Bill has been quite fully stated by the honourable members for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) and Grayndler (Mr Daly). It was interesting to hear the comments of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie. They again proved the old political axiom that the Australian Labor Party leads and the Conservatives follow. Many a measure that was considered most reprehensible at the time of its introduction has been ultimately adopted and attempts have even been made to improve it by our political opponents. No doubt th.it trend will continue.
I would say that, with the possible exception of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), I would have a larger European and British migrant population in my electorate than any other member of Parliament in Australia has. A very great contribution has been made to heavy industry and to the progress, welfare and development of Greater Wollongong by the people who have come there from Europe, the United Kingdom and other parts of the British Commonwealth, following the great diaspora that resulted from World War II. People, tired of the slaughter, the devastation and the national antagonisms and hatreds, have sought refuge in Australia and have found it. They have been welcomed on the basis of their ability to make a contribution to this country, to accept its citizenship and to learn its ways and its language, and we have greatly profited in the process. In language, in tradition and in customs we have broadened, our outlook has been very greatly liberalised and as a whole the interchange of cultures has been of mutual benefit to both the old and the new Australians.
It is often forgotten that we are in the second great, phase of immigration to Australia, the first having been in the period from 1849 to 1860 following the discovery of gold. This was the period after the revolutions against the feudal system in Europe, and a very great contribution was made in those years not only to our population, which quadrupled, but also to our political thinking. Many of the men who came to Australia as refugees from feudal tyranny helped to strengthen further the Australian tradition of democratic self-government and libertarianism. I venture to say that I have attended more naturalisation ceremonies and seen more persons naturalised than possibly, any other honourable member has. It has always been my practice in addressing these people to point out to them the particular merits of the utmost proficiency in the English language. The Department of Immigration has been correctly tolerant in the standards it has imposed as a qualification for naturalisation. But there is a strong case and a very real obligation for this Government to give assistance to the State Departments of Education and educational authorities so that they can provide further tuition in the English language for many of these people. There is an even greater obligation for schools which cater for migrant children from countries where there is very little resemblance between their language of origin and our own to provide language laboratories for these students.
One factor is very noticeable in the schools. The prize lists on prize days show - a very fair proportion of the academic awards and awards for participation in the various traditional sports we play going to children who are obviously of European parentage. I emphasise that there is possibly no greater unifying link in the world today than the English language. When this is pointed out to the candidates for naturalisation its advantages are always appreciated. At least 400 million people in the world today speak the English language either as their own or as a second tongue. Nearly 800 million people in the world today have a reasonable knowledge of English. It is noteworthy that in the post-war period, with the new media of communication of radio and television, the English language is forging to the forefront as a means of international communication.
The naturalisation ceremonies that have been carried out over the years by the various local councils have made a notable contribution, in the dignity and solemnity of the proceedings. Australian citizenship is something not lightly to be conferred, nor is it lightly to be accepted. As an Australian of the fifth generation I have felt very proud and deeply touched at the spectacle of people from every country of Europe coming here, having a good look at Australia, its people and its ways and then deciding to throw their lot in with us as citizens of what will undoubtedly be a very great nation. In one respect it is these naturalisation ceremonies that have jolted us into a real consciousness of our own national responsibilities and our own national identity. I have never failed to stress to the migrants who come to me for assistance before naturalisation that, just as we in our turn came to this country as migrants from four parent countries in the British Isles, with four different traditions and four very different histories and still have fond and tender memories of the lands of our ancestors, they will be able to accept Australian citizenship and at the same time retain a proper link of affection for the lands of their forebears.
Greater Wollongong had a very early experience of immigration in the coalmining industry, so the problems of immigration are nothing new to us. But one thing does concern me and that is the Press presentation of Greater Wollongong, and the industrial area of Port Kembla in particular, as an area in which there is a predominantly European population. By far the greatest number of migrants within Greater Wollongong are of British birth, born within the British Commonwealth. Their standards of behaviour and their ideas of citizenship are to be welcomed and are a credit to them. But for the future - and 1 think both sides of the House are interested in building up an inflow of migrants - we must look out for what will happen when Britain finally enters the European Economic Community. Undoubtedly a very large number of British families, particularly British tradesmen, will want to leave Britain, lt is a matter for Britain to decide what she will do in regard to the European Economic Community but it will be something entirely different and, perhaps, alien to British tradition to be in an economic alliance with any other European country. For that reason I expect that a very large number of migrants will be recruited for Australia.
So much for what can be done to boost the number of migrants in a positive way. There are a number of other steps which could be of equal importance to this Government. 1. greatly regret that the Minister for Immigration is not present at the table at the moment. In the interviews I have with the various migrants who come to me for assistance I invariably ask them how long they have lived in Australia and what their attitude is towards naturalisation. The reasons given for their reluctance to become Australian citizens are most illuminating. One of their major criticisms is the paucity and inadequacy of our social service pensions. Migrants from countries like Germany, and Holland in particular, are extremely critical1. In many cases 1 am told that whilst they appreciate everything that is in Australia - its democratic tradition, its air of freedom and equality - it would be to their detriment to accept Australian citizenship. At a later stage they could return to their own countries where, having made contributions to their social service systems, they would receive superior rates on retirement to what they would receive in Australia. That is one matter that this Government needs to take to heart.
Another major ground of criticism is the absence of a truly national health scheme. In this respect we find the criticism from the British migrants is on a sounder base than that of the European migrants. Again this is a matter on which the Government has nothing to offer. The legislation in its present form removes, perhaps in order of magnitude, the third ground for reluctance to accept Australian citizenship, and that is the particular status of being a British subject. Here again, Sir, I turn to another matter. In my contact with the various national representatives 1 have been told, from time to time, that they have received complaints from their nationals about the inadequacy of wage scales paid in heavy industry, particularly to unskilled men. When a person tears up his roots and brings his family to a strange country, one in which he is not familiar with the language, he has major problems, and no amount of liaison or the holding out of a helping hand is any substitute for a fair and reasonable living wage. There is also criticism of the lack of suitable opportunities for the employment of a migrant’s wife and children.
Another cause of criticism relates to over enthusiastic salesmanship. When the Government sets a quota and. decides that in a particular year it needs to boost its recruiting campaign in a certain country, unfortunately there can be over enthusiastic salesmanship on the part of some of our representatives. In the last decade in Europe there has been a marked improvement in wages and general living standards. Consequently difficulties are being experienced in recruiting the percentage of trained men that we need in our various secondary industries. Again there is a need for the Government to give attention to this aspect and to pass on to its supporters in major industries a very broad hint that if they want European tradesmen in the future they will have to pay more to get them. One of the other causes of retarded immigration to this country is adverse publicity, but there is not a lot that can be done in this regard.
To sum up, Sir, this legislation merits support and it gets it from the Opposition. However, where criticism is due we will criticise. I offer to the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch), who is at the table, one final thought that he might pass on to the Minister for Immigration: The Opposition will be keeping a very close eye open for the possibility of any political discrimination in respect to the recruitment of migrants from overseas. For generations Great Britain has set a tradition of political asylum. Whilst we do not want people who would be disloyal or subversive to Australia, at the same time we do not want to see even the slightest suspicion of political discrimination.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fox) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– I seek leave of the House to propose a motion to discharge orders of the day.
– Is leave granted?
– I move:
That the following Orders of the Day, Government Business, be discharged:
No. 10 - Libraries Programme for Secondary Schools-Paper - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 22 -International Labour Conference - Forty-Seventh Session, 1963 - StatementMotion to take note of Paper -Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of (he Paper’.
No. 23 -International Labour Conference - Forty-ninth Session, 1965- StatementMotion to lake note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 24 -International Labour Conference - Fifty-first Session, 1967 - Report of Australian Delegation - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion,’That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 27- Vietnam Bombing Halt- Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 28 - Chowilla Dam- Ministerial Statement - ‘Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 29 - Frequency Modulation Broadcasting - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of the Paper’ and on the amendment moved thereto by Mr Whitlam.
No. 30- Commonwealth Drought Relief Assistance in 1968-69 - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 31- Drought Relief- Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 32 - Helicopter Accident at Barracouta Platform, Bass Strait - Paper and Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Papers - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Papers’.
No. 33 - Armed Services -Revised Pay Structure - Ministerial Statement- Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 34 - Immigration Programmes, 1968 to 1973 - Report and Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Papers- Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of the Papers’.
No. 37 - Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion,’ That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 38 - Government Publishing Policy - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion,’ That the House take note of the Paper’.
– Mr Speaker, I object to the deletion of No. 32 - Helicopter Accident at Barracouta Platform, Bass Strait. This refers to a statement made by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz). When he made the statement honourable members on this side of the House indicated their desire to speak on this subject. Honourable members on the Government side likewise indicated their desire to speak. Assurances were given at the table that this would be permitted.
– In reply to the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), this was done in agreement with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard).
– Order! The Minister is now closing the debate.
– In that case, Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I now seek leave to amend my motion by deleting reference to Order of the Day No. 32.
Motion - by leave - amended.
– 1 should like to ask a question regarding Order of the Day No. 28, which relates to a ministerial statement about the Chowilla dam. I had secured the adjournment of that debate. Can the Minister indicate whether this matter will be brought forward in some other form so that honourable members may discuss it?
Mr- ERWIN (Ballaarat- Minister for Air) - in reply - The reply to the honourable member is that Bills concerning a series of dams, will be coming before the House. They will be introduced by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 17th April (vide page 1245), on motion by Mr Hulme:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The subject matter of the Bill is mainly a number of technical amendments to facilitate meetings of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. Apparently at the moment some difficulty is experienced in some circumstances, if all members are not available, in having the Deputy Chairman act as the Chairman. Some one or two other matters are involved and this amending Bill seeks to deal with them. We offer no objection to this aspect. However the title of the Bill is so drawn that it permits of quite a wide debate on broadcasting and television. As the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) said in his second reading speech, broadcasting and television stations are an important medium of mass communication. It is to the use of the medium, particularly in the television field, that I want to address myself this evening. If I may, I want to use some remarks that are contained in the annual report for 1968 of the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations. The report was presented to the eighth annual meeting of that body on 26th November 1968 by Mr Arthur Cowan, who is described as General Manager. He began his report with a quotation from the Canadian Committee on Broadcasting - a quotation which, by the way, 1 used myself in this House some months ago: ‘The only thing that really matters in broadcasting is programme content, all the rest is housekeeping.’ Broadcasting, of course, here includes television. Mr Cowan quotes that remark with approval. He has drawn a different sort of implication from that which I drew when I used the quotation. I want to meet it this evening with a quotation from one of the leading American theologians of this day, Mr Reinhold Niebuhr, who is probably well known to those who are students of modern theology. He says:
We are in danger of developing a culture that is enslaved to its productive process, thus reversing the normal relationship of production and consumption.
I would suggest that in many respects commercial television is doing precisely this. It is enslaving us by its own productive process. In so doing it is, in many respects - perhaps unwittingly - a substantial threat to Australian culture.
– That is a very strong statement.
– It is, and I hope that at least I may be able to advance something to substantiate that claim. If one were to read Mr Cowan’s report one would say that here is someone highly satisfied with the performance of commercial television, but I doubt whether his point of view is snared by everybody in the community. What I would take issue upon is the means that are used for assessing that the public somehow is satisfied with what is being provided. On page 25 of the report he summarises the industry’s standing with the public. In paragraph (d) of his summary he says:
Every night of the week between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. the set in half of the television homes throughout the nation is switched to a commercial channel, making watching commercial television the leading leisure time pastime of most Australians. The occupants of the other homes are listening to radio, watching ABC television, read- ing. sewing, studying or are away from home visiting, dancing, at the movies, and in short attending to all the other pursuits they shared before the introduction of TV.
Apparently every night of the week between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. half the television homes are watching commercial television.. To begin with, in my. view this would show that there is still quite a large section of the public which does not watch television or which finds that on a particular night there is nothing suitable to watch. This is one of the neglected aspects that the rating approach to these things conceals. Tt is true, as Mr Cowan says, that some people are watching the ABC channel. 1 have said before that whether we like it or not, presumably we have to accept the dual system - a commercial system and a national system. Of course, to survive, the commercial system depends upon the income that it receives from advertisers.
According to the latest figures that are in the twentieth annual report for the year ended 30th June 1968 of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, $66m was the income from commercial television and $27m was the income from radio - a total of 893m paid for advertising by those people who use this media. As we will note in a moment, one of the principal contributors to this advertising is the tobacco industry. From information contained in some publications it appears that this advertising amounts to as much as $12m out of the $93m. There is some doubt as to whether thai is the cost of all tobacco advertising or only the cost of television and radio advertising. Nevertheless, most of it presumably is spent in this way. In fact, Mr Cowan gives some figures. Taking Australia as a whole, our bill for advertising - not only on radio and television but also in newspapers and other forms - exceeds 1% of the gross national product and could be as high as 2% when we take into account the cost of making some of the advertisements. This, of course, is not shown in the revenue of the television and commercial broadcasting systems. Australia has a vast network through which to advertise and it is advertising that pays for the commercial television and broadcasting programmes.
According to the figures in the twentieth annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, something like 13 minutes each hour of peak hour viewing time is taken up by advertising. 1 do not know the general feeling of people about such a large proportion of time being taken up by advertising. Quite candidly, I find it most annoying when a film or what is sometimes described as a drama is interrupted for something like 13 minutes each hour. Of course the interruptions do not occur all at once but over various periods within the hour. Whether it is possible for the commercial stations to arrange their programmes in some other way I do not know.
Advertising on commercial television and broadcasting differs from every other form of advertising in that the whole cost of the service is paid for by the advertisements. That is not the case with newspaper advertising. More than half of the costs of a newspaper are met by its advertising sales, but between one-third and one-half of the costs are covered by the sales of the newspapers themselves - and people do not have to read the advertisements if they do not want to. That is not quite the case with television advertising. People have to watch it, unless they go out, and that is not always convenient. If you go to a picture theatre von pay an admission fee. Some advertisements are inflicted upon the patrons, either in the programmes or by means of slides during intermission. Again the advertising does not cover the whole costs of the entertainment. To my mind this makes commercial television somewhat unique and I think it is necessary on occasions for us to question some of the valuations placed upon the system by those who provide the service.
I might be accused of having a biased view about commercial television, but surely nobody could say that the commercial operators do not also have a biased view. I would think, with all respect to Mr Cowan, that there is a certain amount of complacency, to say the least, evident in that section of the report which suggests that somehow the medium is doing all that is asked of it. This evening I want to question that statement and I want to refer to drama and to Australian drama in particular. As Mr Cowan’s figures show, between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. every night half of the sets in Australia are tuned to commercial television.
On page 82 of the 20th annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board there is a table headed ‘Programmes Televised Between 7 p.m. and 9.30 p.m.. That is *2i hours a night or 17i hours a week, or roughly 75 to 80 hours a month. The monthly figure is significant when we study another table which gives the monthly total of Australian programmes shown, and of Australian drama in particular. According to the first table, in those hours between 7 p.m. and 9.30 p.m., 76.8% of the total time, or about three quarters, is occupied by what is described as drama. Another 18.8% is devoted to light entertainment. So those two categories occupy over 95% of the time during which half the Australian community is watching television. A break-up of the remaining time shows: Sport, 1.3%; news, 1.2%; family programmes, 0.3% - and it is family viewing that should be taking place during these hours; information, 0.3%; current affairs, 1%; the arts, 0.3%; and education does not even get a rating. Practically no educational programmes are shown between 7 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. 7 nights a week, 365 days a year. There are no educational programmes in these hours when most people are watching.
Television ought to be one of the most magnificent of the media at our disposal, but I very much doubt that that is what it has become. Today I read an article that appeared in the ‘Australian’ by Mr Phillip Adams - I think the article was written some time ago - containing comments made by the folk singer Pete Seeger, who said that the greatest atrocity in the world today was not the Vietnam war but the abuse of television. That may be an extreme statement, but nevertheless I think it deserves some kind of study. As I indicated earlier, three quarters of the 174 hours a week - that is roughly 13 hours a week or 55 hours a month - is devoted to drama. Despite the provisions in the Broadcasting and Television Act the monthly showing of Australian productions - not the nightly showingduring these peak hours between 7 p.m. and 9.30 p.m., is only 9 hours 19 minutes a month, even for the best performer of all the stations, out of the 50-odd hours that potentially are available. I submit that these figures show that the Australian content, particularly in the field of drama, is being neglected. 1 submit that two things ought to be done in Australia. There should be deliberate encouragement of an Australian film industry. If a country like India, for instance, whose gross national product is not substantially greater than that of Australia - it is about one-third higher, but of course it is distributed among 500 million people instead of 12 million - can, wilh its poverty of resources, have the magnificent film industry that it has, I think very little can be said for those who ought to be encouraging the large scale production of Australian films. The other day I noticed that some Australian documentaries took first prizes in, I think, three separate categories at an international competition in Chicago. So I do not think there would be any difficulty about producing films here. I do not want to disparage what is being done in Australia because I think it is being done without a great deal of encouragement and certainly with resources far more scanty than should be the case. But one has only to look at a programme like the ‘Forsyte Saga’ or ‘Portrait of a Lady’ to see, firstly, the quality of the production and, secondly, the quality of the acting.
I submit that quality of programmes has emerged in Great Britain only by reason of practice over a long period. I submit that something similar needs to be done in Australia. I think that most people were satisfied with the programme ‘Contrabandits’. It was reasonable enough in quality. Although it did tend to use the same group of actors, at least the actors were getting experience. The same kind of people take part in productions by little theatre groups. If enough shows are produced in a year, some of these people become almost permanent actors. Naturally, the longer they appear in a show, in some cases, the better their performance becomes. I cannot see any reason why occasionally there could not be a pooling of the resources of the commercial and national systems in a sort of workshop training arrangement. In Canada a fair bit of this sort of thing is done. I think that most of us who attend little theatre performances and the like would agree that there is a good quality of Australian production these days. I saw a production of ‘Henry IV at the Cultural Centre in Melbourne during the Moomba Week festival. It was well done. It was done in the theatre in the round, as it is described. It was highly successful. I think that this sort of thing should go on continuously.
In my view, if we provided an initial sum, even as small as Sim, a good experiment could be carried out in this field. After all, as I have said, $93m is circulating in the commercial television and broadcasting system, and approximately $50m is circulating in the Australian Broadcasting Commission system. In the aggregate it costs SI 50m to provide television and broadcasting services for the nation, and in comparison with this figure, $lm or $2m is not a very significant amount. I do nol know whether the money should be raised by the imposition of a levy on television revenue, or whether half of what is collected in licensing fees should be used for this purpose. That is only a technical question. Recently I came across the following article in a book which I received from the library:
The experience of British commercial television suggests there may be a solution on these lines for the British film industry.
The writer was talking about how the British film industry was threatened to be swamped in the early days of film production by programmes from the United States of America. The article continues:
When independent television was launched in the United Kingdom in 19SS the temptation, and the maximisation of profits, lay in buying American programmes which, having already earned their keep in the States, could be purchased very cheaply. ‘
Peak viewing time could then simply be filled with US fare.
I submit that this is largely the case in Australia. The article continues:
The Independent Television Authority however intervened. With its absolute powers over the allocation of licences its word had to be heeded; the amount of US material was swiftly scaled down and domestic production rose accordingly. li is surely not beyond the bounds of possibility for the television companies, which are wholly British-owned, to make films for the cinema, to benefit exclusively from the Eady levy-
That was a charge which was imposed on every cinema ticket in order to subsidise production - and to be kept on the path of rectitude by an authority, like the FTA, which is neither overpaternal nor over-indulgent. At least something must be done before the home-based British film industry disappears altogether.
I submit that there is a lesson to be learned for Australia. We have not anything which substantially could be called a ‘film industry’. One or two people have been struggling to make films, some of which have been highly successful and of good quality. But only one or two productions are made in Australia each year, although the television system is churning out drama for 171 hours a week. Most of these programmes come from the United States, and it would not matter greatly if many of them were never seen. This is where one has to take issue with the smug sort of attitude which is adopted by commercial television interests who say: ‘Obviously because people are watching these programmes, they must want them’. I think that there is a fair bit of undistributed middle in that kind of syllogism. Unfortunately, it would seem that people watch one or other of the television channels because they have a television set and they want to use it. I know it is very difficult for a person to suggest what somebody else ought to watch. This is where we get into this position of paternalism or hypercriticism if you like.
A sample survey was taken recently in Melbourne. 1 think that the question asked was: ‘ls television a worse influence on the current generation than comics were on the parents of this generation?’ In the first place, it is a rather peculiar sort of question to ask. But even in reply to that loaded question, approximately 50% . of the people interviewed said that television was no worse influence today than comics had been to them when they were children. But apparently 50% of the people interviewed thought that television left a lot to be desired. Another question asked was: Are programmes shown in these times suitable for children?’ Approximately 50% of the people thought that they were, but slightly less than 50% of them thought that they were not. Who is the better judge of this kind of thing? At least it seems to me that there is some room for doubt.
I could not find the reference when I looked for it this evening, but some years ago a report of the Broadcasting Control Board commented on programmes shown after 6 o’clock in the evening. Again I point out that that is the time when half the households in Australia are watching television. Apparently there are not any children between the ages of 6 and 16 years - at least, one would not think so from the programmes which are provided at this time. On the other hand, surveys which were carried out in the metropolitan area of Melbourne showed that one half of the children under the age of 14 years were watching television, on an average, for 3 hours per night. It is easy to say that the parents, if they want to, can stop the children from watching television. I do not think it is as easy as that. If families are watching television to this degree, and if, according to the figures, only .3% of programmes are suitable for family viewing at these times, I suggest that children are watching programmes which they probably should not watch. I do not know whether or not people can regard this sort of thing with complacency. Vast sums of money are being spent on education in Australia today. We spend approximately 4% of our gross national! product, or $ 1,000m on education. The figure ought to be 5%. In many instances, what ought to be taught in the school often is untaught because the children are watching in the evening the sort of material to which I have referred.
I know it is easy enough to say that this is the fault of parents but I think some responsibility lies on those who supply the services at these hours and to the extent that they do. I think some obligation rests upon them to provide more material that is suitable for families, more material that could be described as current affairs and more material that would be directly allied to the arts. At present nothing is provided in the field of education.
– Are you referring to the period after 7.30 at night?
– Yes. I am suggesting these are the peak hours. If the people are satisfied that 90% of the peak viewing time should be taken up with drama and light entertainment, and bearing in mind that the audience consists of one-half of the households in Australia with as many as three to four people in each household, I think that the matter needs critical examination rather than the kind of survey that is contained in the annual reports of the commercial producers.
So much for that particular aspect. This evening we propose to move an amendment relating to Australian performers, particu- larly in the field of music. Five per cent of the time on television and radio is supposed to be given over to Australian compositions. Apparently the Act is so worded at present that ‘Waltzing Matilda’ recorded in America by a jazz band in the deep south is regarded as an Australian production. Our view is that the intent was not only to encourage Australian compositions but to encourage Australian performers as well. At the Committee stage I will move that we delete from section 114, I think it is, the .words ‘works of composers who are Australians’ and insert in their place the words ‘works composed and performed by Australians’.
I understand that the federal secretary of the Musicians Union of Australia has had quite an amount of correspondence with the Postmaster-General, who is at the table, and with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, on this matter and also in relation to certain recordings that have musica] accompaniments. Apparently there is some difference. If a television advertisement contains music the advertisement has to be made in Australia, but in certain circumstances a radio advertisement can have the music put on the recording outside Australia. The Musicians Union asks why the whole job is not done in Australia thus providing work for Australian musicians. The Union points out that the other day a commercial award that is made to musicians employed by radio and television stations had to be put aside because apparently no musicians are employed directly by the commercial television stations, and certainly none is employed by commercial broadcasting stations. This would seem to indicate that very little attempt is being made to take seriously the 5% quota in relation to Australian compositions. So long as you can play any kind of record that purports to be Australian, irrespective of whether it was made in Australia, and so long as it was composed by an Australian, that is good enough. That seems to be a rather haphazard way of doing things.
Recent amendments to the Copyright Act provide for the royalty to be paid to the manufacturer of a record and not to the performer. According to the information I have received from the secretary of the Union - I had hoped to get some confirmation of this - as from 1st May commercial broadcasting and television stations propose to cease using Australian and English recordings and to use instead American recordings which apparently are not affected by these copyright arrangements. I should like some inquiries to be made into that matter because it seems to me that commercial broadcasting and television stations with revenues as high as $93m are taking a very poor stand. To save a few thousand dollars they are willing to use American recordings which do not attract a royalty. One of my colleagues has directed to my attention an Act in the United Kingdom which was passed on 23rd July 1958 dealing with the protection of dramatic and musical performers.
– That was introduced by a Tory government.
– I am not arguing about what government introduced it; I am saying that we should have a similar piece of legislation here to protect Australian musicians and actors. I ask the Minister to see whether legislation of that kind can be applied here.
The final matter to which I wish to refer deals with the advertising of tobacco and cigarettes. As I have indicated, about $12m - a fair proportion of the total revenue of commercial broadcasting and television stations - is derived from the advertising of cigarettes. Two or 3 years ago certain restrictions were placed upon that advertising. A code to which cigarette companies had to agree was detailed in the 1966 report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The companies were not to try to attract young people to smoking or to suggest that smoking was really healthy and not unhealthy, that he-men smoke and puny people do not, and so on. I think the restrictions were adhered to fairly well. Recently one of my colleagues, the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb), asked the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) the following question upon notice:
Will he consider legislation to (a) ban all cigarette advertising, (b) enforce manufacturers to put health warnings on cigarette packets and (c) set a maximum level of tar and nicotine content?
He received the following reply from the Minister for Health:
At the 1968 Conference of Commonwealth and State Health Ministers, recommendations were received from the National Health and
Medical Research Council regarding a warning label on cigarette packages including reference to the tar content.
The Ministers agreed to give the labelling proposals detailed consideration with a view to proposing a uniform approach at their next meeting. Before then it is expected that a final report on a survey of smoking attitudes will be received from the Council which meets in May 1969.
That is this month. The reply continues:
The Ministers considered that it would be unwise to take any action on the labelling of cigarettes until this report became available.
That seems to be prudent enough. If we have a committee to examine the matter we should not take action before its report has been examined. The reply continues:
They agreed that it was important that there should be a uniform approach in each State since the responsibility for labelling is a State matter, and also agreed to work towards such a position.
Concerning the advertising of cigarettes, the 1968 Conference of Health Ministers-
That is, a conference between the Commonwealth Minister for Health and the six State Ministers for Health: agreed to await the detailed final report on smoking attitudes to indicate what would be the most valuable means of dissuading people from smoking and convincing young people that they should not commence. Pending receipt of this report, the Government feels that publicity regarding smoking hazards, directed particularly towards young people, is to be preferred to the imposition of a ban over the advertising of tobacco and cigarettes.
I hope that this report is produced next month and that it will be made freely available to all members of this House as soon as possible so that a proper examination can be made of this important question.
Smoking is rather like watching television - you do not have to do so if you do not want to. Nevertheless a fair proportion of the population smokes, although it is true to say that a significant proportion does not. It has been suggested that smoking is not altogether the healthy practice that some people claim. I wish to refer to the January 1969 newsletter of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health. This publication states:
We can be certain’ says Sir George Godber, Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health in UK-
This time we have a Labour Minister for Health: that at least 30,000 people die in England and Wales each year as a result of cigarette smoking*.
– This is because of smog.
– lt may be, but there is a sort of self-created smog too. The newsletter continues:
A comparable, but conservative, figure for Australia would be 10,000 deaths.
That seems to be significant when weighed against the $1 2,000m that is derived from cigarette advertising. 1 am not making a judgment this evening because I think that the answer by the Minister suggests that the report will be available this month. We should receive the report by the time Parliament rises for the winter recess. 1 should like to see this report made as wide!) available as possible and perhaps we can have a full debate on it.
As 1 have indicated, at the committee stage we propose to move an amendment for the purpose of trying to ensure that works composed and performed by Australians are used as part of the 5% quota and that the music used will be played by musicians in Australia rather than somewhere else in the world. 1 ask the Minister to consider the matter 1 have mentioned, about commercial broadcasting and television stations threatening not to use Australian and English records because of the royalty arrangement which apparently does not apply to American records, lt would appear that this situation is advantageous to the United States and detrimental to performers in Australia, lt may not be easy to get over this problem. It may not even be strictly within the Minister’s jurisdiction. However, 1 have raised the matter because 1 told the union that we would take the opportunity to do so. 1 hope that the information I have been given can be either confirmed or denied. If it is confirmed I think it is a very poor attitude on the part of the commercial operators, particularly in view of the fact, as someone has said, thai when we give people a licence to conduct a television station we really give them .> licence to print money.
At times I think there ought to be obligations placed upon television station proprietors because of the way they conduct what is essentially a publicly created monopoly in the first place. There could not be a licence without the authority of government behind it. When a licence is given it really gives the recipient the opportunity to go ahead and make substantial sums of money. Profits derived last year by television stations were about S9m on a turnover of $66m. The broadcasting stations made a profit of about $7m on a turnover of over $26m or $27m. So, this is not a bad commercial proposition although, of course, some stations are not as successful as others.
– I listened with interest to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) and I know that he gives a great deal of thought to these matters. I find it interesting and informative to serve with him on an advisory committee of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Victoria. I think he would agree that he and 1 approach the matter of commercial television from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Some of his criticism of commercial television flowed from the premise that it would be better to have government instrumentalities in control and probably as the sole operators of broadcasting and television in Australia than to have competition with free enterprises involved. I do not want to join issue with the honourable member on that matter tonight. It is not a point of view that I would accept. However, I thought that much of the material he put forward was persuasive and certainly merited thought.
I agree with the honourable member on the question of the encouragement of a film industry in Australia. This, of course, is a matter that is under investigation by the Council for the Arts al present. Without wanting to publicise magazines for which I formerly wrote but no longer write - although the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) still contributes regularly to ‘Broadside’ - I point out that in the last of my articles to appear in,-thc magazine 1 wrote on this very point. I commended the Council for forming an excellent film committee, lt is indeed a very good committee. If honourable members do not mind, this will provide mc with an opportunity to mention one of the members of the committee whom I dic! not mention in my article. 1 have paid for that sin of omission over the last few weeks. I failed to mention the wife of the Leader of the House (Mr Erwin) who serves on the committee. Through some vacuum in my mind as I wrote the article I forgot to mention Mrs Joan Erwin and the strong role that she plays on the committee and the Council. I am glad to have the opportunity to do so now.
The committee is made up of very good members. One member is Stefan Sargeant, a brilliant young film producer. Two members with wide sociological knowledge are Mr Barry Jones of Melbourne and Mr Peter Coleman of Sydney. Another member of the committee, whom the honourable member for Melbourne Ports mentioned earlier, is Mr Philip Adams. It was interesting to hear the honourable member mention Mr Adams and to quote a comment by him concerning Pete Seeger, the American folk singer, about the abuse of television. I do not think it was in relation solely to commercials.
– It related to the whole thing.
– Yes. I well know that Mr Adams is employed by an advertising agency and spends his time producing commercials. It is to his credit that a very fine advertisement appeared in the financial section of the ‘Age’ some weeks ago. The advertisement concerned the slaughter of kangaroos and was most graphic. Mr Adams’ contribution to the arts through his column as a television and film critic is emphasised even more by the manner in which he produces certain advertisements.
I propose to be brief in my comments tonight, but the matter I wish to raise is of some importance. The amendments proposed by the Bill are very sensible and I do not wish to add anything to them. The matter I wish to bring to the attention of the Minister is something that I would like him to consider. Me has indicated in his second reading speech that there will be further amendments to the Act later in the year although he said that they would be largely of an administrative nature. I assume from that statement that there may be the opportunity for other amendments to be made. I therefore put it to the Minister that the ban on the broadcasting of election matter during the 3 days prior to the close of the poll is outmoded. During this period we can read in our daily newspapers all that pertains to the electoral battle that is going on. Although the current news on the election, which is of utmost importance to the nation, is fully reported in the newspapers, it cannot he reported by the television or radio stations from the Wednesday night prior to the poll on the Saturday. Frankly, I believe that this legislation belongs to a bygone era. I think it is a negation of the principle that news should be unfettered.
As the Minister is aware, the broadcasting ban applies to both Federal and State elections. Under the Broadcasting and Television Act - the Act which will be amended by the Bill that the House is now debating - all television and radio stations are prohibited from broadcasting any election matter from the Thursday morning up to the close of the poll on the Saturday. I make a strong statement when 1 say that I think it is an absurd piece of legislation which debars television and radio stations from fulfilling their role of bringing current news and information on all major issues of the day to the public I urge the Minister to consider whether the Act can be amended in this regard before the next Federal election. That is all I wish to say on that aspect. I shall allow the Opposition the opportunity now to discuss the matters raised by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports.
Before doing so I wish to make two comments. I recall reading in an edition of Quadrant’ of November or December 1966 an extract from a book written by Enid Campbell and Harry Whitmore entitled Freedom in Australia’. They devote a chapter to the control of radio and television in Australia. The conclusion they reached is:
A warning seems necessary as to the activities of the Broadcasting Control Board. This body has almost frightening powers to control and censor the most important communication media in the country.
Their conclusion is certainly correct in theory, because the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is vested with the power to revoke licences or not to renew licences. But the taking of such action is in effect comparable to using a sledge-hammer to crack a nut. What transpires today is that if the Board feels there has been a breach of the Broadcasting and Television Act or of the accepted standards that it uses as guide lines, it writes a letter to the station concerned and requests it not to commit the breach again. If the Board feels that a programme is televised at an unsuitable hour it can request the station to televise the programme at a different time. But if a station does not adhere to the Board’s request there is very little that the Board can do apart from revoke the station’s licence. This seems to be an unduly harsh measure to take. I venture to say that it would be a very brave Broadcasting Control Board which would recommend to the Minister that a licence be revoked, when one bears in mind the many millions of dollars invested in the industry.
It occurs to me that the principle enunciated in the Boilermakers’ case - the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), who is outside the precincts of the House at the moment, is no doubt well aware of this case - may raise some difficulties in this regard. The principle enunciated in that case was that an administrative tribunal could not act in a judicial or quasi-judicial capacity. I am sure that the honourable member for Moreton, who gives extensive consideration to matters of this nature, wiM support me in this regard.
– I am grateful to the honourable member for his support of what I have put forward. If that is so, the suggesting of a course of actions between these two extremes is something that I have difficulty in doing. I know that there is not much use standing up in this chamber and criticising some aspect of an Act if one cannot put forward a suggestion as to how the Act should be amended, but I regret to inform the Minister that 1 cannot think of the best way of amending it at this stage. However, I believe that something should be done to get away from the ludicrous position that the Board finds itself in of having to revoke a licence as the only available action if a station does not adhere to its request. In any case, I doubt that this action would be taken unless there was a most serious breach of the Act. It appears that what Campbell and Whitmore were saying in their statement about the frightening powers of the Board to control and censor the most important communication media that exist at present may be true in theory but it is certainly not true in practice.
The only other comment I wish to make is that I am somewhat disappointed that honourable members do not take a deeper interest in matters pertaining to the broad casting and television industry. About a fortnight ago I heard a question asked in the other place about the television programme ‘This Day Tonight’. One honourable senator asked the Minister to request the Broadcasting Control Board to investigate a complaint regarding this programme. The honourable senator who asked the question in the other place is a most experienced parliamentarian. I do not wish to name him. All I wish to say is that his question reveals his lack of understanding of the role of this important statutory body. There is a very real difference between the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I hope that as television becomes an even more powerful and useful force in the community honourable members will direct their attention to the legislation controlling the industry. Again, I pay tribute to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, who has a deep and continuing interest in this field. 1 hope that in the future more honourable senators will give consideration to the matters that the Minister brings forward and will request improvements in the legislation. I have made a very brief speech tonight. I have nothing else to add to what I have already said other than that I hope the Minister will direct his attention to the point I raised earlier regarding amendment of the Act in relation to the broadcasting of election material.
– J welcome the opportunity to speak during a debate on the Broadcasting and Television Act. I wish to draw the attention of the House to two matters; firstly, the need for an improvement in the quality of programmes, particularly television programmes, and, secondly, the need for a greater Australian content in the various forms of programmes on television and radio. I should add that I feel almost as though I am in a chummy club tonight in that I am not only supporting the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) but also the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) on some points. I am quite mindful of the fact that when we talk about the need for improving the quality of our programmes we have to be very careful that we do not establish some sort of permanent censorship body which may, in lime and in the wrong hands, degenerate into an authoritarian censorship body selecting, in a rather rigid, oppressive and discriminatory manner, what is good for the public; in other words, a body which makes decisions for the public. Certainly this is a problem with which we are presented. We are talking about a hypothetical problem, but it is one which could become very real.
On the other hand, the programmes today, particularly the television programmes, are of a deplorable standard. From what 1 can see of the position, the commercial television - and the Australian Broadcasting Commission, is almost commercial television now with its new policy under the control of Mr Duckmanton - is contributing to a form of garbage standard of culture. The programmes which are now televised, especially during the peak periods - to which the honourable member for Melbourne Ports referred - are not, generally speaking, contributing to the intellectual improvement of the Australian community. I am not talking in some sort of esoteric sense about the intellectual improvement of the community; I am referring to the need for some sort of final display of qualities and values in the presentation of programmes. The type of programmes we see are an endless presentation of soap operas, domestic family comedy - allegedly comedy - and similar programmes of a rather poor standard. They are not contributing anything to the community. They are certainly not making a constructive contribution to the community’s cultural standards. I suspect that they are undermining the values and the sense of real purpose that many people hold in life.
Some programmes are ludicrous. They portray absolutely ridiculous situations, particularly those which are described as domestic comedies. They make me feel revolted and quite ill. We are getting a surfeit of such programmes. This is most unfortunate because many of the programmes come form the United States. We have a derivative culture. Clearly we are most favourably disposed to the United States as a supplier of programmes but those we are receiving are of such a standard that I am rather fearful that our cultural values are in turn being affected adversely. They are third rate or fourth rate programmes, or worse. I am not suggesting that the United States is incapable of presenting cultural programmes of high quality. Such programmes are produced in the United States, but unfortunately we do not see them. Probably there is more profit in hiring these potted, cheap versions of domestic comedies and gruesome, brutal detective stories that are shown so often on our television screens than there is in presenting better quality programmes.
The apogee of our cultural achievement resulting from the flow of such programmes into our country was seen last year when the Australian Broadcasting Commission, taking its first opportunity to relay a programme by satellite to Japan - a chance to indicate the cultural level we have reached - decided that it would present a belly dancer, muck to the embarrassment and humiliation of the community. 1 am not shocked by such programmes. My values are not prudish. I am simply resentful that the Japanese people might think that that programme represented the highest standard of Australian culture. 1 turn now to a point raised by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports. He referred to page 82 of the latest report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, lt is stated there that drama and light entertainment take up nearly 96% of peak viewing time on television channels, that is, between 7 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. 1 think it is fairly important to understand what ‘drama’ means within the definition of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, and also the meaning of the expression light entertainment’, ft is so easy to think that drama is something serious and of superlative value. The term ‘drama’ covers plays, serials and other dramatised productions. lt is under this heading that the rubbish I have been talking about is included. The term ‘light entertainment’ covers light and popular music and variety, which includes talent shows, quiz shows, and panel and variety programmes, including comedy recordings. That hardly represents a valuable contribution to the Australian way of life.
Peter Robinson, who specialises mostly in writing on financial matters in the Financial Review’, has recently shown that he can write with equal honesty and capacity on the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He had this to say of the Commission:
Clearly, the drama empire built up in the early 1960s has undergone some traumatic experiences - with much of its budget now devoted to churning out what can only be described as soap opera.
This is an unfortunate situation. Television is an excellent means of reaching and impressing a vast audience, of improving the living standards of the people, it is being frittered away, as Peter Robinson points out, by the churning out of what can only be described as soap opera. 1 can appreciate that there are problems about qualitative improvement. How is it to be achieved without too much interference and without risking the establishment of what ultimately becomes a body of censorship? I would be opposed to that. However, 1 think we can still do quite a bit to encourage improvement in the standard of television programmes. 1 noticed on reading through the latest report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board that it gives double time credit for certain Australian produced programmes, according to a measure which the Board applies. 1 think this method can be improved upon by its application not only to the time occupied by Australian programmes but also to the quality of the programmes. I may be asked: ‘Who will decide on the quality standards, and how?’ Again we run into problems. But there are broad areas in which the general public would agree, as they do now, that a lot of rubbish is being shown to them on television. It is not convincing for television channel proprietors to argue: ‘We see the ratings and they are quite high’. The fact is that the programmes shown on television are of a pretty poor standard. Viewers pick the least offensive of them. In my case, I find it extreme!) difficult to watch almost any show on television. It could very well prove worthwhile in the public’s interest for the Government to consider payment of a subsidy for the purchase or hire of better quality programmes from overseas, and for a greater degree of Australian participation in the total programming. I am satisfied that these things can be done.
I strongly suspect that one of the main reasons why we are getting canned, massproduced programmes from overseas, of poor quality, is because we have commercial television stations which have to make a profit. Quite candidly, I believe that in some capital cities too many commercial television stations are competing in view of the size of the audience. They are operating at cutthroat rates for television advertising. The only way they can operate profitably is to purchase rubbish which is shown so often on television screens. It seems that there is great repetition of programmes. I have the impression that some programmes are repeated several times in the course of IS months or 2 years.
As to the greater Australian participation in the presentation of drama programmes, it should be remembered that ‘drama’ is fairly broadly defined by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. Again we run into a problem which was referred to by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports when he was discussing Australian composed music. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board states at page 83 of its report for the year ended 30th June 1968:
Australian drama, though its production has been financed by relatively few stations, has been widely distributed and appears to have achieved increased audience acceptance.
That passage raises two points, the first of which is that Australian drama is improving in quality and becoming more acceptable to the Australian public. The more we try in this area, the more successful we will be. The second point is a matter which has given me cause for concern, lt is that quite clearly only a few items of Australian drama are being produced and these are being repeated through the hook-up of television channels throughout the community. In effect, there is a minimal stimulation of the development of Australian artists. This is not satisfactory to the Australian community. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board’s report confirms a view which has been put forward by a previous speaker from the Opposition in this debate. The Board claims that television channels are achieving in excess of 50% of Australian participation in programmes, but one wonders how many of the programmes are repeated several times and duplicated on various channels. One also wonders how many of the Australian produced programmes included in that 50% are sporting programmes. The Australian Broadcasting Commission in Queensland is a remarkable offender in that regard, On Saturday afternoon it screens a long series of drawn out sporting programmes. There is no doubt that this contributes heavily towards meeting the Australian content requirement. Another important factor in this respect is the corny quiz programme. It is cheap to produce - but offensive to many - and builds up the Australian content. 1 have studied the tables in reports of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The tables included in the latest report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board could have given a greater breakdown of programmes comprising the total Australian content of radio and television programmes. 1 have studied reports of the ABC in the current decade. Apparently the Australian content in drama has been relatively stable as to the amount of time used, but there has been an increase in the overseas content. In light entertainment there has been a gradual decline in the Australian content but there has been a marked increase in the imported content. I am not sure how the Parliamentary debates rate, whether they are Australian drama or light entertainment, but no doubt they help to swell the Australian content. The local programmes have moved into areas such as current affairs, but these in themselves are failing badly to fulfil Australia’s needs. They are timid tigers treading wearily around political pads. Their major fault is that they are not asking fundamental searching questions about the structure and relationship within the Australian society, and this is what is urgently required. The Australian Broadcasting Commission probably has the most deplorable record of interference in current affairs programmes of any of the channels which operate in this field. In the ‘Australian’ of 14th October 1966, under the heading ‘ABC Says Brutal TV Scene Cut “For Length” ‘ the following appeared:
ABC officials in Sydney admitted yesterday that a film scene showing the brutal questioning of a Viet Cong prisoner had been cut from a Channel 2 news film. “The film was edited for reasons of length - and nothing else’ said a spokesman.
I am not so easily convinced as that spokesman was. In spite of any assurance from the Government I refuse to be convinced, because there is too much evidence that there has been this sort of interference in the affairs of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– By whom? Go on, be honest.
– By the Government.
– By whom in the Government?
– I will not nominate anyone. The Minister has denied this often enough. I do not know whether he knows the persons i responsible.
– This shows the honourable member’s complete dishonesty in his approach.
– Not at all. I do not know who the individuals are but it is clear that there has been Government interference with the ABC. Now that I have been asked by the Minister I will take a little time to give him a few chapters and verses. Dr Darling, a former chairman of the Commission, was reported in the Brisbane Telegraph’ of 1st July 1967 as saying: M have been thrown out’, and he went on to say:
But you can put it on record that I’ve been thrown out.
I was available for re-election, but I was not re-appointed and that’s that.
Did the Minister throw him out? Someone threw him out and it was not the Opposition. Outside of the Opposition there is noone on the Government side who would have much influence.
– He was not thrown out.
– Was it the Minister or the Cabinet or was it the backbenchers on the Government side? I do not know. 1 am being quite candid about this. 1 have simply quoted what the former chairman of the ABC has said. He said: ‘I have been thrown out’. I note that the Minister is always sensitive on this issue so perhaps I should remind him of some cases of interference in current affairs programmes. In 1966 Rohan Rivett was not prepared to carry out his production on the Suez issue after the ABC had made slashes in his production which resulted in the wrong impression being conveyed. In 1961 the ABC was not allowed to join Intertel with Britain, Canada and two United States organisations because apparently the Government was concerned about a programme called ‘Living with a Giant’ which might be offensive to our US ally. Canada, however, was not restrained. In 1961 Dr Peter Russo was the centre of a political eruption because of his candid comments on political issues and current affairs. Sir Philip McBride in 1961 applied the screws on the ‘Meet the Candidates’ programme. Sir Philip was at that time a senior official of the Australian Democratic Liberal Party and he was worried that the photogenic capacity of Liberal members would have been such that their appearance on television with Labor Party spokesmen would have been to their disadvantage. Therefore he prevented their appearance on television, it is easy to understand his concern.
In 1962 the then Minister for Territories, as the portfolio then was described, was prepared at quest time to damn a Four Corners’ programme on Papua and New Guinea although he conceded he had not seen the show. This is recorded in Hansard. What has the Minister to say about this? What has the Government to say about this? These are only a few instances of the sort of interference which the ABC has been subjected to. I have left a few out becaues there are other points which I want to make. In 1963 a rather Gilbertian situation developed when Australians were not allowed to see the Bidault interview. Bidault was a French dissident opposing De Gaulle. The people of Britain were allowed to see him on British television but apparently the people of Australia were not mature enough to be able to absorb such a programme. The then Prime Minister’s argument in justification of banning the programme was that France was an ally under Australia’s association with the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. Recently France has not been aware of this, but of course that is another matter.
There are a number of other cases of similar interference which I and other members have mentioned in this House before. There are far too many for the Australian community to feel happy about them, and apparently this interference will continue. The Opposition is not responsible for this. It could only be the Government’s responsibility. I cannot envisage any members on the Government back bench having much influence in this, so the field of responsibility for this interference is narrowed down to the Cabinet, and I leave it to the Minister to reveal the identity of the people who are responsible for this sort of behaviour. Later on in my speech I will make some suggestions as to what can be done possibly to minimise this political susceptibility of the Commission to apparent pressures.
There seems to have developed within the ABC a certain cumbersomeness. Certainly the ABC is a big organisation, lt has 73 medium wave broadcasting stations, 10 domestic short-wave stations, 39 television transmitters and 18 television translator stations. Last year its budget was more than $43m. This is no reason why it should be cumbersome or why there should be inefficiency. It does seem that there is inefficiency within the ABC in terms of the way in which its finance is arranged and used. It is difficult to measure how efficiently the finance is being used within the Commission. Not only does the ABC have its own allocation of finance but there is also other finance coming into it from the Postmaster-General’s allocation and the Commonwealth Department of Works allocation.
In addition, because of the way in which the financial position is presented by the ABC in its annual financial report it is not possible to break down into heads just how the distribution of these funds have been effected. How are we to know that the resources which have been provided to the ABC are being used most effectively? How are we to know the cost of effectiveness of this capital investment? Is it in fact being used with maximum efficiency? Are the fixed capital items such as studios being utilised as fully as possible? It is very difficult with a nonprofit making organisation to devise a scheme of measurement to work out the cost effectiveness, but it is not beyond the wit of man. If it is possible to do it in relation to defence services then it must be possible to work out a similar scheme in relation to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. It is highly essential that something like this should be done so that we can get some sort of measurement of the efficiency with which the public money is being expended. Once a system of measurement is established we can start some comparisons on a year to year basis.
Another factor to be considered is that the Commission has its offices in Sydney spread throughout twenty-three buildings.
This in itself creates inefficiency in the administration. It must add to the cost of administration. It must lead to duplication, which is highly undesirable. One would have expected that by now this would have been overcome. It should have been overcome because the ABC has to face up to a new problem in the near future. It will have to provide money - and it is always cutting the margin fine on its budget - for the change-over to colour television. This will cost more than $lm per station. There are thirty-nine stations in operation by the Commission in Australia. This means $39m will have to be provided, but of course it will not be expended all at once. However, it will be provided over a reasonably short period so as to meet public demand.
My own personal feeling is that the decision to change over to colour television should have been deferred until a later date. The money that will be required for the change-over would have been more profitably invested in implementing the recommendations of the Weedon Report on educational television in the community. That report established quite clearly that a television channel set aside in a capital city for educational purposes would benefit not only pupils of primary, secondary and tertiary establishments, but it would also greatly benefit the adult population which would be able to use the facilities after working hours. The problem here seems to bc the need for planning by the Government and the ABC. At the moment the ABC seems to operate pretty much in a veil of vagueness. Not only does the public not receive enough information on how moneys are being used and how effectively they are being used, but I doubt very much whether the ABC itself is much better informed on these matters. I believe that there is pretty much a rule of thumb procedure in the handling of the finances of the Commission.
I said that 1 would make a suggestion as to how we could help to minimise, or at least to reduce, political interference with the ABC. I believe that we need some reform in the personnel of the Commission itself so that we will have a stronger body with a greater sense of independence and therefore able more effectively to resist the son of pressure that comes apparently from the Ministry. I am not nominating any particular Minister; but I remember Shakespeare’s old adage: Methinks he doth protest too much. We saw an appropriate performance of that a short time ago. 1 point out, first of all, that five of the nine members of the Commission are more than 60 years of age and the youngest of them is 50 years of age. I know that 50 is not old; at least, I do not think it is now, although when I was 20 I thought it was. lt seems to me that this age grouping is not representative of the Australian community and that within the group of people on the Commission there is room for younger people who can project the ideas, attitudes and values of the younger generation. I would not be afraid to put on the Commission representatives of the radical, revolting young students of the community, because I believe that in spite of what appears to be extremism on occasions, in the view of some people, these young students are making a fairly valuable contribution in that at least they are prepared to fling out challenging questions on the conservative assumptions of our society.
Instead of these nine people being appointed by Government fiat, the appointments could be made from a broader spectrum. There would certainly be nominees of the Government. But what about having nominees of the Opposition, the Press, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, cultural groups, the churches and so on? One could multiply the possibilities many times. If that were done the members of the Commission would have more independence and would be more representative of the interests and values that are part and parcel of the Australian community. Looking at the group of people who are presently on the Commission and taking into account their ages and their backgrounds, as given in ‘Who’s Who’, T strongly suspect that although these people undoubtedly are outstandingly qualified in some areas they cannot claim to be truly representative of the outlooks and values that form the broad spectrum of Australian society. That is the reason why I make this suggestion.
I wish to make one other point in regard to the ABC. It produces a publication called ‘TV Times’. I think the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) is somewhat concerned about this matter. If I read the newspapers correctly in the last day or two, at least one member of the Government parties is concerned because this publication is being printed by a private organisation. I think that is the story. I believe that there is a strong case for the ABC producing a publication similar to the Listener’, which is produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Many excellent talks are broadcast on radio and presented on television. They could be published each week or each month. The monthly basis would probably be more appropriate. These talks are quite serious: but they are not the only things that could be published. Light hearted things, recommended recipes and a whole host of other things could be published. They would make an interesting publication, which would be of a more serious nature and meant for deeper reading than the TV Times’, and which would be along the lines of ‘Listener’. 1 suggest to the Government that it could very well look at this proposition with value.
The final point I mention relates to something that gives me more alarm than does anything else. I have mentioned that we need qualitative improvement in the standard of programmes on television and radio and that there is a need for a greater degree of Australian participation in the programmes on these two media. I support the honourable member for Melbourne Ports in that respect. He put the case quite well. But what concerns me more than anything else is the tremendous power that a few people are aggregating to themselves in commercial radio, television and newspapers. These are the mass media of communication and influential organs which affect the opinions of people and give people the information upon which they can make an assessment of any given situation. These organisations must be unfettered and free. In our society they must be competitive and independent. But in fact we find that there is an interrelationship between them. It is difficult to believe that competition, independence, a critical mind and a sense of judgment can be completely present under this setup.
I have time tonight to look at only four television channels. BTQ Brisbane has a total of 1,450,000 shares. Queensland Press
Ltd and through it Advertiser Press Ltd of Adelaide, Herald and Weekly Times Ltd and through it again Advertiser Press Ltd of Adelaide, Television Corp. Ltd - the licensee of TCN Sydney - and Associated Newspapers Ltd of England control 48% of the shareholding of that channel. Consolidated Press Holdings Ltd and Associated Newspapers Ltd of England control 78% of the shareholding of TCN Sydney. John Fairfax Ltd and ATN Sydney control 60% of the shareholding of QTQ Brisbane and John Fairfax Ltd controls 94% of the shareholding of ATN Sydney.
All this means that two of the four stations in Brisbane and two of the four stations in Sydney have an inter-relationship involving large holdings by three local newspaper companies and one overseas newspaper company. The three local companies are Herald and Weekly Times Ltd. Consolidated Press Holdings Ltd and John Fairfax Ltd. The overseas company is Associated Newspapers Ltd of England. In the first case there is 48% ownership: in the second, 78%; in the third, 60%; and in the fourth, 94%. This is most unhealthy. I believe that it puts the Australian intellect in a straitjacket. I suggest that we should have a look at the laws of this country with a view to breaking down what is. in effect, a conglomerate. Conglomerates cause a great deal more concern and attract more public scrutiny in America than they do here. I believe that we could well emulate the concern in America, especially in this sensitive and decisive field of public influence.
Mr GILES (Angas) 19.47]- This Bill is not of very great consequence, as is perhaps demonstrated by the lack of mention of its aim. But in relation to the provision for the appointment of a full time member of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board as Vice-Chairman, I wish to delve i little more deeply and a lift le more diversely than perhaps one would in other circumstances. I excuse myself by pointing out that whatever we discuss tonight must eventually be under the control of the ViceChairman and the full time Chairman. Before I get on to the three points on which 1 wish to touch tonight - the dual television system in this country, the responsibilities of the mass medium of television in relaid to its effect on the children of Australia and the responsibilities of television stations themselves - I believe that it is right for me to pick up some of the remarks made by the honourable member for Oxley (Mt Hayden), who has just resumed his seat.
On the one band, he accused the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Hulme), who is at the table, of political interference with the Board - an accusation which the Minister, quite rightly in my view, hotly denies. But that does not appear to worry the honourable member for Oxley. He gives as an example of this political interference statements such as that made by Dr Darling when he was not reappointed to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Dr Darling was quoted as having said: ‘Take it from me, I have been sacked’. Exactly where is the political interference in that? Does the honourable member want Dr Darling appointed in perpetuity like a High Court judge? Does he want Dr Darling to be appointed for time immemorial? Does he regard him as an acutely young man? I know Dr Darling very well, and I recall that he was roughly the same to look at 25 years ago as he is today. On the other hand, the honourable member for Oxley says that he wants more youth in the management of the Commission itself.
– Hear, hear!
– I expect I can take it that the honourable member for Oxley is saying Hear, hear’ in relation to his statement about youth. Why therefore should he produce Dr Darling as an example and say that he was not offered reappointment? I suppose his logic was that it was of vital importance to bring in youth and new ideas.
– He put another old fellow on.
– No, he did not. The age difference is very great indeed. 1 just make the point that I think the good looks of Dr Darling, with his slick black hair, deceived the honourable member for Oxley. Whether 1 am right or wrong, I say that change in the position in itself produces new ideas and new slants. I think that the honourable member for Oxley will agree with this. The honourable member quoted people like Dr Russo extremely briefly. I tried to work out why he mentioned Dr Russo. I expect that he moved off that matter again for obvious reasons. 1 do not wish to debate this point any longer because I want to touch on the subjects that concern me. Some of them have already received partial1 approbation from previous speakers.
The first matter that concerns me was touched on by the honourable member for Oxley in exactly the right way. Whether he meant to do so or not 1 am not quite sure. I refer to the dual system of television that operates in this country. Each year the Parliament appropriates about $43m for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Taking into account receipts from other sources, the Commission expends about $53m each year. 1 suggest to the House that we need to have a careful look to see whether in the national television stations we are not developing something that might become too powerful for the commercial stations to compete with on equal1 terms. That was roughly the purpose of a question I directed to the Postmaster-General recently. What is the position? The national stations do not have to pay company tax. I would think that they do not pay pay-roll tax and that they would not pay duty on films that are imported. I am pretty sure that, as they are operated by a statutory body, they would not pay sales tax on a lot of the daytoday capital equipment that they have to buy. Over the years they make a rather erratic net profit. I wilt get on to that matter again in a minute.
I believe that it is vital to the efficiency of production that there should be competition between the two systems of television. If we want them to operate in that way, 1 am not sure at all that this House should not see whether we are not putting them at a competitive disadvantage in the purchase of, say, overseas films. I have the feeling - I may be quite wrong - that the national stations are able, through access to capital and because of quite big returns from other sources, to outbid and outtender the commercial stations in the purchase of films. 1 think that we, particularly members on this side of the House, have to ensure that we do not create a situation in which only the mammoth national television stations can exist, or in which the quality, such as there is. of the commercial stations is further downgraded. 1 recently asked the Postmaster-General a series of questions relating to this. He replied:
I cannot give a detailed reply to the question asked by the honourable member. The Australian Broadcasting Commission sees, as part of its service to the public, the need to advertise in the broad area the programmes of not only the national stations but also the commercial stations. For this purpose it does produce, 1 think, in regard to radio and certainly in regard to television, a weekly magazine which indicates what those programmes are. lt may be that, in this magazine, a certain amount of advertising material appears to assist in covering the cost of production. To the best of my knowledge and belief, receipts from the sale of the magazine approximately cover the actual cost of producing it. As to whether there is a partnership between commercial interests and the ABC, 1 will make inquiries and let the honourable member have an answer.
I would like an answer in due course because 1 do not think it is a very difficult question to answer.
My understanding is that a prominent firm, a big linn, in Sydney produces TV Times’ and is responsible for its distribution. The ABC virtually publishes and handles the advertising side. As far as 1 know, there is an arrangement for the sharing of profits. I do not intend to debate tonight whether this contravenes the Broadcasting and Television Act or the principles which it propounds. I believe that the Joint Committee on Public Accounts is searching into this matter or has inquired into it quite recently, and 1 certainly will not prejudge the issue. I just point out that I was under the impression that the ABC did not and should not gain revenue from advertising. If the principle is set in one way I ponder whether it is in the best interests of the ABC to extend its advertising activity into the actual broadcasting and television fields. If this did occur I would deprecate it very much. The Australian Broadcasting Commission - 1 am thinking mainly in terms of television tonight - should set the standards, and 1 believe that in many ways it does. Quite contrary to what the honourable member for Oxley said, I would not describe many of its programmes as a garbage standard of culture. ! think that the ABC performs very capably. Probably because I am not as young as I used to be, I tend to watch the national television stations more than I watch the commercial stations.
– The honourable member is a Socialist.
– What we watch is a matter of taste. If one tends to be a Socialist, one will attach some importance to governmental authorities. But I assure the honourable member that my thinking is not Socialistic. I do not think that I am unduly influenced even if the programme is supposedly Socialistic.
– 1 suggest that the honourable member should address his remarks to the Chair.
– I am sorry, Mr Deputy Speaker. I know that I should address my remarks to you and I will do so. I think it is quite correct that the national stations should fill the vacuum that exists in the programmes of the commercial stations. I think that the national television stations do perform this role. I have no complaint about the quality of their production at all. I do not even mind their attempts at modernisation. Contrary to the attitude of the honourable member for Oxley, I think that their attempts have been excellent. I do stop to wonder how the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) knows so much about television programmes. I am afraid that I have never heard of half of the programmes he mentioned. I assume that this is not because South Australia is behind Victoria in any shape or form. I suggest ‘it is because of the difference in size of the electorates, but I may be wrong. I think perhaps I have carried on that side of the argument quite far enough.
Like the honourable member, 1 have been trying to say that T think we should keep some area free in which the private sector of the economy can operate within this field of television. I shall now go on, if I may, to the next point, which is that if we do make sure that the commercial stations have an area in which to operate economically we must ensure that they accept their responsibilities. I. do not think they are accepting a good many of their responsibilities. I am not talking about their responsibilities under the Act or within the letter of the law. I do not believe that they are accepting their general responsibilities to quite the extent that they should. At page 13 of the annual report, of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, for the last year that the Board mentions, which is 1966-67, it mentions that forty-two television stations in Australia had a net profit of, in round figures, 59,581, 000. If my simple arithmetic is accurate, this means that the stations had an average profit of slightly in excess of $200,000. If we look further back to the year 1962 we find that the individual stations were doing much better than they are now. At that time there were twenty stations. I think the figure that is important is the net profit for 1966-67 of $9.5m, which is to be compared with $3. 5m for the year before. We must assume that as the stations become better geared, as they amortise some of their capital structure and become better equipped to carry on, their profit will continue to rise. But 1 repeat that these stations have a responsibility.
I do not know that 1 personally agree with the amendment proposed by the Australian Labor Party. It provides for the omission from sub-section 2 of the words works of composers who are Australians’ and the insertion in their stead of the words works composed and performed by Australians’. In the matter of concerts, of orchestral performances, for instance, does the honourable member think that if the amendment is carried those who like classical music and get real enjoyment from it - I am afraid I really do not number myself as one of them - will be protected?
– If they are Australian compositions.
– That is right. 1 am rather upset to think that the amendment refers to works composed and performed by Australians. This could well include-
– This is the 5% of Australian content.
– Unquestionably what the honourable member suggests might in time be very beneficial to this country, but in the short term might this not deprive viewers of some concerts of quality in which they might be interested?
– I think the honourable member has misunderstood the purpose of the amendment. He must bear in mind that there is the 5% quota.
– Yes, but-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)I suggest that it would be more appropriate to deal with these matters of detail in the Committee stage.
– I cannot see that this amendment will be in the interests of viewers at this time. No doubt the honourable member for Melbourne Ports will try to explain this to me in the Committee stage, as you have suggested, Mr Deputy Speaker. However, 1 should say in passing that I do not see much merit in the amendment. I think the House should accept the view that commercial television stations should exercise a much greater responsibility. The point that I have in mind can probably be highlighted by a reference to a news item on which I asked a question. The news item to which I refer mentioned during the weekend before last that an American professor had stated, contrary to the example quoted by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, that in the pre-school age in America the average viewing time for a child was 4,000 hours. This is up to the stage where the child begins his schooling. The inference drawn by the American professor was that this degree of viewing at that pre-school age had an effect on the development of the child, an effect which could not be overcome or countered by the entire education process. I posed a question roughly along those lines to the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser). I do not believe that he knew of any such work being done in Australia. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports has produced an example. He has said that he has heard that school children in Australia view television on average for 3 hours a day.
– It is in the Board’s report.
– So this work has been done in Australia. Having regard to these two examples - the one I have given and the one given by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports - I submit that the Government should examine this matter very carefully, taking samples of viewing behaviour as accurately as possible so as to produce a significant result which the Parliament may be able to use in its future consideration of this matter.
In paragraph 333 of its report the Australian Broadcasting Control Board acknowledges the help that it has received from the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board’s classification of films for use on Australian television. I am not clear as to whether similar help is given or whether proper scrutiny is made of material other than films. In paragraph 334 the Board defines its classification of films in these terms:
G - Unrestricted for television;
A - Unsuitable for children under 16; may not be televised between 4.30 and 7.30 p.m. on weekdays, nor at any time before 7.30 p.m. on Saturday or Sunday.
AO - Suitable only for adults: may be televised after 8.30 p.m. on any day, and between 1.00 and 3.00 p.m. on schooldays.
My only reason for referring to these classifications is to make certain that the House realises that the Board tries to protect children between the hours stated. I am not sure whether it takes proper action to protect children between those hours from things that are not films. Although I would not see anything wrong with the televising of an Australian Rules match during the hours when children are expected to be watching television, I swear that sometimes during these hours I have seen vaudeville shows telecast. Taking into account the profit figures that we have just assessed and the facts relating to the viewing habits of school children, I think the Government could do something to tighten up the regulations controlling what is televised during children’s viewing hours and perhaps, on occasion, extend the hours in relation to which there is some restriction on what may be televised. I have in mind Saturday mornings and periods of wet weather, when children perpetually look at television programmes.
The honourable member for Melbourne Ports interested me by querying whether the public is satisfied with the performance of commercial television stations. By and large I would support the honourable member in some respects but we must get back to the question: Should we be perturbed by public satisfaction in arriving at a judgment on this matter. As 1 sec the situation two factors arise. One factor, mentioned by the honourable member, was the matter of worth. He may have mentioned another which I missed. The matter of worth can relate to varying topics. I was heartened to see in the Board’s report figures showing that the percentage of educational films televised has increased from 1.7% to 4.1% These, I should think, within that category, are matters of worth. When we consider whether there should be any supervision in addition to the present supervision, or when we consider whether there should be anything as tough as censorship within the lines of thinking that we are adopting tonight, I think our method of judgment must be the matter of worth, not, frankly, what station has the best listening rating at any hour, and what has not. It is certainly not for us to control entirely what people should listen to, and from this point of view it is intensely important that not only do we have the number of television stations that we have today but indeed that the Broadcasting Control Board should continue its efforts to expand further the facilities involved. Nevertheless, I do think that if we are to look seriously at the matter of (he future Australian population by considering the effect of mass media - television in particular - on children of preschool and young school going age (he Government has a responsibility at some level to enter into this matter even though, even in this permissive society, it might be considered unpopular in some sections of the community.
I have not much to say on the subject of tobacco and tobacco advertising. This has been pretty well covered already by two speakers. It is a very difficult thing to control. For instance, in my own mind, I do not know whether, if I were to set about controlling advertisements for tobacco, I would stop or even start there. Quite frankly, I think, there are areas in which the people must take the responsibility of learning for themselves what to take note of and what not to take note of. I have a horror of over-government. I remember that some years ago when 1 was in a State parliament, and when we were considering some form of legislation 1 had this put to me: ‘The next thing you will be doing is passing legislation to prohibit boys from climbing cliffs.’ 1 could see the point in relation to the problem at that time. There are areas in which, if governments intrude, they do spoil the population and do not encourage initiative. The suggestion with relation to prohibiting boys from climbing cliffs might be a rather extreme example, but some responsibility must be exercised by parents, and in making the suggestions I have made tonight with regard to protection for the children, 1 am certainly not for one minute forgetting the fact that parents must exercise the major responsibility in this particular field.
On page 67 of its report, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board mentions the new stations which are to be established in stage 6 of its programme. It points out that national stations are to be established at Mount Isa in Queensland, Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, Darwin in the Northern Territory, and Geraldton in Western Australia. I note that in this report the Control Board still says that a station is to be established in Renmark in South Australia. I can assure the House that this station is to be located at Loxton, a fairly sizeable town which takes itself seriously. The reference to Renmark in the report is merely a reference to the area in which the town of Loxton is situated.
I congratulate the Government very heartily indeed on the establishment of these national television stations in country areas under stage 6 of its programme and upon those that it established in earlier stages. The provision of these facilities in country areas is of vital importance. In passing, I also make a point of congratulating the Government very heartily indeed for frequently making an offer to commercial stations to allow them to use the facilities offered at transmitting points in country areas. Quite frankly, 1 do not know what the background business arrangement, if any, is, but 1 think this has been of tremendous importance and in my view it is quite correct for the Government to try to service as many people in the outback areas of Australia as it possibly can. I hesitate to use the word ‘economically’; I stop by saying ‘as it possibly can’.
There is no question that this is constructively taking a service of very great worth into these areas, and into areas where we could not expect the commercial television stations to operate. I think, for instance, of the area of Renmark and the town of Loxton, to which I referred. Although the area would have a listening public of 34,000 or so within a radius of 8 or 10 miles from its centre - I do not quite know the distance - it does not contain any really big businesses. The industry of the area is largely involved in the processing or fruit and most of the businesses are co operatives. In such an area one could hardly expect to have the advertising revenue that would be available in centres of a different type. Once again I express my gratitude to the Government and to the Minister for taking this enlightened sort of action. Even in the country areas where these stations will be established, in time modern technology using translators and other methods will enable a form of competition to develop in the private fields and, where enough channels are available, the service provided in country areas will be equivalent to the dual system that the people in the capital cities enjoy today.
– Put it in the Channel country of Queensland.
– I would not think that the population is dense enough there, although you, Mr Deputy Speaker, know more about it than I do. That is all 1 wish to say. If I may, I will sum up my thoughts, because I think 1 did appear to go in two directions at once. I believe that an area must be left available in which the commercial stations can operate, and operate in proper and fair competition. Where we do leave this area, we should, where we can, upgrade the standard of the service for some of the reasons I have given tonight.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– During the second reading stage, I foreshadowed that I would move an amendment. I now move:
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill: 7a. Section 114 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from sub-section (2.) the words “works of composers who are Australians” and inserting in their stead the words “works composed and performed by Australians”.’.
As I said earlier, I thought my friend from Angas (Mr Giles) had misunderstood me. This amendment deals only with the obligation imposed by section 114, which reads: (1.) The Commission and licensees shall, as far as possible, use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of broadcasting and television programmes. (2.) Not less than five per centum of the time occupied by the programmes of the Commission, and not less than five per centum of the time occupied by the programmes of a commercial broadcasting station, in the broadcasting of music shall be devoted to the broadcasting of works of composers who are Australians.
It is a limited section. It does not relate to the other 95% of music in which classical music falls for the most part. Stations have been meeting the 5% requirement but are doing it, as I indicated earlier, by playing a recording of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ by a band in New Orleans, for example. This gets round the 5% provision but it does not do anything to assist Australian performers. As I said, this matter was taken up with the Minister by the Professional Musicians Union of Australia. I want to quote part of a letter written by Senator McClelland on 9th April this year to the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Hulme). The letter states:
The Professional Musicians’ Union asserts that such a performance, if recorded overseas,-
He is referring to an Australian composition. After all, I doubt whether they are recorded overseas because of the great worth of Australian compositions. That this is done simply to get round this point. The letter continues: does not permit any benefit to Australian musicians and urges an amendment of the Act to provide not only for a percentage of locally composed work, but also a percentage of locally recorded work.
This is what the Opposition has in mind. As well as the compositions being Australian, they should be performed, for the most part, by Australian artists. This would help the professional musicians who are, I think, a very necessary part of our culture in the sort of community in which we live. There is no suggestion of preference for one type of music as against another. It is simply that Australian compositions ought, as far as possible, to be performed by Australians. This is the Opposition’s view and I do not wish to pursue it any further. I did raise this matter in genera] terms during the second reading debate. I ask the Committee to consider the Opposition’s proposal in this light: As well as encouraging local composers it would encourage local performers.
– The Government is not prepared to accept this amendment. It seems to me that by moving this amendment the Opposition is attempting to confuse the issue and to reject the facts made known to the
Parliament and to the public. We should look back at the history of this matter. In 1956 there was an obligation under the Act for 21% of compositions to be Australian. This obligation was then increased to 5% and this requirement has been more than met in relation to compositions. I also think it has been more than met in regard to performers. If we are doing more than is required in the musical field why do we need an instruction?
The peculiar aspect of the debate tonight has been that on the one hand honourable members have sought to get more control yet in another respect they seek less control in relation to this operation. This has been evident on both sides of the chamber. Objections were raised about programmes etc. and the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) suggested that there ought to be more control; yet in fact he did not want more control. If honourable members read the report, of this debate later they will come to the conclusion that there has been a good deal of confusion in the thinking expressed by honourable members. I remind the Committee of what is contained in paragraph 215 of the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended June 1968. I realise that some honourable members have the report in front of them but I will read this paragraph for the benefit of those who do not have a copy of the report. Paragraph 215 states:
With the exception of imported gramophone recordings, almost all programme matter broadcast involves the services of Australians in its production or presentation. The diagram on page 51, which is based on the Board’s surveys of the programmes of metropolitan stations, shows that 38.6% of broadcasting time during 1967-68 was occupied by matter other than music and advertising. This would be wholly Australian material, and of the remainder approximately 13% consisted of recorded music either performed or composed by Australians. From this it is apparent that at least 50% of broadcasting time was occupied by Australian material. Arrangements have been made for each station to provide more detailed information about the nature and extent of various forms of Australian programming, so that in future more precise figures should be available for publication. This information will supplement the data obtained by means of the Board’s periodical programme surveys.
It is reasonable to state in regard to the composition, which was regarded by the Parliament in 1956 as of prime consideration, that at present the content exceeds the amount the Parliament determined. If we were to say that it had to be presented by Australians, confusion could develop. Must the complete programme be Australian composition presented by Australians? Is it to be a mixture - an Australian composition played by someone else or an overseas composition played by Australians? What is proposed by the amendment will lead to much confusion because the interpretation that I have put before the Committee is, 1 think, reasonable having regard to the circumstances.
The honourable member for Melbourne Ports referred to the Professional Musicians Union of Australia, which did make a request for material in radio commercials - jingles, etc. - to be considered by the Board on the same basis as in the television field. The Board advises me that this matter has necessitated a comprehensive examination, especially in relation to the extent and quality of resources which are available in Australia to enable compliance with such a proposal. The Board’s examination indicated that in 1968 Australian musicians were employed in 1 in every 3 advertisements produced in Australia and in slightly more than 1 in every 2 advertisements in which music was used. Only a very small percentage, 0.6% of the total advertisements used by commercial broadcasting stations were completely imported. Inquiries into this matter will still take some time to complete - perhaps another 12 months - but the project does indicate that the interests of Australian musicians are not being overlooked. It is in these directions that the best present prospect of encouraging the use of Australian musicians seems to lie.
The record of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in the encouragement of Australian talent is well known and includes encouragement of both Australian composers and musicians. There is no necessity for me to speak of the ABC. because a good deal of time is given by the ABC to Australian composition and its presentation by Australians. I need only remind honourable members of our symphony orchestras. I believe there is one in every capital city. They are not wholly supported but are substantially supported by the ABC and certainly the losses on their presentations are carried by the ABC.
I believe it is better for this area not to be under control. Let the Board continue to make its inquiries and investigations so that it can come up with real facts. Let us not create confusion by an amendment which is not completely intelligible. I suggest that perhaps the appropriate course for me to take is to ask the Board for a more detailed statement for the months ahead. As the Board suggests, it may take anything up to 12 months to complete such a statement. We could then make a judgment based on an examination of that statement. I think we would then be in a better position to exercise a judgment and that we should not interpolate in this Bill the amendment which is suggested by the honourable member.
That the new clause proposed to be inserted (Mr Crean’s amendment) be so inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Hulme) - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 23 April (vide page 1361). on motion by Mr Swartz:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This measure is purely a mechanical one. It is designed to wind up the Decimal Currency Board which handled the transition from the old pounds, shillings and pence system to the new dollars and cents system. I understand from the Minister assisting the Treasurer that the Board actually had its last meeting this afternoon. What functions remain will now be transacted by officers in the Department of the Treasury. I think that the members and staff of the Board should be congratulated for the orderly way in which what was an historical event took place. The only regret I had and still have, is that there is not a1/2c coin in the system, but I will not raise that matter now. I regard that battle as lost. I think that the Decimal Currency Board is to be congratulated for the job it did. Australia, for better or worse, has now got a dollars and cents system.
– I, too. congratulate the Decimal Currency Board, and I think the Australian people should be congratulated on the way in which they received decimal currency. The new system came into operation in a remarkably smooth way. However, there are still some unscrupulous dealers who insist on using the pound sign and the dollar sign almost side by side. It is ail right for people who are au fait with the currency and are constantly doing business but other people should be protected. I appeal to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) who assists the Treasurer, and is now at the table, to communicate with the States and ask them to pass special legislation to make it illegal and punishable by law to exhibit price tags on any commodity or to offer any article for sale with the price shown in other than decimal currency. Many people are being duped by the practice of showing both currencies. The pound sign should be dispensed with once and for all and its use in any form made illegal.
– I. too, shall be very brief but I think that some things should be said on this matter. The introduction of a Bill to abolish the Decimal Currency Board is, I think, of necessity a time to reminisce, if only briefly, and a time to recall some of the Board’s achievements. The Government should be congratulated on a fairly basic principle. In the year in which the Board announced that it had fulfilled its purpose - the Board announced this in its report only for last year - the Government saw fit to wind the Board up. One wonders how often the Government could get round to doing more of this. The Board must be congratulated on having progressively reduced staff numbers in the past year.
As today has been a day on which the Opposition has tended to recall statements that were made on this side of the House years ago in relation to other matters, I thought that perhaps tonight we might recall for a moment or two some of the statements that were made relative to the proposal to set up the Decimal Currency Board some years ago. The shadow treasurer, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) is recorded in Hansard as saying that in his opinion and to his mind the time necessary for the decimal conversion would be longer than was expected. However, the Government was able to achieve conversion 6 months short of the expected date. On another occasion the same honourable gentleman is recorded in Hansard as saying that as one who had struggled through a study of arithmetic in his time he doubted whether half the time now taken to teach children arithmetic would be saved. In New South Wales, at least, the primary school arithmetic programme has been cut drastically since the introduction of decimal currency because children do not have to study pounds, shillings and pence. The complete programme time has been cut by at least J J years.
– Why are you living in the past?
– 1 get the indications from the Labor Party; it is teaching me. The honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) made a statement to the effect that there would be sharp increases in prices which would mean an increase in the cost of living. Despite this threat from the Opposition side the Treasurer (Mr Mc Mahon) was able to say, 12 months to the day after the introduction of decimal currency - and with statistical evidence to prove it - that there had been no disccernible impact on the consumer price index. There were cries of gloom, not only from the Opposition side but also from the community generally, to the effect that the cost of conversion could not be kept within bounds. Yet we find that from an estimate of £30m, which rose to £37. 5m, the final cost has been about $45m. One of the reasons I mentioned this matter tonight was to show that this Government has done a mighty fine job in getting decimal conversion through as well, as cheaply and as quickly as it has done.
I think we should congratulate the members of the Board, the members of the exploratory committees and above all - and 1 speak perhaps as the only member of this House who was in a bank at the time of conversion - each and every member of every bank throughout Australia for their tremendous efforts at the time of conversion. Nothing like enough has been said in this place or other places about the great work that has been done by the bank clerks. We have heard about the business community and the people who organised the conversion, but the people who made the conversion a success were the tens of thousands of bank clerks in this country who worked overtime and diligently and who were able to get the change through In the few days that they were allowed.
– Banks clerks must live in your electorate.
– I am very pleased to say that many bank clerks do live in my electorate. I think we should conclude this by saying-
– I am delighted to see that the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) has been converted. I think I could conclude by quoting what Sir Walter Scott said a year or two after decimal currency was introduced. He said that the key to the success of the Decimal Currency Board and the conversion has been the thorough planning evident early in Government departments, business houses, banks, insurance companies and institutions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Swartz) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– 1 rise to bring before the House a matter which is of some concern to me and I think will be of concern to all Victorian members of this Parliament. A week ago tonight the President of the Council of the Gordon Institute of Technology in an address at the ceremonies of that Council at which diplomas were conferred made some statements which 1 feel should be of concern to the Government and especially to the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser). During his remarks the President indicated that it appeared that because of cutbacks in the allocation of funds for the Victorian Institute of Colleges for the next triennium that there would be insufficient funds available to develop the colleges within the Institute at the rate which is desired and at which the Council had planned. These colleges are only in their infancy and their success depends on their being developed fairly quickly to the standards which they need to reach.
I understand that the increase proposed by the Victorian Government for the next triennium is 85% over the allocation for the previous triennium. This is considerably lower than the Victorian Institute of Col- leges requested, lt means that there will in effect be an across the board reduction of 37% in the estimates put forward by the various colleges for administration expenses and of 57% for capital works. I think it must be realised by all honourable members that the progress from being a technical college - even though most of them were advanced technical colleges - to that of a degree-conferring institution is an extremely big one. It must be made at a steady rate. There can be no ebbing and flowing of progress if this system of colleges is to be successful. The type of cutback in funds which is envisaged by the President of the Gordon Institute could raise serious difficulties. 1 think 1 should make it clear that the allocations have not been made final yet. That is why 1 have raised the matter tonight. 1 believe that the matter should be given urgent consideration before the final announcement is made of a cutback in funds because once the damage is done it will be too late to retrieve the situation. Although this is a matter which primarily concerns the Victorian Government, it is a matter in which this Government and this Parliament has a direct interest. I believe that it is a matter which this Parliament should take the necessary steps to correct if that is at all possible, it would be disastrous if these colleges had to introduce quotas and had to cut back on courses at this stage. Their future depends on their being able to accept those students who have the proper qualifications and on being able to widen their scope of operation so that they can deal with that area of education for which they were set up.
Four of these colleges - the Gordon Institute at Geelong, the Ballarat and Bendigo Schools of Mines and the Yallourn Technical School - are outside the metropolitan area of Melbourne. They are the only tertiary institutions operating outside the metropolitan area. These colleges provide an avenue into tertiary education for the students in these areas who would not be able to attend universities. This applies especially to children of people on low and middle incomes. These people cannot afford to keep their children away from home for long periods. A total of 108 students received diplomas at the degree-conferring ceremony of the Gordon Institute. Of that number, eighty-seven came from schools in the Geelong area. I think that is an indication of the local content of students attending this type of college. These colleges provide an access to tertiary education for students who otherwise would be denied this education. Therefore, they are of great importance. 1 ask the Government to examine the matters 1 have raised tonight. Although, as I said earlier, this is primarily a matter for the Victorian Government, I believe that the importance of ensuring the steady advancement of these colleges is such that if it is at all possible for this Government to deal with the matter and to ensure that funds adequate to meet the requirements of these colleges can be made available, the steps which can be taken should be taken. In my opinion it would be a tragedy if the funds were not provided, especially for the Gordon Institute of Technology. Only recently the Institute announced plans for the construction of new buildings on a new site for a full scale tertiary institution to deal with the advanced education programme it has been allocated. If the Institute is now to go back on those plans, it will be a very severe blow to the education facilities available in the Geelong area. In Melbourne alternative tertiary institutions are available, but if the same thing were to happen to colleges in other country towns, it would be a very serious blow indeed.
The Gordon Institute is an extremely big school. Last year it had 672 full time students for diploma courses, and a further 205 part time students, lt also had 132 full time certificate students and 520 part time students, 1,200 full time trade students and 500 other part time students. It is an extremely large institution and I believe that it should not be restricted in its development. The Victorian Government cannot see its way clear to make available the funds which quite clearly are necessary to ensure the steady advancement of the Gordon Institute and other colleges in the education system.
– Honourable members will be well aware of the disaster that struck the dried fruits industry. As I represent more than twothirds of Australia’s dried fruit pack as the member for Mallee, I immediately raised the matter in the House by addressing a question to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). I told him of the disaster and asked him whether he would give consideration to providing assistance to the growers who had suffered such great losses if he were approached by the Victorian Government. He said that he would treat the matter in the same way that he would a disaster through flood, fire or drought. He said he would give it consideration. The next time I. spoke on the subject 1 alerted the Government to the fact that when the losses had been assessed accurately the Victorian Government would apply for assistance. That was the information I was given. I think that will happen. Some honourable members may recall that I then made a report on what I had seen during the Easter recess when I travelled from Kerang to west of Mildura. I then looked at the dried fruit growing area and saw the great losses occasioned by the terrific rainfall. At first light rain had fallen and then a terrific downpour had followed. Fruit was rotting on the vines and the racks.
Because I believe that money is available, 1 had intended today to ask a question of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony). However, as I have recently asked more than my share of questions, quite correctly I was not able to get the call. I wish now to read the question 1 was ready to address to the Minister for Primary Industry, lt is as follows: ls the Minister in a position to state when payment will be made from the Dried Vine Fruits Stabilisation Fund? If not. what is preventing the payment being made? When is it anticipated that a further payment will be made to the Australian vine fruits industry of compensation for losses occasioned by United Kingdom devaluation?
Under the stabilisation scheme, growers contribute to the stabilisation trust fund in those seasons when the average return exceeds the cost of production. The contribution ranges from $10 a ton to a maximum contribution of $20 a ton. It is from this fund that payments are made when the price for fruit falls below the guaranteed price per ton for that season, that is, the cost of production less $10 per ton.
I have been told on good authority that the stabilisation funds as at 1st April 1969 were as follows: The currant fund, $138,518; the sultana fund, $1,864,918, and the raisin fund, $233,902. That makes a total of $2,237,338. To the extent that moneys in the fund are insufficient to enable the payments under the guarantee to be made, the Commonwealth provides the balance. I believe that some of the money from this fund should be paid immediately. That would help the industry substantially at this time when it has suffered such great loss. I had intended to ask during question time when the money would bc paid. I have spoken to other people who know about these things and it is my belief that the answer to that question would have been: ‘As soon as the returns can be finalised the money, or a certain amount of it, will be paid to the dried fruits industry from the stabilisation funds’.
We must facilitate what might be called the accounting of the money that is due from this fund to the dried fruit growers. This is not a matter of charity. This is money which the growers have contributed to the fund. When there are low prices the money is paid back and the Commonwealth Government contributes if the fund is inadequate to meet the payment which is guaranteed. 1 appeal to all concerned to get this accounting finalised as soon as possible and to make the payment to the growers. The sooner that this is done the bet :er because after all when an industry is in need of cash that is the time the Government should assist it. This is quite apart from the Commonwealth Government contributing, with the State of Victoria, to the aid of the growers. The money in the fund belongs to the growers, plus the additional amount contributed by the Commonwealth Government under the stabilisation scheme.
I had intended to ask another question relating to devaluation compensation payments on losses that had occurred to the dried fruits industry because of the devaluation of sterling. On 27th March 1969 a payment of $203,655 was made to the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board for disbursement to the dried vine fruits industry for devaluation compensation. It was clearly stated at that time that this was only the first payment. For the 1967 season carry-over and the 1968 season crop it is estimated that the devaluation compensation payment will be of the order of $41 6,000. That leaves $212,345 to be paid and it has been said that further payments will be made immediately the claims arc received from the Dried Fruits Control Board. 1 do not know whether the Board has been unable to give the relevant department the necessary information or whether the department is not hurrying to make the payments, but 1 appeal to all concerned to concentrate on getting the figures and having them properly accounted so that payments can be made. The dried fruits industry is a great export industry, most of it in the Sunraysia-Robinvale district in north west Victoria where there are probably the most successful soldier settlements in the whole of Australia. I appeal to those concerned to try to facilitate the payment of these moneys to the industry.
– During the Grievance Day debate today I spoke on the exorbitant cost of divorce in Australia, which is causing alarm to many sections of the community including the Divorce Law Reform Society. I now wish to place on the parliamentary record additional submissions for the benefit of those who are interested in the virtual plague that is affecting the community. In our community women are less affected by the cost of divorce than are men. In many cases the wife is responsible for commencing the proceedings or calling the party, and the husband has to pay. Some people say that this results in perjury in the witness box in the divorce courts. They believe that it is committed on a grand scale. As the law stands, a woman can launch a vicious suit against her husband and prolong the hearing, knowing that invariably he will have to pay. A lie told, if combated, prolongs the case. This sends divorce costs soaring. So often the man against whom a lie is told does not combat the poison barbs of perjury because he knows that to do so will bring him to the brink of economic ruin. The children suffer most if the divorce case takes this line.
The court records of New South Wales show that two-thirds of divorce proceedings in that State are instituted by women. The majority sue on the emotional grounds of cruelty and desertion. Men, who start only one-third of divorce proceedings, use adultery as the ground. There are said to be two glaring anomalies in our divorce laws. One is that adultery is the only ground that can be used in the first 3 years of marriage. This fact is pointed out by the Divorce Law Reform Society. The other anomaly is that if a person sues on what is regarded as the cleanest ground, namely, separation, and another ground exists which involves guilt, then the second ground must be used. This means that if adultery is committed by either party during the first 5 years of marriage - the period required for the ground of separation - the ground of separation has to give way to the ground of adultery. Cruelty is the easiest ground on which to fabricate evidence.
In our society there is an urgent need to reform the divorce law structure. Reform is urgent and overdue, although the divorce laws were regarded as modern when they were introduced into this Parliament some years ago by the then Attorney-General, who is now the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. These anomalies have been found and are being pointed out in newspapers and magazines by the Divorce Law Reform Society. The law is considered to be overdue for amendment. I believe that the need for the introduction of family courts is urgent. This would be a more modern procedure. In respect of cases in which there is no hope of reconciliation, our law should be amended to accord with the law of the United Kingdom today, which is supported all round the world. In the United Kingdom it is only necessary to prove that a marriage has irretrievably broken down. If there is no hope of reconciliation, the court allows the divorce, it places no burden of guilt for the breakdown of the marriage on either party. Therefore, neither is frowned upon in society as being responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. I believe that sections of the legal profession are probably responsible for retarding the introduction of modern amendments to the divorce laws.
– They would not do that.
– They would. The honourable member can read about it in the book I referred to today, entitled ‘Lawyers and the Public Interest’ by Michael Zander. Certain lawyers are very unscrupulous and, like many people in other sections of the community, are interested only in feathering their own nests.
– That is a bit of a reflection on the lawyers.
– It is, but they seem to belong to a protected profession. No-one ever seems to bc able to have a go at them because they are on a pedestal and it is always regarded as improper to criticise the legal profession. Even this Parliament sometimes protects the judiciary to an extent that I do not think should be permitted, because they are lawyers today and judges tomorrow. They are like a stable boy who becomes a prominent jockey. He cannot alter his riding habits overnight. What he will do as a stable boy is all right, because we say: ‘Of course, he is only a stable boy’. But when he becomes a prominent jockey we say: ‘H3 would not do that. He is a prominent jockey’. I know what the legal profession will do, because I have had a pretty close association with its members long before I came into this Parliament. It might be said that 1 was on the opposite side of the fence; 1 defended the community and they defended their clients. 1 say that the legal profession has to yield to the introduction of modern divorce laws. The wharf labourers had to give way to containerisation, which is jeopardising their calling in many ways. The miners had to give way to mechanisation and the clerks had to give way to computerisation, lt is high time the lawyers gave way to modernisation instead of holding back amendments to the divorce laws that are urgently needed to reduce divorce costs in this country. I said earlier today that a divorce costs the average Australian a minimum of $500. Last year there were 13,000 divorces in Australia. At a cost of $500 for each divorce, the total cost is about $6im. The divorce laws are not being modernised because a substantial portion of this $6im would then be taken out of the pockets of the legal profession. It is time that honourable members of this Parliament spoke up and supported the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) and myself who have raised this important social matter in the Parliament today.
– I wish to bring before the House a matter which I tried to raise earlier in the day during question time and again during the grievance debate. I am not condemning the Chair for not giving me the call on those occasions. I am pleased to see that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) is in the chamber tonight, although the hour is late. The people of Lord Howe Island wish to know when a plane will replace the flying boat which goes from the mainland to the Island at the present time. This flying boat is out of date. There is not another one of its kind in the world. It was originally bought from New Zealand. The operators spent £100,000 to renovate the flying boat and to make it suitable for the carriage of passengers, but now they have given notice that flying boat services to the Island will discontinue as from next year. The ship that supplies the whole of the Island with goods and chattels arrives sometimes but not at other times. It is due to call at the Island every 2i months, but it has now been overdue for about 3 weeks. Honourable members can imagine the plight of the people on the Island.
Another matter which I had intended to raise today during the grievance debate is the problem of murders being committed in Sydney practically every day. This is a subject in which I have been interested and in which people of my electorate have caused me to become interested. Once the banks open at 10 o’clock each day someone goes into a bank, points a gun at whoever is there and escapes with $10,000 or $12,000.
– They do not have to pay tax on it.
– Apart from the question of tax, I brought this matter before the House on 19th March and the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) promised that he would have the matter inquired into and supply me with an answer.I have not yet received an answer. On that occasion I asked:
Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to the three bank robberies which took place in Sydney last Friday, the first at 10.45 a.m. in Alexandria, the second at 11.15 a.m. in West Ryde and the third at 4.45 p.m. in Hurlstone Park? … Is it correct to say that an outlay of a very small amount in proportion to bank holdings, namely approximately lc per$1, would enable all banks to employ a full time security service to protect the lives of bank officers and bank funds? Will the Treasurer call an immediate conference of all banks to discuss and implement the best security methods possible . . . ?
What is wrong with putting security men in the banks? This would be better than putting children who have just left school behind the counter to take the risk of having to fight gunmen. They were never intended for that purpose. The banks should employ security men, armed with guns, who could manage any incident as it occurred.
I should like to raise also a matter which has been mentioned by you, Mr Speaker. On several occasions in this place, especially during question time, you have said that questions have been too long and that the answers have been even longer than the questions. The result is that very few back benchers have any chance of bringing matters before the House. Something should certainly be done about this situation. My remarks apply also to the grievance day debate. I used to think that the grievance day debate provided an opportunity for the real back benchers to bring matters before the House, but today, for example, we heard from three honourable members who, after the next election, will be Ministers. They trotted into the chamber and were given the call. When I arrived in Canberra on Tuesday I approached the Whip and told him that, if possible, I would like to have 5 minutes during the grievance debate to enable me to raise the important question of Lord Howe Island and the murder of people in Sydney over the weekend. He told me that five Opposition speakers were already listed to speak. I replied: ‘You must have got them very early because it is now only 10 o’clock on Tuesday’. In the result, I did not receive the call but many others did. I want to know why the lists of speakers are arranged in this way. That is the position. I would rather see names drawn out of a hat or selection left to the occupant of the Chair than to be told that 1 have no chance of raising a matter. We have ten or twelve men occupying the front bench and when any matter relating to the Government of this country is raised they deal with it. They tell those of us who occupy the back benches that we had the call 2 months ago and will not get it again for a long time. The twelve men sitting on the front bench are called almost every week. They have far more opportunities to speak than do we. They have all day to deal with matters affecting this House, while we on the back benches are left on the back benches. I do not know what rules govern this matter; they must be Rafferty’s rules. I would like to see this matter thoroughly investigated. If a question is asked of a Minister he should have reasonable time - 2 or 3 minutes - in which to reply. If he cannot answer the question in 2 or 3 minutes during question time he should complete his answer later in the day or ask that the question be placed on the notice paper. I am afraid that changes in the practice will be a long time coming.
I am pleased that the Minister for Civil Aviation is in the chamber. Perhaps he can give me some encouraging news to take back to the people of Lord Howe Island when I go there the week after next. Mr O’Connor came with me on one occasion to Lord Howe Island. We tried to book accommodation on the island for 2 weeks but we could get accommodation for only I week. Lord Howe Island is 400 miles from Sydney. When we were 200 miles out from Sydney something happened to the aircraft.It was Mr O’Connor’s first trip. He asked the hostess what was wrong and she said:’They have gone back for a spanner’.
– Order!Is the honourable member referring to the honourable member for Dalley?
– I am sorry. I am referring to the honourable member for Dalley (Mr O’Connor). He kept his pecker up. I was frightened. Thirty-eight of us got to Lord Howe Island on the aircraft and thirty-eight people were waiting to get home. We all went to the lodging house It was too late for those who had just left to get back in. Visibility was bad and it was too late to fly back to Sydney. The chap at the lodging house opened a two gallon cask of rum - the kind they used to have in the old sailing days. Next thing, I saw him adding a bottle of brandy. Everybody who was to return to Sydney that day was half full about 2 hours later. No accommodation was needed. They danced until morning. I thank you, Mr Speaker, for being patient with me. I hope that the Minister for Civil Aviation will be able to give me some good news about services to Lord Howe Island.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– As the honourable member for West Sydney (Mr Minogue) is aware, the air service to Lord Howe Island has been under discussion between the Commonwealth and the Government of New South Wales for some considerable time. The present service, which is very heavily subsidised by the Commonwealth, will continue for some time yet. I would not like to put a terminating date on the present service by flying boat, but at least it will continue for another couple of years. We shall continue to provide the subsidy to see that the service continues for that time.
However, it is obvious that the flying boat which is operating the service at the moment will eventually run out of hours and the service will have to be provided by a land based aircraft. The problem at the moment is, first of all, to find a suitable type of aircraft which can travel that distance over water on a regular and economic basis. The second consideration is the responsibility for the provision of adequate airport facilities. An investigation has been carried out, and my understanding is that it has been concluded. This investigation has been conducted by the Government of New South Wales and I believe that Government will be making an approach to the Commonwealth in the near future regarding the provision of runway facilities which will be suitable and adequate for a type of aircraft which has not yet been selected but which we hope will be available before the flying boat service terminates.
The only information 1 can provide at this stage, therefore, is that the survey for the runway has been concluded and that I understand the State Government will be placing the matter before the Commonwealth in the near future. After it has been considered by the Commonwealth I shall provide what information I can to the honourable member.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.27 p.m. until Tuesday, 13 May at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Repatriation Regulation 71 provides that sustenance allowance may be paid to an exserviceman who is prevented from following his usual occupation through:
asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Estimated costs are as follows:
A precise estimate is not possible but, on the best available information as to numbers who would be eligible and current costs, the estimated cost of this proposal would be of the order of from $3. 5m to $4m annually.
As I have indicated in earlier answers, there could also be a requirement for additional capital expenditure in repatriation institutions.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: 1, 2 and 3. No record is maintained of the number of written applications and verbal requests from members of the Government parties or from other persons concerning the liability of young men for national service. The honourable member may, however, be interested in the most recent detailed analysis of national service statistics, at 30th June 1968, contained in my statement, National Service: The First Three Years, which I released on 8th August 1968 and copies of which were distributed to all honourable members.
Bequests to National Gallery: Death and Probate Duties (Question No. 1180) Mr Whitlam asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
ls the committee which was set up by his predecessor, comprising the Prime Minister and the Premiers of Queensland and Western Australia under the chairmanship of the Minister for National Development, for the purpose of assessing northern projects, still functioning?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: 1 to 3. There is no formal committee of Ministers but the arrangements for liaison on northern development include provision for meetings from time to time between appropriate Ministers of the Governments of the Commonwealth, Queensland and Western Australia. A meeting of Ministers was held at Port Hedland, Western Australia, from 8lh to 10th April 1969. The previous meeting was held on 11th July 1967 in Queensland.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
It should be noted that treatment is generally continued indefinitely at reduced dosages and patients are followed up as long as they live.
On missions, settlements and pastoral properties with resident nursing staff, the patients are seen usually at fortnightly intervals by a qualified sister, and reviewed every six months by the visiting aerial medical service doctor. At other places with no resident trained nursing sister, reviews are conducted by aerial medical service doctors at intervals of three months.
Australian Industry Development Corporation (Question No. 1182)
asked the Minister for
Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
In each year from 1960-61 to 1967-68, inclusive, what percentage of national spending on roads, including maintenance, was spent by (a) State Main Roads Authorities and (b) Local Government Authorities?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The information in respect of the year 1967-68 is not available.
The other Authority expenditure includes spending on road construction and maintenance by the Commonwealth Government in the Territories, and State Government Authorities other than State Main Roads Authorities, such as Water and Sewerage and Forestry Authorities.
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
HongKong, Brunei, the Republic of China, the Philippines and Thailand.
The relevant statistics are:
In addition, preferential duty-free admission without limit is accorded a wide range of hand-made traditional cottage industry products of developing countries.
Quota products - $1.7m.
Handicraft products - $0.6m.
Original quota products - $2.0m.
New quota products -$2.9m.
Handicraft products- $ 1.3m. 1968-69 (first half)
Existing quota products - $3. 2m.
New quota products - $0.1 m.
Handicraft products - $1.3m.
In addition there were imports of the products concerned from developing countries outside the preferential tariff arrangements. Circumstances under which these imports would have occurred include those where the prescribed 50% developing country content was not met, where other concessional (e.g. by-law) rates applied and where imports of particular goods were in excess of quotas.
By way of background, total imports from developing countries represented about 14% of total Australian imports in 1967-68 whilst the figure for imports from the developing countries of South East Asia was about 7%. A large part of these imports enters Australia free of duty irrespective of the preferential tariff arrangements. Duty free imports from the developing countries of South East Asia represented’ about 70% of all imports from these countries in 1967-68.
It is not possible to provide this information because of changes in the structure of the Tariff with the introduction in 1965 of the Brussels Nomenclature and the fact that imports of a large number of the products in the preferential tariff arrangements, including the hand-made traditional cottage industry products, were not separately recorded in earlier years. However, on the information which is available, imports from developing countries of the products concerned were at approximately the following levels in the financial year preceding the introduction of each group of preferences:
Department of Civil Aviation: Housing (Question No. 1390)
asked the Minister for Civil
Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The draft programme for the financial year 1969-70 is for the provision of the following:
Civil Aviation: Airline Pilots (Question No. 1302)
s asked the Minister for
Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Department of Civil Aviation: Employment of Aboriginals (Question No. 1291)
asked the Minister for Civil
Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: 1 and 2. It is not clear from your question whether you are seeking information solely on fullblood Aboriginals. You will no doubt be aware that for the purpose; of administration in the
Northern Territory references to Aboriginals are assumed to refer to full-blood Aboriginals but in a number of other areas in Australia persons of part Aboriginal extraction are regarded as Aboriginals.
I should mention that no records are kept on racial ancestry by my Department and no distinc tion is made between staff members. The only information I can provide therefore is based on local knowledge. In this context it is believed that there are five full-blood Aboriginals and seventeen are of partial Aboriginal ancestry. Details of their location, ancestry, duties and remuneration are shown below:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 May 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690501_reps_26_hor63/>.